Bury Me Next to My Sergeant Son

Enid Lyle Broward Hardee

1894 – 1943

Enid buried her 21-year-old son Douglas Waldo Hardee after he volunteered to serve in the US Army. This was just four months before her own death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 47 as WWII raged.

My grandmother was the third daughter of First Lady and Florida Governor Annie Douglass and Napoleon Bonaparte Broward (1905-1909). Enid was an early Christmas present for the growing family born December 8th, 1894, as her father was serving in his first important elected position as Sheriff of Duval County Florida. She was born at home at 1011 Church Street close to where Annie and Napoleon had their first date at the Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville six years earlier. Her parents love affair was a river romance. Her mother was a smart outspoken New Yorker her father a Ferry boat captain orphaned at 12 years old in the Civil War. Enid idolized her dad understandably as he was a rugged adventurer whose devotion to her mother was known up and down the banks of the Saint John’s River.

In 1910: Enid’s father, my great-grandfather, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward won in his bid to become U.S. Senator Elect from the State of Florida. His sudden death stunned the state and brought great grief to his 9 children and widow, Florida First Lady Annie Douglass Broward.

Descendants of Annie and Napoleon in 2021 say ,“Every time his boat, The Three Friends, pulled into Jacksonville a baby was born nine months later.” My cousin Mary Broward Weisenburgh grew up in the same house where our grandparents and large Broward family spent their summers on Fort George Island. Mary is the daughter of the ninth and youngest child of Annie and Napoleon – their only son, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward the Fourth.

The Girls on the Porch is being written from much oral history, including many long interviews with the grandchildren of the Governor and First Lady. The Historic Broward House is now being restored and is a part of the larger National Timucuan Parks Foundation at 9953 Heckscher Drive in Jacksonville, Florida.

Enid’s life was full of youthful adventure as she grew up with eight sisters and a brother. She would pose with her arm on her mother’s shoulder in 1908 when her family moved into the first Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee. Enid attended the inaugural ball when her father was elected Governor of a rural state on its way to becoming one of the great states of the Deep South in 1905.

My grandmother Enid is on the far lower right. Enid’s curly hair, olive skin, and penetrating brown eyes would make her one of the best-known women in American politics in the 1940s. Her father’s sudden death in 1910 gave rise to her own early political ambitions, but first, women must win the right to vote and hold office in America.

She was a beauty with dark curly hair, her father’s brown eyes, and an olive complexion. Her older sisters, Annie Dorcas and Josephine, were intelligent, lovely, and ambitious. Annie Dorcas was one of the first women in Florida to attend law school at Stetson while Josephine was an artist who pursed her art in higher education. She traveled North to where her mother’s family lived to earn a degree and become a teacher.

Enid was her father’s political want-to-be. Watching her father fight for the state of Florida, she knew early on she wanted to run for public office. Her mother Annie and her Aunt Elsie were frequent visitors to the state capitol. They listened to debates on the issues of the day and shared their strong opinions with Governor Broward.

Enid would be married and have children of her own before women would gain the right to vote and hold public office. The ceremony took place in her mother’s home. It was the same house she was born in just 20 years earlier. When she married the dashing Lucius Augusts Hardee in 1914, it might have been seen as naive and pie-in-the-sky to dream of following in her father’s footsteps.

Enid and Gus left Florida after the birth of their first two children to take advantage of the building boom. Gus Hardee started a knife selling business on the west coast as saws were needed to bring down the great trees which framed the houses of the nation. In 1925, Enid and Gus were living outside of Seattle in Bothell, Washington when she decided to run for mayor of the city. The mother of seven children was ready to try her hand at politics and had won the endorsements of many of the city’s leaders.

My grandmother might have been elected to public office on the west coast if it weren’t for hearing of her mother Annie’s illness in Florida. Bothell historians recently told me she dropped out of the race to be available to visit her mother across the country.  Her mother Annie recovered and Enid resumed her role as wife and women’s activist until 1928 when the bottom fell out. The Great Depression was coming. Her husband’s business was one of the first to fall.

My father had become ill as well. The first child born in Seattle, my dad Randolph took off on a horse and narrowly escaped death when he was thrown from the saddle. The horse came crashing down on the youngster’s legs and knees which led to problems walking at such a young age. Daddy developed what was then called tuberculosis of the knees. Though later, the diagnosis would be juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Doctors told my grandmother her son might not survive the cold weather of the Pacific Northwest. The family lost everything but hope.

My father Randolph, his brothers Douglas and LA Jr., along with his sisters Enid, Annie Lee, Patricia, and Barbara Jean all cheered their mother’s career as she began her duties in the family’s home state of Florida. All was going well when she began to fall ill. My grandfather took her to many doctors. None of them were able to diagnose her early pancreatic cancer.

On December 7th, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, her son Douglas was compelled to enlist in the U.S. Army. Much to the worry of both his father and mother, he signed up for the U.S. Army and was assigned to a military base in Utah. Pilots who would later deliver the atomic bomb also trained there in great secrecy.

My Aunt Barbara Jean Hardee, my Uncle Douglas Waldo Hardee, my grandfather Gus Hardee, and my Aunt Patricia Hardee. They were seeing Doug off to Utah where he would be assigned to the military police in 1942.

Uncle Douglas was a trusted soldier in the U.S. Army at the most important base in America. Unbeknownst to the world – the atomic bomb, the most lethal weapon in the history of human war – was being studied and developed for possible use if the United States ran out of money or men before the war could be won. Douglas was killed one year to the day from the attack on Pearl Harbor. His motorcycle went off the side of a mountain as he chased another soldier who was suspected of murdering his own wife.

The family would soon be receiving Doug’s body in Sebring, Florida as all the rest of the family prepared to join the war effort.  My father would often tell the story of how his mother held his brother’s hand during the wake in the family home. In my father’s narrative, Enid’s cancer quickly advanced after that. And, as she went into a coma, she whispered, “Bury me next to my Sergeant son.”

The glamorous couple who had survived The Great Depression would soon be no more.

My grandmother Enid Lyle Broward Hardee would be eulogized in the Florida Legislature and called one of the most important women in politics in America. Her death at 47 and the death of my Uncle Douglas Waldo Hardee in the U.S. Army at 21 would affect all of her children and grandchildren – as most of us would never know her except through stories passed down by our parents.

One thought on “Bury Me Next to My Sergeant Son

  1. Josephine Broward Beckley was the second daughter of Annie Douglass and Gov, Broward. She was a graduate of Converse College in Spartanburg , South Carolina and she was what today would be thought of as classically educated. After graduating from college , she continued her art studies
    in Providence, RI and Cape Cod, MA. In 1914 she married Frank Carlton Beckley of Conn. and moved to Fort Pierce, Florida. There Mr. Beckley had purchased an orange grove in and the young couple were encouraged by what seemed to be promising future. It was not to be. Josephine’s husband, while on a business trip to New York, contracted typhoid fever and died. She and her sister, Florida Segrest, traveled by train to Great Falls, New York to make the necessary arrangements for her husband to be buried in his family cemetery in Hartford, Conn. With the death of her husband , she returned to Jacksonville and her family home. The home in which she was born. With her she brought her two young children, Carlton, age four and Dorcas, age 2,.
    At this time she began her teaching career. She taught art in the public schools in Duval County, reared her children and helped her widowed mother care for and support her younger siblings. She never remarried.

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