I dug into the Milligan family genealogy right away. With note-taking, it took two days. It’s basically written as a conversation from the author, John Evans Wilson, to his children and descendants.
Emmett’s family story is on the second to last page. Here’s what John Evans Wilson said about him:
There’s the notation about Emmett’s drinking, and a clue about what might have brought on the uremia. But what’s interesting is the part about the ‘rich northern lumber man.’
I wondered if that could have something to do with Jim mentioning Emmett might have been gay? I wasn’t interested in pursuing that angle of the research, because honestly, his sexuality didn’t matter to me. Besides, I doubt I’d be able to prove that. Emmett might not have been gay; however, something about that relationship and Emmett’s drinking seemed to be connected — another mystery to study in this ever-growing biography.
There was something else about the genealogy that struck me — namely the earlier Wilson ancestor’s family names — namely Graves — which I’d seen before, but was trying to place where. It bothered me enough that I made a note on a yellow Post-it, and stuck it on the frame of my computer monitor to check later.
I couldn’t go any further on the Emmett health diagnosis without a medical record of some sort. Emmett died at Pensacola Hospital on May 29, 1918.
The original hospital, located at 1010 N 12th Avenue in Pensacola had long ago closed (although it is now a historic building with other businesses in it) and the medical facility moved to Sacred Heart Hospital; I crossed my fingers hoping historic records had not been lost over the decades.
Thanks to a recommendation from the excellent Jacki Wilson (no relation to Emmett’s family), archivist of the Pensacola Historical Society, I reached out to the public information offices at Sacred Heart.
After several days, a very nice gentleman named Mike Burke got back to me by phone.
“The good news is that we do have a record on Emmett Wilson’s admission and stay in Pensacola Hospital in our archives.”
Omg, omg, omg — I don’t know if Mike could tell I was freaking out in a good way 800 miles away through a telephone connection —
“I had to check with our general counsel on whether or not we can release this information to you, even thought it is almost 100 years old. Regardless, we’ll need an OK from a family member to see the record.”
I told him the closest relative I’ve contacted was a great-nephew, since Emmett died unmarried, and had not descendants that I knew of — plus everyone closer related was deceased by now — he agreed that an OK from Jim Milligan plus contact info would suffice.
As soon as I was off the phone with Mike, I got in touch with Jim, who said it was fine that I could see the record. I emailed Jim’s information with the verbal approval back to Mike, crossed my fingers that the Sacred Heart Hospital general counsel would approve my seeing Emmett’s hospital record, and waited.
Next: Emmett’s Hospital Record
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