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Chapter 135: Setting the Scene

June 10, 2021
Chevy Chase, Maryland


Before we jump into the next chapter of Emmett’s life, let’s set the scene:

In September, 1906, we know that Emmett moved to Pensacola. He moved in with family friends; specifically, the John Kehoe family, at 221 West Cervantes Street in Pensacola.

John Kehoe was J. Walter Kehoe’s father — and he was important in West Florida — a self-made, successful businessman who emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. Unfortunately, John Kehoe died at the end of August, 1906, right before Emmett moved to town. It was probably fortuitous; Walter’s sisters, Minnie and Fanny (spinsters) were living in the family home and while the estate was being settled, likely felt better if there was a man living on the premises.

Source: The Montgomery (Ala) Advertiser, via Newspapers.com
Source: The Pensacola Journal, via ChroniclingAmerica.gov

The original Kehoe house at 221 W. Cervantes is no longer there, and we don’t have any photos of that old house, but the house from that period directly across the street from the original Kehoe house is still there. Here’s a photo of that house.

The house currently at 222 W. Cervantes in Pensacola, directly across from the location of the original John Kehoe house, which was at 221. W. Cervantes. Source: Google Maps.

A check with the 1907 edition of the Sanborn Fire Maps (which can be found at the University of Florida archives online) show the structures of those two original houses — and — the structure of the original Kehoe home on page 31 of the Sanborn Fire Maps. This means we have a general idea of what the house structure. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing!

The original Sanborn Fire Map from 1907 of 222 W. Cervantes, directly across the street from the John Kehoe house. Source: Sanborn Fire Maps, University of Florida Archives.
The original Sanborn Fire Map from 1907 of the Kehoe house, 221 W. Cervantes, directly across the street from 222 W. Cervantes. Source: Sanborn Fire Maps, University of Florida Archives.

The Kehoe house, according to the map legend, was a two-story frame structure, with porches on both sides of the house, and a shingle roof. At first, I thought that the two porches meant a duplex, but that isn’t the case — it’s just a house with two porches and an outbuilding — perhaps an outhouse, but it could be a small storage building too.

In the 1907 City Directory for Pensacola, Emmett is listed as working at 306 Brent Building, and his address is with at the John Kehoe home, 221 W. Cervantes. Source: 1907 Pensacola City Directory via Ancestry.

Emmett was a boarder in a spare room, probably not an apartment scenario, so he would eat meals with the family, sit with them in the parlor, or on the front porch, and so forth, just like another member of the Kehoe family (which is how Walter saw Emmett anyway). Because both Minnie and Fanny Kehoe had careers (Minnie was a court stenographer and Fanny taught music/ran a music school), they very likely had a housekeeper. (I can’t imagine Emmett darning or rinsing out socks himself — or the Kehoe sisters, either — to be honest.

He worked in the Kehoe & Smithwick offices, located in the Theissen Building at the corner of Palafox and E. Romana, which was about eight blocks away — walkable — but he could catch a streetcar or taxi if necessary. This was the heart of the city, where the action was, and it must have been exciting for Emmett to start over in a community where he wouldn’t be an outsider (as he was in Sterling). True, his position was tenuous (compared to the partnership he had only nine months earlier), but there was so much more familiarity in Pensacola that it probably didn’t matter so much.

Kehoe & Smithwick moved a few times after Emmett arrived on the scene in 1906; to the Brent Building, and then after March 1, 1907, to the Blount Building, at least according to the Pensacola City Directory listing for 1907.

Kehoe & Smithwick, located at 306 Brent Building, Pensacola. Source: 1907 Pensacola City Directory, from Ancestry.com
Blount Building, Pensacola Florida. Emmett’s office was on the fourth floor. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to go in that day. Photo by the author.

Odd that Emmett’s office location three times during the first six months or so while Emmett was new to Pensacola. I hope that wasn’t too disruptive as he was getting settled in professionally.

Categories: Book Family Florida History

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jsmith532

Professor
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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