Chapter 65: Emmett, DeCottes, Sturgeon

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April 27, 2016
McKeldin Library
The University of Maryland
College Park

Emmett's dorm, East Hall, is in the upper right hand corner. Hamilton is right below it. Source: Stetson University Archives

Emmett’s dorm, East Hall, is in the upper right hand corner. Hamilton is right below it. Source: Stetson University Archives

Continuing our study of Emmett’s junior year dorm mates at Stetson University, we now come to Emmett’s name on the list:

The "Earls of East Hall": Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, "Happy" Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, "Berry" Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on "Hamilton Hall," which was a cottage women's dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

The “Earls of East Hall”: Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, “Happy” Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, “Berry” Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on “Hamilton Hall,” which was a cottage women’s dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

Hamilton Hall, or, Hamilton House, was a women’s cottage dorm. Here’s what the 1902 Stetson University bulletin said about the dorm:

Hamilton House. From the 1902 Stetson University bulletin. Source: Stetson University Archives

Hamilton House. From the 1902 Stetson University bulletin. Source: Stetson University Archives

Some ‘club’ where you have to provide your own cot.

Emmett’s dorm, East House, had what they deemed ‘substantial furniture’ provided already; they were two to a room (as opposed to three for this dorm) and, East Hall cost less that $10 a month.

The student newspaper was gossipy and into everyone’s business, especially the love lives of SU coeds. So, I tracked down the women who were in this dorm during the time Emmett was said to be the dorm’s ‘expert,’ to see if anyone stood out in particular, or was from his home town.

Nothing. Nada. And, Emmett is not mentioned at all in any romantic or social event, or even hinted at in the 1903 newspapers related to these gals, or anyone else.

So what?

Well, I mention all of this because the difference between him and his roommates in all of the society reporting is noticeable. Seriously. I can find a romantic story or tease about every one of his roommates in the 1903 papers, but nothing about him, other than the item from the essay, above. If there was someone special, it would have been reported, because he ran in the top society circle at Stetson, and all of the ‘top names’ got press, if you see what I mean. So, it isn’t certain what they meant by ‘expert.’ Maybe it was a lot of wishful thinking on Emmett’s part, and that was the point.

Whatever ‘expert’ meant in the article, if Emmett was interested on one or more of the women in Hamilton Hall, it wasn’t serious.

  • George A. DeCottes. Source: Find-a-grave.com

    George “Anonymous” DeCottes. He was hardly that. Source: Find-a-grave.com

    George Augustus DeCottes.

Of all of the individuals in the Earls of East Hall project, DeCottes was a character; his friends called him “Anonymous”, but he was hardly that. DeCottes liked to argue for arguing’s sake. That could be considered an asset, especially if you are going to be a lawyer.

He came from a prosperous, well known family; he was clearly a leader on campus, and was also the captain of Stetson’s football team in 1902-03. I have an article that describes how Emmett, Paul Carter and DeCottes took a road trip to Daytona to see automobile races at Ormond Beach.  I can see why Emmett hung out with DeCottes — he had a magnetism about him, and people paid attention when DeCottes was in the room.

There was quite a bit of information about DeCottes across several archives, and with good reason: He was county solicitor for Orange County, city attorney for Sanford, and involved in several local civic organizations. After graduation, it does not seem that Emmett and DeCottes saw each other in the courtroom, or otherwise: Sanford was quite a distance from Emmett’s practices in Marianna and Pensacola.

What stands out about DeCottes in this side research project was his persistence. He refused to let ‘no’ be the last word for anything that he truly wanted. Here’s one example:

When the local military board said he couldn't join up, DeCottes goes to Washington D.C. and joins anyway. In your face, Sanford recruitment chumps. Source: Genealogybank.Com

When the local military board said he couldn’t join up, DeCottes goes to Washington D.C. and joins anyway. In your face, Sanford recruitment board chumps. Source: Genealogybank.Com

  • Berry Sturgeon as a child. Source: Ancestry.com

    Berry Sturgeon as a child. Source: Ancestry.com

    Berry Albert Sturgeon. Berry was a Latin-Scientific curriculum major at Stetson in 1903, an interesting cross-curriculum program. He was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania.

