APG lighthouse part of Armed Forces Day celebration

Aberdeen Column

Week of festivities culminates with cruise to see lighting ceremony

May 27, 2011|By Charlotte and `Doc' Cronin

Harford County and the city of Aberdeen have always appreciated the military at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Ever since 1917, when the U.S. Government purchased the land for the post" it has been embraced as an important and vital member of the community.

This year, the annual celebration has been especially memorable! The APG Armed Forces Week began May 16. A golf tournament was planned for that day at Ruggles Golf Course, followed by a veterans luncheon on May 17. May 18 was the big Armed Forces observance ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Harford County Chamber of Commerce held a Military Appreciation Luncheon on May 19 to mark the importance of APG's presence in the county.

An outstanding culmination of the entire week was the Poole's Island Lighthouse Lighting Ceremony with a cruise on the Spirit of Baltimore on May 21. We were privileged to be aboard for this memorable occasion, because the entire event was spectacular!

Just for a bit of history about this important landmark at Aberdeen Proving Ground. it was built in 1815 by John Donahoo of Havre de Grace, and his partner, Simon Frieze. Its tower was built of Port Deposit granite that was barged down the Susquehanna to the construction site. It has three windows and a door topped by an iron cupola which houses the light and a spherical lightning rod finial. The outer walls were stuccoed and whitewashed.

Congress originally allocated $5,000 for the project consisting of land purchased on the southeastern edge of the island. In 1918, the U.S. Government purchased the entire 280-acre Poole's Island from the estate of Charles Homer for $48,500.

In 1828, the 30-foot fog bell tower was built at a cost of $2,800 — the first built on the Chesapeake Bay. In 1857, the seven Argand lamps and reflectors were replaced with a fourth order Fresnel lens.

The first keeper, William Reed, kept the post from 1825 to 1843. The second keeper was Ezekiel Morrison from 1843 to 1882, followed by the third keeper, Stephen Cohee, from 1882 to 1918.

This wonderful restored monument to the past, that was rededicated Saturday, stands alone today. The log tower, keeper's house and other buildings were torn down in 1939.

It is interesting that John Donahoo built three lighthouses. This one on Poole's Island was his first in 1825. The Concord Point Lighthouse, in Havre de Grace, was his second in 1827. Battery Island Lighthouse was his third and last in 1852.

Poole's Island Lighthouse was commissioned on Nov. 27, 1825 and automated on June 12, 1918. It was decommissioned in 1939. A true beacon of the past!

On May 14, St. George's Episcopal Church hosted a lunch and walking tour of the church grounds and famous cemetery. There were restored windows, new pews in the old Vestry House and the beautiful, old historic church where our ancestors worshiped in the church and went to school in the Vestry House.

The Vestry House, the second one built by the parish that served as a meeting place as well as a schoolhouse, was built in 1766.

It is interesting to note that Isaac Perryman, born in 1779, was a vestryman of St. George's Parish. The village of Perryman, that grew up around the railroad station, was named after Isaac and was originally known as Perrymansville. It was later shortened to Perryman.

Another interesting note concerning Perryman and Aberdeen is the fact that when Edmund Law Rogers purchased the 600 acres for his "Village of Aberdeen" from the Hall family, the actual sale took place in Perrymansville. The plat of 1852 of the "Village of Aberdeen," drawn by Rogers with many of his named streets remaining today, is a focal exhibit at the Aberdeen Room.

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