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New Information; New Questions

Last week, I mentioned that Katie Wilson Meade’s granddaughter shared a seven-page narrative that Katie wrote about her (and Emmett’s) childhood when they lived in Belize.

Katie, Emmett, and Julian were the only Wilson children born in Belize. They emigrated back to the U.S. in 1884. Emmett and Julian were two years old; Katie was about 6 or 7 years old.

Emmett mentioned in an interview in 1913 that when the family moved back to the U.S., the family lived there for about eight or nine years. The decision to move back to the U.S. was based on several reasons, one of which was that his father had been part-owner of an unsuccessful sugar plantation.

The steamer "City of Dallas," a ship of the Macheca Line, which ran between the US from 1868 to 1900. This is the ship that carried Emmett and his family back to the U.S. in 1884. Source:

The steamer “City of Dallas,” a ship of the Macheca Line, which ran between the US from 1868 to 1900. This is the ship that carried Emmett and his family back to the U.S. in 1884. Source:

They cut their losses, and moved back to Florida. Essentially, they were starting all over again.

What I just discovered (in reading the narrative) was that when the Wilsons moved back home, Emmett’s grandfather, Augustus Emmett Maxwell, gave Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson 60 acres in Washington County, Florida.

He didn’t give the property to his son-in-law, Dr. Wilson, but to his daughter, Elizabeth. Interesting.

Why did Judge Maxwell do that? I’m not sure. I know the Judge liked his son-in-law very much, and there was no bad blood between them. Perhaps it had something to do with taxes (as in, Dr. Wilson may have owed back taxes to the government for some reason).

I know that when the Wilsons moved back to the U.S., they had little more than the clothing and household belongings packed in their steamer trunks. I’m sure Maxwell also wanted to help his daughter and her family. But why put the 60 acres in his daughter’s name?

With new information comes a new mystery!

Another question: Where was this acreage, exactly? I’m not sure of that either. But, I know approximately where it was, based on the 1885 Census of Florida.

1885 Census of Washington County, Florida. Source: NARA

It was somewhere in District 2 of Washington County. Source: NARA

Last year I tracked down this same census page, and sent out a query to folks in Washington County who might know about where the Wilson property was located. Ideally, I’d have looked at the 1890 Census to confirm names and locations — but, the 1890 for Florida doesn’t exist.

I went up to the 1900 Census (the Wilson family had since moved into Chipley), and checked some of the names on the 1885 Census — perhaps some of the families in the area where the Wilsons lived were still there — but I didn’t find anything.

Since I did that last check, I’ve become friends with Chipley area descendants whose names are the same as those on this census — perhaps they are relatives — and posed this question. Hopefully, they’ll know something about where the location of the property Judge Maxwell gave his daughter is today.

I head out to Charlottesville tomorrow morning for a visit with Katie’s granddaughter! Wish me luck!


Categories: Book Family Florida History Research Status

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Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
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