Searching for “The Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes”

Searching for “The Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes”

In my research for the book “Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes” I scoured the online newspaper archives for information pertaining to Rev. Law. The advent of online, searchable newspaper databases that returned scanned PDF or images of the originals, made the task of finding news articles much easier than it would have just a decade or more ago. I found many articles from newspapers from around the United States, and the majority of them were similar (if not exact) to the following article from The Washington Herald, Feb 13, 1910:   “SKY PILOT OF THE LAKES The Rev. W.H. Law’s Parish Extends from Buffalo to Duluth. A parish 1,800 miles in length and 300 miles in width is in charge of the Rec. W. H. Law, known from Buffalo to Duluth as the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes, say the New York Sun. The membership of this parish runs into the thousands and the great majority of the parishioners never worship twice in the same locality, for services are held mostly in moving ships. Some are held at lonely lighthouses far from other human habitation. No wedding has ever taken place in this parish, no christening of a baby, no service for the burial of the dead. The sky pilot seeks his parishioners in a small gasoline boat twenty-two feet in length.  Besides carrying the message of the Gospel to these me he takes to them books, magazines, papers, and news of the outside world. His visits are looked forward to by lighthouse keepers and the lightship crews, for his territory is so large that he is unable to visit them more than once during the season. He maintains a small circulating library of not more than seventy books. He also carries with him a phonograph with records of the most popular hymns. Some of the lighthouses visited are far from the mainland, and the trips to them are hazardous. Stannard Rock light, for instance, is nearly fifty miles out from Marquette on Lake Superior. It is erected on a small but dangerous reef which resembles a whale’s back. The Light is 165 feet in height and rests on crib work, which is encircled by a railway, and for weeks at a time the weather is so bad that it is dangerous for the keepers to venture out of doors. Between the light and Keweenaw Point there is a depth of 1,008 feet of water. On his travels the sky pilot visits 300 lighthouses, fifteen lightships, and sixty life-saving stations. Mr. Law does not outwardly resemble a minister of the Gospel. He is big and healthy and has a rolling gait like a sailor. He preaches simply to the sailor, with whom he is very popular. “   In all I found 158 newspaper and magazine articles from across the United States that featured something on Rev. Law and I’m sure, as they keep adding more papers to the archives, more will be available. The most useful information came from feature articles from large Great Lakes Ports like Detroit, Chicago and Duluth. Other useful articles came from Newspapers in Pittsburgh and New York. If you are planning to do some historical research and don’t have the time or money to travel to these locations and sift through their extensive archives, these online services are a godsend and I highly recommend them. Here is a list of great databases: http://www.genealogybank.com/ http://newspaperarchive.com/ http://www.fold3.com/ http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ http://books.google.com/ – Great for magazines and periodicals “Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes: A Biography of the Rev. William H. Law” is NOW AVAILABLE through Amazon.com, Avery Color Studios and Barnes & Noble. Coming soon retail outlets throughout the Great Lakes region....

“Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes” is now available through the Avery Color Studios web store

“Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes” is now available through the Avery Color Studios web store

“Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes” is now available through the Avery Color Studios web store LOCATED HERE. “You can’t have a complete understanding of maritime history until you have read this book.” – Frederick Stonehouse, Author of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” “Have you ever dreamed of visiting every Lighthouse and Life-Saving station on the Great Lakes? The Reverend William H. Law did just that and more in the early days of the twentieth century. Rescued by a U.S. Life-Saving Service crew on Lake Huron in 1900, Law dedicated his life’s work to serving the men and women stationed at Light and Life-Saving stations throughout the United States. Whether it was bringing his “Floating Library” to stations located on the Great Lakes, regular correspondence with the crews of stations far too remote for a personal visit, or his relentless pursuit of Congress to approve a bill to provide better pay and pensions, Reverend Law became a fast friend to those serving in the Lighthouse and Life-Saving services. “Sky Pilot” was sailors’ slang for a chaplain. To the men and women he served, Reverend Law was lovingly known as “The Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes.” A tale of unconquerable optimism, the story of W. H. Law’s life is as much the account of the brave men and women of the Lighthouse Service and Life-Saving Service as it is the saga of a long and rewarding life in the service of others.”      ...

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association offers rare chance to scale Mackinac Bridge.

