Initially, Piedras Blancas Light Station employed a head keeper (also called a principal keeper or simply a keeper) as well as a first and second assistant. Following the installation of the fog signal in 1906, a third assistant joined the complement.
Stephen Morse was the first head keeper at Piedras Blancas Light Station. He began his tenure on December 8 ,1874 even though the station did not officially come on line until February 15, 1875. He was born in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, on May 19, 1839. His father, Stephen Morse, and his mother, Sarah Morse, were born there, too. Stephen was the fifth of twelve children born to this couple although he was the oldest of three sons.
According to the 1860 census, when Stephen was 21 years old, he was still living with his parents and his occupation was listed as “mariner”. Ten years later, in the 1870 census, his occupation is listed as “surveyor” and he is shown as married to Cora Morse, age 28, and living in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
According to the Lighthouse Service pay records, Morse resigned due to hardship, receiving his last salary on August 19, 1879, the same day L. V. Thorndyke started. However, he died on July 15, 1879 in San Francisco.
Charles Kaneen became head keeper at Piedras Blancas Light Station on March 1, 1907, a few months after the retirement of L. V. Thorndyke. Prior to that he had been first assistant keeper beginning on April 28, 1906.
Charles was born in Nevada in 1867. His father, John S. Kaneen, was born in New York and his mother, Julia, was born in Pennsylvania. By 1880 the family was living in Virginia City, Nevada. Kaneen married a lady named Margaret who was also born in Nevada in 1872.
Andrew Czarnecke became the head keeper at Piedras Blancas Light Station on December 15, 1911, a few months after Charles Kaneen transferred to Carquinez Strait Light. He had been employed at the station as an assistant keeper as far back as 1908 and before that he was in the U. S. Navy, rising to the rank of Chief Quartermaster.
Although he was born in Massachusetts in 1867, both of his parents were born in Poland. His wife, Helene, was born in Prussia in 1865 and both of her parents were born in Poland, too. Czarnecke’s tenure at Piedras Blancas ended on February 11, 1934 with his death. Both Andrew and Helene are buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery.
Following Czarneke’s death, Norman L. Francis was transferred from Los Angeles Harbor Light to Piedras Blancas and he was appointed head keeper. He had two children, Lenore and Norman Francis, Jr. The latter was mainly responsible for the restoration of the Fresnel lens and its subsequent display in Cambria’s east village.
In 1939 jurisdiction of Piedras Blancas Light Station and all other light stations in America was transferred from the Lighthouse Service (Bureau of Lighthouses) within the Department of Commerce to the U. S. Coast Guard which, at that time, was under the Treasury Department. At this point, Norman Francis joined the Coast Guard as a Bosun’s Mate First Class and remained in charge of Piedras Blancas until 1947. After 1939, instead of a head keeper, the light station was supervised by a string of Bosun’s Mates:
December, 1947 – January, 1948 — W. J. McFaddin
January, 1948 – October, 1951 — Bert B. Breedlove
October, 1951 – March, 1953 — Donald Leigh
March, 1953 – November, 1953 — Roy L. Tovani
November, 1953 – April, 1955 — William E. Nielen
April, 1955 – September, 1958 — Walter Croft
July, 1958 – November, 1958 — Robert A. Reedy
November, 1958 – July, 1959 — Robert L. Buettner
July, 1959 – February, 1960 — William B. McGovern
February, 1960 – July, 1961 — Milas Miller
July, 1961 – January, 1962 — Clifford M. Smith
January, 1962 – May, 1963 — Theodore Kalis Jr.
May, 1963 – July 1966 — Arleigh D. Garrison
July, 1966 – April, 1969 — R.H. Merrill
April, 1969 – May, 1969 — Scott W. Fisher
May, 1969 – January, 1971 — Barry W. Bernstein
In 1971 Piedras Blancas Light Station was automated and no personnel were stationed at the site.