James Edwin CollinsX

Born: June 13, 1896

Location: Brimley

Hello, I am James Edwin Collins, and I received the Albert Gallatin Award for thirty-nine years of service in the Coast Guard and U.S. Lighthouse Service when I retired. I was born in Brimley, Michigan, on June 13, 1896. When I was 12 years old, my father died. I was the oldest son so I went to work as a “cookie” in a lumber camp. Despite this adversity, I continued to improve my education. I was able to take the state examination and received my certificate of completion of Grade 8 for the State of Michigan. I was very proud of that accomplishment, but continued to work in lumber camps. I joined the army during World War I, worked at the Newberry State Hospital, and in 1919 passed the Civil Service test to join the United States Lighthouse Service. For the next 39 years I worked as Assistant Keeper at the Detroit River, Point Iroquois, Middle Island, Stannard’s Rock, and Manitou Island Light Stations, and I became Keeper in Charge at Huron Island Light Station in 1935. I retired from the Upper Entry Station on June 30, 1958. While at the Huron Island Station, I received the Superintendent’s Star for exemplary service. My wife, Laura, and I raised 5 children at the lighthouse homes we lived in. I truly saw the light in my lifetime.

Contributed by: Christine Collins, L'Anse, Michigan