Heroes, city founders remembered in Harrington’s Memorial Day event

HARRINGTON — A “destination memorial,” as Sandy Takeda called it, brought a unique group of people with a vested interest in the city of Harrington to the small town in honor of Memorial Day and the impact their loved ones had on the community.

The event started out with a Red, White and Blue Color Run/Walk hosted by the Harrington Business Association beginning at 7 a.m. A Memorial Day Parade, organized by the Greater Harrington Historical Society and the city’s 150th anniversary committee, started at 9 a.m. with fire trucks, local community groups and the special guests of the day: the Clark and Harrington family descendants.

Harrington’s founding heroes
The community then gathered at the Norman Barlow Pavilion next to the Harrington Police Station to hear remarks about the city of Harrington’s history and local heroes who risked their lives for freedom.

“Today is about honoring our history, even from Commander Washington’s time to today,” Doug Poore, Curator of the Greater Harrington Historical Society and Museum, said after an actor depicting former President Washington gave a presentation from the character’s perspective.

Mr. Poore told the crowd of the Nanticoke Indians who occupied the area before the English settled.

William Clark, a member of William Penn’s council, eventually traveled to an area called Mispillion Hundred, which, Mr. Poore said, is right about where the crowd was sitting for the event.

Mr. Clark would raise a family in what became Clark’s Corner, now Harrington. His son, Thomas, would build the first home. Thomas’ son Benjamin built the first business, a stagecoach stop and inn.

Just a few short decades before the first roads were sold by Matthew Clark, the Delaware Railroad was commissioned in the 1830s. Judge Samuel Maxwell Harrington knew it needed to come through their town, but it wouldn’t arrive until 1866.

“The last census in the 1830s said there had been zero growth in Kent and Sussex Counties,” Mr. Poore said.

He added that Judge Harrington himself once said the town was, at that time, “. . .a place left behind in history equaled to the 1700s.”

He began fighting and lobbying for funds to bring the railroad to what would become the city of Harrington after his own name. Canneries were built along the railroad to allow for local crops to be purchased by more consumers, growing the town further.

Three years after the railroad arrived, the city of Harrington would be officially incorporated as its own entity.

Judge Harrington was honored during the event through the donation of his Bible, found by his descendants, and then donated to the Greater Harrington Historical Society. It will also be on permanent display in the museum.

“There’s a lot of roots here given by all of you,” Mr. Cahall said to Clark and Harrington family members seated in the audience. “You are really the bedrock of Harrington. When we dig down, we always find you. It’s amazing to find a Bible by the guy who made the town. It was my wife’s and my pleasure to do something for the town.”

The Bible was in poor condition when the family offered it to the Greater Harrington Historical Society. Mr. Cahall and his wife stepped up to fund the restoration project at hand and dedicated it during the Memorial Day event to his late father who died in action while serving in the military.

Addressing the troops.

Arthur B. Cahall, III, joined the Army Air Corp in the 1940s and trained to become a pilot, eventually flying a B-29.

“That was the biggest, baddest and most complicated bomber in the world at the time,” Mr. Cahall said.

His father’s plane would eventually go down after being shot. The crew and other military members were able to get the plane back up and running, but two engines were lost and the plane crashed in the ocean near Japan.

“There’s not a grave marker in this world dedicated to my father,” Mr. Cahall said. “But I’ve been to where he went down.”
On one such trip, he brought his mother’s ashes to the location of his father’s plane crash after she passed away decades later.

“War is hell. It ends for some people, but not for everybody. I will meet my father sometime,” he told the group. For now, he said he is proud to honor his father’s memory by donating the funds for the Bible’s restoration efforts and dedicating it on Memorial Day.

Remembering sacrifice
The event served as a celebratory reminder of the city founders like Mr. Clark and Judge Harrington, but also focused on the impact of veterans like Ms. Takeda’s mother, Capt.Jeanette Faulkner.

