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Town of Harrington, Mispillion Hundred, Kent County, Delaware

Early Settlements Aldermen Assessors
Collectors Treasurers Commissioners
Churches Schools Lodges
.. Industries ..

Early Settlements

Harrington is an example of what enterprise, public spirit and energy will do. From nothing, comparatively, it has in thirty years grown to be one of the most important points on the Delaware Peninsula, and the principal railroad centre south of Wilmington. Before the advent of the railroad, in 1856, all that there was in what was then known as Clark's Comer, were one house and a store. The ground was owned mainly by the descendants of Benjamin Clark, to whom it had been patented in 1760. One hundred and eighty acres comprising his grant embraced the land lying east and west of the present town. The land on the north and south was in the possession of Benjamin Harrington. The first that is known of Clark's Comers was in 1810, when Benjamin Clark erected a hotel upon the present site of the Harrington Hotel, the old building still forming a portion of the present structure. Jehu Clark, his brother, built a store which was kept by John C. Harrington. Shortly after building the depot, Matthew J. Clark laid out a number of town lots, which he succeeded in selling rapidly, and four years later about twenty new houses had been erected. The building of the Junction and Breakwater Rail-road gave the place an impetus. Burton Bennett opened another store, where Alexander Matthews now conducts a general merchandising business. The old hotel had been closed for years, and the need of one becoming apparent, Zadock Clark built the present Harrington House, which has been conducted since by Benjamin F. Fleming, James Satterfield, Edward C. Shaw, James Herserp, Frank Harmonson, Samuel Solomon, J. W. Westcott and John Herdman. The Delaware House was built as a store in 1858, by Zachariah Meriken, but shortly afterwards E. H. Macklem remodeled it, and opened the hotel, and his successors have been Thomas Fountain, John C. Garby, Amos Cole and Alexander Newman.

The post-office was established in 1857, with Matthew J. Clark as postmaster, since which time it has been in charge of John H. Van Giesel, James A. Moore, S. L. Shaw and Thomas J. Smith. Thus, with all that goes towards making a new town, the population began to increase. Mispillion Hundred, largely populated with good farmers, who had become wealthy by their long years of industry, had never had, previous to this time, any town, eligibly located, to which they could retire and at the same time at-tend to their lands. The main advantages of Harrington soon presented themselves, and these prosperous old farmers rented their farms and erected handsome and comfortable homes in the new town, and used their capital in adding to its improvement and progress.

In 1880 the population numbered eight hundred. About this time a number of industries were started, which attracted laboring people, and a number of fine stores were built and opened, and a careful estimate, made in 1887, placed the population at thirteen hundred.

The Legislature in 1862 changed the name of the town from Clark's Corners to Harrington, in honor of Hon. Samuel M. Harrington, at the time chancellor of the State. The population warranting it, in 1869, Harrington was incorporated, and Wm. Shaw, Thomas H. Dorman, Martin W. Harrington, James H. Vickery and Wm. T. Van Giesel were named as the first commissioners. They were to hold office until March, 1870, to hold an election for alderman, treasurer, assessor and collector, and to define the limits. Joseph Ward was selected as the surveyor. The limits of the town were fixed one-half mile from the tank-house in every direction. The election resulted in the choice of Henry C. Wolcott for alderman; J. W. Stevenson, treasurer; Eli Harrington, assessor; and C. C. Powell, collector. The new com-missioners opened new streets, laid sidewalks, erected lamps and passed a number of ordinances for the town government.

Since 1870 the town officers have been:

Jehu F. Tharp 1870
Joseph Ward 1871-76
Wm. E. Bates. 1876
Joseph Ward. 1877-78
Wm. H. Powell 1879-80
Alexander P. Sorden 1881
Joseph Ward 1883
B. O. Dale 1883-84
G. E. Simmons 1885-86
Henry Knox 1887
Robert H. Short 1870
Jehu C. Fleming. 1871-72
John W. Cain 1873
G. L. Baird 1874
James Porter 1875
Samuel L. Shaw 1876
Samael Nowell 1877-78
S. L. Shaw 1879-81
John P. Masten 1882
S. L. Shaw 1883-85
John P. Masten 1886
James A. Smith 1887
A. Miner 1870
Rufus Jones 1871
Henry N. Clark 1872-76
George W. Jester. 1876-77
Henry N. Clark 1878-88
W. D. Meredith 1884
Henry N. Clark 1885-86
Robert Smith 1887
J. W. Stevenson 1870-77
Wm. T. Sharp 1878
James A. Moore 1879-83
Z. Fleming 1884-87
Town Commissioners
Eli Harrington 1870
E. Fleming 1870
Henry N. Clark 1870
W. T. Van Giesel 1870
W. T. Sharp (clerk) 1870
James Sharp 1871
Thomas H. Dorman 1871
Wm. Shaw 1871
James A. Moore 1871
Robert J. Lank (clerk) 1871
James Sharp 1872
C. O. Powell 1872
J. B. Simmons. 1872
John W. Kane 1872
Robert S. Downs (clerk) 1872
Ezekiel Fleming 1873
James Porter 1873
Wm. E. Bates 1873
Eli Harrington 1873
Robert S. Downs (clerk) 1873
Wm. Shaw 1874
Eli Harrington 1874
Wm. Harrington 1874
Joseph Parson 1874
Robert S. Downs (clerk) 1874
J. B. Simmons. 1875
James A. Moore 1876
G. L. Baird. 1876
Thomas H. Purnell 1876
Jehu C. Fleming (clerk) 1875
Robert H. Short 1876
Wm. Shaw 1876
G. L. Baird 1876
John Climer 1876
Robert S. Downs (clerk) 1876
Wm. Shaw 1877
John Climer 1877
George W. Hardesty 1877
James C. Reed 1877
Gilbert Jones (clerk) 1877
Dr. Fred J. Owens (clerk) 1877
James A. Smith 1878
George W. Hardesty 1878
G. L. Baird 1878
Wm. Shaw 1878
Robert S. Downs (clerk) 1878
Amos Cole 1879
James Satterfield 1879
Samuel Nowell 1879
J. B. Fleming 1879
Dr. B. L. Lewis (clerk) 1879
Amos Cole 1880
James Satterfield 1880
Joseph A. Calloway 1880
J. C. Fleming. 1880
Dr. B. L. Lewis (clerk) 1880
J. E. Fleming 1881
Wm. J. Hubbard 1881
Augustus Jellison 1881
John W. Gain 1881
Charles E. Simmons (clerk) 1881
Wm. Harrington 1882
Gilbert Jonas 1882
P. N. Jester 1882
E. S. Burdock 1882
James P. West (clerk) 1882
James Hanley 1883
Wm. O. Wright 1883
W. H. Franklin 1883
Alfred Raughley 1883
O. B. Simmons (clerk) 1883
Charles Richards 1884
W. H. Anderson 1884
W. J. Hubbard 1884
J. W. Gain 1884
A. Allen (clerk) 1884
W. H. Anderson 1886
Charles Richards 1886
J. W. Gain 1886
W. Layton 1886
W. D. Meredith (clerk) 1886
W. H. Anderson 1886
O. J. Franklin 1886
J. N. Jester 1886
Frederick Seed 1886
J. E. Homey (clerk) 1886
Ezekiel Fleming 1887
Wm. Shaw 1887
D. Gordon 1887
John W. Cain 1887

 The Public School

The enterprise of Harrington is best shown in the handsome large school-building in the northwestern part of the town. This building is of frame, and is "T" shape, one end being thirty-five by sixty, and the other thirty by thirty-five. There are six large rooms, two stories. The building is built in the Queen Anne style of architecture, and cost six thousand dollars, and was erected in 1884. There are accommodations for six teachers and four hundred scholars. At present there are four teachers and two hundred and ninety-six scholars. The school is graded, and the higher branches are taught. The district is a consolidation of Districts Nos. 94 (which was erected in 1862), 126 and 127 of Kent County, and was incorporated by an act of the Legislature at' the session of 1888. The act named Robert S. Downs, Robert H. Short, James A. Smith, Ezekiel Fleming, Alfred Raughley, William T. Sharp, Henry Dickerson, Amos Cole and James Moore as a Board of Education for the town of Harrington. They were given power to borrow five thousand dollars to erect a school building, and were to hold office until April, 1888, at which time their successors were to be elected, three to hold one year; three, two years; and three, three years. The following persons have been elected members of the school-board:

