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Chapter 151: 1909 Into 1910

October 19, 2019
Chevy Chase, Maryland

Screenshot of a railroad pass for the L&N Railroad Company. Emmett’s brothers Frank C. Wilson, Jr., and Meade Wilson (who lived in Pensacola) were railroad employees, and so it was likely that Emmett (as well as other Wilson family members) used family railroad passes on occasion. Image source: Pinterest.

The remainder of 1909 was rather busy for Emmett — he divided his time traveling for the L&N case for most of the year, between Pensacola, and Louisville — he spent Thanksgiving in Louisville — only to return home to head to Tallahassee for U.S. Court (where he spent most of December).

If there were Amtrak frequent rider miles back in the day, he’d have earned at least a platinum pass by the end of 1909.

The L&N case was novel for Emmett in that he did a lot of regular long-distance, out-of-state travel for the the first time in his career. I’m curious about Emmett’s experiences as Special Examiner.

For example: Did Emmett enjoy traveling for work?

I imagine it was exciting, certainly at first, with the new title of ‘Special Examiner,‘ and the compensation that went with it. Because Emmett was investigating the L&N Railroad, it wouldn’t seem ethical for the same railroad to comp his travel expenses (although he travel on the L&N in between Louisville and Pensacola). The Florida Railroad Commission may have covered his room and board in the Louisville or Tallahassee hotels.

Emmett’s ride was in the Curtiss JN-4, also known as a Jenny. These were standard for flight training.

I believe Emmett liked adventure and/or doing adventurous things (one example: he actually flew in a JN-4 [a ‘Jenny’] in 1915 with a Navy pilot), but once he had the experience, the thrill, it didn’t seem so glamorous anymore. I also believe while Emmett enjoyed the occasional thrill, deep down, he longed for ‘home,’ a grounding of sorts, where he could always recharge his batteries, where he could walk around in stocking feet and undershirt with his suspenders dangling around his knees, or just sit in an easy chair, escaping into a Sherlock Holmes mystery with a glass of bourbon and a cigar on the stand next to him.

We have a clue from contemporary newspaper articles that he’d expected to be home sooner rather than later, but the hearing schedules were constantly juggled among the three locations — and travel between wasn’t always easy or convenient. Emmett was often having to reschedule the L&N hearings around his other court responsibilities, too; something to consider when he knew that travel to Louisville, one way from Pensacola, took at least 24 hours.

October 29, 1909, from The Pensacola Journal. Emmett was letting everyone know — by telegram — his comings and goings. Source: ChroniclingAmerica.gov

Hotel food, hotel rooms, being out of one’s everyday routine/environment can get tedious; if you aren’t careful, they can eventually wear you down. But there weren’t any items in the news or in the notes during Emmett’s Special Examiner role that he took ill, or had difficulties, or anything of that nature.

Discomforts aside, Emmett’s role as Special Examiner meant that The Pensacola Journal was running regular articles about him and his comings and goings. Maybe the hearings were often as dry as white toast, but he kept the local papers apprised, and especially if it was a slow news day in Pensacola, you can be sure his articles made interesting local filler.

‘Although the L&N case would continue for Emmett for most of 1910, it would not consume his schedule as much as in 1909, particularly after the summer of 1910. Emmett primarily stuck to his law practice, attended his men’s clubs regularly (the Osceola Club and the Elks Club), and participated in occasional prominent social events. This was a rather tame and routine existence, but that was the point — Emmett was ambitious — and to realize his goals, he had to follow this pattern, ‘live a program’ of sorts so that he’d be ready when his time came for bigger and better things. Emmett always remembered his Uncle Evelyn’s advice. He was being observed. There were plans in the future for him.

And honestly, I don’t think he realized who it was doing the observing and planning.

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In 1909, Emmett moved from 124 W. Belmont, to the house below, 908 North Spring Street. According to the 1910 Pensacola City Directory, he was still a resident at that address. This was his third residence since moving to Pensacola in 1906 (Emmett’s frequent change of residence was a pattern during his life).

908 North Spring Street, Pensacola, Florida today; via GoogleMaps.com. Originally built in 1905; the current Zillow report says it has nine bedrooms.

Emmett boarded with friend Shelley Graham Richardson (1878-1961), and his mom, Sarah, at 908 North Spring Street. Another boarder lived there, Donald Roberts, a music professor from New York, who was a faculty member at the Pensacola Classical School. Richardson and Emmett knew each other at least since 1908 (there are articles with them attending the same parties more than once; also, Emmett would stand up for Richardson as his best man at his wedding to Edna Lord Avery in 1911).

I wonder if Emmett asked Donald Roberts if he knew of Pearl Spaulding, who was living in New York as a professional writer and musician at this point?

This is an interesting view of 908 N. Spring Street from the 1907 Sanborn Fire Maps of Pensacola, Florida, via the University of Florida archive. The frame house had a French-style roof, with shingles; two stories front and back, but a one-story addition in the rear which was likely a kitchen as it did. No indication how many bedrooms in 1907. There’s also a small two-story dwelling in the lower right-hand corner, and a small one-story structure in the upper right-hand corner, which might have been a shed or carriage house.

Here’s more information from the 1910 Pensacola City Directory (via Ancestry.com):

From page 378 of the 1910 Pensacola City Directory, via Ancestry.com. It says “h”, for home, but more specifically, Emmett boarded at the house.
From the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, via Ancestry.com. Next to the entry for Wilson, Emmett (which looks as if he wrote the information in himself, as the handwriting looks similar to other samples of his signature) is the term “Boarder,” meaning he rented a room from the Richardsons.

What’s interesting about 1910 is that Emmett is no longer a partner with his Uncle Evelyn, but opened a new office in the brand new American National Bank building; he’s in solo practice, but is sharing the office space with J. Walter Kehoe.

Yes, things are starting to move forward for Emmett, as he becomes more settled in Pensacola, and he cultivates the positive, professional image.

Categories: Book Family Florida History

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jsmith532

Professor
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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