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Chapter 116: The Letter from Lula

January 10, 1906

Dear Emmett —

It is hard to believe that you’ve been gone for almost two weeks. Every now and then, I look up at dinner time and expect to see you coming in the door, with some amusing story to share about your day at the office, or to see you reading your mysteries in the parlor or on the front porch swing, or to hear your laughter as you tell one of your humorous stories to Julian or Cephas Jr. at the table. Even though ours is a large family, you have no idea how lonely it feels without you here.

Everyone has been asking about you, and how you like living in Sterling — I take it you are doing quite well, and that you are adjusting nicely. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and staying warm — I have heard about the blizzards and incredible cold temperatures up there! I hope you don’t mind, but I knitted you a muffler and hat, which I’ve included in this package. I’m concerned that you aren’t warm enough.

What are your friends like up there? What are you doing in your spare time? Have you met any nice young ladies yet? Of course, you know I am prying, and I know how you feel about that — I apologize, Emmett. We just miss you very much and want to know all about you. It makes the pain of your absence less, if that makes any sense.

From the December, 1905 edition of The Chipley Banner. Microfilm image by the author.

I went to see your father and Mother Kate last week — as you know, he continues to make repairs and improvements on the house — expanding the front porch, painting, fixing the shutters, and so forth. It appears that Mother Kate’s mother, Mrs. Langley, is failing in her old age. She needs someone to care for her full-time; and so, she will be moving in with them permanently. As usual, Mother Kate is taking charge; I think she needs to be caring for someone at all times to feel useful.

The announcement that Mrs. Langley was moving in with your father and Mother Kate was serendipitous with Miss John’s return to the sanitarium in North Carolina. Miss John is doing about the same; the poor dear still struggles with nervous breakdowns, but Mother Kate says that the doctors in North Carolina report some improvements, and that it is just a matter of time. I know it is expensive to keep Miss John at the sanitarium; but Mother Kate seems to take it all in stride. Cephas tells me that she still has quite a lot of assets left from her first husband’s estate and can afford it. That is a blessing.

From the January, 1906 edition of The Chipley Banner. Miss Lucy Gray, a descendant of the Jordan family revealed in interviews that Miss John had had nervous breakdowns several times as a teenager. Microfilm image by the author.

Your father just seems to take all of this in stride, as usual; of course, if he had a complaint about it, he would not say anything to me or to anyone else. Hopefully they will stop in Marianna and visit one of these days.

Walter’s name is being mentioned again in the newspapers —  the Pensacola editor, Frank Mayes, has been publishing editorials in favor of a national campaign, should he wish to run for Congress, if you can believe it! Walter hasn’t said anything one way or the other —  I doubt he’s ready to make a decision on it at this time. Jennie and Walter Kehoe have moved to Pensacola. It makes sense, as Pensacola is the seat of the circuit, and Walter was spending more than half of his time in Pensacola anyway — even though his father and sisters are in Pensacola, he missed Jennie and the children, and simply being home with his own family; going back and forth so much was too much. 

This was a big deal for West Florida politics. From the January 7, 1906, page 1 edition of The Pensacola Journal. Source:

An aside — Jennie also told me in confidence that he does plan to throw his hat into the ring against Congressman Lamar, and thinks he has a good chance to win. Poor Jennie — she does not entertain the idea of being a congressman’s wife at all at this point. The move to Pensacola and the idea that Walter would be in Washington was already somewhat overwhelming for the poor dear right now — our Jennie is expecting a baby this Spring. 

Minnie is doing quite well; she visits whenever she is in town for court, and sends her regards. Minnie will be opening her own court reporting business, and possibly expand to include her own secretarial school, with Miss Gertrude Dzialynski. She plans to secure her own office space in the Blount Building, she has lined up several supporters and investors, including Uncle Evelyn Maxwell, and already has clients! She has hired a few women and even male secretaries to work for her! We are all quite proud of Minnie. She asked for your address — as did Walter and Jennie — I hope you don’t mind that I gave her your office address. Your friends miss you and want to know about you. 

