Profile of Surfman
Keeper Washington A. Vickers
As a young man he enlisted in the Confederate States of America, at Richmond on October 31, 1862. He was a private in Company G, 2nd Maryland Infantry. Mr. Vickers was wounded at Gettysburg and spent most of his service as a hospital attendant at Chimborozo Hospital at Richmond. He signed the Amnesty oath on June 30, 1865.
Washington Vickers enlisted in the United States Life-Saving Service as a surfman at Hog Island, Virginia and was transferred to the Assateague, Virginia Life-Saving Station in 1878. Eight years later in 1886, he was appointed the Keeper of Indian River Station. During 1907, he became the Keeper of the Bethany Beach, Delaware Station, from where he retired.
During his almost fifty years of service Vickers was on the scene of many of the notable shipwrecks which occurred on the Delaware Coast: The Red Wing, the J. W. Somers, the Anna Murray, the Addie, Wm. H. Davidson and the Ira D. Sturgis.
He went to his Heavenly Station on February 28, 1930 at age 88.
A Letter from the Past
- An excerpt from a letter written while Vickers was stationed at Assateague Beach, Virginia.
March 3, 1881
"Dear Uncle, Joseph Neal in Seaford, Delaware
"I never experienced such a cold winter before. We have had a rough winter on the beach.
A great many disasters have occurred all along on the coast. There is a Bark (the Syringa) ashore now about sixteen miles above here loaded with sugar, probably will go to pieces tonight. She went ashore this morning at five o'clock. The Life-Saving crew at Green Run, Maryland took off the crew. We took a crew off a vessel about a month ago about five miles off shore. The vessel (a schooner, the D. Ellis at Turner Shoal) struck an outer shoal and sunk. We were the first in time to rescue them. We have had to board several vessels this season.
This is a very important branch of service. There have been a great many lives saved this season by the Life-Saving Service.
Respectfully, Washington A. Vickers"
"Dear Uncle and Aunt,
This has us all well, except our oldest girl (a darling child) she has very delicate health, is now confined to the house, and takes her affliction with so much patience. She is a very bright, intellectual child and fond of her books, too much for her physical strengths, and so much so we had to take her from school and take her book from her. She was passed to the highest department last year, although young, she is in appearance the image of Wash. We have four nice children, three girls and one boy. Our youngest is five years old, our boy is seven and is a nice boy, he too is fond of his books and is making rapid progress, he reads and spells well and writes nicely and as far as multiplication in arithmetic. I have such a desire for the children to have a good education. I word hard for them and try to instruct them all I can. I have the first assistance place in the Public School here. We have a graded School one Principal and three assistants. My position does not pay much, but yet, it is a little and all helps, for when I look around at my dear little children and know they are to be raised - I can't sit down with my hands folded, but must be 'up and doing' and find so much pleasure in having something to do, although it is a tax on me. I have a very full school in my department, eighty-six in attendance, over one hundred enrolled. I have an assistant in my department.
Yours very respectfully,
H. J. Vickers"
Related StoriesClick here to read a related shipwreck "Syringa"
Click here to read a related shipwreck "Red Wing"
Click here to read about a related Life-Saving Station"
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