Crisp Point Light Historical Society Holds Marker Ceremony in Oscoda for Former Keepers

Philip Eby’s gravesite with new US Light House Service marker. Photo by Dr. Mark Davis.
Captain James Hunter’s gravesite with new US Life Saving Service Marker. Photo by Dr. Mark Davis.

The Crisp Point Light Historical Society held a marker ceremony at Pinecrest Cemetery on Adams Road in Oscoda on July 14, 2019 at 1 PM.  The ceremony was for Crisp Point Life Saving Station Keeper James Burton Hunter and for Crisp Point Lighthouse First Assistant Lighthouse Keeper Philip F. Eby. Eby’s gravesite received a US Lighthouse Service marker with a Keeper insignia below it. Captain Hunter’s gravesite received a US Life-Saving Service marker with Keeper and Surfman insignias below it.  (Eby’s plot is D271C (west end) and Hunter’s Plot is D415.) The CPLHS is attempting to place at least one gravesite marker at former Crisp Point Keepers or Surfmen each year.  Video taken of the ceremony can be viewed on YouTube at the following link:

USCG Petty Officer Jesse Laurio and CPLHS Member Carl Jahn. Photo by Dr. Mark Davis

CPLHS Members Carl & Marcia Jahn contacted Adam Castonia of the US Coast Guard prior to the ceremony and were able to arrange for Petty Officer Jesse Laurio to say some words on behalf of the USCG.   CPLHS was very appreciative of everybody at USCG Station Tawas that helped make the day special such as inviting all attendees to tour the 45 foot USCG Rescue Boat that was docked along the Au Sable River.

Larry & Elaine Watson, Steve & Ethan Kraus, Petty Officer Jess Laurio, Carl Jahn, Dr. Linda Kraus, Rick Brockway, and Cameron Lovett with Marcia Jahn taking a picture of the group.  Photo by Mark Davis.

The Ceremony was attended by Rick & Terri Brockway, Carl & Marcia Jahn, Cameron Lovett, Elaine & Larry Watson, Petty Officer Jesse Laurio, Dr. Mark Davis & Dr. Linda Kraus, and Dr. Steve and Ethan Kraus. The ceremony started with CPLHS Member Larry Watson saying some words on behalf of CPLHS. Carl Jahn talked about the typical daily lives of life saving station and lighthouse keepers.  Petty Officer Jesse Laurio told the biographies of the two men.  Dr. Linda Kraus then thanked the group on behalf of the family and Rick Brockway placed the markers at the gravesites.  The group was invited to the Au Sable River after the ceremony and they toured the Coast Guard’s 45 foot rescue boat and spoke with USCG members.

CPLHS Member Carl Jahn dressed in a US Light House Service uniform and Adam Castonia, USCG. Au Sable River, Oscoda, MI.  Photo by Dr. Mark Davis.
Captain James Burton Hunter
Captain James Burton Hunter

James Burton Hunter, was the Life Saving Station Keeper at Crisp Point from November 17, 1897 until his resignation on June 8, 1904. He was the father-in-law of Crisp Point Lighthouse First Assistant Keeper Philip F. Eby. Philip married Keeper Hunter’s daughter, Mary B. Hunter. We also found a US Treasury Department document from July 1, 1897 that showed he served as a Surfman at Middle Island, Michigan at the Life Saving Station located there.

James was born April 7, 1856 in Blackburn, England. He married Annie Laurie Vroman and he had one son named John that was born in 1888 but passed away June 23, 1889. James passed away on January 28, 1933 in Au Sable, Michigan. James, Annie, and John were buried in their family’s plot at Pinecrest Cemetery.

Philip and Margaret Eby

Philip F. Eby was a First Assistant Lighthouse Keeper at Crisp Point Lighthouse from 1915 or 1916 until his death or shortly before. He also was a Second Assistant Lighthouse Keeper at LaPointe Lighthouse (Wisconsin) from 1913-1915. He was the son-in-law of past Crisp Point Lifesaving Station Keeper James Burton Hunter. Philip married Keeper Hunter’s daughter, Mary B. Hunter. Together they had a daughter named Margaret Jean Eby (1913-1998). Margaret’s mother, Mary, would not let her swim much of the year because the water was too cold at Crisp Point. Margaret told her daughter Aprill that one time she went down early in the morning and dipped water out of Lake Superior and put it in a bucket. She set it in the sun and later in the day, when it had warmed, she took it inside and said “I dipped this water this morning mother and it’s warm enough to swim, feel it”. Then her mother let her go swimming.

Philip was born on April 17, 1866 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin (although his grave marker says he was born in 1870) and died May 16, 1919 in Oscoda, Michigan. Philip was buried in his family’s plot at Pinecrest Cemetery.

Below are additional photos from July 14, 2019.

CPLHS Member Carl Jahn watches the USCG Rescue Boat coming in from Lake Huron on the Au Sable River on July 14, 2019. Photo by Marcia Jahn.
USCG at Au Sable River, Oscoda, MI. Photo by Cameron Lovett.
USCG rescue boat docked in Oscoda, MI.
Ethan Kraus and others check out the Coast Guard Resue Boat docked in Oscoda on July 14, 2019.
CPLHS Members Larry & Elaine Watson touring the USCG boat in Oscoda on July 14, 2019. Photo by Cameron Lovett.
Mark Davis, Steve & Ethan Kraus, and Marcia Jahn getting a below the deck look at a USCG boat in Oscoda, July 14, 2019.  Photo by Cameron Lovett.
Carl Jahn talks with the USCG Crew at the Au Sable River in Oscoda at the conclusion of the group’s tour of the boat. Photo by Cameron Lovett.