I was unsure how he made it all the way down to DeLand to attend Stetson, except I found a mention in an old Delta Upsilon fraternity magazine, Pennsylvania Chapter, stating that Sturgeon’s health wasn’t good, and he was in Florida — likely, he was in Florida to recuperate from whatever was ailing him — and attending Stetson University.

Interestingly, there’s no indication that he graduated from Stetson; however, he took the bar exam anyway, and passed it in both Pennsylvania and California.

Berry Albert Sturgeon. Source: History of the Bar and Bench of Southern California, 1901. Ancestry.com

Berry Albert Sturgeon. Source: History of the Bar and Bench of Southern California, 1901. Ancestry.com

Something interesting about Berry: According to U.S. Census reports, he married in 1910 when he was 29 and his wife was 15. Sure, a lot of women got married young back then, but when you consider we are talking about a mature man, a lawyer, with life and work experience marrying a child just out of middle school (if she finished middle school, by the way), seems odd, even for 1910.

Just the differences between the two may have been the problem because that marriage didn’t last long. The next source on Berry was his World War I registration card, dated September 12, 1918. He’s still an attorney, but now has another wife. Interestingly, she has a different last name than Berry, and, Berry wrote “wife” next to her name, as if he needed to clarify it. This seems really unusual, given the time. Married women took their husband’s name in 1918.

Regardless, the legal practice was gone soon. Something big between 1918 and 1924, because there’s a major change in vocation:

By 1924, Berry is listed as a third assistant engineer on a ship called the ‘Victorious,’ which was part of the Tampa Interocean Steamship Company. At the bottom of the ship’s manifest was this:

They had hospitals specific to the disease? Source: New Orleans Passenger Lists; www.Ancestry.com

Yikes. Veneral Hospital? They had hospitals specific to the disease? Source: New Orleans Passenger Lists; www.Ancestry.com

He moves up the ranks to second assistant engineer in 1927, according to the manifest for the Grace Lines, Inc. (New York Passenger Lists), eventually to first assistant engineer by the time he is 41.

The last record I have of Berry is a Pasadena, Texas death certificate. He is listed as a resident of New York City; perhaps he was visiting or on shore leave. Here is the text from the death certificate:

Cause of death: "Natural causes possibly due to alcoholic poisoning." Source: Ancestry.com

Cause of death: “Natural causes possibly due to alcoholic poisoning.” Source: Ancestry.com`

So, it seems like Berry left Florida sometime after 1903, and he probably did not stay in touch with Emmett.

Interesting how they have the alcoholism in common.


Stay tuned for the last installment featuring Emmett’s final two roommates: John Nelson Worley and Fred Free.

(Updated from the article originally posted by the author here.)

Chapter 64: Calmes & Merriday

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April 27, 2016
McKeldin Library
The University of Maryland
College Park

In the last post, I introduced you to some of Emmett’s dorm mates from when he was a student at Stetson University in 1903.

A map of Stetson University's campus in Deland, in 1903. Emmett's dorm, East Hall, is the blue oval at the top of the map. Hamilton Hall is the blue square at the bottom of the map. Chaudoin Hall is in the red oval, and is where a large dining hall was located on the campus. Chaudoin Hall was also a women's dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives.

A map of Stetson University’s campus in Deland, in 1903. Emmett’s dorm, East Hall, is the blue oval at the top of the map. Hamilton Hall is the blue square at the bottom of the map. Chaudoin Hall is in the red oval, and is where a large dining hall was located on the campus. Chaudoin Hall was also a women’s dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives.

Here’s the snippet from the essay in the Stetson Collegiate that I’m using as the basis of my article:

The "Earls of East Hall": Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, "Happy" Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, "Berry" Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on "Hamilton Hall," which was a cottage women's dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

The “Earls of East Hall”: Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, “Happy” Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, “Berry” Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on “Hamilton Hall,” which was a cottage women’s dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

I left off with a discussion of Charles E. Pelot, and there was mention of his tennis expertise. Today, I found a mention of a game featuring Pelot, who also went by “Pluto.”

