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Maxed Out

Here’s a list of the Wilson children (from oldest to youngest) and my find/contact progress thus far:

  • Maxwell Augustus Wilson (‘Max’) — eleven children, no contacts yet.
  • Cephas Love Wilson (‘Cephas’) — two children; a son and a daughter. No contacts yet with any of Cephas’ descendants.
  • Percy Brockenbrough Wilson (‘Percy’) — three children (twins and a daughter). Have located & contacted granddaughter & great granddaughter of one child.
  • Everard Meade Wilson (‘Meade’) — two sons; both deceased. One son did not have children. Unknown about current descendants.
  • Francis Childria Wilson, Jr. (‘Frank’) — one child, died in infancy. Have located & contacted a nephew on Frank’s wife’s side of the family.
  • Eudora Neely Wilson Smith (‘Dora’) — two daughters; located grandson of one daughter. Waiting to hear back from grandson.
  • Catherine Elizabeth Wilson Meade (‘Katie’) — one son. Have located & contacted granddaughter.
  • Emmett Wilson — never married; no known descendants.
  • Julian Anderson Wilson — one daughter. Have located and contacted the daughter.
  • Walker Guy Wilson — two children. Have located and contacted a grandson.

I think I’ve done pretty well for almost three years’ worth of digging around in an obscure Congressman’s past — I’ve made contact with descendants of most of the original Wilson family members. But I certainly don’t think I’m finished by a long shot.

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

Augustus Maxwell Wilson, or “Max,” oldest son of Dr. F.C. and Elizabeth Wilson. Source: Florida

The obvious gaping research hole in tracking down Wilson descendants is with the oldest child, Max Wilson. And believe it or not, it has been incredibly difficult to find anyone descended from Max Wilson. Eleven children and dozens of dead ends. I kid you not.

And honestly, I haven’t really focused on Max that much. It isn’t that I’m ignoring Max, but I’ve been spending my research time tracking down sources I estimate closest to Emmett during his lifetime; namely, his twin brother Julian, his older sister Katie, his younger brother Walker, and, his law partner, Cephas.

Max doesn’t figure into Emmett’s story that much, mostly because there’s 12 years’ difference in their ages. When Emmett was a boy, Max was already in school, had a job. He wasn’t exactly Emmett’s playmate and peer. I could be wrong, but for now, all information indicates that Max was not around much in Emmett’s formative years.

Augustus Maxwell Wilson was born in 1867 in Pensacola, and died in 1925, in Pasco County, Florida. According to an item on Find-A-Grave, a Times-Herald Obituary reported he died on January 30, 1925, and he was living with his oldest son (that would be Max Jr.) at the time.

Max’s wife, Belle Fannin Wilson, wrote a wonderful family genealogy, which is located in the special collections section of the Miami-Dade Public Library. But in that genealogy, I got the idea that that Max was unstable. Maybe I read it wrong. Maybe a family member can shed some light on it.

The genealogy said Max was a ‘chaser of rainbows,’ and if you look at his career track, you get the idea that Max never really knew what he wanted to do with himself; that when things got really tough, he’d stop whatever he was doing and begin all over again, not weathering the natural ups and downs that happen in any career.

For example, at different times, Max was listed as a bookkeeper, a railroad employee, a farmer, a newspaper owner and publisher, a pharmacist, a postmaster, a salesman. There were other careers he sampled along the way; meanwhile, the many different job switches had to be tough on his large family. No one is taking this man’s inventory at this point; he’s long gone. No one is saying he did a bad thing, changing jobs so often. But, it does look somewhat unstable from an outsider’s perspective.

Max is buried in the Dade City, Florida, cemetery. His wife is not buried with him. It is important to note that Belle was alive at the time of Max’s death — no one wants to jump to any conclusions, but the fact that he was living apart from his spouse is curious. The obituary said he died of a long illness.

Belle Fannin Wilson's genealogy. The original document is in the archival holdings at the Miami-Dade Library.

Belle Fannin Wilson’s genealogy. The original document is in the archival holdings at the Miami-Dade Library.

The genealogy was published by Belle’s son, Francis. That son became a journalist; so, my plan is to locate Francis’ descendants. Journalists and writers tend to keep notes, journals, stories — I’m hoping that Francis did the same.

But 11 children — surely there must be someone of Max’s family out there who holds Wilson memorabilia. Or photos. That would be wonderful.

What trips me up in finding the original Wilson family’s descendants is that several of Dr. Wilson’s children named their sons “Francis”, and then, those children also named Dr. Wilson’s grandchildren “Francis.” Oy. I’ve encountered about 12 “Francis Childrias” in this research project (but no Archibald Emmetts!). In several cases, I can’t tell who belongs to which descendant. It’s nice to honor one’s ancestors, but reusing exact names in a family makes it difficult and confusing for researchers 100 years in the future.

In other news, my street got dug out last night about 10:30 pm. It looks like my dear children will be headed off to school tomorrow! Snowzilla 2016 is now in the history books.

UPDATE: I found the Francis who published Belle’s genealogy; he also became a “Dr. Francis Childria Wilson”; as in, a journalist-turned-Methodist minister.

The kids will be home yet another day, despite the fact the roads have been plowed. DC schools are open, by the way (and I live a mere 1500 feet over the DC-Maryland state line). Go figure. 🙂

Categories: Book Family Research Status The Writing Life

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

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