Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group


Pensacola Lighthouse

Case #11-203
June 24, 2011
7:30pm – 1:00am


The 1st lighthouse was built in the location of the Navy Lodge, and parking lot. This is to the southeast of the present day lighthouse. Jeremiah Ingraham managed the lighthouse until his death in 1840. His questionable fall from the lighthouse stairs put his wife Michaela Ingraham as the lighthouse keeper. She was keeper until her death in 1855. They never saw the 2nd lighthouse, as they were already passed on by that time.

The last keeper of the 1st lighthouse was Joseph F. Palmer. He married the Ingraham’s daughter Josephine. Joseph and his family moved into the 2nd lighthouse after the 1st lighthouse was closed, and the new one was built. The 2nd (present day lighthouse) went into full operation in 1858.

During 1860, Joseph, Josephine, their children: Albert, Jeremiah, Chase and Clara lived at the lighthouse. They were all born in Florida. Charles Calan is the assistant lighthouse keeper during that year.

In 1861 the lighthouse was involved in the Civil War conflict. When Florida ceded from the United States the Union Army moved from Fort Barrancas (east of the lighthouse) to Fort Pickens which resides across the bay on the south side. The Union army bombed the lighthouse area quite frequently while in control of Fort Pickens. During these times the tower was struck roughly 6 times.

The Confederates decided to abandon the lighthouse, and the Union moved in. The Union was now in total control of the Bay area east side of the Gulf of Mexico inlet. During this time the lighthouse keeper was Samuel Glass. Samuel was born in England, and his wife Ann was born in Alabama. Samuel was keeper of the lighthouse for a few short months. They lived long lives and now reside at the Old Warrington Cemetery.

There were 4 assistant lighthouse keepers that were women. In 1864 the 1st woman assistant lighthouse keeper was Ellen McCormick, wife of lighthouse keeper Robert McCormick. She was born in England, and her husband Robert was born in New York. In 1867-1869 Martha V. Watts, the daughter of lighthouse keeper Robert H. Watts, was the assistant lighthouse keeper. They were both born in New York. In 1869-1870, Mary J. Madden, wife of lighthouse keeper Thomas C. Madden, was the assistant lighthouse keeper. The 1870 census lists her with children as assistant lighthouse keeper, but Thomas is not listed as living there. Mary was born in Florida. In 1880-1885 Martha C. Lawerence, the wife of lighthouse keeper Samuel C. Lawerence, was assistant lighthouse keeper. Samuel was born in Maine and Martha was born in Alabama.

The lighthouse has seen its share of mother nature events. In 1874 and 1875 lightening struck the tower. In 1886 an earthquake shook the tower. Earthquakes happening this far south are a rare event. Hurricanes coming off of the Gulf have been an issue since the beginning. The destruction that a hurricane can cause can be catastrophic. The lighthouse sits on a pretty high hill facing the Bay. This has probably saved it many times from being plowed over by hurricane force waves coming from the Gulf.

In its long history, the Pensacola lighthouse has had many lighthouse keepers living there with their families. It is in the care of the United States Coast Guard now.

The Haunted history of the Pensacola Lighthouse

The current Pensacola Lighthouse was built in 1858 on the north side of Pensacola Bay. Standing proudly at 150ft tall, it sits on a 40 foot bluff located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station, placing its light at 190 feet above sea level. It was lit on January 1, 1859 and has been an active lighthouse ever since with one exception during the Civil War.

At the start of the Civil War, Pensacola was controlled by Confederate forces, while across the bay at Fort Pickens Union forces remained in command. Confederate authorities removed the lens from the lighthouse plunging the bay into darkness. In November 1861 the lighthouse tower was damaged by an artillery duel between the Union and Confederate forces.

In 1863 the lighthouse shone again using a fourth-order Fresnel lens and a new first-order lens replaced that one in 1869. The lighthouse gleamed brilliant white in the hot Florida sun during the raging Civil War but after the end of the conflict the upper two-thirds were painted black.

Electricity was introduced in 1939, eliminating the need to rewind the light rotation clockworks every 4 ½ hours and finally the tower was automated in 1965. The lighthouse tower and keepers cottage were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

While the history of the Pensacola Lighthouse is intriguing, it is the haunted history and current sighting of ghosts that keep people coming back again and again for tours.

The Pensacola Lighthouse has the honor of being one of the Ten Most Haunted Lighthouses as rated by the Travel Channel.

The most well known spirit is the wife of the first keeper, Jeremiah Ingraham. In 1826, Ingraham and his new wife Michaela moved into the poorly constructed keeper’s cottage.

By all accounts Michaela was the perfect lighthouse keeper’s wife. She kept the cottage spotless and helped her husband with his duties. Some think she cared too much for the lighthouse and when her husband died in 1840 she was appointed the new keeper.

While official records state Ingraham took ill and died there were rumors he was murdered by his wife in a violent stabbing in the tower. Michaela remained the keeper from her husband’s death in 1840 until her own in 1855.

Pensacola Lighthouse has been proclaimed as “One of America’s Most Haunted Lighthouses”, on the episode of the same name, aired on the Travel Channel, and has been featured on scyfy’s hit show Ghost Hunter’s. You too can hunt where TAPS hunted, or just come out for a family friendly evening of ghost stories

More information please visit http://pensacolalighthouse.org/index.html

Reports of Paranormal activity include smell, full apparitions, and unexplained noises, being watched, like an unseen presence has been patrolling the halls. Members of the current staff have reported seeing apparitions, and in general, strange occurrences around the building.

Digital cameras, Digital Voice Recorders, Sony Handycams with the Nightshot feature, EMF Meter, Infrared Digital Temperature Scanner, K2 meter, Extech Humidity and Temperature USB Datalogger RHT10, Zoom H2 Recorder, Mel-Meter, 4 IR Camera DVR System, The PX, Wireless Mic

Taken with digital cameras.


Taken with Deep Infrared digital cameras



Taken with Digital Voice Recorder.