Pelot playing tennis as 'Pluto.' Source: Stetson University Archives

Pelot playing tennis as ‘Pluto.’ Source: Stetson University Archives

Today, we’ll get to know two more of the Earls of East Hall:

  • Thomas C. Calmes. Thomas was also called “Calamity” among his friends. He was the 1903 class president, reported to be a perpetual talker, and ‘hardly ever in a position from which he could not extricate himself.’ I suppose it is fitting that he became a successful lawyer, practicing in Plant City, Florida. It is possible that he and Emmett remained in contact during their careers, but I don’t know that they saw each other often, because Emmett’s practice was mainly in the then-third congressional district.

Regardless, here is an amusing anecdote about Emmett’s roommate, ‘Calamity’ Calmes:

Calmes thinks he's gotten himself out of a jam. Maybe he did; his worldview was common in 1903. Source: Stetson University Archives

Calmes thinks he’s gotten himself out of a jam. Maybe he did; his worldview was common in 1903. Source: Stetson University Archives

  • Harold “Happy” E. Merryday. “Happy” Merryday appears to have been busy during his days at Stetson: Law student, football hero. Merryday played fullback for Stetson.
TampaTrib_Nov1_03A

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(Article source: Tampa Tribune, November 1, 1903, p. 1. http://www.Genealogybank.com)

Merryday was the hero of the game, scoring the only touchdown, despite the fact the Stetson team was unpracticed and sloppy.

Merryday’s law practice was in Palatka; there was also a grocery business in that city. It doesn’t seem likely that Emmett had much interaction with Merryday after they graduated; Palatka and Putnam County were out of Emmett’s circuit in 1903, so, he wouldn’t have seen Merryday regularly.

Here’s an interesting article that features both Merryday and Calmes: They received ‘half-century diplomas’ from Stetson in 1955, in honor of their exemplary character and citizenship qualities.

From the St. Petersburg Times, May 25, 1955. Source: Google News Archive

From the St. Petersburg Times, May 25, 1955. Source: Google News Archive

Looking back at Emmett’s roommates, Charles Pelot would have been alive in 1955 and might have been invited to attend (he died in 1956), as would have John Worley (who also died in 1956), and Emile Anthony, who died in 1965. The rest of the list died years earlier: Emmett in 1918; Berry Sturgeon in 1932; Fred Fee in 1939; George Decottes  in 1949; and Walter Fulghum and Paul Carter in 1951.

To be continued…

(Updated from the article originally posted by the author here.)

Chapter 63: Emmett’s Roommates at Stetson

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April 27, 2016
McKeldin Library
The University of Maryland
College Park


Because I still don’t have a journal of Emmett’s, or, his scrapbooks (yet), I have to look at many secondary sources to get an idea of what his life was like at Stetson University in 1903.

I found out from the Stetson University archives that in 1903, Emmett’s junior year in law school, he lived in a cottage dormitory named “East Hall” or, “East House.”

Emmett’s dorm, East Hall, is in the upper right hand corner. Hamilton is right below it. Source: Stetson University Archives



So, I started mining the archive for information about that dormitory. And boy, did I find something interesting: An essay in the Stetson University archives, which was printed in the school newspaper (The Stetson Collegiate) in May, 1903, titled, “Life in East Hall.” It is full of all kinds of interesting anecdotes and pranks these guys played on each other. What’s more, it gives a lot of interesting information about Emmett and his friends. For instance:

The “Earls of East Hall”: Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, “Happy” Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, “Berry” Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on “Hamilton Hall,” which was a cottage women’s dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

The “Earls of East Hall”: Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, “Happy” Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, “Berry” Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on “Hamilton Hall,” which was a women’s dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

Life in East Hall must have been a lot of fun for Emmett and his friends.

But, who were these friends of his, and, what became of them? More importantly, did Emmett remain friends with them beyond Stetson?

Today, I introduce to you Emmett’s roommates,  the “Earls of East Hall:”

Emile D. Anthony, in later years. Source: Ancestry.com

Emile D. Anthony. Anthony earned a diploma in Bookkeeping from the Stetson University Business College in 1903.

I was curious as to how he was an expert on both ‘women and oratory;’ but further reading in the always-informative student newspaper, The Stetson Collegiate, indicates he had quite an active social life, in both areas.

