Chapter 61: The goal

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January 4, 1903
East Hall Men’s Dormitory
Stetson University
DeLand, Florida

I love where I am at this moment.

Emmett was classified as a junior his first year at Stetson; administrators credited his two years’ work at WFS. Source: Stetson University College Catalog, 1901-02, http://digital.archives.stetson.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/Unidocs/id/2865/rec/4

This is different than the Seminary, and the Business College; this is about joining in active discussions with my professors about something I am entirely interested in, and this all makes perfect sense — the work I did for Cephas, the drudge work I did for Judge Jones. Ceph had been right: The work I did last summer for him turned out to be some of the most valuable practical experience in preparation for law school. In fact, the required Elementary Law class has been nothing but repetitive information I learned in Cephas’ law office this summer.

Law school feels natural to me. I work hard; but I take nothing for granted. I feel like I had a real chance to shine  because it all feel right, being here at Stetson. 

The first week here, Paul and I immediately joined the debate club, and helped inaugurate the Kent Club, a law school organization. We are regular attendees of both groups.

For the first time, I feel like I belong completely, without reservation. I love it. I feel at home. More so than in my actual home in Chipley, for what it is worth. This has been my first time living away from family members and with my two closest friends at East House — Paul Carter and Billy Crawford — and we have a great time! 

We play pranks on each other (one of which actually caused a small fire last week), we roughhouse, we smoke, we relax by playing checkers or chess on the front porch. Some of us even get up a game of baseball with the underclassmen on occasion.

There are 13 of us fellows living in the dorm, and two or three of us share a room. In the fall, we had 14, but one fellow got fed up with us and our pranks, and moved out. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the evening he came home from studying in the Law Library, and discovered his room was completely devoid of furniture. (We’d simply stashed it in the attic.)

We are a fun, cohesive group. We often pool our food together for giant feasts (some of which was taken surreptitiously from the women’s dorms); Crawford has a chafing dish, and we add whatever we have on hand: Hot dogs, apples, random vegetables to make up a stew of sorts. Most of the time, we eat at the stag table at Chaudoin Hall, the large women’s dormitory, which features the biggest dining room on campus. The dining is segregated by gender; there is also a ‘training table’ where the football and baseball players eat separated from the rest of us.

Most of the fellows, like myself, go on outings with a few of the girls on campus now and then; these are chaperoned affairs, but now and then, you can get alone with a girl, which is pleasant, especially if you are out with one of the girls who is ‘accommodating’ . You have to be careful; all of us do. One slip, and you’d be married, then out of school, and off to a drudge job, drudge life. I feel comfortable saying that none of us in our group expect or want anything serious with a girl at this point.

Paul Carter was popular among the girls at Stetson. Because one-on-one meetings were mostly chaperoned between men and women, the men would climb through the womens’ dorm windows to visit. The Stetson Collegiate. http://digital.archives.stetson.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/Newspapers/ p. 7, December, 1902.

I haven’t met anyone at Stetson who interests me, though I am friendly with a lot of the girls on campus. I attend parties and functions at the dorms, as most of the fellows,  but none of it is serious to me. I don’t want it to be serious.

Honestly, I feel like most of the girls here are in it to find a husband, the way they skip classes, and carry on in their dorms with fellows who sneak in through windows at night. Some of the fellows don’t come home until almost sunrise sometimes.

It’s not as if I am not tempted. I am. I know what girls do and do not at Hamilton Hall — the girl’s dorm — for instance, but I also know I absolutely cannot screw up my chances here at Stetson, so my personal needs are met off campus when necessary.

===

Emmett’s dorm, East Hall, is in the upper right hand corner. Hamilton is right below it. Source: Stetson University Archives

Last evening, while sitting on the front porch, smoking with a few of the fellows, Crawford, who is always nosing into my nonexistent love life, asked:

“Met anyone lately who looks interesting, Wilson?” 

