Wednesday, January 28, 2015

William J. Worth Memorial

William Jenkins Worth, born in Hudson, NY, was an officer in the United States armed forces during the War of 1812 (1812 - 1815), the Second Seminole War (1835 - 1842) and the Mexican-American War (1846 - 1848). He lived, as he died: normal for his time (cholera, 1849). Though he received a sword of honor by the U.S. Congress in 1847, besides being a good soldier, and an agent of Manifest Destiny, there aren't many extraordinary stories from his career, but one. A year before his death, Worth was contacted by a shadowy group of Cuban Freemasons, made up of mostly sugar farm owners, who called themselves The Havana Club. They were to pay him three million U.S. dollars to carry out an invasion of the island against the Spanish colonial government. The plot was discovered before it could be carried out, and the War Department deployed him to Texas, where he soon died.

While few have heard of him, his mark is everywhere. Fort Worth, and Lake Worth, TX, as well as Lake Worth, FL; Worth, IL; Worthville, KY; Worth County, GA and MO, and New York City's Worth Square - which is actually a triangle.
When Worth passed away, his remains were interred at Green-Wood Cemetery, until a monument could be finished. They picked the land across the street from Madison Square Park, south of 25th Street, between the crunch of 5th Ave and Broadway. The memorial was designed by the founder of Travelers Insurance Company, James Goodwin Batterson, who helped design the Library of Congress and the Capitol building. It is a 15.5 m (51 ft), Quincy granite, obelisk, which premiered to the public on Evacuation Day, 25th of November, in 1857, and WJW's remains were lead there by a procession of 6500 soldiers, with a speech given by then-Mayor Fernando Wood in honor of the war hero.

Worth Square is even more of an area oddity when one discovers it is one of Manhattan's two single-occupancy grave sites.