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I wrote about Idawalley Zoradia Lewis a few years ago, but didn’t talk about the source of her unusual name.
She was named for her mother, Idawalley Zoradia Willey (1815-1879), who was born and raised in Rhode Island along with eight unusually named siblings and half-siblings — nearly all girls.
While I don’t know the names of all nine Willey children, I have tracked down these six:
- Alzada Roslyn (her daughter was also named “Alzada Roslyn”)
- Erasmus Darwin (apparently named for Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin)
- Cordelia Joanna
- Octavia Lodiska
- Idawalley Zoradia
- Laura E. (probably Effigenia, as her daughter was named “Laura Effigenia”)
Given the names above, what do you think the other three daughters in the Willey family might have been called?
Legendary lighthouse keeper Idawalley Zoradia “Ida” Lewis was born in 1842.
She was made the keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island, in 1870s after the previous keepers (her parents) both passed away.
During an era in which light keepers, typically male, were “frequently asked to risk their lives to saved the shipwrecked or others in danger of drowning,” Ida became famous for her superlative lifesaving abilities. She’s officially credited with saving 18 lives, though the actual count may have been double that.
She served as keeper until her death in late October, 1911.
The new Lime Rock Lighthouse keeper, Capt. Evard Jansen, arrived with his family shortly thereafter. Jansen’s wife gave birth to a baby girl in early December. The baby was the first and only baby ever born at the light, and she was named Ida Lewis Jansen.
In 1924, the island and the light were named for Ida Lewis as well. The light was later decommissioned, but has since been replaced by the Ida Lewis Yacht Club.
- “Commissioning Special Guest Mrs. Ida Lewis Jansen.” Ida Lewis Yacht Club Newsletter June 2010: 3.
- “First Baby of Lime Rock.” New York Times 18 Dec. 1911: 1.
- Idawalley Zorada Lewis (-Wilson), Keeper, USLHS
- Skomal, Lenora. Keeper Of Lime Rock. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2003.