Captain Archibald Philander Marble – Keeper of the Light

Captain Archibald Philander Marble (b. 1831) a native of New York, arrived in California in 1852. He was a member of the U.S. Infantry and in 1853 helped build the fort at Bucksport, CA. He became Keeper of the Lights at Humboldt Bay, CA, later transferring to Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, CA.
Several times married (once for only a few days) and accused of drunken disregard of his duties, newspaper clippings and legal documents paint a portrait of a scurrilous lighthouse keeper of the wild coast of the Pacific North-West.

“The Ferndale Enterprise” Ferndale, CA, February 27, 1891
Died: Emily J. Marble, February 20, 1891 at the Lighthouse, Cape Mendocino. Buried at Myrtle Grove cemetery, Eureka. Age, about 47 years, born in India. Husband, Captain A. P. Marble.

“The Daily Humboldt Times” Eureka, CA, August 25, 1891
Captain A. P. Marble, Keeper of the Mendocino Lighthouse, was in this city Sunday & from his happy & expectant look it was surmised that something momentous was about to happen. All was explained when Miss Louise Harding stepped off the “Humboldt” on the arrival of the vessel Sunday & it was announced that the lady would soon become Mrs. Marble & sure enough yesterday the Captain said the lady in question, having visited County Clerk Stern, repaired to the parsonage of St Bernard’s Catholic church & were made one by Rev. Father Meagher. The happy couple left shortly afterwards for their home at Capetown, where the well wished of the “Times” for their future happiness follows them.

“The Daily Humboldt Times” Eureka, CA, September 6, 1891
Listed on the passenger list of the steamer “Los Angeles”: Mrs. A. P. Marble.

“The Ferndale Enterprise” Ferndale, CA, September 11, 1891
From all appearances it would seem that Captain Marble’s very recent attempt at a voyage upon the matrimonial seas was an ill-starred venture. The blissful honeymoon was unfortunately destined to exist only nine days, & the blooming young bride has gathered up her grips & tried herself back to the busy thoroughfares of the Golden Gate city. Cheer up, Captain; adversity is something we must all experience at least once in a lifetime.

“The Daily Humboldt Times” Eureka, CA, July 15, 1897
MARRIED…. In Eureka, July 14, 1897, A. P. Marble of Eureka & Mrs. Gertrude C. Thayer, late of Indiana. Archibald P. Marble was made happy for the fourth time yesterday morning, when the steamer “Pomona” arrived, bringing Mrs. Gertrude C. Thayer, late of Indiana, who last evening changed her name to Marble in the presence of a few intimate friends. The ceremony was performed at his residence, 432 Hawthorne Street, Rev. J. P. McCauley officiating. Mr. & Mrs. H. N. Nichols stood up with the happy couple. After the knot was tied all sat down to a sumptuous supper prepared by the groom.

“The Ferndale Enterprise” Ferndale, CA, August 17, 1897
Mrs. A. P. Marble, lately married, has departed from Eureka for good. Mr. Marble still remains at the county seat. This we believe was his fourth venture on the matrimonial sea.


Excerpt from Legal folio regarding Archibald Marble’s suit for libel (1873):
And for a further and separate answer and defense, defendants aver as mitigating circumstances, that on the night of August 31st 1872, no light was visible at the Light House at Eureka Humboldt Bay, between the hours of Sundown and 9 o’clock P.M. and also at 11 P.M. the same evening.

That defendants prior to the 23rd of September 1872 were informed and did believe and now charge the fact to be, that prior to said date the absence of light at such Light House was of frequent occurrence.

That plaintiff was and is frequently in a state of intoxication and thereby was incapacitated from properly discharging the duties of such Light Keeper, and defendants had probable cause to believe that it was a matter of uncertainty whether such duties would be performed.

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