Bullock's Point got its
name from Richard Bullock, who established a farm on the neck of land
in 1666. The point, which juts southward toward the mouth of the
Providence River, was surrounded by shoals that proved treacherous for
the growing shipping traffic heading to and from Providence in the
nineteenth century. An unlighted day beacon was placed offshore from
the point in the mid-1800s.
After a Congressional appropriation of $1000 in 1872, a
small lighted beacon was placed on a granite pier. The fixed red light,
shown from a sixth-order Fresnel lens, went into service on November 4,
1872. At first, the duty of looking after the small aid went to Joseph
Bowes, the keeper at Sabin Point Light to the north.
the collection of Edward Rowe Snow, courtesy of Dorothy Bicknell
John Anderson was
keeper at Bullock's Point Light in 1909-1910. He is seen here with his
wife, Hannah, and their dog, Snooks. The photo was taken about 1917
while Anderson was keeper at Princess Bay Lighthouse on Staten Island,
courtesy of Judy Carpenter.
It was soon deemed necessary to have a keeper living
full time at Bullock's Point Light. An additional appropriation of
$15,000 was obtained on June 23, 1874, for the building of a new
combined lighthouse and dwelling. The work began in August 1875. First,
the original pier was enlarged.
The construction of the lighthouse building soon commenced but was
delayed by bad weather and ice on the river during the winter months.
The station was finished in the early spring of 1876.
This was an unusual lighthouse unlike any other in New
England. It was an attractive Victorian dwelling sitting on a
rectangular granite pier, with a lantern on its roof. A sixth-order
Fresnel lens exhibited a fixed red light, and a fog bell was added in
Joseph P. Eddy was keeper from 1886 to 1892. His four
children rowed to shore to attend school in the Drownville section of
Barrington every day. The family endured a brutally cold winter in
1892, when even a steamer bound for New York City became lodged in the
Anton Tengren's son, Thomas William Tengren, spent some time at the
lighthouse with his grandparents when Anton was overseas during World
War I. Years later Thomas would say, "You ain't been cold till you've
sat in that outhouse in January with a good stiff breeze coming in off
Capt. William Thomas Tengren, who was born in Sweden,
was keeper from 1901 to 1909 and again from 1918 to 1926. Tengren had
gone to work on ships at the age of nine. As he later explained, nobody
ever bothered to check his age. During his time on ships, Tengren
learned about all things nautical from the older sailors, and also how
to read and write. His travels eventually landed him in the United
Captain Tengren lived at the six-room lighthouse with
his wife, Charlotta, and their three children, Anton, Agnes, and Mary.
The Tengrens added a deck to the lighthouse to serve as a "yard" so
that the children could play outside.
The Tengrens also had plenty of visitors, usually
fishermen and their families who would dock at the lighthouse and spend
the day. The Tengrens recorded that in the winter of 191819 the river
froze over and it was possible to walk to shore.
Captain William Thomas Tengren,
photo courtesy of Jessica Blackwelder and the family of the late Thomas
The outhouse, of course, hung over the river outside the lighthouse.
Courtesy of Jessica Blackwelder and
the family of the late Thomas W. Tengren.
Left: Mary, daughter of Keeper William and Charlotta
Tengren (left) and Charlotta, wife of Keeper Tengren, rowing out to the
Courtesy of Jessica
Blackwelder and the family of the late Thomas W. Tengren.
Florence and Anton Tengren (son
of Keeper William Tengren) on the deck outside the lighthouse with
their son, Thomas, photo courtesy of Jessica Blackwelder and the family
of the late Thomas W. Tengren.
Living at the lighthouse was hard work for everyone in
the family. Supplies were bought a month in advance in case of bad
weather. The Tengrens rowed to and from the lighthouse for school,
church and medical attention. Rainwater was boiled for drinking. There
was no elecricity at the station; the light was fueled by kerosene.
The next keeper at Bullocks Point was Andrew Zuius. He
and the Tengrens became friends and the Tengrens sometimes returned to
spend time at their old home.
Once, during a cold winter in the 1930s when the river
froze over, Keeper Zuius's daughter, Elizabeth Winterbottom, was
pulling her son, Warren Winterbottom, across the ice on a sled.
Elizabeth fell through the ice but was helped to safety by other family
members, and she apparently fully recovered from her brief dip in the
On May 27, 1930, a sailboat was capsized in a squall
near Bullock's Point, and Keeper Zuius rescued the two persons on
The hurricane of September 21, 1938, the greatest storm
of the twentieth century in southern New England, undermined the pier
beneath the lighthouse and did great damage to the building itself.
Keeper Zuius survived, somehow keeping the light burning
through the storm.
In the morning he found that the wall facing the wind
had been ripped away and the stairs had been washed out, and all his
belongings were swept away.
Bullock's Point Light was discontinued shortly after the
great storm and the structure was torn down a few years later. Today a
small lighted beacon on the old foundation marks the spot where
families once worked and played.
You can read much more about this lighthouse in the book
The Lighthouses of Rhode Island by Jeremy
Keeper Zuius can be seen on the
first floor of the lighthouse in the aftermath of the Hurricane of
1938. Thanks to Seamond Ponsart Roberts for the photo.
list is a work in progress. If you have any information on the keepers
of this lighthouse, I'd love to hear from you. You can email me at
email@example.com. Anyone copying this list onto another web site does
so at their own risk, as the list is always subject to updates and
Joseph Bower (Bowes ?) (1872-1875), John J. Weeden
(1875-1877), George W. Doane (1877), Stephen A. Hopkins (1877-1885),
Charles Lough (1885-1886), Joseph B. Eddy (1886-1892), John J. Card
(1892-?), William Thomas Tengren (1901-1909 and 1918-1927), John F.
Anderson (April 1, 1909 to Oct. 1, 1910), Arthur Baldwin (1911-1914),
Willis Green (1914-1915), Charles C. Fletcher (1915-1916), Julius
Johnanson (Johanson or Johansen ?) (1916-1918), Andrew Zuius