Saturday, July 18, 2015

Henry's Design Flaw

Augusta Franklin Wilson was my grandmother's brother. He was born on March 5, 1904 in Oneco, Florida and died at age 18 on January 18, 1923.

Manatee River Journal Jan 25, 1923

His father had a farm in Oneco, where he grew tomatoes other row crops. Manatee County Florida is still a major producer of tomatoes.

Frank was killed when his Dad's new Fordson tractor turned over on top of him. I have heard this story for years but only this week found a newspaper account of the event.

This is from the Manatee River Journal, dated January 25, 1923. Gasoline powered farm tractors had to be unusual in 1923, especially on small farms in rural parts of Florida.

Henry Ford only started selling the Fordson tractor in 1917. Like the Model T it soon took over the market from the smaller companies who had been there before.

Augusta Franklin Wilson
The Fordson tractor is recognizable in photos because it had a unusually large radiator on the front. This helped keep the 20 hp engine from overheating but also because the tractor had a reputation for the front end rearing up. The extra weight was supposed to prevent the type of accident that killed Frank.

Obviously they still had work to do on fixing the problem. If they had ambulances at the time, I'm sure some Ambulance Chaser would have sued Ford for negligence.

Frank was buried in the Major Adams Cemetery next to his younger brother Freddie who had died thirteen years earlier.

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