“No. Not really.”

“There’s dancing lessons to be offered at Chaudoin Hall on Fridays by a Mrs. Spaulding.”

“She has two rather good looking daughters, doesn’t she?” one of the fellows at the checkers game on the other side of the porch said.

“That’s the one,” said Crawford, lighting a cigarette. “Might be worth checking out over there, to see what’s what, Em. Her daughters are quite outgoing.”

“I already know how to dance,” I said.

“Maybe this Spaulding woman knows newer steps. I understand she promotes herself and her daughters as quite the life of the party where they are from, Massachusetts, I think. Or New York,” Crawford said, as he exhaled smoke, and eased back in his chair.

I really wasn’t interested in going to the dance; I had a debate coming up next week, and there was a case I was preparing in my Contracts class that needed attention.

For the past few weeks, I’d been getting later and later starts with my homework, often I wasn’t starting to read until around 10 o’clock each night. Sometimes I pull a few all-nighters, especially if I let myself get talked into a social over at Chaudoin Hall, which I honestly don’t enjoy that much. I go mostly so I don’t get a reputation of being anti-social.

The girls are nice enough, but they all seem as if they are trying too hard, if you know what I mean. The more standoffish I am, the harder some of them try, and I was not brought up to be rude to young ladies.

“No,” I told the fellows, as I stood up to go upstairs. “I really have to hit the books, fellas. It took me almost two years to get back to college; I worked too hard to return to school and if I don’t get to it, Professor Brierly will chew me out in Contracts.”

They left me alone after that.

But what I didn’t say to them: “This is my last and only chance to become someone more than who I am at present, and I’m not going to screw it up.”

I think maybe some of them know that about me already, though.

 

 

Chapter 60: Emmett Wilson, Law Student

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April 22, 2016
McKeldin Library
The University of Maryland
College Park, MD

Did you know Stetson was Florida’s first law school? It was founded in 1900, and Emmett was one of the very first graduates (he was Valedictorian for the class of 1904).

When Emmett attended from 1902-1904, Stetson’s law school was in DeLand, Florida, and most of the classes met in a building called Science Hall. The law school (when Emmett started) wasn’t big; in fact, Emmett’s graduating class had only 10 students.

The 1904 graduating class with 10 students. Emmett's best friend, Paul Carter, is in here as well. Source: Stetson University Archives

The 1904 graduating class with 10 students. Emmett’s best friend, Paul Carter, is in here as well. Source: Stetson University Archives

 

Here’s a description of Stetson’s law school — actually ‘law department’ back in the day:

A description of the law school facilities in 1903-04. They were 'second to none' at the time. Source: Stetson University Archives

A description of the law school facilities in 1903-04. They were ‘second to none’ at the time. Source: Stetson University Archives

 

Here’s an image from a Stetson brochure featuring the facility:

Students in the law library in the upper left corner. Notice the guy in the pale vest? Does he look familiar? He should! Source: Stetson University Archives

Students in the law library in the upper left corner. Notice the guy in the pale vest? Does he look familiar? He should!  He’s also somewhere in the practice courtroom photo, but even with the original, I can’t zoom in enough to pick him out. Source: Stetson University Archives

 

Back then, Emmett lived in a dorm called East Hall his first year of law school, costing about $206 year. It included “tuition, board, furnished room, lights, and washing.” Books cost about $35 a year, and were references he’d use during his early years as a lawyer. When Emmett was ready to graduate, his diploma fee was $5.

Today, the law department is a school unto itself, and is in Tampa Bay. It has definitely come a long way since Emmett’s day.

Updated from April 22, 2016, at this link.

