Historical Collections of the Great Lakes
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Point Betsie Life Saving Station - GLMS 20
The records of the Point Betsie Life Saving Station date from 1883 to 1919. The records were transferred from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by Dr. Richard J. Wright in the fall of 1980 for the purpose of microfilming. A microfilm edition is available for research purposes. The register was prepared by Les Warner, a senior history student, during May 1981.
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):
Thomas E. Bedford: 1876?, 1883-1886 (it is assumed he served between 1876 and 1883)
Harrison Miller, 1887-1907
Edwin E. Bedford, 1908-1918
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.
Incoming, 1890-1895, 1897-1919
Contains incoming correspondence from the district superintendent, Treasury Department and the U. S. Coast Guard.
Reports contain yearly inventories of all supplies on hand, including a listing of articles in the Women's Relief Box.
Listing of order of folders/volumes in microfilm edition:
- April 1890-November 1895
- November 1897-October 1902
- January 1905-November 1914
- January-August 1915
- September-December 1915, n.d.
- January-June 1916
- July-December 1916
- January-May 1917
- June-December 1917
- January-June 1918
- July 1918-February 1919
Volumes: Property Returns
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