Capt. Anders Anderson

By Barbara F. Dyer | Mar 24, 2016
Courtesy of: Barbara F. Dyer WAWENOCK

I am once again at Mountain View Cemetery, not yet permanently, but because I received some information on an interesting family by a descendent, Roy Francis Gilley III. His families were keepers of Maine lighthouses, including my favorite — Curtis Island Light in Camden.

It begins with Capt. Anders Anderson, who was born in Sweden on May 22, 1864. That was three days after, and 60 years before I saw the light of day. As many young men, not only in Sweden but also in Maine did, he went to sea and traveled extensively. His great-grandson, John Anderson, has written a biography on Capt. Anderson about to be published.

About 1890, Capt. Anderson was at Mark Island Light, where the keeper was Howard Gilley. He was hosted by the Gilley family and fell in love with their eldest daughter, Annie. The two were married in 1903 and had three sons, John, Robert and Gilbert. They also had three daughters, Julia, Marion and Louise. The Anderson family settled in Rockland, but the captain continued to go to sea.

Howard M. Gilley retired from Mark Island Light to Negro Island (now Curtis Island in Camden.) His son and Capt. Anderson’s brother-in-law was Roy F. Gilley, who came to Negro Island as a young man. He lived on the Island but attended Camden schools, graduating from Camden High School in the Class of 1906.

The 1910 Federal Census shows Capt. Anders Anderson as living at 63 Pearl St. in Camden, and emigrated in 1886 from Sweden. It shows that he was 46 years of age and his wife Annie was 32. Others listed in his household were Julia, 5; John, 3; Louise, 1; and Howard M. Gilley, 64.

There was a story in Bertram G. Snow’s book, "The Main Beam," published in 2005 by The Rockland Historical Society. Snow was Chief of Police in Rockland for many years but in his retirement he decided to write a book on vessels built in the Snow Shipyard in Rockland owned by his family for many years. He also spent several years researching for and writing his interesting book.

One story that relates to this article was about the 325-ton WAWENOCK built in the Snow Yard and launched in 1907. Snow tells of the three-master schooner loaded with granite curbing stones and sailing from Sullivan, Maine to New York in December 1928. Capt. Anderson sailed it from its launching date for the first three years. Then he returned to her in 1928 for this trip. On the 30th, after temporarily snagging on a ledge in Jerico Bay, he waited for better weather. On Jan. 10, the crew woke up to a southeast snowstorm and anchored east of Isle au Haut. The Captain decided to raise the anchor and sailed up the Bay. The visibility was so poor the schooner struck ledges on the west side of Fog Island and they could hear water pouring into the vessel. The crew lowered the yawl boat and left the WAWENOCK. The schooner, still under full sail, freed herself and continued on with the yawl boat following her. The schooner ran on the rocks on McGlathery Island, while the men went on to Stonington to report. The next day Capt. John I. Snow arrived to survey the damage and decided that the WAWENOCK was a total loss and uninsured. Soon after the steam lighter, SOPHIA came to the Island to salvage the cargo of granite curb stones, its masts and other gear. No one lived on that Island at the time. Later it was inhabited by mostly the Eaton family.

Capt. Eaton worked aboard SOPHIA and took some pictures, for which he is given credit.

According to John Anderson, his family had more information on this wreck. It was the favorite vessel of Capt. Anders Anderson and he had a large photo of it from its launching that hung in his living room. It was one of six L.L. Snow vessels that he mastered in his 40-plus years as a captain.

John Anderson, related his grandfather’s version to his children, of the account of that wreck. It was that he needed to shift anchorage to a more favorable location once the storm began to blow. The storm intensified to the point where the visibility was zero and she was driven onto the ledges at Fog Island. He felt they were in a position where the tide would float it off, but the crew was too spooked and left in the yawl boat, so he had no choice but to follow. She then shimmied off the ledges.

Capt. Anders Anderson gained another command and sailed to the end of 1931, when he was 67 years old. He died Oct. 29, 1940. His wife, Annie, died in 1954. They are buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Section 1, Lot 13 and so are their children John in 1965, Robert in 1978, Gilbert in 1986, and Julia in 1989.

It is an interesting family of seamen and lightkeepers.

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