I grew up hearing stories of the tragic circumstances of my great- grandfather's death when my grandfather was still just a boy. Recently, an old article was discovered that provides a bit more detail than what I have known and really highlights his legacy as the business he started as a young man has thrived for four generations.
H. H. WEDGWORTH DIES AFTER FATAL ACCIDENT
PUBLIC SPIRITED CIITIZEN AND BUSINESS, COMMUNITY LEADER
THE PAHOKEE NEWS
VOLUME 8--NUMBER 27
PAHOKEE, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1938
SUBSCRIPTION--$2.00 A YEAR
LARGEST FARMER-PACKING HOUSE OPERATOR IN GLADES
Survived by Wife and Three Children; His Death Great Blow to Everglades Section; Entire Section Mourns His Loss
H. H. Wedgworth, a leading citizen, grower, and shipper of Belle Glade, lost his life in a terrible accident at the company's plant, around 9 o'clock Monday night, and as a result the entire Glades section, particularly the City of Belle Glade, is in deep sorrow and mourning. A man has been taken from life's activities whose place will be hard to fill. He will be missed adn mourned in business, cvicc and social circles.
By JOHN M. Gledhill
It was with deep shock that the entire Glades section of South Florida learned that H. H. Wedgworth of the Wedgworth corporation met with serious accident, which resulted a few hours later in his death at the Everglades Hospital in Pahokee Monday night last.
The Wedgworth corporation has been erecting a new ice plant at its packing house, and Mr. Wedgworth was on the scene directing work to install a mammoth ice machine in position at the top of a 40-foot tower when the unexpected occurred.
The nine and a half ton ice machine was being hoisted up along the exterior of the building, and had reached about half the distance to be traveled, when of the heavy "A" brace supports broke under the pressure, resulting in the dire, serious and fatal catastrophe.
When the brace broke it brought and extra pull on a wire cable of the hoist, causing it to sag and when the sag was caught by the descending machine unit, the cable snapped and swung through the air like a streak of lightning the big unit slipped and crashed to the gravel underneath, a full 20-foot fall.
At the same time, at the top of the tower, a big timber also sprang out of position, and with force toppled over and caught Mr. Wedgworth and Freeman Schoenfeld, another workman, underneath its weight, striking them both across the abdominal portions of the body.
The big stick was 12x12, 40-feet long, and it required some 20 men to remove the timber from the injured men. Most fortunate, indeed, was it that none of the 25 or 30 other workman were injured.
Drs. Buck and White were soon on the scene of accident, gave first aid and ordered both injured men to the hospital. Mr. Wedgworth sustained internal injuries which two hours later caused his death. Mr. Schoenfeld was also seriously injured about the back and pelvic region, and was unconscious for a long period. Time will tell the story as to final result of his injuries.
Mr. Wedgworth came to the Glades section from Mississippi some ten or twelve years ago as an agronomist at the Everglades Experimental Station, where for several years he was employed as a soil and plant specialist. Later he engaged in farming, which grew and increased until at the time of his death, he was one of the largest farmers in the entire Glades section. With his packing and fertilizer interests, he was by far the largest operator in the area.
Two years ago he entered the packing house business, and last year erected three large units as they now exist, constituting the most modern outfit of its kind in South Florida. To further facilitate operations this summer he was putting in an ice machine and power plant.
Mr. Wedgworth was a man of fine education and splendid ability, and usually made a success of anything to which he turned his hand and attention. He was a studious man, a good business executive, a public-spirited citizen, and a man who aided all worthwhile civic works. He was a member of the Belle Glade Rotary Club, the Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce, chairman of its market committee, and member of several other committees, and a member of the Community Church.
His passing from this life is a severe blow to the civic and business life of Belle Glade and the entire Everglades section, for he will be greatly missed along all lines. To find a leader of his type to fill his place will indeed be a heavy chore.
Mr. Wedgworth was 36 years of age, and is survived by his widow and three children, Helen Jean, George, and Barbara Wedgworth. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Wedgworth, reside at Lauderdale, Miss. Mrs. Ogle Moore and Sanford Wedgworth of Belle Glade are two of the four surviving members of his family.
As mentioned above, Mr. Wedgworth was a more than usually well educated man along the lines of scientific preparation. He held a diploma from the Mississippi State College, with a B.S. degree; from Michigan State College at Adrian, Mich., with a M.S., and also took post-graduate work at both the University of Michigan and Cornell.
When he came to the Everglades Experiment Station at Belle Glade, he turned his scientific knowledge to the eradication of the fungus evil, known as "Yellow Spot," which had poven such a pest and damage to bean growers, and was successful. This accomplishment was an outstanding boon to Everglades farmers.
Mr. Wedgworth was also a member of two famed scientific societies, the Phi Sigma and SemBot, and was a contributor to a number of scientific periodicals. He was also a director of the Miami Credit Company.
All business places in teh City of Belle Glade were closed on Thursday afternoon during the funeral hour, and the assemblage that gathered at the Community Church included representatives from all parts of the state, and taxed the seating capacity, with a large overflow crowd. The services were in charge of Rev. J.O. Jameson, the pastor, who gave a fine discourse with a deserved tribute to the departed, who had meant so much to the Everglades section.
The mass of floral tributes from private citizens, business associates, civic bodies and friends, spoke of the high esteem in which the deceased was held. They were beautifully arranged in the chancel and about the bier.
The pallbearers serving were Dr. J. R. Neller, J. T. Scullen, Roscoe Braddock, Fritz Stein, L. L. Stuckey, of Belle Glade and Pahokee, and Mr. Altman, of West Palm Beach.
The remains were carried to the Woodlawn cemetery at West Palm Beach by the Everglades Funeral Home, where final interment took place.