William Egly, Lighthouse Keeper [1895 – 1921]

William Egly, Lighthouse Keeper [1895-1921]

In 1895, William Egly transferred from the Lydia Ann (Aransas Pass) to take over the role as Principal Lighthouse Keeper at the Port Isabel Lighthouse.

The Egly’s had relatives in the Rio Grande Valley and there is a record of at least one visit in 1893 during which time the Egly’s stayed for several weeks and spent some time at the coast.

In 1895, the Brownsville Herald noted that “Mrs. William Egly and her two children arrived on the Alice stage last night from Aransas Pass where she has been living for several years. Mr. Egly has been appointed by the collector of customs at Galveston the light house keeper at the recently re-established lighthouse at Point Isabel. Mr. Egly will arrive at the Point with a few day by boat with all the necessary apparatus to open the light house.” June 1, 1895

On July 11, 1895 a follow up included: “William Egly is expected to arrive today on the Alice state from Rockport. Mr. Egly will at once take charge of the Point Isabel light house.” Six days later, “William Egly turned on the calcium of the Point Isabel light last night. This is the first light from the Point lighthouse in a number of years.” His starting salary was $675 annually.

Egly played an important role in the lighthouses of the lower Laguna Madre. He remained Principal Lighthouse Keeper at the Point Isabel Lighthouse for 10 years, until 1905 when the lighthouse was decommissioned. He was demoted and transferred to the Brazos Santiago Pass lighthouse where he was appointed 1st Assistant Lighthouse Keeper. Starting salary was $490 annually.

In 1907, Egly was promoted to Principal Lighthouse Keeper of the Brazos Santiago Pass lighthouse. Starting salary was $715 annually; ending salary was $960. He remained at that post until 1921. His death was reported in the Brownsville Herald on September 28, 1921. He died at his post of paralysis. He had served at various posts as lighthouse keeper for 41 years. “He had recently received a medal for being the oldest lighthouse keeper in the New Orleans district and another medal for the cleanest lighthouse in the district.”

William Egly, unsung hero of the lower Laguna Madre.