Here’s only two examples:

Anthony in search of oratory assistance. Source: Stetson University Archives

I have another article, also from the archive, that says Anthony got into fisticuffs with Benedict. Curious. Source: Stetson University Archives

And:

The lady in question was Miss Louisa M. Foote, resident of Chaudoin Hall, enrolled in the Academy. Source: Stetson University Archives





Anthony’s family was prosperous and important; they were from West Palm Beach, listed as merchants in several U.S. Census reports. The Anthony family is still in business today. Emmett doesn’t seem to have been in contact with Emile much after college days; Emile also lived out of Emmett’s congressional district, so he wouldn’t have been able to vote for him.

Paul Carter. You’ve met Paul in an earlier post. Paul was Emmett’s best friend from childhood; he was also one of the best student orators at Stetson during his tenure there.

Mayor Paul Carter of Marianna, Florida. Source: The Pensacola Journal, 1912.



Emmett and Paul drifted apart a bit. During the time when Emmett moved to Pensacola, and ran for Congress, Paul ran for mayor of Marianna (he held the office for four terms), settled down and got married to Mary Horne of Chipley. They remained friends, though, as Paul served as one of Emmett’s honorary pall bearers at his funeral.

Walter B. Fulghum. Walter was originally from Richmond, Indiana, and was a combination Latin-Science major. Walter’s name shows up several times across different issues of The Stetson Collegiate, (mostly mentioned in the “Locals” section, which was a gossip column that ran for several pages) as attending parties at the women’s dorms, and the like.

One of many campus parties attended by Fulghum. Source: Stetson University Archives



One interesting thing I discovered about Fulghum was that he was a Quaker in the White Water community of Indiana. I mention this because after following Emmett and his friends around for three years in research land, this was a group that liked booze-fueled parties. Maybe not every single party, but I’ve been able to establish that Emmett’s drinking career was established back when he was at West Florida Seminary in 1900. Quakers aren’t forbidden from consuming alcohol, but most abstain.

Fulghum eventually became a merchant, then a farmer. Later in life, he had a farm in Caldwell, Texas; he died there in 1951 from arteriosclerosis. Fulghum probably did not see Emmett after Stetson, given that he moved back to Indiana right after graduation.

Charles E. Pelot. Charles was originally from Manatee, Florida, and he was enrolled in Stetson’s Law School.

After graduating from Stetson, he practiced law in Jacksonville for most of his life. He was active in the alumni association:

Pelot as President of the Jacksonville Stetson Club, 1911. Source: Google Books



I don’t have much information on Pelot; he seems to have stayed in local and state politics, though, and based on this item I found in the May 7, 1916 edition of the Tampa Tribune, Emmett probably had been in contact with Pelot on and off during his career:

Pelot was up for a circuit court judgeship. Kirke Monroe and Cooper Griggs were friends of Emmett’s. Source: Genealogybank.com



The second installment of Emmett’s college roommates continues in the next chapter.

(Updated from the article originally posted by the author here.)

Chapter 62: My grandfather

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February 10, 1903
Dr. F.C. Wilson’s Home
Chipley, Florida

A.E. Maxwell, taken in the late 1890s. Reprinted with permission of Elizabeth Meade Howard.

I’m in Chipley for a few days visiting my father, stepmother, and Grandfather Maxwell. He now lives with my father; Grandfather Maxwell is  frail these days. 

Although Grandfather has been living with my uncle Evelyn Maxwell in Pensacola, Grandfather prefers to be in Chipley. He trusts my father to take care of him, more than he does the doctors in Pensacola; he claims those doctors don’t understand him. But I think he would rather spend time with family in Chipley. I think he also misses my Mother; they were always close, and being in Chipley with my father gives him a sense of connection to my Mother.

Also, now that Cephas is a state senator, he constantly has people over at the house, and is busier than ever, as he also is keeping up with his law practice. All I’ve done for the past two months is live and breathe law, and I need a temporary break away from anything that demands a lot of heavy thinking and from a lot of people.

===

I don’t tell him, but I love my Grandfather. Besides my mother, he seems to be the only person who understands me. I don’t know why I don’t just tell him; maybe part of me is afraid he’s not reciprocate, though I know he feels the same about me. Maybe it is just because it seems unmanly. 

