In 1810, Benjamin Clark picked a corner on a southern Delaware
intersection for erection of his home and an inn. Mispillion
Hundred, the area where the corner was located, was home to
numerous good and wealthy farmers. As the local farmers retired,
they built homes surrounding Clark’s Corner and a town
The arrival of the railroad in the late 1850’s helped the
growth along, and in 1866 the state legislature changed the name of
the town to Harrington, in honor of then state chancellor Samuel
Maxwell Harrington. By 1869, the town was incorporated.
Harrington is located in the center of the Delmarva Peninsula
and has long been a diversified agricultural center. In 1919 the
Kent and Sussex Fair Association was organized here, and it is
still the location of Delaware’s only state fair.
In the midst of this rich, historical area, an informal group of
30 or 40 gas engine enthusiasts from around the state hold an
annual get-together in conjunction with a town celebration,
Harrington Heritage Day.
Here at the dealership, one will see a number of exhibitors of
engines and tractors. One of the more unusual of these is Melvin
Fox of nearby Milton, who runs an antique military braiding machine
with a small gas engine.
The big surprise of the day, however, is that at Taylor &
Messick there is an enormous private museum, Messick’s
Agricultural Museum, housed in a series of long metal buildings and
Walter Messick joined the then Taylor’s Hardware in 1935.
After five years, the business became Taylor & Messick and by
1952 it was incorporated. Today, it is surely one of the largest
John Deere dealerships on the east coast.
Items in the Messick collection have been gathered in several
ways. Some originated in family use. Some were purchased from
‘pickers’ who roamed the countryside, and some were
trade-ins for new tractors or equipment.
Mr. Messick’s daughter-in-law has urged him to record the
details of his collection and he plans to do so soon, using
videotape. Each tractor, engine and implement has a story, and many
had been in one family until acquired. There are 64 tractors, and
168 gas engines. The collection began 40 years ago with a Waterloo
Boy and includes a complete farm kitchen and many uncounted
handtools as well.
Also in the collection are 13 antique cars (9 with original
title) and 6 trucks. Many of the trucks were formerly used in the
business. Oldest among the cars is a rare 1911 IHC car.
Certainly, Mr. Messick has put together a collection in which
everyone can find some object of interest. The largest tractor in
the group is a huge Aultman Taylor 30-60, and the smallest is a
John Deere L. There is a nearly complete set of all John Deere
tractors ever made up to the 4020. Oldest engine is a 1907 Mogul,
and the smallest is a Maytag.
The Messick Museum is open the same hours as the dealership,
currently 7:30-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 to noon on
Saturday. There is no admission fee, and appointments can be made
for other times.
The Taylor & Messick dealership is a family enterprise,
involving Mr. Messick’s wife as well as his four children. It
is Mr. Messick’s intention that the collection will remain
under family control and open to the public far into the
The Messick Museum is truly a treasure, and Harrington Heritage
Day is definitely a good time to wander through it. Other
activities included are a flea market, car show, horseshoe pitching
contest and a parade. Jack Short, organizer of the engine
gathering, is vice president of this fourteen year old event.
September 19 was the date of the 1992 event-watch for next
year’s date in the 1993 Steam and Gas Engine Show Directory due
out in March.