October 10, 2014
Fairfax County, Virginia
In the midst of writing Emmett’s story, I’m still working different connections (i.e., Emmett’s siblings’ descendants, descendants of Emmett’s friends, and the like) for anything about Wilson immediate family. It’s a great way to keep my research skills sharp, especially when I have dry spells in between new discoveries about Emmett’s life, or, when I hit a writer’s block in telling Emmett’s story.
Luckily for me, Emmett had a large family, so there’s plenty of siblings’ descendants to work with, and Emmett’s sister, Katie Meade Wilson (the female sibling he was closest to), was local. She lived most of her life in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.), and is buried in Lorton, Virginia.
Also luckily, the Pohick Cemetery has excellent records and is open to the public. I reached out to Vonne Troknya, parish secretary for the Pohick Episcopal Church in Lorton, Virginia. I asked her about Katie and her husband, Emmett Meade.
“They are in Pohick’s cemetery. Please call before you come by. The cemetery is very large and our Cemetery Warden can help you find the grave sites or give you necessary instructions.”
Lucy Maxwell Meade (who is buried just behind and to the right of Katie and Emmett’s headstone, as seen in the photo above) was Emmett Meade’s mother. Lucy was the sister of Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson, Emmett Wilson’s mother.
Yes, Katie married her first cousin.
I suppose you could do that back then without a lot of problems. Today, the law varies: First cousins can still marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia; six states limit it to ‘certain circumstances,’ and 25 states forbid it outright.
Katie is a important person in Emmett Wilson’s story, because she was, according to my research, very close to him his whole life.
While I think Cephas and Emmett had a close sibling relationship, Emmett’s relationship with Katie was special, because she acted as a surrogate mother to him and his two younger siblings, almost right from the time their mother died in 1891. Cephas loved his younger brother, but Cephas loved power and prestige more, and he didn’t let whatever feelings he had for Emmett stand in the way of using him as a stepping stone towards the Florida governor’s mansion.
This is just one example of the importance of Katie in Emmett’s life (there are many more), but two others really stand out: She helped take care of Emmett for about two months after he had almost died from uremic poisoning in 1914; and again, when he likely knew he was dying in late spring of 1918.
Each time, Katie dropped everything, packed up her child, and left her home in Virginia to take care of her younger brother. There were eight other siblings in this family, and yet, it was Katie who was always there in this way for Emmett. So, it seems like it was Katie that Emmett could always turn to when things got tough.
As I walked around the cemetery, I wondered if Emmett was here, and I found the headstone for his aunt, Lucy Maxwell Meade. Emmett’s mother, Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson and Lucy were quite close. Lucy died while Emmett was serving in Congress in 1914; just a year earlier her husband (Emmett’s uncle) died in December, 1913; it seems very likely he was here for both their funerals.
Emmett’s uncle was important in his life; also, an important person in the community, as the following obituary from the December 19, 1913 edition of The Alexandria Gazette reports:
Katie and Emmett Meade had a good marriage; sadly, they had two boys who died almost a year apart from each other. One lived only 10 days; the other, 10 months. I can only imagine what that was like for Katie. I’m no psychiatrist (and, of course, this is conjecture), but I can see how Katie would have dropped everything to take care of her little brother when his health failing.
Katie and Emmett Meade, because had only one child that made it to adulthood; and then, that child only had one child. Luckily, I’ve found and contacted that descendant. She was gracious and forthcoming with a lot of the Meade family papers, photographs, and letters. I’m glad I was also able to share what I had found about Katie’s siblings and grandparents, for her family records.
Pohick Church is a historic church and cemetery outside of Alexandria, Virginia. Katie’s father-in-law, Everard Meade was the rector for this parish. If you ever are in Alexandria, it is worth a visit.
For me, it was especially important as I try to walk the path that Emmett took during his lifetime; stand in the places he stood, and try to feel — or at least understand — what it was like for him.
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