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association is holding a raffle which will give the winner and a companion an almost unprecedented experience to view the Straits of Mackinac from atop the Mackinac Bridge. Proceeds from this event will benefit the GLLKA and its mission to restore and maintain historic lighthouses along the Great Lakes. The organization has adopted the St. Helena Island Light Station and the Cheboygan River Front Range Light. The tickets are $5 dollars each or five for $20, and the drawing will be held on July 31 at the GLLKA office, 707 N. Huron Ave., Mackinaw City. Ticket holders do not need to be present to win. Tickets are available in the GLLKA Gift Shop during regular hours or by calling...

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, Oct. 9-12, 2014

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, Oct. 9-12, 2014

John will be manning a booth at the 19th Annual Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival Oct. 9-12, 2014. Signed copies of “Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes” will be available for purchase. Tim Harrison, Editor in Chief & Publisher of Lighthouse Digest Magazine and President of American Lighthouse Foundation states: “There is no other festival like it in the United States. The organizers have done a fantastic job of drawing both vendors and lighthouse buffs from around the globe to what has become the largest and best lighthouse festival in the nation. October is a wonderful time of the year to visit Michigan, with the beautiful fall colors, close proximity to Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island and lots of lighthouses, what more could one ask for?” The festival is held at Alpena’s APLEX Event Center, 701 Woodward Avenue, Alpena, MI. More information on the 19th Annual Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival can be found at the event website located...

The Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

The Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

Rev. William Hainstock Law, the subject of my book “Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes”, was my Great-Great-Grandfather (Mother’s, Mother’s, Mother’s Father). I never knew him as he passed away many years before I was born. I did know his youngest daughter, Ruth (my Great-Grandmother), for a short time when I was very young and have a few memories of visiting her at her home in Traverse City, MI in the mid-1970s. Most of my knowledge of W. H. Law, prior to researching for the book, came from my Mother and Grandmother telling stories about how he was the first settler in Hessel/Cedarville area of Michigan and the fact that “He sailed around the Great Lakes visiting the lighthouses.” That was about the extent of my knowledge of the man. Our family used to visit with family in Hessel, Michigan in the summers. “Cousin” Jack Law at the time lived in the house “Grandpa” Law had built after a fire had destroyed his original “Bethel Home” in the early 1900s. Jack was married to Marion, how was a descendant on “Honest John” Hessel, for whom the town was named. I enjoyed my visits to Hessel and recall the fishing in the area to be very good, even if you didn’t have a boat you could catch big fish just throwing a line off the various docks along the shore, something I did quite often. The town of Hessel sits on the northern shore of Lake Huron and is surrounded by the Les Cheneaux Islands, a chain of islands carved out by glaciers that created natural channels between them. I recall taking a boat trip through the channels on some of our trips to the area, something I would dearly love to so again. As I grew older I started wanting to learn more about my ancestry. In 2008 I started actively mapping the family tree for my own purposes, picking up where others before had left off and utilizing the new tools like Ancestry.com and Google. With these tools I was able to create quite an extensive tree on both sides of my family. In 2010 I had a life-changing moment. I had been working at Borders Group Inc. headquarters in the IT department when after 12 years they finally got around to laying me off. I found myself without a job for the first time since leaving college and was not sure what I would do. The layoff came with a decent severance so I had some time to look for a job. I’ll admit I was uncertain about the future and how I was going to make ends meet. I decided to reach out to some of the “big names” in my field of software testing for some advice on what my next steps should. Through these contacts I was introduced to a start-up company called uTest. uTest’s business model was in the crowdsourcing of Software Testers and all I had to do was create an account, attend a conference call to get acquainted with the processes then get to work. I still had my severance from Borders coming for a little over a month so this seemed like a good way to make some extra cash while I searched for a more permanent position with a company where I would be happy. However, after a few weeks I found that I was making a decent income through uTest and realizing that if I subtracted the amount of money I used to spend just to go to work I was doing pretty well. Sure at the time it was a pay cut from my Borders salary but not by much and there was potential for growth. So I decide to take the leap and see if I could make this my new job. Four years later I’m still going strong. One side-effect of this new job was that I found I had a lot more free-time than I did working a corporate job and I found myself thinking back to the family tree and more specifically my Great-Great Grandfather, W. H. Law. I wanted to know more about him. Who exactly was he and what exactly did he do besides “Sail the Great Lakes visiting the lighthouses”? Once again, I turned to the tools at hand, Google, Ancestry.com, various online newspaper databases, basically anything and anybody I could reach through an internet connection that could help me flesh out a picture of his life and work. What I found was an almost complete biography of the man and his works. Better yet, it was a story on a grand scale that spanned...