During his illustrious career as a lighthouse keeper, Joshua Card was universally respected for his dedicated service and longevity – a total of forty-two years spent serving at Maine’s Boon Island (1867 to 1874) and New Hampshire’s Portsmouth Harbor (1874 to 1909).
In 1908, the following account was published in the Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, which was prepared under the editorial supervision of William Richard Cutter, A.M., Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York.
“Captain Joshua Kenney Card, son of John Card, was born in New Castle, New Hampshire, August 29, 1822, in the old home at New Castle, literally overhanging the waters of the Piscataqua River. He received his education in the public schools.
At the age of twelve he made his first voyage, shipping as cabin boy in the fishing schooner ‘Hope,’ of which his father was first mate. That was before the days of stoves and steam heat in vessels, and part of his duty was to keep the fire-place in the cabin supplied with wood. That voyage lasted four months.
He continued to follow the sea until 1849 and during most of the time on fishing vessels, but he made a great many voyages to the south, as far as Cuba. In 1849 his father shipped on the brig ‘Martha’ for a voyage to California, and the son left the sea and took a position in the navy yard at Portsmouth. Subsequently, he worked at teaming and established the first express line between New Castle and Portsmouth.
In 1867 he was offered the position of light-keeper at Boone Island and accepted it, remaining there six years and having his family with him during that time. He tells of a tidal wave striking the island in 1872, washing away every boat but one little tender.
The family were compelled to seek safety in the top of the tower. The water stood two feet deep in the light-house, and floated and ruined much of the furniture. The wave came without warning and nothing was secured.
Mr. Card moved his family back to New Castle and soon afterward was appointed light-keeper at Fort Point (Portsmouth Harbor) light-house, where he is still on duty, after more than thirty-five years of service. He is one of the oldest light-keepers on the coast of the United States.
In forty-one years as light-keeper at Boone Island and Fort Point he has been faithful to his duty and never the subject of a complaint. He was the first light-keeper to use kerosene in place of sperm oil, and upon his report the new oil was adopted in the light-houses of the government.
In thirty-five years his light has been in charge of a substitute but eleven nights altogether, and although he is eighty-five years old the light-house inspectors all agree that there is not a more efficient man in the service. Despite his age, Captain Card is hale and hearty, vigorous and alert. He stands six feet, two inches, and does not look more than sixty years old.
In January, 1908, he was chosen chairman of the committee by a mass meeting of citizens to go to Washington and protest to President Roosevelt against the location of a new military post in New Castle. Captain Card was willing to accept the duty, but his family persuaded him against the undertaking.
Captain Card’s daughter-in-law and his grand-daughter live with him in the house within old Fort Constitution in a space reserved by the war department. The house has been moved several times to make way for the fortification in late years. The present light-house is the second built on this site.
The regular summer residents are all friends of the veteran light-keeper. They call each year to pay their respect upon their arrival and to say good-bye when leaving in the fall.”