Keeper’s Log, August 20

Outer Island Light Station, August 20, 1879

Wind variable, light 82. Gospel ship “Glad Tidings” with Capt. Bunde arrived this AM; held Sermon this PM, and left for Willies Island at 4 PM.

The well-known Great Lakes author Walter Havighurst waxed eloquent on the Reverend Captain Henry Bundy’s floating chapel in The Long Ships Passing:

There was once a gospel ship, the steamer Good Tidings, on the lakes. She carried a cross on her foremast, and her fo’c’scle was brightened by a trim of gold leaf. She cruised on a circuit of evangelism, putting in at many harbors. Her skipper, Captain Bundy, was a sky pilot as well as a navigator, who pictured the perils of wind and water and laid out the true course of salvation. In those days a seaman’s calling was risky enough to ensure him of an interested audience.

Well, other sources indicate that the ship was indeed the Glad Tidings and not the Good Tidings, and it was a schooner, not a steamer, but maybe Mr. Havighurst has the decorations right.

I do wonder about what sort of reception the Reverend Captain Bundy got at his lighthouse stops. I mean, I’m firm but polite with the Witnesses and Mormons who come to my door, but if I’d been up all night tending a lamp, I might not be quite so civil if someone showed up in the morning offering a sermon. On the other hand, if he brought along fresh newspapers and a few jokes I hadn’t heard before, even I might have welcomed his arrival at the lonely island.

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And “Willies” (or “Willey’s”) Island? That’s the one we now call South Twin. We don’t know a lot about the folks who occupied the small island in the 1870s, but there definitely were people out there by this point. Henry Rice, founder of Bayfield, acquired title to the island in 1868, and by 1877, one J.H. Smith was in residence. Seems in 1879 there were enough to provide a worthwhile audience for the wandering preacher. (It would be several decades before the Norwegian immigrants who we now associate with the island arrived.)

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