Or maybe it is because I am afraid of how it would move me if I said it. The last time someone saw me that deeply moved… well, no matter. It was a long time ago. Best forgotten.

While in Chipley, I was going to spend as much time as possible with my Grandfather. We like the same things — a good game of chess, an hour or so at a fishing hole, and long walks.

Dr. F.C. Wilson’s house, about 1895. Photographer unknown. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Meade Howard.

So on this slightly chill afternoon, we walk out together down Sixth Street, away from town. I support him with his arm through mine, down about a half mile until he tires out. We aren’t talking as we walk; we don’t really have to at this moment. We enjoy our time together and that’s enough.

After a while, he smiles at me, gestures with his head that he’s ready to head back to the house. It’s about 4 p.m.; this is his time that he spends on the porch, smoking his pipe, reading, enjoying a toddy.

He eases into the wicker armchair; his ashtray and pipe ready on the side table. I step into the house; into the kitchen and make his toddy — whiskey, warmed up gently in a pan, a little sugar, stirred gently, then poured into his silver tumbler. 

Dr. F.C. Wilson’s original home, Now known as the Myers-Wilson House in Chipley, Florida. Built in 1895. Photo by the author.

I bring the toddy to Grandfather on the porch; he’s lit his pipe and is settled in. He nods his thanks to me.

“Now tell me about law school, Emmett,” he says, peering at me through the pipe smoke and over the top of his spectacles.

I told him about my classes, the texts we were reading for the different professors. He asked which class I liked best thus far; I told him I didn’t really have a preference, but I truly enjoyed debating, both in the school club and in the classroom. 

“Have you made many friends? What are they like?” Grandfather asks.

I tell him their names: Crawford, Fee, Fulgham, DeCottes, Carter. Grandfather, of course, knows many of my friends’ grandparents and parents. He nods especially as I tell him stories long games of chess on the porch; he chuckles at some of our antics and pranks. “I liked being a part of this group,” I tell him, as I lean forward in my chair, looking at my hands on my knees. “I so rarely have felt so comfortable, and so accepted for myself.”

Grandfather says nothing for several minutes; I look up at him. He is gazing out to the street. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, I think to myself. He didn’t like that.

“You keep rather to yourself, don’t you, Emmett?” Grandfather asks turning towards me.

I look up at him, uncertain.

“There is no special young lady in the picture?”

I shake my head. “No. There’s no one.”

“Did I ever tell you the story of how I met my first wife, your Mother’s mother, Sarah?”

“No, Grandfather.”

Sarah Roane Brockenbrough Maxwell. Source: find-a-grave.com

“Ah. Well. Sarah Roane Brockenbrough. A lovely, dark-haired, intelligent young lady of Charlottesville. Her father was the proctor at the University of Virginia. She was 20 years old when we got married. May 20, 1843, he said. I had already graduated from the University of Virginia Law School, back in 1841, but her father insisted that she be at least 20 when I asked for her hand in marriage. Also, I would probably have more money saved, be more able to support her comfortably, and so forth.”

Grandfather puffed a few moments on his pipe, reflecting.

“And were you?” I ask.

“Yes,” he said. “By 1843, I had passed the bar in Eutaw, Alabama, Green County, you know, where your father’s people happened to be living at the time. I had a small practice going; it was enough, and Sarah’s father thought so too. So, I came back to Charlottesville in May, 1843, and married Sarah.”

“You didn’t stay long in Alabama, though,” I ask.

“No. Only about two years. Your Aunt Lucy was born there, and your Mother was born in Tallahassee. We moved to Tallahassee in 1845. By then, I had political aspirations, and I knew that Florida, having just been admitted to the union, had unique opportunities that would help my career. Sarah was all for it, even though she knew it might be difficult. It was a hard journey for her, especially as she was expecting your Mother when we moved. But soon after establishing residency in Florida, I was named attorney general for the next two years.”

“Mother was born,” I said, “and then, Uncle Simeon.”

Grandfather nodded. “September, 1847. Sarah had a very difficult time with that last birth; it is what led to her death less than three months later, right before Christmas, December 17.”

Grandfather sat quietly a few moments.

