Emily Fish

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Emily Maitland Fish (1843–1931), sometimes called the "Socialite Keeper", was an American lighthouse keeper. A native of Albion, Michigan, she married Melancthon W. Fish, her sister's widower, at the age of 17. Fish, a medical doctor, served in a number of government posts overseas before returning to fight for the Union in the American Civil War. He died in 1891, when Emily was 50.

Soon after her husband's death Emily's son-in-law, an official with the United States Lighthouse Service, informed her of a vacancy at the Point Pinos Light in California. With his help, Mrs. Fish applied for, and won, the position, moving into the station with her Chinese servant and luxurious furnishings. This was unusual, as most female lighthouse keepers received their positions only upon the deaths of their keeper husbands.

During her 21 years as keeper, from 1893 to 1914, Mrs. Fish brought rich soil to the lighthouse grounds, and planted grass, hedges, and trees; she also kept French poodles, Holstein cows, thoroughbred horses, and chickens. She became well regarded in the area for her entertaining ability, and always received the highest marks for keeping the station tidy.

Mrs. Fish retired from the Lighthouse Service in 1914 and died in 1931; she is buried with her daughter Juliet in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.

See also[edit]

Lighthouse Digest article