Chapter 24: Leaving Belize

Standard

The fifth page of Katie Wilson Meade’s finishes the story began on page four about the family parrot named “Ada” and the family’s return to the United States in 1884.

…and looking positively devilish! She (Ada) was glad to get home though: We could tell!

Frank was the brother that always got into trouble. Often I was put in his care; he took me many times on little jaunts around the place.

One day he and some of the other boys were getting some bamboo canes and sharpening the ends to make arrows. I was sitting on the ground near by when they started shooting them. Frank shot his first and it hit me right behind my left ear; when Father examined it he said one inch further would have gone into my brain! I’ve carried that scar all the rest of my life. Fortunately, my hair covers it.

Poor old Frank! He was far from a stupid boy but somehow he always came out on the wrong end of things.

He was a grand and lovable person! When he was getting married he wanted to take me along on his wedding trip! I did not go, however.

Later in life he had a summer home down on Perdido Bay about 20 miles outside of Pensacola, Florida. He had a two-cabin cruiser and often went on fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico. He always took his man-of-all-work along to wait on him. Once when he and Dan had been out all night he wanted to rest awhile and told Dan to take the wheel. He said, “Dan, do you see that star right up there in front of you? Well, you must keep the bow pointed right towards that star.”

“Yes sir, I sure will Boss!”

Some time later he came and woke Frank up and said, “Boss, I dun passed that star, you’ll have to get another one!”

Back to Honduras — My parents were expecting another child and were persuaded to return to the United States. They had a couple of boy twins and me down there in Honduras, and that made nine children to educate where there were no schools and not much of anything but wild country. They had been sending one boy at a time back to school in the U.S. and it was rather heartbreaking to put small boys on a ship alone, so they finally decided to give in and go back Home. It was quite a move!

We were packed in a wagon drawn by two oxen. It was during the rainy Season and the roads were almost impassable! At one point we sank down so far the poor oxen were standing in mud up to their stomachs! They couldn’t or wouldn’t move!

…to be continued!

Family photo at Frank’s summer place in Perdido Bay. Left to right: Everard Meade (son of Katie and Emmett Meade), Frank Jr., Katie [behind the dog], Emmett Meade, Julian Wilson, May Wilson (wife of Frank Jr. behind Julian), Jule Wilson Perry (age 11), and Jule’s mother on the end. Photo courtesy of Carol Ballard.

The comment about Katie’s parents sending some of the older boys back to the U.S. for education is interesting, particularly because of Katie’s comments that these were “small boys on a ship alone”. As we view this through a 21st century lens, it would be unthinkable to send small children unescorted on a long voyage, not to mention unlikely; child protective services would be called in immediately.

We estimate the Wilsons left for British Honduras around 1874 or early 1875. Katie was born in British Honduras in August, 1875.

There are five older brothers than Katie. Below are the approximate ages of the brothers at the time the family emigrated to British Honduras:

  • Augustus Maxwell, born 1866; by 1875, age 11
  • Cephas Love, born 1868; by 1875, age 9
  • Frank Jr., born 1870; by 1875, age 5
  • Percy Brockenbrough, born 1871; by 1875, age 4
  • Everard Meade, born 1873; by 1875, age 2

Fast forward to 1884. Take a close look at the passenger manifest for 1884 for the ship, “City of Dallas” headed back to New Orleans with the Wilson family on board:

Manifest of the passengers on the City of Dallas, June 1884. The Wilsons only had a few trunks of possessions and clothing to take back to the United States, not much more than they had brought with them on the original trip to British Honduras back in 1875. Source: NARA, via Ancestry.com

Here’s a closeup of the Wilson family on the manifest:

From top to bottom:

  • Dr. Frank Wilson, age 42, physician;
  • “L.B.” is Emmett and Katie’s mother, Elizabeth V., who also was called “Lizzy”, age 39.
  • K Wilson, (Katie) age 8
  • E Wilson, (Eudora, also called Dora) age 11
  • A Wilson (Augustus Maxwell, who also went by Max), age 16
  • C Wilson (Cephas), age 14
  • Meade Wilson, age 10
  • E Wilson and J Wilson (Emmett and Julian, twins), age 2

Elizabeth was pregnant with Walker when the family left British Honduras.

The Wilson children not listed on the passenger manifest were Frank Jr. and Percy. Let’s say that the Wilsons sent the boys back to the U.S. in 1880; so Frank Jr. and Percy would have been 10 and 9 years old, respectively. Maybe the Wilsons had a maid or caretaker travel along with the boys, but based on Katie’s narrative, I’m going with the idea the boys traveled alone, one at a time. As a parent of young boys, I cannot imagine what it was like to entrust a child to strangers (most likely) for a risky trip through the Gulf of Mexico in the 1880s.

Francis C. Wilson Jr. Source: Bell Photograph Collection, University of West Florida Archives

Frank — a real character, wasn’t he? Imagine asking your SISTER to go on your honeymoon. Imagine his fiancee, May, being OK with that. Yeah. No. Me neither. Still, I wish he were still around to interview.

The last item about leaving British Honduras during the rainy season (June to November) first via a wagon drawn by oxen is intriguing. I feel mostly for Elizabeth Wilson, who was pregnant at this time with Walker Wilson (born December 1884 in Chipley, Florida), and caring for two-year-old twins, in addition to older children (who likely assisted their parents and the younger children).

The Wilson family saga continues in the next post. Stay tuned!

Advertisements

One thought on “Chapter 24: Leaving Belize

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s