“And then, there was Grandmother Julia,” I said.

Julia Hawkes Anderson Maxwell. Source: find-a-grave.com

“Yes,” Grandfather said. “Julia Hawkes. A wonderful woman.  Julia understood that there would always be a special place in my heart for Sarah; she did not try to fill that, nor did she ever try to make me forget, because of course, I never would. Sarah was beloved to me; she still is. Julia was a kind, strong woman. She was exactly the kind of mother my children needed; and of course, I needed her too. Julia and I also loved each other.

“I was blessed with two wonderful women in my life, Emmett. I hope that one day, you will find someone to share your life.”

The screen door creaked noisily open; my stepmother Kate sticks her head around the door, and announces that supper was ready.

Grandfather and I thank her. Mother Kate goes back inside. Grandfather turns towards me, puts his pipe on the ashtray on the side table, then says:

“You know, Emmett, your father needed someone too, much like I did after Sarah died. Your father was brokenhearted, as I was. He needed to take care of his family, first and foremost, but when your Mother died, his heart was buried with her.”

I glanced at my grandfather, who is looking at me, seriously.

Grandfather nodded toward the closed front door, which my stepmother had just closed. “Kate Jordan also buried her heart with her first husband, John. I suppose you know that.”

“Why are you saying this to me, Grandfather?”

“Don’t be so hard on your Father. I know you don’t have a very close relationship to him. He’s distant, too; his way of dealing with his grief was to stuff it down into his work, and to do everything he could to keep his family going.  He was never looking to replace Elizabeth, but his family, you and your brothers and sisters, are most important to him. He was shocked. Well, we all were, and he just did what he thought best.

“Your father hasn’t gotten over the death of your mother, and I don’t think you have, either. That’s why he’s always distant. He can’t talk about this; but worse, he won’t try to talk about it. I think you are a lot like him in that regard.”

“I don’t…” I start to say, awkwardly. I am feeling things, uncomfortable thoughts, feelings rushing up from somewhere, deep inside, that will overwhelm me, and reduce me to something I hated, which was to be pitied, seen as weak, needy…my eyes started to sting a little. The idea of getting over my Mother…that would mean forgetting her. I could barely remember her voice anymore, or her look. I stood up abruptly, and went to the porch rail, and took a few breaths.

“Emmett.”

“I’m OK,” I say, roughly.

After a few minutes, I turn around and say, “Why are you saying these things to me, Grandfather?” 

“Emmett, if you don’t try to work through whatever it is that is bothering you deep inside, it will come back out of you in ways that can be harmful. Julia knew, when she married me, I was still mourning Sarah, and it helped to be able to talk to her about the things I felt. It didn’t diminish anything I still felt for Sarah, or for me as a man, but it helped make things right inside of me, so that I could go on, and appreciate Julia, and love her, as she so deserved. I don’t want to see you hampered by grief, either. Or, to store things up inside of you that are bothering you.”

“I’m fine,” I say. I clear my throat. “We should probably go inside. Mother Kate is waiting supper on us.”

Grandfather nodded, and I help him up from the chair. I hand him his cane; he walks slowly to the door. He pauses:

“Emmett. Don’t shut yourself off from those who love you and want to help you. They have your best interests at heart.”

“I have plenty of time for love, Grandfather. I don’t want to settle down with anyone right now; my priorities are to get through law school, and to be the top of my class. Then, my goals are to be a top-notch lawyer, and eventually, to take my place on the bench, the Florida Supreme Court, specifically. As you did.”

Grandfather smiles at me.

“And when I’m successful,” I continued, “I’ll settle down. Even you, yourself, were advised to settle down before you married Grandmother.”

“I have no doubt that you will go far, son. I believe it. But there is more to this life than mighty ambition. You don’t want to be alone at the end of your days. Don’t miss out on this, Emmett.”

 

Chapter 61: The goal

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January 4, 1903
East Hall Men’s Dormitory
Stetson University
DeLand, Florida

I love where I am at this moment.

