AN AMAZING FACT: Ida Lewis was the daughter of a lighthouse keeper in Newport, Rhode Island. When her father, Captain Hosea Lewis, suffered a paralyzing stroke, Ida and her mother assumed all the responsibilities of the Lime Rock Lighthouse. Ida was unafraid of the water and became known as the best swimmer in Newport. Besides tending the light, she rowed her younger brothers and sisters 200 yards from the small rock island to school and back each day. She was frequently seen rowing about the vast bay on errands in all kinds of weather.
Ida’s rowing skills, strength, and courage came into play many times during her life. She conducted her first rescue when she was 16. With her station lifeboat, she rowed out and saved four young men unable to swim, who nearly drowned when their sailboat capsized. The boys were ashamed to be rescued by a slight young girl. In 1866, when she was 24, she rescued a drunken soldier in a disabled boat, towing him to shore. In 1867 she saved three workers from a swamped boat; they had gone after their employer’s prize sheep that had jumped into the harbor. After rescuing the men, Ida returned to save the sheep.
On March 12, 1869, she performed her most famous rescue. During a blizzard, Ida was sick with a terrible cold when her mother saw a boat overturn in the freezing waves. Ida ran out into the churning icy water in her stocking feet and rowed a boat out to save them. She rescued three soldiers; a young boy drowned. This brave feat placed her on the cover of Harper’s Magazine, and she became a national heroine.
Ida received fan mail from the rich and famous; even President Ulysses S. Grant visited her. She also received some marriage proposals. New York gave her a mahogany rowboat with red velvet cushions, gold braid around the gunwales, and gold-plated oarlocks. The boat was named “The Rescue.” Over the 50 years Ida tended the lighthouse, this small woman rescued at least eighteen persons from the cold and often treacherous waters off Lime Rock. Unofficially, the number was much higher. When she died in 1911, every ship bell in Newport tolled all night.
You know, the Bible says Jesus crossed a stormy sea to rescue a boat in distress. Our Keeper is always willing to come to our rescue when we call to Him for help.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. Matthew 14:25