Hosea Lewis watched in fear as Ida, his sixteen-year-old daughter, rowed the heavy wooden boat bearing her three younger siblings through the rough waves, afraid the next one would capsize the boat. From his wheelchair, he could only observe the scene from the lighthouse window, helpless to offer any assistance. Yet somehow, Ida managed to safely transport the children back and forth from Lime Rock Island to school in Newport on the mainland every day.
Soon after becoming the lighthouse keeper of the Lime Rock light station in 1853, Mr. Lewis had suffered a stroke, and responsibilities for the lighthouse fell to his wife and his oldest child, Ida. Soon, reports of Ida’s heroic efforts and rescues of at least eighteen people from drowning reached the newspapers. Ida became famous for her unusual skill and abilities as a woman to do such things.
Ida eventually became the official lighthouse keeper, serving in the position from 1879 to 1911. Her last recorded rescue happened when she was 63 years old. When she was interviewed later in life and asked where she found her strength and courage, she said, “I don’t know, I ain’t particularly strong. The Lord Almighty gives it to me when I need it, that’s all.”
“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” 2 Samuel 22:33