Keeper Bio: Messick, Harold McKnett

Keeper Harold M. Messick

Date of Service: 1939 – 1960

1900: Born January 3 to parents William and Elizabeth Messick in Wicomico County, MD.

1918: Per the 1917-1918 U.S. Draft Card, Harold is 18 years old, single, and his occupation is listed as a streetcar conductor.

1930: In the U.S. Census, Harold lives with his wife, Alice, and their 3-year-old daughter, Anna. His occupation is listed as mate on an oyster boat.

1939: Serves as First Assistant at Hooper Strait Lighthouse, MD. His salary is $1,500/year.

1939: Promoted to Principal Keeper at Hooper Strait Lighthouse, MD.

1940: In the 1940 U.S. Census, Harold lives with his wife, Alice and their 2 children, Anna, and John.

1945: Transferred to Choptank River Lighthouse, MD to serve as Principal Keeper.

1948: All personnel was removed from the lighthouse in January, due to dangerous ice conditions.

1960: Died March 26 at the Marine Hospital in Baltimore. He is buried at Parsons Cemetery in Salisbury, MD.

Keeper Harold Messick Anecdotes:

Keeper Harold Messick was the last keeper of the Choptank River Lighthouse before it was automated in the 1960s. His son, Jack, remembers staying at the lighthouse for two weeks at a time during the summers with his dad. He recalls helping his father with lighthouse tasks such as cleaning the Fresnel lens and testing the fog bell. In addition to lighthouse tasks, he remembers times that they would hunt for crabs in the riprap stone near the lighthouse, and playing with the lighthouse dog, Chop, short for Choptank.

Sources: Chesapeake Chapter Keeper database,  FamilySearch (,  The J. Candace Clifford Lighthouse Research Catalog, Lighthouse Friends website


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