In the archives of the St. Augustine Historical Society is a copy of the commemorative booklet marking the dedication of a monument and grave for General William Jenkins Worth in New York City in 1857. The monument, located between Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 25th Street, honors him for his actions in the Mexican-American War.
So, what is a copy of this booklet doing at an historical society in Florida and how did it get there?
I know how it got there. My father had one of the original copies of the program and wanted to donate it to the Worth Museum in Texas. Our local society helped make that happen, made a copy for Dad and kept a copy for their archives. Here’s Dad’s copy.
The story of how Dad got an original copy of the booklet took a while to discover.
Worth has a history in St. Augustine, but it was long before my family arrived here. He was sent here to put an end to the Seminole War – a very unpopular war in its time. He negotiated an agreement where the remaining Seminoles would stay south of the Peace River and declared the war over in 1842. From here he went west and was soon involved with the war in Mexico. He would die in 1847 in San Antonio of cholera. After his death, his widow, Margaret Stafford Worth, bought a house in St. Augustine that was built by Don Miguel Ysnardy in 1790 and lived here until her death in 1869. She is buried here in the St. Augustine National Cemetery.
The house changed hands a number of times, including a period when it housed the local Elks Club. In 1961 it was torn down then rebuilt across Marine Street from its original location shown in the photograph. Today the rebuilt house is O. C. White’s restaurant.
Our family is not directly related to General Worth. Our connection is through his nephew, Algernon Sydney Worth. Algernon married Mary Idella Stoughton (my first cousin twice removed) and they had three children. After Algernon’s death, Idella moved to Savannah, Georgia, where her mother’s family lived. The program Dad donated to the Worth museum was Algernon’s copy.
My father was born in Savannah. His father moved the family to St. Augustine in 1925 to take a job with the Florida East Coast Railway. Dad grew up here but the family always maintained close ties with the Savannah relatives.