Chapter 59: I Begin at Stetson

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September 25, 1902
Stetson University
DeLand, Florida

Flagler Science Hall. This was the location of the original Stetson University Law School
Source: http://www.stetson.edu/other/about/history.php

I stood outside Science Hall at 7:30 am Thursday morning, September 25; it was a clear day, a cool morning, but I was sweating and nervous. I hadn’t had anything to drink since I arrived on campus day before yesterday; I’ve been too busy getting settled into the dorm, and, getting ready for the entrance examinations. I had to pass them, absolutely. If I failed, I’d have to go back to Marianna and work with Cephas, save up again, prepare again…and I really didn’t think I’d have it in me to do it all over again. I took my handkerchief out of my coat pocket and wiped my brow, and my mouth.

Paul H. Carter, from the 1899-1900 WFS yearbook, The Argo. Source: FSU Archives.

I heard footsteps behind me. I turned; it was Paul.

You ready? He said.

I guess so.

We both entered Science Hall together, and headed to the examination room. Paul and I had prepared each other, quizzing each other on what would be on the exam for over a week. Even though Paul was already a barred attorney in Florida, he’d still have to take the entrance exam, like anyone else who wanted to earn their law degree at Stetson.

Between working for Cephas all summer, and being quizzed by Paul, I felt well prepared, but I felt the pressure, too, to succeed, and I was stressed.

Being around Cephas this summer was probably the best thing that could have happened, to prepare me for law school; I didn’t want to admit that at first. While I learned a lot working for Judge Jones, Cephas was the tougher mentor. Cephas wasn’t also as diplomatic in his criticisms of my work; he demanded perfection out of me at all times in his legal work, and when I’d complain, Ceph would tell me that I probably wasn’t fit for the bench anyway, and if I thought the law was some soft or cushy job, maybe it would be better if I went back to the telegraph office, or just planned on clerking the rest of my life, because I’d never make it as a lawyer.

Cephas had me doing research on cases, drafting documents, running errands to court and to other offices, composing letters. Occasionally, Ceph would let me accompany him to court, where I would listen to him argue cases in such a manner that often made me feel proud, embarrassed, and afraid all at the same time. Cephas was an eloquent speaker, a gifted debater, and always thoroughly prepared. Ceph’s presence in the courtroom was something you could not overlook: He was tall, broad, distinguished, polished, commanding. He looked — and was — a force to be reckoned with, and he was absolutely respected, even by fellow attorneys who plainly did not like him. I was often amazed at the audacity Ceph had in representing his clients: He was always of the mind that he was going to win, period, and so, Cephas would not stop at anything in the service of his clients, or his own self-interest. This meant, occasionally, that he would resort to what I considered low blows — essentially, ad hominem attacks — things which may not have been completely substantiated, but Ceph knew how to weave those things into his arguments in the courtroom.

Cephas Love Wilson, 1906. Source: http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/143975

He’d then get called out on it by the judge, who would then admonish the jury to disregard Cephas’ words. Ceph knew that even if a judge and the opposing counsel deemed his comment immaterial, and the jury was instructed to ignore or disallow what was said, that he had planted the seed of doubt in certain jurors’ minds about his opponents, and their characters, which is what often made the difference in the outcome of his cases.

As Paul and I walked down the hall towards the examination rooms — as a lawyer, he would take his exam in a different room than I — he said, “Remember, the law is a whore. Don’t forget to put that on your test.”

I laughed out loud. You sound like Cephas, I said, as we parted ways.

Yeah, well, he ought to know, Paul retorted with a chuckle. See you outside when you’re done.

As I took my seat in the classroom, and waited for the proctor to distribute the test, I remembered Cephas saying the same thing. “You have to take what you need and get what you can out of the law for your clients. Then, move on, and not think about. You can’t get caught up in clients’ personal lives. It’s all about business, it’s all law, plain and simple. None of it is ever personal. You get into trouble, you lose, when you let it get personal.”

The proctor called the room to attention, and started explaining the administration of the exam.

I realized this summer that Cephas may not always use the most ethical means to win his cases; and in fact, he did get personal with some of his clients and their business, all behind the back of Lula. I never said anything to her or anyone else; I knew better. I didn’t like everything he did to win; but he was right — it was about winning. He had the reputation of a winner. That meant he was prominent, wealthy, respected — a force to be reckoned with. I wanted what he had, too. I said as much to Cephas, too.

Cephas replied, “You need to toughen up, first, and sometimes, put your high sense of moral ethics and integrity in the background, else you will be held back. And you need to be the absolute best at everything you do in this profession.”

“All right students,” the proctor said. He looked at his pocket watch. “Open your test booklets, and begin.”

 

Chapter 58: An Interview with Cephas

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Outside the Law Office of Cephas L. Wilson
Courthouse Square
Marianna, Florida
August 3, 1902

Cephas Love Wilson, Jr.; about 1899. Source: State Archives of Florida.

You want to know about my kid brother? Well…let me think…

Before Emmett moved in with us this summer, I didn’t see him that often except for the occasional visit; Chipley is about 20 miles down the road, and I travel about the state on the legal circuit.  And I’m 14 years older than Emmett, so we weren’t that close growing up. But Emmett has good friends here. Lula is fond of him; she sees him as a younger, more trustworthy and moral version of me. She wishes I had more of Emmett’s qualities.

But then, if I were more like Emmett, I tell her, I’d probably still be single.

===

The Wilsons lived in Toledo Settlement, Punta Gorda, British Honduras (now Belize). They emigrated from the Port of New Orleans to Belize City; then traveled by ox cart down to Punta Gorda. There were few roads; this was not an easy move for this family. Source: http://www.scf.usc.edu

My earliest memory of Emmett? It was when he and Julian were born, in Belize. It was hot and uncomfortable then; a miserable, intemperate environment. The insects were huge. Father was always off busy, treating someone, either a Caribe or a member of our community. Mother had a particularly hard time; she’d been through a lot, before the move to Central America, and while she had family members and friends with her, it was no grand plantation or grand house, as she had been used to as a girl. Mother was a strong woman; had strong character and definite opinions. But cheerful, positive.

Emmett and Julian were born one day before Mother’s birthday. She called the twins her birthday present. She and Emmett were particularly close; he looked like her, but more to the point, he is also a lot like Grandfather Maxwell. People have said Emmett is definitely cut from the same cloth as Grandfather. They are very much alike in terms of mannerisms, behavior, looks, even. Grandfather is more social, though; more comfortable around people, especially women. Emmett, well, he’s still young. He’s more of a loner; keeps to the same small set of friends. Emmett just needs to be introduced to more prominent, more popular people. The right people.

While Emmett and I have not been close growing up, I have gotten to know him better in recent years, especially since he has been clerking for me the past summer.

Source: The Chipley Banner, May 1902.

I know Emmett enjoys listening to political discussions and he is interested in becoming a judge one day; he’s thoughtful, analytical. I see a lot of potential in him.

He’s told me that he is interested in studying law, that he wants to be a judge like Grandfather. Emmett would probably be a good judge one day: He respects, even likes and appreciates the law, and finds it comfortable where others would find it frustrating and confusing now and again. Not so, Emmett. The more challenging the precedent or the legal problem, the more energized he becomes.

I also know that Emmett wants to be something else, something bigger than he is at this moment, and somewhere else other than Chipley. I can understand that. I was like that too, when I was 17 and clerking for Judge W.O. Butler in Chipley.

For years, I’ve watched Emmett sit on the periphery of discussion circles on Father’s front porch, or in the parlor, or even here, in Marianna, when Lula and I would host family gatherings. Emmett likes to sit off to the side, almost by himself, just listening. He never says much, but then, he was never asked to jump into the conversation — not that I think his point of view wouldn’t have been seriously considered. Emmett never just randomly jumps into anything, even into conversation.

With Emmett, you have to understand, it isn’t about the text with him, it’s the subtext. When he does speak, it is well thought-out, not a ventilation of emotion or charged speech, or unprepared.

