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Chapter 105: Transition

November 5, 2020
Chevy Chase, Maryland

A snapshot of one of the timelines created while doing Emmett’s research. Including Emmett’s family and close friends and associates increased the time for data collection over the years, but it also offers a more comprehensive look at the specifics in Emmett’s life. Photo by the author.

According to the data collected on Emmett, his family and colleagues, I estimate that Emmett returned to Marianna sometime around the middle of November. Likely he assisted Cephas with whatever current court business was at hand at Wilson and Wilson, but there isn’t much in the local contemporary media about Emmett specifically until the end of the December.

Pearl graduated from the Stetson University School of Music in 1905. Source: Stetson University archives.

However, there’s an update on Emmett’s old girlfriend Pearl Spaulding, a 1905 music graduate of Stetson University, is reported to be teaching music in Seabreeze, Florida. An interesting fact about Pearl is that until she moved to New York City in 1909, she traveled regularly to New York and Massachusetts each summer to study voice and music with different teachers, returning to Florida in late September or early October each year. It wasn’t just continued study; the Spauldings also had relatives in Massachusetts, whom Pearl and her younger sister, Ruby, would as well. Note also in the chart that Ruby is listed as a kindergarten teacher in Seabreeze in 1905 (Ruby also attended Stetson University, but there is no record that she earned a diploma).

I mention in the chart notes that it seems whatever close or physical relationship between Emmett and Pearl is over, though they may still have corresponded occasionally. A letter to the editor of the Stetson University student newspaper in 1907 from Emmett mentioned that he hadn’t been to visit the campus since he graduated (and, while Pearl was still a student, at least until 1905). Logistically, it seems Emmett would have visited Pearl on campus rather than Seabreeze while he was out of school and working as a lawyer — he may have visited Seabreeze on his own, of course — but if he had, it certainly would have been mentioned in the Seabreeze papers. Alice Spaulding Spangler would have certainly seen to that!

“I have not had an opportunity to visit the University since my departure in May, 1904.” Source: Stetson University archives.

On November 20, 1905, we learn that Nicholas Van Sant was notified officially that he passed the bar examination, and therefore was allowed to practice law in Illinois. Emmett would have also have to sit for the bar examination once he moved to Sterling; logically, it seems that Emmett was studying for the Illinois bar while he was back in Florida preparing for his move.

From the November 20, 1905 issue of the Robinson (Ill) Constitution via ChroniclingAmerica.gov

On December 14, there are two interesting articles: Nick Van Sant’s bank scheduled to open in January (indicating to us that Emmett will likely be in Sterling in charge of the law office by January), and Emmett’s father, Dr. Francis C. Wilson is making repairs and expansions to his home on 6th Street in Chipley. There’s a difference between the way the Wilson home looked when it was first built in the 1890s and today.

I’m wondering if this was the porch expansion that we see in today’s photos of the Wilson home, because much of the features and construction information/notes the current owners have about the current house indicate early 1900 porch construction. Compare the photos below:

Dr. F.C. Wilson’s house, about 1895. Note the small porch. Photographer unknown. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Meade Howard.

Now known as the Myers-Wilson House in Chipley, Florida. Originally built in 1895. Photo by the author.

The final news item we see, dated December 28, 1905, tells us that Emmett spend some time with his father in Chipley before heading off to Sterling, though the paper lacks that detail. I wonder who told sent the information to The Chipley Banner? It seems like Emmett would have given as much detail as possible, given he was proud of his upcoming new job, but perhaps this was information supplied by his father, who was rather reluctant to broadcast personal information publicly.

December 28, 1905, The Chipley Banner. Photo capture by the author.

Categories: Book Congressman Florida History The Writing Life

jsmith532

Professor
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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