Emmett was classified as a junior his first year at Stetson; administrators credited his two years’ work at WFS. Source: Stetson University College Catalog, 1901-02, http://digital.archives.stetson.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/Unidocs/id/2865/rec/4

This is different than the Seminary, and the Business College; this is about joining in active discussions with my professors about something I am entirely interested in, and this all makes perfect sense — the work I did for Cephas, the drudge work I did for Judge Jones. Ceph had been right: The work I did last summer for him turned out to be some of the most valuable practical experience in preparation for law school. In fact, the required Elementary Law class has been nothing but repetitive information I learned in Cephas’ law office this summer.

Law school feels natural to me. I work hard; but I take nothing for granted. I feel like I had a real chance to shine  because it all feel right, being here at Stetson. 

The first week here, Paul and I immediately joined the debate club, and helped inaugurate the Kent Club, a law school organization. We are regular attendees of both groups.

For the first time, I feel like I belong completely, without reservation. I love it. I feel at home. More so than in my actual home in Chipley, for what it is worth. This has been my first time living away from family members and with my two closest friends at East House — Paul Carter and Billy Crawford — and we have a great time! 

We play pranks on each other (one of which actually caused a small fire last week), we roughhouse, we smoke, we relax by playing checkers or chess on the front porch. Some of us even get up a game of baseball with the underclassmen on occasion.

There are 13 of us fellows living in the dorm, and two or three of us share a room. In the fall, we had 14, but one fellow got fed up with us and our pranks, and moved out. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the evening he came home from studying in the Law Library, and discovered his room was completely devoid of furniture. (We’d simply stashed it in the attic.)

We are a fun, cohesive group. We often pool our food together for giant feasts (some of which was taken surreptitiously from the women’s dorms); Crawford has a chafing dish, and we add whatever we have on hand: Hot dogs, apples, random vegetables to make up a stew of sorts. Most of the time, we eat at the stag table at Chaudoin Hall, the large women’s dormitory, which features the biggest dining room on campus. The dining is segregated by gender; there is also a ‘training table’ where the football and baseball players eat separated from the rest of us.

Most of the fellows, like myself, go on outings with a few of the girls on campus now and then; these are chaperoned affairs, but now and then, you can get alone with a girl, which is pleasant, especially if you are out with one of the girls who is ‘accommodating’ . You have to be careful; all of us do. One slip, and you’d be married, then out of school, and off to a drudge job, drudge life. I feel comfortable saying that none of us in our group expect or want anything serious with a girl at this point.

Paul Carter was popular among the girls at Stetson. Because one-on-one meetings were mostly chaperoned between men and women, the men would climb through the womens’ dorm windows to visit. The Stetson Collegiate. http://digital.archives.stetson.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/Newspapers/ p. 7, December, 1902.

I haven’t met anyone at Stetson who interests me, though I am friendly with a lot of the girls on campus. I attend parties and functions at the dorms, as most of the fellows,  but none of it is serious to me. I don’t want it to be serious.

Honestly, I feel like most of the girls here are in it to find a husband, the way they skip classes, and carry on in their dorms with fellows who sneak in through windows at night. Some of the fellows don’t come home until almost sunrise sometimes.

It’s not as if I am not tempted. I am. I know what girls do and do not at Hamilton Hall — the girl’s dorm — for instance, but I also know I absolutely cannot screw up my chances here at Stetson, so my personal needs are met off campus when necessary.

===

Emmett’s dorm, East Hall, is in the upper right hand corner. Hamilton is right below it. Source: Stetson University Archives

Last evening, while sitting on the front porch, smoking with a few of the fellows, Crawford, who is always nosing into my nonexistent love life, asked:

“Met anyone lately who looks interesting, Wilson?” 

“No. Not really.”

“There’s dancing lessons to be offered at Chaudoin Hall on Fridays by a Mrs. Spaulding.”

“She has two rather good looking daughters, doesn’t she?” one of the fellows at the checkers game on the other side of the porch said.

“That’s the one,” said Crawford, lighting a cigarette. “Might be worth checking out over there, to see what’s what, Em. Her daughters are quite outgoing.”

“I already know how to dance,” I said.

“Maybe this Spaulding woman knows newer steps. I understand she promotes herself and her daughters as quite the life of the party where they are from, Massachusetts, I think. Or New York,” Crawford said, as he exhaled smoke, and eased back in his chair.

