Before the days of screw-pile lighthouses on Pamlico Sound, the dangerous reefs of Royal Shoal were marked by light vessels. By an act of Congress, light vessels were stationed at several points around the shoals from March 3, 1826 until 1862, when rebels sank them all to barricade the Neuse River against Union forces. After the war, Congress enacted new legislation to provide for several screw-pile lighthouses, the first being lit April 30, 1867. Charles Keeler and his brother (unnamed), both former Union soldiers who had been stationed at New Bern, returned to North Carolina after the war, married the McCotter sisters from Pamlico County and were appointed as keepers of two screw-pile lighthouses, five miles apart at opposite ends of Royal Shoal. Kelly Robinson, born October 24, 1891, was adopted by Charles and Annie Keeler, grew up living in the lighthouse, and may be the only living North Carolinian to do so.