Capt. Faulkner was born in 1918 around the Masten’s Corner area and graduated from Harrington High School in 1937. She graduated from the Homeopathic Hospital School of Nursing in Wilmington in 1940 and worked in an operating room before joining the Army Nurse Corp in 1943.

“Her plane was shot down twice while transporting wounded GI’s,” Mr. Poore said.
Capt. Faulkner’s work wasn’t done yet and she went on to help countless soldiers like Mr. Poore’s uncle, Staff Sgt. Ed Hudson, who was critically injured. She was able to care for his wounds on the plane ride from France to England to get the help he needed to survive the war.
Staff Sgt. Hudson and Capt. Faulkner both came home to their families after their service. Capt. Faulkner, a decorated veteran, died in 2005 after a legacy of helping others, her daughter said.

“I think of the courage it took to go to war. She got trained, took the step forward and went into action and became a war nurse. It was something less common for her gender,” Ms. Takeda said. “She didn’t let fear stop her. That’s what courage is. . . Triumph over fear. . . She knew that [God] told us many times: ‘Fear not, for I am with you.”

In an act of gratitude, Mr. Poore said to Ms. Takeda during the event, “I want to thank you for taking care of my uncle, for your mom’s service.”

Lost in battle
Other soldiers from around the area, like Sgt. Lt. John M. Butler, were not as fortunate as Capt. Faulkner and Staff Sgt. Hudson.

Born into a farming family in Andrewsville just outside of Harrington, he began serving the country in 1942 as a pilot but died in action overseas.

Mr. Poore worked with the Butler family ahead of the Memorial Day event to acquire artifacts they kept through the years from Sgt. Lt. Butler’s time in the military. A permanent display in honor of his service was dedicated at the Harrington Museum at noon after the event was over.

His son, Roger Butler, said his family was “humbly honored” to help dedicate the display “somewhere where his things will be forever taken care of.”

Staff Sgt. Alvin Donovan was also honored during the event. Born in Masten’s Corner just months after Capt. Faulkner, he found himself in hand to hand combat during World War II. He was in the Battle of the Bulge and miraculously survived.

Before Staff Sgt. Donovan served in the military, he grew up in Harrington using his middle name, Chipman, as his nickname.

“He frequently rode around with Dr. Chipman and enjoyed showing ponies at the Kent-Sussex Fair,” Mr. Poore said. “These were simple people. When it came down to it, Harrington and its citizens answered the call.”

Honoring the memory
Nearly 1,000 veterans have been laid to rest in Harrington’s Hollywood Cemetery, he added. He invited the crowd to move the festivities from the Norman Barlow Pavilion to the cemetery where wreaths would be laid on the graves of veterans who once walked the streets of Harrington.

On the way, they added a wreath to the Clark family memorial along the sidewalk between WSFS Bank and the Harrington Police Department where about 20 estimated Clark family members were laid to rest more than a century ago.

Mr. Poore said the graves were found when the Harrington Fire Department, which used to operate from the building currently housing the police department, began digging for a sign. They were forced to stop when they found graves instead of earth in 1992.

“Because they were Quakers, they only put wooden markers on the graves. Over time, they rotted out and there was just nobody left that knew they were here,” he said. “In Delaware, the property owners are in charge of disinterment and the family would be in charge of reinternment. But, the family said, ‘No, this is their ancestral home.’ And so they stayed and the fire department is happy to keep it up and proudly.”

A memorial marker now rests on the sidewalk keeping the graves of the founder’s family members safe. Living descendants helped place a ceremonial wreath on the memorial in honor of their family’s contribution to Harrington while more wreaths were placed throughout Hollywood Cemetery in remembrance of other’s who significantly impacted the community.

“Today is not just about Harrington’s past. We come together to honor veterans and military members. These men and women did it for strangers they never knew. They did it for freedom,” Mr. Poore said.

More information on the city of Harrington’s 150th anniversary can be found online at https://harrington150th.org.

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