1883. W. T. Sharp, Robert H. Short, A. Raughley, John P. Masten, E. Fleming, Amos Cole, Curtis Sapp, Augustus Jellison and Dr. B. L. Lewis.
1884. James A. Moore, William H. Franklin and Samuel Q. Shaw, for three years; Ezekiel Fleming, for two years; Augustus Jellison, one year.
1885. James D. West, A. Jellison and William G. Hardesty, for three years.
1886. W. H. Anderson, G. L. Baird and Dr. B. L. Lewis for three years; N. Frank Raughley, for one year.
1887. W. H. Franklin, N. Frank Raughley and Jehu C. Fleming, for three years.


The Harrington Methodist Episcopal Church is a neat frame structure, and has the largest congregation in the town. For a number of years before the erection of the church the meetings were held in the school-house. Dr. F. J. Owens started the first Sunday-school in 1860 with twenty scholars. The church building was erected in 1870, and dedicated October 23, 1870. Rev. Jonathan S. Willis, of Milford, preaching in the morning, and Rev. Andrew Manship in the evening. The building cost twenty-eight hundred dollars, and is thirty by fifty feet. The church is the centre of the Harrington Methodist Episcopal Circuit, and a list of the ministers who have preached here will be found in the article upon the Methodist 'Episcopal Churches in Mispillion Hundred.

The Harrington Presbyterian Church was organized by the Rev. S. Murdick in the old school-house of District 94, in the winter of 1871, with fifteen members. In 1878 the present building was erected at a cost of two thousand eight hundred and fifty dollars. The present membership is forty-four. The pastors have been Rev. S. Murdick, S. S. Sturges and W. Edwards. At present there is no minister.

The Baptist Church is the same as the one at Vernon, and was dedicated in November, 1871, at that place, the building costing two thousand five hundred dollars. The members nearly all having moved into Harrington, services for ten years past have been held in the Grange Hall. The ministers have been the Rev. O. P. Flippo, Rev. Dr. Isaac Cole, Rev. Henry Leancy, Rev. George Bradford, Rev. James Hope, Rev. James Steelman and the Rev. S. H. Haskell.

The Harrington Methodist Protestant Church was organized in 1880, with a membership of fifty. The church building was dedicated August 19, 1881, by the Rev. T. H. Lewis, Rev. R. S. Rowe and John E. Nicholson, of Wilmington. The building is a neat frame structure, and cost two thousand two hundred dollars. The same ministers who have preached here have preached at Bethel Church, in the lower part of the hundred. They have been Rev. J. E. Nicholson Rev. C. S. Arnett, Rev. G. L. Backus and Rev. C. m! Thomson. At present there is one hundred and twenty-five members, and regular services are held.

The St. Anne's Episcopal Church was consecrated by Bishop Lee, June, 1876. The building was erected by subscription, the greater portion of the amount being contributed by the Rev. J. L. McKim, of Milford, who held services there until about 1887, when the church closed.


The largest and by far the most important manufacturing interest in the town of Harrington is that of E. Fleming. In 1872 Mr. Fleming started a large saw-mill with a capacity of six thousand feet of lumber a day. Since that time he has added a spoke factory, in which he manufactures white-oak wagon-spokes, which have achieved a reputation in the large cities for their excellence. A grist-mill and wagon- works were next added. A capital of eighteen thousand dollars is invested in the business and constant employment is given to sixty men. The large canning factory and evaporator of Jas. 0. Reed has contributed as much to the prosperity of Harrington as any other industry. The cannery was erected in 1877 by Sharp & Quillen, and continued under their management until 1882, when Mr. Reed purchased it. The extent of this industry is shown by the fact that as high as fifty thousand cases of canned goods in one year have been put up; employment is given to two hundred hands, and a capital often thousand dollars is invested. The evaporator was erected in 1880 by Sharp & Fleming, and by them sold to Frederick Arnold, who disposed of his interest to Mr. Reed. Mr. Reed last year evaporated seventy-five thousand pounds of fruit and gave employment to seventy-five hands.

