JENNIFER JACKSON’S PORT TOWNSEND NEIGHBOR COLUMN: Ghost stories light up keeper’s house

WHEN LUCINDA EUBANK joined the Port Townsend Coast Guard Auxiliary, which conducts public tours of the Point Wilson Lighthouse, she came with a pedigree — her great-great-uncle by marriage, David Littlefield, was the first keeper of the light.

What she didn’t know was that another family member was possibly still hanging around.

Eubank is the great-great-granddaughter of Port Townsend pioneers Loren Hastings and her namesake, Lucinda Hastings, and the great-great-niece of Maria Hastings Littlefield, the lighthouse keeper’s wife.

Last weekend, Eubank and Clyde Snyder, a fellow Coast Guard Auxiliary member, were guests at the Paranormal Investigations of Historic America’s visit to the keeper’s house, on the end of the beach at Fort Worden State Park.

The goal: to see, or hear, if there is any evidence to support the ghost stories, including the legend of Maria, that swirl around the house like the fog.

“One of the conjectures is that she is coming back to find her child,” said Jim Zard, auxiliary president.

Maria, whose only son drowned, may be the woman in the long dress who appears in the keeper’s house.

Stories have been confirmed by people who used to live there.

Snyder said he was conducting a tour when a woman asked, “Has anybody told you about the ghost?”

The woman, who had grown up in the house, said she had seen the woman in the long dress.

Friends who spent the night had also reported hearing and seeing strange things, the woman said.

Another docent, Dotty Ross, said she had heard rumors of ghosts in the keeper’s house since she started giving tours in 2005.

A visiting Coast Guardsman who had been stationed at the residence told her that he was in the west wing, standing at the stove cooking, when he felt a presence behind him. Turning around, he saw a man standing there.

“All the Coasties knew about him,” Ross learned. “They moved to the east side.”

So the west wing is where PIHA investigators SEmD Debbie Knapp, Kathy Gavin and Vaughn Hubbard SEmD set up Saturday evening.

Their parabolic listening device and electronic field monitors didn’t pick up anything downstairs, Snyder said.

But when they moved upstairs, Gavin said, she felt someone touching her on the shoulder.

When a meter was brought over, the dial suddenly swung over through orange to red, Snyder said.

“It was just on one side of her,” Snyder said.

The investigators also saw a shadow in the room at the same time, and they recorded activity near a window.

Snyder said he thought the radar outside was activating the meters, but when he took one outside and held it up to the signal, the dial didn’t move.

Eubank’s tongue-in-check theory: that is was a ghost cat.

“It would want to sit in the window and look out,” she said.

When they were sitting downstairs in the twilight, however, with the setting sun casting a patch of light on the wall, Eubank said she saw something out of the corner of her eye.

“I could swear I saw something make a shadow on the wall,” she said. “It could have been a bird.”

Or it could have been Maria, one of three Hastings siblings who married Littlefields.

Eubank is descended from Loren and Lucinda Hastings’ son Frank, who married Mabel Littlefield.

Loren Jr. married Mabel’s sister Emma. And his sister Maria married Mabel and Emma’s brother, David.

“It was a small town,” Eubank explained.

Ross, who grew up in Mulkilteo, said she was naturally drawn to the lighthouse — her father, Jim Quillen, bought a fishing boat and launched it in August of 1941.

When the war broke out, the Coast Guard commandeered the boat and her father to make night patrols, Ross said, noting that the boats had guns but no radios.

Afterward, her father ran fishing charters — this was when you could put your finger in the water and catch a fish, Ross said — and to earn money, she got her charter license.

Later, after Ross and her second husband retired, they hit the road, doing volunteer work along the way, including working at lighthouses in Oregon, she said.

When he died, she went out to Point Wilson, joined the auxiliary and volunteered.

“I heard the stories, but I’ve never seen anything,” she said of the ghosts. “I’d like to see one.”

The woman on the tour who had grown up in the house also told docents she knew who the man in the downstairs kitchen was — a lighthouse keeper who lived there in the ’20s and ’30s and didn’t want to leave.

Eubank said she doesn’t think the female ghost is Great-Great-Aunt Maria but does think it’s possible that when something traumatic happens to someone, the spirit of the person tends to hang around.

When Eubank thinks about the lighthouse’s past, however, she pictures David Littlefield struggling up the stairs carrying the oil to the light, pouring it out in the pan and winding up the weights that operated the mechanism.

In the late 1800s, the light operated mechanically and would have burned whale oil, Snyder said, noting that one of the sheds in front of the house yard originally stored oil, which was kept separate in case of fire.

In 1913, a separate tower was built in front of the residence for the light, and it was removed from the back of the keeper’s house.

In 1979, 100 years after it was activated, the light was automated and the lighthouse closed to the public.

Coast Guard personnel and their families continued to live in the house until Sept. 11, 2001, when increased security concerns brought an end to that era.

The Port Townsend Coast Guard Auxiliary now maintains the outside of the structure and gives tours as a public service.

“The lighthouse would be closed to the public if not for the auxiliary,” Zard said of the tours, which are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays through September.

Hubbard, who formed PIHA to promote interest in historic structures in Washington state, posts the team’s videos on the KING TV website, (enter “PIHA” in the search box).

Hubbard and his team have also investigated the Underground, Michael’s Seafood and Steak House and the former Carnegie Library in Port Angeles, and the old City Hall and the Palace Hotel in Port Townsend.

The organization does not charge for investigations or the results, a DVD of its findings.

For more information, go to

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 47 is a nonmilitary, all-volunteer civilian organization serving the boating public through education, vessel safety checks and on-water patrols.

Flotilla 47 meets at 7 p.m. at the Point Wilson Lighthouse Auxiliary house (the one-story house to the right of the keeper’s residence) on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

The public is invited to attend, and new members are welcome.

For more information, phone Zard, 360-385-6692.


Jennifer Jackson writes about Port Townsend and Jefferson County every Wednesday. To contact her with items for this column, phone 360-379-5688 or e-mail jjackson@olypen.

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