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Beggs’ hearse was first of its kind in Florida

Mickey Starling:

Greene Publishing, Inc.

In the early years of the twentieth century, Madison County was not known for being a place full of modern innovation. Our dirt roads looked more like mud puddles after a good rain and an ideal parking space was the hitching post nearest the water trough for the horses to drink from.

T.J. Beggs, Sr. began to change all of that in 1919, when he purchased the first motorized hearse ever to touch the streets in the state of Florida. S.A. Kyle Funeral Home had a similar vehicle purchased as well, but the train carrying the two Dodge hearses stopped in Madison first. At the time, Dr. D.H. Yates, of Madison, was the only other owner of a motorized vehicle. In fact, Yates was called to the aid of Mr. Beggs to explain how to start and fuel the impressive new hearse.

Beggs' son, T.J. Beggs, Jr. went on to become the first licensed funeral director and embalmer in Madison. He was only 24 years old when the hearse arrived and he was happy to introduce this modern marvel to the community.   

The vehicle, which has been marvelously restored to like-new condition, is now stored in the Beggs Museum on South Range Avenue, in Madison. This priceless relic features a wood-carved body and a Rolls-Royce engine that "still works just fine," according to Tommy Beggs, who operates the museum by appointment.

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