I think one day he might become a very good lawyer; especially, if he could master public speaking. But, he’s awkward and uncomfortable speaking before a group; even a very small one made up of those who know him well. He’d rather not draw attention to himself. I’ve told him that if he, indeed, wishes to become a judge like Grandfather, he’d have to overcome the fear of public speaking, and find a way to be effective, even if he feels terrified on the inside. A poor public speaker will never make it to the bench, even if he is excellent with the law. He’d have to master that fear at the get-go; an audience cannot see that you are afraid.

But, with Emmett, it is a little more than fear; Emmett just isn’t interested in things superficial, or social just to be social. If he wants to have a successful political career — which he will need if he wishes to become a judge — he has to get out among society, circulate, do the small talk, perhaps flirt with women single and married (as married women can influence their menfolk), promote himself. Emmett finds all of that false and insincere, which it is, truth be told. But, that is the way it is done, I tell him.

Perhaps with time, and practice, Emmett will become more comfortable speaking in public, in social settings. We can certainly help him that way.

I see a lot of myself in my younger brother: Ambition. Intelligence. Good looks. Good connections.

But Emmett has something I didn’t have at his age: An opportunity to go to college. I’ve always wanted to go to University; it sends a message of prestige and position, and it is the best way to make lifelong professional connections, if you do it correctly. In my view, if Emmett could make friends with the son of Florida’s secretary of state, that would be more than ample return on the family’s investment in his education. But Emmett doesn’t consider that suitable.

Emmett has something else I don’t have: Integrity. He’s the most honest person I know, and while that’s laudable, it can be a liability in a political career, especially if you take it to heart, as Emmett does. He’ll have to learn how to manage that sometime, else I think it could destroy him from the inside out.

Augustus Maxwell Wilson, oldest son of Dr. F.C. and Elizabeth Wilson. Source: Florida Memory.com

I make it no secret that I wish to be the Governor of Florida. My friends know it. My family, too. I know I can’t get there by myself; a family dynasty, like that of my Grandfather’s family, the Maxwells, is the key. I once thought Max would be an asset in building up the Wilson dynasty, linked as we are to the Maxwells…but Max is unstable. He’s become a bit of a laughingstock, and while he is a state representative this term, I’ve had to be careful, almost to distance myself from him. But I can’t do that; he’s my brother, and to do so sends the message of divisiveness in our own house.

But with Emmett…if he is given the proper opportunity, the proper guidance and grooming…yes. I see great potential with Emmett. That’s why I’m willing to invest in him — time and funds. I see in Emmett a chance to build a partner, a team. A dynasty.

Emmett’s ambitious. I see it in him. That, I believe, will be the key to helping him get over his fear of public speaking.

He once told me that he wants to be like Grandfather — a former U.S. Congressman, State Supreme Court Justice. I think Emmett has the capacity for both, in time.

There are other things to work on, but if I encourage his ambition, show him what heights he could rise to if he let me help him — we’d help each other. He’ll achieve his goal; I’ll achieve mine. The Wilsons will be a political dynasty, a continuation of the Maxwell political dynasty. It is all possible.

And we can make it happen.

Chapter 57: Secretarial School

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September 7, 2016
Bender Library
The American University

I have holes in my Emmett Wilson timeline. Oddball gaps where I don’t know what was going in on his life. The only way I know how to narrow that gap is simply to read the contemporary newspapers from Emmett’s time — his family was prominent in West Florida. If anything, I can track down his family to see what they were doing, then try again to contact descendants about the time period. I don’t have much to go on.

One of the tools I’ve lately discovered is contemporary newspapers. There are several online, and many are available on microfilm for me to borrow via InterLibrary Loan. Today, I’m using the microfilm reader at The American University, where I am both an alumni and adjunct faculty, so I have privileges here.

