Doppelganger

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Did you know that there is more than one Emmett Wilson who lived in Pensacola during the turn of the last century?

Neither did I — until I found this interesting little article:

Emmett Wilson got the thimble...very interesting, considering he just got 'engaged.' LOL. Source: Ocala Evening Star, September 15, 1911

Emmett Wilson got the thimble…very interesting. If one received the thimble in his or her piece of cake, it was representative of eternal spinsterhood or bachelorhood. Foreshadowing? Or mistaken identity? Source: Ocala Evening Star, September 15, 1911

This article gave me great pause. It was a new article with new information — which is great — but the dates around this event were confusing. I’ve tracked (and mapped out) Emmett’s life pretty well at this point; he would not have a reason to be in Lake Butler at this point, unless….

There was nothing else to do but pin on the History Detective badge and get to work.

The first thing I did was compare the dates of this article to the chart I created that maps out what he was doing at this time.

According to my research (which is backed up with credible sources),  on September 6, Emmett was off on a month-long fishing trip at Mary Esther, Florida with his big brother Frank Wilson. (An aside: I have always considered it strange that Emmett, the newly minted State’s Attorney, could go off on a big month-long fishing trip, a mere two weeks after returning from vacation at Panama City.)

It turns out that our Emmett Wilson was in St. Andrew’s between September 2 and 5, 1911, but, whatever fishing trip took place was a short one, because on September 6, there was a report in the papers of five murders in that had just taken place in Santa Rosa County.

As State’s Attorney, Emmett would have had to be in Milton during that time for the investigations; sure enough, I found an article corroborating that Emmett Wilson, State’s Attorney, was, indeed, in Milton for the investigations on or about September 6.

And…the investigations certainly were not over in one day. Emmett was busy dealing with these cases, and then, I have another article from the Pensacola Evening News stating that Emmett was in DeFuniak on the 11th, for the opening of Circuit Court. So, Emmett Wilson, State’s Attorney, was pretty tied up during this week. I’m sure he took a breather here and there, but I doubt it was in Lake Butler.

Next, I looked at the logistics; i.e. could Emmett have been able to make it to a wedding on the other side of the state, and then back in time to prosecute a case in Milton the next day?

Today, if you drove from Milton to Lake Butler, it is at least 4 hours (308 miles at 60 miles per hour).

Distance between Milton and Lake Butler, Florida: 308 miles. Today, 4 hours one way. In Emmett's day, about 10 hours one way. Source: Google maps

Distance between Milton and Lake Butler, Florida: 308 miles. Today, 4 hours one way. In Emmett’s day, about 10 hours one way. Source: Google maps

Train speeds back in Emmett’s day averaged 25 miles per hour, plus there would have been multiple stops in between Milton and Lake Butler (there was no express train running between the two stops). So, if Emmett were in Lake Butler and he needed to get to Milton, he’d have had to spend between 10 and 12 hours just traveling in one direction.

OK. So, logistically, our Emmett couldn’t have been at that wedding. So, who was this Emmett at the wedding?

It was Emmett Paul Wilson.

Emmett Paul Wilson, buried at St. John's Cemetery in Pensacola, not far from where our own Emmett is buried. Source: Findagrave.com

Emmett Paul Wilson, buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Pensacola, not far from where our own Emmett Wilson is buried. Source: Findagrave.com

Emmett Paul Wilson was a postmaster and a store manager in Gull Point, Escambia County, Florida. Did he know our Emmett Wilson? Maybe. I imagine they might have gotten each other’s mail by accident on occasion.

Despite the fact that Emmett Paul Wilson (EPW) received the thimble in his slice of wedding cake (as mentioned in the first article), he was not ‘doomed’ to a life of eternal bachelorhood, as was our Emmett. EPW was married to Susan Sinclair Wilson; they had a daughter named Margaret.

So, that solves the mystery of which Emmett Wilson attended a wedding in Lake Butler on September 6, 1911.

 

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