March 15, 2023
Chevy Chase, Maryland
In 2014, when I began organizing all the information I had about Emmett into a table, the idea was so that I could have a chronological view of him and his life, so that it would (theoretically) make the writing task flow more smoothly.
I didn’t try to write what actually was going on with Emmett until two years ago, when it was determined that I’d exhausted almost all of the information sources (primary, secondary) available by that date. I figured chasing down every single lead I could, which included any living relatives, Florida state records, correspondence to friends and colleagues, digitized and hard-copy media that exists at present in library archives.
The spreadsheets got so large and detailed that I had to break them into five different time frames of Emmett’s life. So, despite the lack of primary data, I discovered that after charting every single item I could find written about Emmett, his immediate family, and events where Emmett was mentioned (attending a function or meeting, for example), I wound up with a daily calendar of sorts of what Emmett was doing, what his life was like, who he ran around with, and the like — and suddenly — I had a framework to build Emmett’s story.
In 2019, it was time to put his story together; and because I still held out hope that new information could be found, even after 10 years of steady research, if I write his story via a blog, then there would be more opportunity to update his story in real time, to update resources efficiently, compared to traditional publishing. This decision, so far, has paid off, because others have found the Emmett Wilson blog, used the recommended resources, and forwarded new information discovered by chance.
For example, once, someone found a photo of Emmett’s sister Katie Wilson Meade in an antique shop, checked to see if they could identify the photograph online and, voilá, found Emmett’s blog with a lot of information about Katie Wilson Meade. They were kind enough to send it to me, and I sent a copy of it to Katie’s granddaughter.
Of course, I hope for more of these instances; there’s a huge hole where Emmett’s voice is mostly silent in this research, and that troubles me greatly, and there may still be some of his personal letters out there to include here.
For the most part, I’ve been fortunate that most folks are happy to talk to me and share information, or, if they don’t know anything, refer me to other researchers or genealogists who have been extremely helpful. Bonus: Some have stayed in touch and we’ve become good friends.
And now, some of the interesting points from the July, 1912 spreadsheet entries.
Initially, I didn’t think there was much to the charted information for July, 1912 (i.e., it seems as if July was a boring, no-critical-detail month. For example, see the item listed from The Pensacola Journal for July 13. Who cares if someone isn’t using his/her middle name?
It’s a random and superficial article about him that isn’t of much substance; for instance, about men of prominence who don’t have/use middle names. So what? (Emmett was using his middle name, btw; he never mentioned his first name, which was Archibald, because he didn’t like it.) A little further down the chart, The Tampa Tribune noted that Emmett’s campaign photo looks better than he does in person.
It looks like a lot of fluff and inconsequential coverage, and why not? In 1912, Emmett was a shoo-in for the General Election in November. No one is trying very hard to campaign in the middle of July.
But reading the other news coverage about Emmett’s colleagues, family, and friends gives us more context about what’s going on in Emmett’s life. For example,
July 5 and July 12, 1912: Emmett’s law partnership with Kehoe is dissolved, and Walter Kehoe establishes a new partnership with Worth Trammell. Information about the change in partnership ran on both dates, July 5 and July 12 in the local newspapers. Worth Trammell was a friend of both Emmett and Walter Kehoe; he was the brother of Park Trammell, who was, at present, Attorney General of Florida, and who was running for was Governor of Florida in 1912.
Emmett was still District Attorney for the First District, as well as sharing office space with Kehoe, and living with Kehoe’s family at 211 W. Cervantes Street (Emmett would live with Kehoe family for the rest of his life; and never on his own except for when he was living in Washington, D.C.).
Walter and Emmett likely discussed this before it happened; Emmett was not going to be around much for the rest of the calendar year, as he was busy campaigning, as well as his working as DA. Walter couldn’t carry the workload of the entire practice anymore; plus, if Emmett wasn’t representing clients, they weren’t making any money. Emmett wasn’t going to be in Pensacola that often anyway while serving in Congress. Besides, Walter probably said, “you’ve got at least two, maybe three terms in the House of Representatives, maybe something bigger with the way your political luck is running.”
Worth Trammell was a good choice: In addition to the obvious political connections, he was Emmett’s Assistant District Attorney, and was planning to run for Emmett’s seat once he was elected to Congress in November. Trammell would be a steady, reliable, presence in the Kehoe law practice; likely he was a huge, steadying change in that office.
The remainder of the table shows some general information about his family and friends’ comings and goings; Emmett’s best friend Paul Carter comes to Pensacola for social/business activities, Emmett’s father comes into town for a visit.
But one of the more interesting items is on July 18, a baseball game among local and state political heavyweights, the “Fats” versus the “Leans”, which was played in Marianna. I came across the writeup by accident while I was working in archives at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. The writeup was in the Marianna Times-Courier, has not been digitized, and sadly, is in fragile condition, but the article is entirely amusing and includes wonderful humorous sketches of several of Emmett’s friends and colleagues:
On the upper left of the page is Emmett’s best friend and fellow baseball player (when they both lived in Chipley during college days), Paul H. Carter. The article says Paul was the star of the game, played first base for the “Fats” team, and was ‘going after every thing that came in sight, oftentimes digging them up out of the ground, sometimes with his nose’ and that he had several offers from professional teams based on his playing ability.
Also mentioned was Emmett’s brother, Cephas L. Wilson, who I didn’t realize played baseball (I don’t know much about Cephas’ childhood, hobbies, and the like; though I have quite a lot about Cephas as a banker, mayor of Marianna, judge).
The blurb about Ceph:
“Ceph Wilson, who started pitching for the Fats is some pitcher. “The Grand Old Man” has nothing on Ceph except the age. Ceph is young yet but when he gets to be a big boy he will be some ball player. The only trouble that can be found with him now is his control. He states his wife is responsible for this as she has had control all of their married life, and has never given him an opportunity to show his control. Besides this, Ceph is so generous hearted that he wants to give every batter his base. To show his devotion to duty and that he never let pleasure interfere with his official position as prosecuting attorney, he threatened to prosecute Dr. Pierce for stealing third base, but was dissuaded by the Dr.’s promise never to do so again.”
The quote about Ceph and his wife, Lula Wiselogel Wilson, is something to remember for our next installment. Stay tuned.
Categories: Book Congressman Family The Writing Life
Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus
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