Last month, I reported on finding electronic copies of The Pensacola News for 1902. The electronic newspaper is located on a database at the George A. Smathers Library of the University of Florida. You can see the copies for yourself at the link here.

There are only a few years of this publication available — and luckily, it exists electronically. My colleagues at the University of West Florida have several bound copies of The Pensacola Evening News (the later iteration of this same paper) from 1913 to 1918, but unfortunately, could not let me (or anyone else) look at it, because the bound copies are literally disintegrating. When I was in Pensacola in October 2015, I asked (my second request), even brought my own cotton gloves with me. The archivists — who know me fairly well by now — really wanted to let me look through the books, but they couldn’t.

One thing to note about the electronic copy is that it is only as good as the hard copy that was scanned in. Here’s an example:

Notice the faded text on the left side of the page. Unfortunately, this is the situation for the left side of the pages throughout the bound book of newspapers. Source: The Pensacola Daily News, Feb 14, 1902, page 1. University of Florida

Notice the faded text on the left side of the page. Unfortunately, this is the situation for the left side of the pages throughout the bound book of newspapers. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, Feb 14, 1902, page 1. University of Florida

I spent several weeks carefully going through every single paper available electronically during the brief period when Emmett lived in Pensacola (September 1901 to February 1902), before he enrolled at Stetson University.

Ad from The Chipley Banner, 1894. DJ Jones was a well-established attorney and judge for many years. Source: Chronicling America.com

After Emmett came home from WFS in January, 1901, he immediate started clerking for Judge Daniel J. Jones, one of the most important lawyers in West Florida, with the idea that he would do as his brother Cephas: Clerk for a prominent jurist for a few years, take the bar exam, and begin his practice.  But times were changing for the legal profession around 1900, as more states were requiring law school and official degrees as proper credentials over old-school apprenticeship training.

Emmett and Judge Jones must have discussed the future of the profession, and I am certain Judge Jones would have encouraged Emmett earn a law degree at a college or university, to ensure his best possible professional opportunities.

And surprise — I’ve discovered Emmett was attending Meux’s Business College, taking shorthand and secretarial courses.

Advertisement from August 30, 1901 edition of The (Pensacola) Daily News. Emmett had been clerking for Judge D.J. Jones, during this time -- but he could only do so much without knowledge of shorthand. It is likely Jones recommended Emmett obtain shorthand training. Emmett was visiting family during the summer of 1901, and this advertisement got his attention. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, August 30, 1901.

Advertisement from August 30, 1901 edition of The (Pensacola) Daily News. Emmett had been clerking for Judge D.J. Jones, during this time — but he could only do so much without knowledge of shorthand. It is likely Jones recommended Emmett obtain shorthand training. Emmett was visiting family during the summer of 1901, and this advertisement got his attention. Shorthand was cataloged under the ‘Sciences’, as in business science. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, August 30, 1901.

Emmett most likely lived with his uncle, Judge Evelyn Croom Maxwell during his six months in Pensacola. Emmett’s grandfather, Judge A.E. Maxwell, was also in Pensacola, but not in the best of health in 1901 — and at that point, A.E. Maxwell had moved in with his son. It’s possible he was staying with the Kehoe family, but I like to think about Emmett being in proximity to his grandfather. I’ve always believed that Emmett Maxwell and Emmett Wilson were very close.

Here's the census of 1900 showing that Emmett's grandfather (who went by 'Emmett'; hence the "E.A." in the list) was living with his son and daughter-in-law on Belmont Street in Pensacola. Source: U.S. Census, 1900

Here’s the census of 1900 showing that Emmett’s grandfather (who went by ‘Emmett’; hence the “E.A.” in the list) was living with his son and daughter-in-law on Belmont Street in Pensacola. Source: U.S. Census, 1900

Alas, there’s a big, empty lot now where the Maxwell house once stood.

And then, I found this:

Source: The Chipley Banner, September 1902.

