Bolivar Point Lighthouse, photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
In 1894, Harry C. Claiborne was assigned as keeper of Bolivar Point lighthouse. His wife Virginia complained that “life was very lonely and friendless. There is very little visiting because travel is nonexistent from the point to Galveston.”
But when the devastating hurricane of 1900 swept through Galveston, Virginia’s loneliness ended. During the height of the September 8 storm, 120 people took refuge in the iron lighthouse. Sitting by twos on the spiral staircase, they huddled together while winds as high as 145 miles per hour shook the structure. When the storm ended and flood water receded from the tower, the Claibornes fed the hungry and now homeless people until the lighthouse rations ran out.
In August 1915, the scene was repeated when sixty people sought sanctuary in the lighthouse from another hurricane. Assistant Keeper James Brooks stood watch in the lantern room during part of the storm saying afterwards that the top of the tower “shook and swayed in the wind like a giant reed.” When the rotating machinery quit working due to the shaking of the tower, Mr. Brooks resorted to turning the light by cranking it by hand until the vibration became so great that he could no longer turn it. Once again the Claibornes provided aid for their neighbors, even though their own home had been demolished in the storm.
The Bolivar Point Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1933 and is now privately owned, but its role in the community as a guide, a weapon and a sanctuary played an important part in the history of Galveston.
Sometimes, we, like the lighthouse, are called to serve different purposes at different times. Will we be able to accept the changes like the Apostle Paul did as he stated in Philippians 4:11 (NIV)?
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”