It is hard to believe I started Emmett’s project in May, 2013, with nothing more than curiosity about the handsome photo of some obscure guy whom I originally thought was an asshole standing in the way of my great-grandmother and her friends’ attempts to win suffrage.
That first impression was soon proven wrong, as I certainly wouldn’t have spent the next 42 months studying any asshole’s life (I have many character defects, but masochism is not one of them). I didn’t expect to still be here, almost four years later. And yet, here I am — happily writing, still happily researching, and with a manuscript that is (finally!) coming together.
One of the best things that has come out of this year is that I’ve established an ongoing dialog with many of the Wilson family descendants — specifically, Emmett’s niece Jule (who celebrates her 99th birthday today!), the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and grand-nephews of A. Max Wilson, Percy B. Wilson, Francis Wilson, Jr., E. Meade Wilson, Katie Wilson Meade, Julian A. Wilson, Walker Wilson, and Eudora (Dora) Wilson Smith.
A lot of our interaction has been through the miracle of e-mail, although we do talk on the phone now and then. I’m still missing a contact with Cephas Love Wilson’s descendants — perhaps I’ll find one of his descendants in 2017.
Wish list for 2017:
- A Wilson family photo from the 1800s. A few years ago, Jule gave me a photo of herself and some of the Wilson siblings, which she estimated was from 1935. Emmett and Julian’s mother, Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson, had a photo made of the three youngest children in 1891, as a New Year’s card. It seems logical that a family photograph would have been made at one point while Elizabeth was alive.
- Emmett’s scrapbooks. I hold out hope, although realistically, the odds are slim I’ll ever see them.
- Another trip (or maybe two) to Florida. This time, I’d like to visit DeLand (to see the original Stetson University law school property), Marianna (to visit more of the historic properties), Tallahassee (to see a few items in the state archives), and Pensacola. I have a lot of teaching and related 21st century projects coming up in 2017; I’d be satisfied with one trip. And, last but not least:
- Publication of Emmett’s first book. This one can/will be realized first because I’m so damn close to the finish.
This sounds entirely cheesy, but I had no idea doing this research was going to be so interesting, and so fulfilling. And it isn’t even over yet!
Also, it has been a real pleasure to be able to give the Wilson descendants new information about their family members. Several descendants have told me that the new information explains a lot/answers longstanding questions about why their ancestors made certain decisions, did certain things.
I look forward to 2017. I believe it is going to be a good year.
God’s blessings for a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year to everyone from Emmett Wilson Research Land!
Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus