An Update on Walker Anderson Maxwell

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Earlier this week, we looked at a few of Emmett’s colleagues from his early days in Pensacola. Since then, I’ve had an update on Emmett’s uncle, Walker Anderson Maxwell, from the excellent Sue Tindel of the Jackson County (Florida) County Courthouse.

Just to review, here’s the newspaper clip from the last post:

From the May 21, 1909 edition of The Pensacola Journal.  Source: Chronicling America.gove

From the May 21, 1909 edition of The Pensacola Journal.
Source: Chronicling America.gov

According to Sue,

“Letters of Administration were filed by Cephas (Emmett’s brother); stated that Walker A. died intestate and the estate consisted of an insurance policy payable to his estate.

“The widow waived her rights as administrator and Cephas petitioned to have Sheriff H.H. Lewis act as administrator.  Cephas stated that Walker A Maxwell died owing M.L. Dekle (Matthew Leonidas Dekle) a large sum of money which was payable out of the insurance funds.  No land etc is mentioned.  I was a little surprised by this.”

As was I. The obituary in The Pensacola Journal states a surprise, short illness, but does not identify it. This raises all kinds of red flags in my imagination.

In the movie, George is in debt to the evil Potter to the tune of $8,000. He doesn't have the money, but, according to his life insurance policy, he's worth more dead than alive.

In the movie, George is in debt to the evil Potter to the tune of $8,000. He doesn’t have the money, but, according to his life insurance policy, he’s worth more dead than alive. Source: filmsite.org/itsa

Could it be that Maxwell borrowed a lot of money from Dekle and couldn’t pay it back? Could it be that Maxwell, who was in ‘charge of the extensive mercantile and plantation interests’ of Dekle got in over his head, somehow, and took his own life, thinking along the lines of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life?”

Once upon a time, the Maxwell name carried a lot of weight in West Florida politics.  The Maxwells were considered a dynasty in West Florida legal circles, starting with Emmett’s grandfather, Augustus Emmett Maxwell, and uncle Evelyn Croom Maxwell, both of whom served on the Florida Supreme Court.

Augustus and Evelyn were wealthy, prominent men; Walker didn’t seem to have had that sort of prominence, and I wonder if that bothered him. Perhaps Walker aspired to the same, and just wasn’t getting there fast enough (in his estimation).

There’s nothing wrong with leading a life of non-prominence; an everyday job has dignity and meaning, maybe even more so than some of the more ‘important’ jobs and jobholders we see in the workforce these days.

At this point, I’m only speculating, because I haven’t seen the copy of the death certificate yet.

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