Approximately 16 people attended a grave marker ceremony on August 27, 2016 in Vassar, Michigan at Riverside Cemetery for Jacob “Harry” Gibb. Mr. Gibb was in both the US Life-Saving Service and the US Lighthouse Service. One thing that was very remarkable about Harry Gibb, is that he was the only person to have been both a Keeper in the US Life-Saving Service (USLSS) and a Keeper in the US Lighthouse Service (USLHS) at Crisp Point.
Jacob Harry Gibb was born March 6, 1852 near Toronto, Canada. He was the son of Charles Gibb and Susie Winters, both born in Scotland. After moving to the US around 1875, he took up fishing near the Soo. Eventually he became a member of a life-saving crew (known as a Surfman) along Lake Superior and worked his way up to Captain (Keeper). On April 2, 1897, he was made Keeper of the Crisp Point Life-Saving Station. He resigned from his post on October 20, 1897. He was a life saver for many years before switching to the US Lighthouse Service.
Mr. Gibb was a First Assistant Lighthouse Keeper in the Straits of Mackinac at the Round Island Lighthouse from 1898 through March 31, 1907. He served as the Head Lightkeeper at Round Island from April 1, 1907 to February 28, 1911. He became Head Lightkeeper at Crisp Point Lighthouse on March 1, 1911. During the last year of his life, he took his post at Crisp Point on April 1, 1913 even though he was ill. He stayed at his post for about three weeks before having to leave due to his poor health. He was taken to a hospital in Bay City, MI, where he was diagnosed with an incurable bladder condition. He was brought back to Vassar, MI by W.H. Akins, as the Akins family hotel in Vassar was where Gibb stayed during the winter months when he was not on duty.
Jacob Gibb did not live long after making it back to Vassar in 1913. He passed away on May 3, 1913. Funeral Services were held on May 5, 1913 from the residence of Rev. Moon and Jacob was laid to rest in the Riverside Cemetery in Vassar. His grave is next to the Akins family plot.
During the ceremony on August 27, two markers were installed at Mr. Gibb’s gravesite, one representing each of the services he was in. Since Harry started out his career in the Life-Saving Service as a Surfman and then worked his way up to becoming a Keeper, his USLSS grave marker bears a “Surfman” plaque in addition to a “Keeper” plaque. His USLHS grave marker bears a “Keeper” plaque.
Rick Brockway, President of Crisp Point Light Historical Society spoke about the Society’s plan to honor past Keepers of Crisp Point and that this is the third Keeper to receive grave markers this year. CPLHS Member Carl Jahn spoke about the life of Keepers and was wearing an authentic Keeper’s uniform. Cameron Lovett, Board Member of Crisp Point Light Historical Society, and Dorothy Watt, Director of the Vassar Historical Society Museum, spoke about the life of Mr. Gibb and his connection to Vassar, Michigan.
Many other members of the Vassar Historical Society and Crisp Point Light Historical Society were also present at the ceremony. Dorothy Watt’s friend Margaret Akins Briggs was the granddaughter of W.H Akins, who was the person who brought Mr. Gibb back to Vassar after his diagnosis at the hospital in Bay City. The Vassar Historical Society has a display about Jacob H. Gibb at their Museum (450 S. Main St., Vassar, MI). For more info about the Vassar Historical Society & Museum, you can visit their web site at http://www.VassarHistory.org/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Vassar-Historical-Society-Museum-124170564308692/.
The Crisp Point Light Historical Society was glad to give some long overdue recognition to Jacob Harry Gibb and hopes to be able to continue their grave marker program for former Keepers. To date, Joseph Singleton and Harry House have been recognized for their service with grave markers, in addition to Mr. Gibb. Thr CPLHS hopes to be able to do about two grave marker dedications per year for their former Lighthouse Keepers. For more information on how to make a charitable contribution to the Crisp Point Light Historical Society, please visit their website at http://www.crisppointlighthouse.org.