A Sordid Subterranean Story: That Dusky Hospital on De Villiers St Story (Part 2)

In a letter dated August 11, 1927 to Governor  Martin, T.T. Wentworth, Exalted Cyclops of the Pensacola chapter of the KKK wrote the following:

“…Some weeks ago I referred to you a case in which a young lady have been outraged by a son of a wealthy Doctor. This young lady was found dead, no inquest held and by shrewd maneuvering it was smoothed over.

Last week another similar case came to light the coroner was call and as been his usual custom he passed it over with a verdict that was absolutely misleading. He and those that were in on the case may have thought that it was settled, and so far as the coroner was concerned it was settled. The people outraged rose and demanded ACTION, and action was the only thing that would satisfy them.

An investigation was held the results you have read in the paper[s]. The people of Pensacola are not thoroughly satisfied as yet. The actions of the coroner have not been open and above board. He is the target for keen and  severe criticism.

I have use my influence to still the trouble waters and have quietly but effectively keep any drastic outbreaks among the people and I have been plain with a few of them and told them That my friends and myself would not tolerate any drastic outbreak on the public if possible to prevent.

It seemed that some were agitating to move to lynch some one. This move never went over. I was fully determined the see that piece was kept if any such action was to manifest.  In a time of  public excitement some try and use this method of doing away with important witnesses I am almost prone to believe.

There are other case[s] in which no inquest were held that on the surface looked bad. Even many Catholic people of which faith the coroner is a devout member are openly criticizing him.

I feel that a through investigation should be made of this office and if justifiable the coroner should be put out and a MAN put into the place.

We have an organization here that is complete, powerful, active and on the job. Not making any noise but working quietly, secretly and effectively. I have had seven years active experience in the work and know what I am doing and am entering on my third year as chief officer and want to say now and if you need any work here on anything for the furtherance of our ideals call on us.

Assuring you that any suggestions coming from us will be right and if I can be of any service just call on me as I am use to Serving and Sacrificing for the Right. With kindness personal regards and best wishes, I am,

Sincerely yours,

T.T. Wentworth.
https://uwf.digital.flvc.org/islandora/object/uwf%3A60495 (page opens in a new tab)

On August 8, 1927 the Pensacola News Journal Column headline read: GOVERNOR NOT PUSHING PROBE OF CASE HERE  Friedrichsen’s Case to Be Left to County Officials.  In that column, the governor wrote:  “I have explicit confidence in the public officials of Escambia county,  my office we’ll take no part in the prosecution of the five defendants arrested in connection with a death of Miss Dorothy Friedrichsen

On 11 August 1927, page one of the Pensacola News Journal, the following column headline read:  Tart, Two Negro Physicians and Negress Are Held.
Charges of Manslaughter are Preferred Against Quartet – Jury Completes Inquest After Hearing Eleven Witnesses – Tart Identified
Tart Pointed Out by Witness as Man Who Was at Hospital on Day Miss Friederichsen Died —Bond of  $2,500 ($44,112.93 in 2023 dollars) required for Each of Principals

“Four persons yesterday we’re ordered held for county court as the climax to two days of testimony in the corner’s inquest into the death of Miss Dorothy Friedrichsen, 27, member of a well-known Pensacola family at Viola Edwards hospital on North Devillier street, last Friday at 3:30 PM.  But defendants are E. E. Tart, White; A. S. McGee and E.C. Moon, negro physicians, and Viola Edwards, negress operator of the hospital.”

“The negro Dr. Aarons, who testify Tuesday that he saw a white man at the hospital when he was called in connection with the white patient was unable to positively identify tart what are you faced hitting the classroom yesterday.  Aarons had testify that the man was up a medium bill but that he did not closely notice him all that occasion at the viola Edwards hospital when he refused to take the case of The white patient for a Thousand dollars as I believe it’ll be of criminal nature.”

I am absolutely positive that Dr. Aaron could have identified Tart in the hallway of the Viola Edwards hospital in a court of Law.  After all why would a warrant for Tart’s arrest have been issued if he had not been positively identified during the Coroner’s inquest. For a Black man to testify against a white man in a court of law during the Jim Crow era would most certainly have been a death sentence.  The KKK was very active in the Pensacola area.

“The case against the three negroes and Tart was worked up by Chief of Police O’Connell, Sheriff Penton and Coroner Nee who devoted their undivided attention to the investigation Sunday, Monday and Monday night, thus resulting bringing together to testify before the jury who knew anything about this case.”

On Thursday the 22nd of September 1927 Viola Edwards, a negro nurse and E.E. Tart a local businessman  went to trial on the manslaughter charge in connection with Dorothy Friedrichsen’s death in the Viola Hospital on 15 August.  The jury was draw from a venire of 36 men.  J. Walter Kehoe, a Miami attorney, defended E E. Tart, whereas Viola Edwards’ lawyer was J. Montros.

Continue onto part 3
Return to part 1

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