It was a very big deal for these two women to launch their business in 1906 — and they were successful at it. From The Pensacola Journal, via

Your brothers Julian and Walker are well; they are quite busy these days, and they send their regards. Julian has mostly been our telegraph operator in the depot; I don’t think he’ll be with us in Marianna much longer — he told Cephas that he was interested in working on a steamship on the Chattahoochie. He has applied to one or two steamship lines, but has yet to hear back from them.

Everything else is about the same here. Cephas is busy at the courthouse and the bank.  He travels regularly to Vernon, and to Tallahassee; he’s been to Chipley to see your Father a few times, and then out to Pensacola with Walter once or twice. In fact, he’s been traveling so much that Cephas is thinking about purchasing an automobile! At least, that’s the reason he’s giving. Honestly, Emmett, Cephas is traveling about as much as he always does. 

Cephas returned from Tallahassee where I think he saw one or two on the streets — fine vehicles, he said, and the drivers looked prosperous and important. I daresay that made the greatest impression on him, until he had was told the price for the automobile he wanted — $2,800. Can you imagine? I don’t believe our own house cost that much when we first bought it 10 years ago. It boggles the mind. I’m not sure when he’ll purchase an automobile — but, knowing Cephas, it is in our future. I wonder if he’ll let me drive it sometime?

I’ve been practicing a few songs with some of the ladies at St. Luke’s — we hope to form an ensemble and give musicales in the Spring. I’m playing the violin most of the time, and singing, but only when someone else can play the violin besides myself. Cephas Jr. and Kathleen are growing up quickly; Kathleen spends most of her time with her little friends having tea parties and playing with dolls. Cephas brings Ceph Jr. to work with him on occasion, to ‘help out,’ run errands, and so forth, with the idea to ease him into the law practice one day. Of course, Ceph Jr. goes along willingly; glad to earn the extra money, which he is saving for a Kodak of his own. He’s sweet and good natured about helping Cephas out, but between you and me, Emmett, I don’t see Ceph Jr. following his father into the practice. I’m not dissuading him, nor am I suggesting another line of work (he’s just 10 years old! I don’t want him to grow up too quickly!), but I just have this feeling about it — I know; if you were here, you’d say, “Dood, you aren’t being logical.” But a mother knows these things about her children. Oh well — as long as they are happy and content, and doing something they enjoy, that is enough.

Although it is still January, the weather has been fine — only a slight chill in the air, and a few days when it is quite brisk. Of course, this is all nothing compared to the weather you all have up in Illinois? It was fascinating to read about the knee-high snow drifts, and the wagons outfitted as sleds during the winter months! Imagine, having deep snow on the ground for days and weeks at a time!

We all miss you, Emmett, especially Cephas. I know you parted with animosity, and ill feelings, but he truly wishes the best for you, as we all do. It is hard to see that in Cephas sometimes; he is so driven and so ambitious. He’s always been that way, you know; the law and politics are everything to him, and in you he sees a kindred spirit, someone who also has ambition, intelligence, and a specific goal in mind. You may not think it, but you two are a lot alike in that way.  I think that may have been a lot of the problem between the two of you, and once Cephas realized it, I think he felt like he had to take you under his wing more than you wanted. I think Cephas saw a younger, smarter, more thoughtful version of himself in you, Emmett and that’s why he felt he had to manage you the way he did. He — all of us, really — see such a wonderful, bright future ahead of you, Emmett; I believe Cephas wanted to help you realize it, but he bungled that somehow.

All of that is in the past; of course. 

I just want you to know that we all think the world of you, and want nothing but your happiness and the very best. I hope you know that, dear Emmett. No matter what, we love you very much.

Please write soon and let us know how you are doing.

With much love,


P.S. I’ve included several newspapers with the interesting articles mentioned about our friends and family. If you’d like, I’ll set up a subscription for you for any of the newspapers you prefer. I’ll be sure to forward your mail or anything else as it arrives. 

Also, if you have something special you’d like me to send you — a book, or any other item of yours still here — just let me know.

Categories: Book Congressman Family Florida History

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Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
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