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Coveted Artifacts

Yesterday, a colleague told me that she had seen an actual notary public stamp belonging to Emmett Wilson on a legal document dating from 1905!

She told me it was quite unique; Emmett’s name is part of the official stamp itself. This made me wonder what ever became of the actual stamp device.

Not just anyone could become a Notary Public in 1905: It was a patronage position that only the Governor of Florida could bestow. My colleague told me that the stamps were made by the governor’s own embosser.

I would love to get my hands on Emmett’s Notary Public stamp — if not to possess it, for the chance to examine it.

This was not something you just schlepped around in a briefcase. This model (approximately 110 years old) weighs five pounds. Source:

The notary public stamp from Emmett’s day was not something you would want to schlep around in a briefcase. This model (approximately 110 years old) weighs five pounds. Source:

Actually, there are several of Emmett’s personal artifacts I’d love to find. For instance:

  • His fountain pen. Emmett indeed used a fountain pen. Back then, a man’s fountain pen was something special. My own grandfather had his father’s fountain pen in fact, and it was common to pass these down in a family. I can’t prove it, but I like to think that Emmett’s was given to him when he graduated from law school back in 1904. Sometimes the pens had initials or names engraved upon them; unless Emmett’s was engraved, it is unlikely I’ll find it.
  • His pocket watch. This one may be close to impossible to find as well. At the end of his life, Emmett was having money problems, and he might have hocked it to pay some bills; there was no mention of it in his will (assets). In fact, he barely had more than the clothes on his back when he died.
  • An Emmett Wilson campaign button. I’ve mentioned this item in previous posts. I’ve had feelers out on this one for awhile.
  • His scrapbooks. Of course.
  • Any books that belonged to him. I know he was a voracious reader and had a fairly good collection (other than law books). I hope to find a vintage book with his name in it one day. He left them to Emmett Wilson Kehoe, the son of his good friend Walter Kehoe. EWK did not have children; they may be floating around somewhere in a vintage book store, or dispersed among nephews and nieces.
  • His wishbone tie pin. If you look very closely in the photo on this page, you’ll notice he has a little golden wishbone tie pin.
    Look closely. A wishbone for good luck!

    Look closely. A wishbone for good luck!

    I’ve seen some of these on Etsy; this little pin has a bit of a story behind it, I’m sure. I believe it was gifted to him by someone close; perhaps the Kehoes, or Lula and Cephas, or one of his sisters. For awhile, I thought a girlfriend would have given this to him — it is possible — but I don’t think likely. Victorian ideals about gift-giving were very much still the norm in small Southern towns around 1913. Unless you were married or engaged, expensive gold jewelry (like a gold tie pin or cufflinks) was not something a woman gave to a man. His good friend Minnie Kehoe might have been able to get away with giving Emmett a gold tie pin like this as a gift, but anyone else outside of family? Probably not.

  • Minnie Neal was the photographer of Emmett's law school graduating class. Ad from the 1905 Stetson Weekly Collegiate, February 15, 1905.

    Minnie Neal was the photographer of Emmett’s law school graduating class. Ad from the 1905 Stetson Weekly Collegiate, February 15, 1905.

    Any photographs from Stetson/Law school graduation. I’ve been lucky to come across some photos in the microfilm, but the best ones I’ve received have been shared with me by relatives and friends of Emmett’s descendants, who I’ve become friends with through the research. I know that the photos were taken, but I have not been able to track down relatives or locate negatives anywhere. The photographer didn’t marry or have children; I’ll try to reach out to descendants of siblings next, as well as to Florida and Georgia libraries and universities (particularly those interested in women leaders/women’s studies of the early 20th century).

This is my wish list of Emmett Wilson artifacts I hope to uncover in the next year.

Categories: Book Research Status

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Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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