Menu Home

Chapter 65: Emmett, DeCottes, Sturgeon

April 27, 2016
McKeldin Library
The University of Maryland
College Park

Emmett's dorm, East Hall, is in the upper right hand corner. Hamilton is right below it. Source: Stetson University Archives
Emmett’s dorm, East Hall, is in the upper right hand corner. Hamilton is right below it. Source: Stetson University Archives

Continuing our study of Emmett’s junior year dorm mates at Stetson University, we now come to Emmett’s name on the list:

The "Earls of East Hall": Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, "Happy" Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, "Berry" Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on "Hamilton Hall," which was a cottage women's dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives
The “Earls of East Hall”: Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, “Happy” Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, “Berry” Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on “Hamilton Hall,” which was a cottage women’s dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

Hamilton Hall, or, Hamilton House, was a women’s cottage dorm. Here’s what the 1902 Stetson University bulletin said about the dorm:

Hamilton House. From the 1902 Stetson University bulletin. Source: Stetson University Archives
Hamilton House. From the 1902 Stetson University bulletin. Source: Stetson University Archives

Some ‘club’ where you have to provide your own cot.

Emmett’s dorm, East House, had what they deemed ‘substantial furniture’ provided already; they were two to a room (as opposed to three for this dorm) and, East Hall cost less that $10 a month.

The student newspaper was gossipy and into everyone’s business, especially the love lives of SU coeds. So, I tracked down the women who were in this dorm during the time Emmett was said to be the dorm’s ‘expert,’ to see if anyone stood out in particular, or was from his home town.

Nothing. Nada. And, Emmett is not mentioned at all in any romantic or social event, or even hinted at in the 1903 newspapers related to these gals, or anyone else.

So what?

Well, I mention all of this because the difference between him and his roommates in all of the society reporting is noticeable. Seriously. I can find a romantic story or tease about every one of his roommates in the 1903 papers, but nothing about him, other than the item from the essay, above. If there was someone special, it would have been reported, because he ran in the top society circle at Stetson, and all of the ‘top names’ got press, if you see what I mean. So, it isn’t certain what they meant by ‘expert.’ Maybe it was a lot of wishful thinking on Emmett’s part, and that was the point.

Whatever ‘expert’ meant in the article, if Emmett was interested on one or more of the women in Hamilton Hall, it wasn’t serious.

George A. DeCottes. Source: Find-a-grave.com
George “Anonymous” DeCottes. He was hardly that. Source: Find-a-grave.com

George Augustus DeCottes.

Of all of the individuals in the Earls of East Hall project, DeCottes was a character; his friends called him “Anonymous”, but he was hardly that. DeCottes liked to argue for arguing’s sake. That could be considered an asset, especially if you are going to be a lawyer.

He came from a prosperous, well known family; he was clearly a leader on campus, and was also the captain of Stetson’s football team in 1902-03. I have an article that describes how Emmett, Paul Carter and DeCottes took a road trip to Daytona to see automobile races at Ormond Beach.  I can see why Emmett hung out with DeCottes — he had a magnetism about him, and people paid attention when DeCottes was in the room.

There was quite a bit of information about DeCottes across several archives, and with good reason: He was county solicitor for Orange County, city attorney for Sanford, and involved in several local civic organizations. After graduation, it does not seem that Emmett and DeCottes saw each other in the courtroom, or otherwise: Sanford was quite a distance from Emmett’s practices in Marianna and Pensacola.

What stands out about DeCottes in this side research project was his persistence. He refused to let ‘no’ be the last word for anything that he truly wanted. Here’s one example:

When the local military board said he couldn't join up, DeCottes goes to Washington D.C. and joins anyway. In your face, Sanford recruitment chumps. Source: Genealogybank.Com
When the local military board said he couldn’t join up, DeCottes goes to Washington D.C. and joins anyway. In your face, Sanford recruitment board chumps. Source: Genealogybank.Com
Berry Sturgeon as a child. Source: Ancestry.com
Berry Sturgeon as a child. Source: Ancestry.com

Berry Albert Sturgeon. Berry was a Latin-Scientific curriculum major at Stetson in 1903, an interesting cross-curriculum program. He was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania.

I was unsure how he made it all the way down to DeLand to attend Stetson, except I found a mention in an old Delta Upsilon fraternity magazine, Pennsylvania Chapter, stating that Sturgeon’s health wasn’t good, and he was in Florida — likely, he was in Florida to recuperate from whatever was ailing him — and attending Stetson University.

Interestingly, there’s no indication that he graduated from Stetson; however, he took the bar exam anyway, and passed it in both Pennsylvania and California.

Berry Albert Sturgeon. Source: History of the Bar and Bench of Southern California, 1901. Ancestry.com
Berry Albert Sturgeon. Source: History of the Bar and Bench of Southern California, 1901. Ancestry.com

Something interesting about Berry: According to U.S. Census reports, he married in 1910 when he was 29 and his wife was 15. Sure, a lot of women got married young back then, but when you consider we are talking about a mature man, a lawyer, with life and work experience marrying a child just out of middle school (if she finished middle school, by the way), seems odd, even for 1910.

Just the differences between the two may have been the problem because that marriage didn’t last long. The next source on Berry was his World War I registration card, dated September 12, 1918. He’s still an attorney, but now has another wife. Interestingly, she has a different last name than Berry, and, Berry wrote “wife” next to her name, as if he needed to clarify it. This seems really unusual, given the time. Married women took their husband’s name in 1918.

Regardless, the legal practice was gone soon. Something big between 1918 and 1924, because there’s a major change in vocation:

By 1924, Berry is listed as a third assistant engineer on a ship called the ‘Victorious,’ which was part of the Tampa Interocean Steamship Company. At the bottom of the ship’s manifest was this:

They had hospitals specific to the disease? Source: New Orleans Passenger Lists; www.Ancestry.com
Yikes. Veneral Hospital? They had hospitals specific to the disease? Source: New Orleans Passenger Lists; www.Ancestry.com

He moves up the ranks to second assistant engineer in 1927, according to the manifest for the Grace Lines, Inc. (New York Passenger Lists), eventually to first assistant engineer by the time he is 41.

The last record I have of Berry is a Pasadena, Texas death certificate. He is listed as a resident of New York City; perhaps he was visiting or on shore leave. Here is the text from the death certificate:

Cause of death: "Natural causes possibly due to alcoholic poisoning." Source: Ancestry.com
Cause of death: “Natural causes possibly due to alcoholic poisoning.” Source: Ancestry.com`

So, it seems like Berry left Florida sometime after 1903, and he probably did not stay in touch with Emmett.

Interesting how they have the alcoholism in common.


Stay tuned for the last installment featuring Emmett’s final two roommates: John Nelson Worley and Fred Free.

(Updated from the article originally posted by the author here.)

Categories: Book Florida History

Tagged as:

jsmith532

Professor
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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

%d bloggers like this: