A Keeper’s Grandson

John Roberts in the Keeper’s Quarters

John Roberts in the Keeper’s Quarters

“I'm John Roberts.   My grandfather and great grandfather were keepers of this lighthouse.  My great grandfather came up from Dry Tortugas Lighthouse near Key West in 1892 and my grandmother, one of his daughters, was born the next year right here in the lighthouse in 1893.

Later on, J.Y. Gresham met my great grandfather's and great grandmother's daughter, Lela Fine.   They were married in the lighthouse in 1909.  She was sixteen and he was twenty.  He came here from Cape San Blas lighthouse, where he was the assistant keeper, in 1918 and stayed until 1949.  That's 31 years - longer than any other keeper.”


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John visited his grandparents at the lighthouse often when he was a boy.  He has memories of the lighthouse during that time, and he listened to the stories his grandparents would tell.   

Many of the things he remembers from his childhood are contained in a book, Keepers of the Light, written by John's sister, Myrna Roberts Kanekkeberg with John’s help. It’s available in the Nature Store

Today John lives in Tallahassee and frequently leads tours of the lighthouse.  These are just a few of his best stories, as told by him in August of 2019. You can hear these stories and many more like them when you take a tour of the lighthouse.

The Three St. Marks Lighthouse Towers

John talks about the three different towers that were built over time.

The Live Oak Tree

The live Oak tree in the front of he lighthouse wasn’t always there.

The Lighthouse Steps

John talks about the steps that lead to the top of the tower.

Lighthouse Road

John talks about the early days of Lighthouse Road.

Greek Sponge Divers - part 1

This is part 1 of a two part story about Greek sponge divers in the flats off the lighthouse.

Greek Sponge Divers - part 2

Part 2 of the story about Greek sponge divers describing how they gauged the severity of approaching storms.

Granddaddy Saves a Life

John tells the story of how his grandfather saved a man's life.

There are more stories and much to see when you visit the lighthouse in person.