Franklin Brothers, both young men, have conducted, since 1879, a successful basket factory. William H. and Omar J. Franklin constitute the firm. They have given employment to forty hands and have a capital invested of six thousand dollars.

The Harrington Chemical Works, conducted by S. S. Harrington, manufacture a high grade of fertilizers. The output of this establishment has increased from year to year until it has become one of the important industries of the town. Employment is given to fifteen persons and a capital of six thousand dollars is invested.


The Chosen Friends Lodge, I. O. of O. F, No, 36, was organized May 4th, 1870, with the following officers: N.G., William Ward; V. G., James H. Lodge; Recording Secretary, Zadoc Fleming; Treasurer, Ezekiel Fleming. At the date of organization, there were seven members. At present, there are twenty-two. An additional story has been erected by them over Anderson's store, and this is used as a hall. The officers at the last election were: Noble Grand, Isaac N. Jester; Vice-Grand, Thomas J. Binding; Recording Secretary, L. W. Betts; Permanent Secretary, John P. Masten; Treasurer, Robert S. Downs.

Mispillion Conclave No, 33, Improved Order of Heptasophs, was organized September 22d, 1881, with a membership of twenty-two. The officers at that time were : Archon, Robert S. Downs; Chancellor, B. L. Lewis, M.D.; Provost, Amos Cole; Secretary, Henry C. Johnson; Treasurer, Ezekiel Fleming; Inspector, Samuel L. Shaw; Warder, Jason B. Simmons; Financier, Charles Rickards. The meetings are held every Thursday evening. At the last election, in 1887, the following officers were elected: Archon, Alexander Russell; Provost, George M. Jones; Secretary, L. W. Betts; Financier, L. W. Betts; Treasurer, C. Rickards; Prelate, J. W. Blades; Inspector, George L. Baird; Warder, E. Fleming; Sentinel, W. C. Wright.

Weiner Circle, No. 9, B. U. (H. F.), was organized February 25, 1884, and the officers at that time were: C. W., A. Allen; C J., E. Luff; C. F., W. J. Potter; S. H., H. H. Linck; H. R, J. A. Harrington; H. T., Z. T. Jester; H. H., C. N. Grant; W. D., J. J. Legatts; W. N., E. McGinico; E. W., E. R. Smith The officers now are: E. W., J. A. Butler; C. W., H. Atkinson; C. J., E. Cohee; C. F., N. Fleming; H. H., E. Climer; W. D., C. W. Heckler; W. N., J. P. Allen; H. T., W. W. Wyatt; H. R., W. J. Masten; H. S. K., J. J. Johnson.

Hollywood Cemetery. About one and one-half miles from Harrington is the Hollywood Cemetery. In 1881, a number of prominent citizens of Harrington, recognizing the necessity of a public burying-ground, purchased ten acres of ground situated on a high point of land. They were incorporated the same year, and the following officers were elected : President, Zebulon Hopkins; Treasurer, William Tharp; Superintendent, Thomas H. Dorman; Secretary, Dr. B. L. Lewis; Board of Directors : William Tharp, William H. Anderson, Samuel L. Shaw, Beniah Tharp, James A. Smith, Zebulon Hopkins, James A. Moore, Robert S. Downs and Amos Cole. These officers have been continued without change up to the present time. The cemetery has been laid out into drive-ways and shade trees planted, and the greater portion of the lots sold.

Harrington Library. A well-conducted library is one of the best evidences of the intellectuality of a community. Harrington is by no means behind its sister towns in this respect. A library was started November 10, 1880, with W. A. Franklin, president; Jennie P. Sheldrick, vice-president; Miss Carrie D. Harrington, secretary; E. W. Waples, recording secretary; W. A. Ransom, treasurer. At present there are six hundred and eighty books, exclusive of periodicals. A membership fee of one dollar is charged and ten cents a week dues. This entitles the members to the use of one book for three weeks. The present officers are: President, Dr. B. L. Lewis; Vice-President, O. J. Franklin; Secretary, Miss Amanda L. Wolcott; Librarian, L. W. Bette; Treasurer, Frank T. White.

Kent County

Source: History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Volume I, by J. Thomas Scharf, L. J. Richards & Company, Philadelphia, 1888.

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