Imagine clerking for a judge and not knowing shorthand? I suppose that was a problem for Jones. At least he gave Emmett a chance; mentored him for a bit, told him perhaps that he had the brains to do well in law, but he needed some basics. Stenography for sure, and then once he could truly do the work of a clerk for awhile, go to law school.

So, I’ve figured that Emmett remained with Jones as a clerk for about six months, before he left to take the shorthand course at Meux’s Business School in Pensacola. The course ran between eight and 10 weeks.

Then, Emmett returned to Marianna in 1902 to clerk for Cephas for several months, then earning enough money to attend Stetson University in September, 1903.

Portions of this post came originally from my blog here, and here.

Chapter 56: Learning Through Dialog

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Nancy and I began what would turn out to be a years-long, ongoing dialog about Emmett’s life.

Our correspondence started out with lots of questions — and I was frankly glad to have someone who was interested in talking with me about Emmett in this depth. It helped me think about his life and death. I was working mostly solo on Emmett for about five months, and all of the facts in my head and on my Excel spreadsheet were needed airing, so to speak.

Nancy had attached screenshots of Robert H. Anderson’s biography to her message, and the note had lots of interesting questions. Source: Correspondence between Nancy Rayburn and Judy Smith, Sept. 14, 2013


At first, I thought she was a history junkie like me, interested in the quirky and obscure things found and who also loved solving mysteries, puzzles. She was. But it was more than that. She loved a story told well, and more importantly, she recognized the surprising connections we hold to history and to the obscure in our lives. The fact that I found out I was distantly related to Emmett was fun and ironic to her; but more telling and subtle was the chemical connection he and I shared.

And at the bottom of the message, was this:

I had been afraid and embarrassed to voice that out loud, but here was Nancy, someone I barely knew, seeing what I’d suspected too. I didn’t want to sound all mystic or holy rollerish, but I long suspected the connection between Emmett and myself, that it wasn’t accidental, and for better or worse, this was going to be the most incredible teachable experience for me. And maybe for someone else, too.

We would spend the next four years talking about Emmett in detail, and from that, Nancy has helped me write his story. She is and will be very much a part of the story to come.

 

Chapter 55: Enter Nancy

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September 19, 2013
University of Maryland
College Park

It is about four months into the research, and I am doggedly chipping at the cracked slab that lies over Emmett Wilson’s buried-away life history, starting with the people who knew him best.

In the December 2, 1918 edition of The Pensacola Journal, I found the following:

Emmett is eulogized seven months after his death in an Elk’s ceremony. Source: The Pensacola Journal, December 2, 1918 via ChroniclingAmerica.gov

Page 2, The Pensacola Journal, December 2, 1918, via ChroniclingAmerica.gov

I reach out to the state office of the Elk’s Club in Florida, to see if there was an archive where Anderson’s entire speech might have been preserved. It would make sense, I ask, because one of the members eulogized was a former Member of Congress. Later, an email from my source reveals he wasn’t able to find a record of Emmett’s membership — and alas,  the Pensacola chapter didn’t exist anymore — it disbanded after reaching its 100th anniversary.

Elk’s (left) and Osceola Clubs, Pensacola. Neither building survives today, although the Elk statue is elsewhere in the city, according to Jacki Wilson, archivist for the Pensacola Historical Society. Source: State Archive of Florida.

 

Next, I track down Robert H. Anderson. There’s an interesting biographical sketch in a Florida genealogy database — the sketch is a basic rtf file, in Courier typeface.

A snippet of the file uploaded by Nancy Rayburn. Source: USGWArchives

The document belongs to Ms. Nancy Rayburn — luckily, there’s an email address attached to the file.

===

I didn’t expect an answer quickly, but only a few hours later, Nancy responds:

She always like to correspond using Comic Sans. One of the many things I liked about her right away!

I sense a good source in the making.

I’ll write back right the next day — let’s see where this goes.