The first lighthouse keeper to serve at Michigan’s Holland Harbor “Big Red” Lighthouse was officially recognized with a U.S. Lighthouse Service Memorial Marker at the grave in Pilgrim Home Cemetery.
The event, organized by Deb Wake of Holland, Michigan, to honor the service of Melgert Van Regenmorter, was held August 18, 2023 on the century anniversary of his death. Van Regenmorter was appointed as Holland Harbors’s first lighthouse keeper in 1870 and held the role for 37 years before retiring in Holland, Michigan.
Wake first learned of Van Regenmorter’s story in 2021 while researching a tour of the cemetery for the Holland Museum, and then contacted Ter Haar, Van Regenmorter’s great-granddaughter.
Wake said Van Regenmorter “helped build our city and faithfully served his country and community.”
Van Regenmorter immigrated with his parents from the Netherlands in 1847 as part of Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte’s original group of settlers. He also fought in the Civil War. Following his service in the war, he served as keeper of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse from 1870-1907.
Several people spoke during the event, including the president of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historic Commission, John Gronberg, author and historian Alisa Crawford, and family friend Bill Tazelaar.
The ceremony included an Honor Guard from Holland’s American Legion Post 6, as well as Civil War reenactors. Taps was played by Bruce Formsma, followed by the unveiling of the marker by Van Regenmorter’s descendants, Elizabeth Ter Haar and Kimberly Beith.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2023 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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