Point Betsie Life Saving Station Records

 Collection
Identifier: GLMS-0020

Collection Overview

Abstract

The Point Betsie Life Saving Station, built in 1876, housed a captain and a crew of seven surfmen for a season that coincided with the Great Lakes shipping season. Their duties included the rescue of crew, passengers, and cargo of ships in disasters as well as assisting in salvage operations. The collection consists of yearly supply inventory records and incoming correspondence for the period from 1883 to 1919. The majority of the correspondence is from the U.S. Treasury Department. Outgoing letters from the station which would provide a more complete picture of the operation and its crew are not available.

Dates

  • 1883-1919

Extent

1 Reels (1 reel of 35mm microfilm)

Creator

Scope and Contents

The records of the Point Betsie Life Saving Station document the station's official correspondence and supply inventory between 1883 and 1919. The collection consists solely of incoming correspondence and early supply inventory records. The correspondence contains detailed information on procedure from the rights of the surfman to the specifications for the proper uniform. The majority of the correspondence is from the U. S. Treasury Department. Included in these letters are comments and replies on requisition requests for Point Betsie supplies, equipment, and salaries.

The records document the working relationship between the Captain of the station and the U. S. Treasury Department and, later, the U. S. Coast Guard. Also contained in the correspondence are recorded incidents of personnel problems and suggested solutions. Lacking in the collection of correspondence are the outgoing letters from the station which would provide a more complete picture of the activities of the station and its crew. In addition, daily reports including full narratives of rescue operations, all transactions, and occurrences of interest were recorded by the captain and were forwarded to the General Superintendent. These journals would be an additional source of information. Their location is undetermined.

The property returns are a yearly inventory taken of all supplies contained in the station. This includes the articles kept in the Women's Relief Box, such as clothing, shoes, and foodstuffs, for distribution to the victims of shipwrecks.

The periods preceding 1883 and after 1919 are lacking documentation in the Point Betsie collection. Researchers may wish to consult as an additional resource the U. S. Life Saving Service Annual Reports.

Agency History

The U. S. Life Saving Service was established in 1849 "for the better preservation of life and property from shipwrecks." The service was established by the Secretary of the Treasury and was supervised by the Revenue Marine Corps. Point aux Beco Scies, later known as Point Betsie, Frankfort, Michigan, was built in 1876 as a life saving station under the supervision of the U. S. Life Saving Service. The station housed a captain and a crew of seven surfmen for a season that coincided with the Great Lakes shipping season. Their duties included the rescue of crew, passengers, and cargo ships in disasters as well as assisting in salvage operations.

With its creation in 1915, the U. S. Coast Guard assumed responsibility for the U. S. Lifesaving Service.

Captains of Point Betsie Life Saving Station (information found in the collection and from the U. S. Life Saving Service Annual Reports):

  1. Thomas E. Bedford: 1876?, 1883-1886 (it is assumed he served between 1876 and 1883)
  2. Harrison Miller, 1887-1907
  3. Edwin E. Bedford, 1908-191

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is in the public domain.

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Related Materials

To view annual reports of the United States Life Saving Service, 1876-1914, conduct a search via the library catalog.

For a detailed history of the Point Betsie Lighthouse and Lifesaving Station, see the book Point Betsie : lightkeeping and lifesaving on northeastern Lake Michigan by Jonathan P. Hawley. This book is available via the library catalog.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Original records were loaned to the Center for Archival Collections for microfilming by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 1980.

Title
Guide to the Point Betsie Life Saving Station Records
Author
Les Warner, Mark Sprang
Date
May 1981, June 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English