In 1857, at age 15, Ida Lewis took over her father’s job when he became ill and ran the lighthouse near Newport, Rhode Island.
A year or two later she pulled four young men out of the water when their boat overturned.
In 1869 her heroism was reported in national papers after she saved two soldiers whose boat had capsized in a storm.
The public was fascinated with the story of a woman who did not even stop to put on shoes before jumping into her boat and rowing out into the rough sea to rescue the drowning men.
Yet the government waited ten more years to recognize her skill. Only in 1879, after several more dramatic rescues, was she named the official lighthouse keeper.