February 22, 2017
Known for: heroic rescues at sea
Occupation: lighthouse keeper
Dates: February 25, 1842 - October 25, 1911
Also known as: Idawalley Zorada Lewis, Ida Lewis-Wilson
Ida Lewis was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest of four children of Captain Hosea Lewis of the Revenue Cutter Service.
Her father was transferred to the Lighthouse Service and appointed keeper of Lime Rock Light on Lime Rock in Newport in 1854, taking his family to live on the rock in 1857
Ida expanded her domestic duties to include caring for him and a seriously ill sister and also, with her mother's assistance, tending the light: filling the lamp with oil at sundown and again at midnight, trimming the wick, polishing carbon off the reflectors, and extinguishing the light at dawn.
Ida and her mother tended the Lime Rock Light for her father from 1857 until 1873, when he died.
Lewis made her first rescue in 1854, coming to the assistance of four men whose boat had capsized. She was 12 years old.
On July 16, 1881, she was awarded the rare and prestigious Gold Lifesaving Medal from the United States government for her daring rescue on February 4, 1881, of two soldiers from Fort Adams who had fallen through the ice while attempting to return to the fort on foot
Lewis died of a stroke on October 24, 1911, at the age of 69.
Ida Lewis was buried in the Common Burying Ground in a prominent location so her grave can be seen by passers by.
The folk song "Lighthouse Keeper" by Neptune's Car was inspired by Lewis's experiences.
In 2017, Google Doodle commemorated Ida Lewis 175th birthday.
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