I really wasn’t interested in going to the dance; I had a debate coming up next week, and there was a case I was preparing in my Contracts class that needed attention.

For the past few weeks, I’d been getting later and later starts with my homework, often I wasn’t starting to read until around 10 o’clock each night. Sometimes I pull a few all-nighters, especially if I let myself get talked into a social over at Chaudoin Hall, which I honestly don’t enjoy that much. I go mostly so I don’t get a reputation of being anti-social.

The girls are nice enough, but they all seem as if they are trying too hard, if you know what I mean. The more standoffish I am, the harder some of them try, and I was not brought up to be rude to young ladies.

“No,” I told the fellows, as I stood up to go upstairs. “I really have to hit the books, fellas. It took me almost two years to get back to college; I worked too hard to return to school and if I don’t get to it, Professor Brierly will chew me out in Contracts.”

They left me alone after that.

But what I didn’t say to them: “This is my last and only chance to become someone more than who I am at present, and I’m not going to screw it up.”

I think maybe some of them know that about me already, though.

 

 

Chapter 60: Emmett Wilson, Law Student

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April 22, 2016
McKeldin Library
The University of Maryland
College Park, MD

Did you know Stetson was Florida’s first law school? It was founded in 1900, and Emmett was one of the very first graduates (he was Valedictorian for the class of 1904).

When Emmett attended from 1902-1904, Stetson’s law school was in DeLand, Florida, and most of the classes met in a building called Science Hall. The law school (when Emmett started) wasn’t big; in fact, Emmett’s graduating class had only 10 students.

The 1904 graduating class with 10 students. Emmett's best friend, Paul Carter, is in here as well. Source: Stetson University Archives

The 1904 graduating class with 10 students. Emmett’s best friend, Paul Carter, is in here as well. Source: Stetson University Archives

 

Here’s a description of Stetson’s law school — actually ‘law department’ back in the day:

A description of the law school facilities in 1903-04. They were 'second to none' at the time. Source: Stetson University Archives

A description of the law school facilities in 1903-04. They were ‘second to none’ at the time. Source: Stetson University Archives

 

Here’s an image from a Stetson brochure featuring the facility:

Students in the law library in the upper left corner. Notice the guy in the pale vest? Does he look familiar? He should! Source: Stetson University Archives

Students in the law library in the upper left corner. Notice the guy in the pale vest? Does he look familiar? He should!  He’s also somewhere in the practice courtroom photo, but even with the original, I can’t zoom in enough to pick him out. Source: Stetson University Archives

 

Back then, Emmett lived in a dorm called East Hall his first year of law school, costing about $206 year. It included “tuition, board, furnished room, lights, and washing.” Books cost about $35 a year, and were references he’d use during his early years as a lawyer. When Emmett was ready to graduate, his diploma fee was $5.

Today, the law department is a school unto itself, and is in Tampa Bay. It has definitely come a long way since Emmett’s day.

Updated from April 22, 2016, at this link.

Chapter 59: I Begin at Stetson

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September 25, 1902
Stetson University
DeLand, Florida

Flagler Science Hall. This was the location of the original Stetson University Law School
Source: http://www.stetson.edu/other/about/history.php

I stood outside Science Hall at 7:30 am Thursday morning, September 25; it was a clear day, a cool morning, but I was sweating and nervous. I hadn’t had anything to drink since I arrived on campus day before yesterday; I’ve been too busy getting settled into the dorm, and, getting ready for the entrance examinations. I had to pass them, absolutely. If I failed, I’d have to go back to Marianna and work with Cephas, save up again, prepare again…and I really didn’t think I’d have it in me to do it all over again. I took my handkerchief out of my coat pocket and wiped my brow, and my mouth.

Paul H. Carter, from the 1899-1900 WFS yearbook, The Argo. Source: FSU Archives.

I heard footsteps behind me. I turned; it was Paul.

You ready? He said.

I guess so.

We both entered Science Hall together, and headed to the examination room. Paul and I had prepared each other, quizzing each other on what would be on the exam for over a week. Even though Paul was already a barred attorney in Florida, he’d still have to take the entrance exam, like anyone else who wanted to earn their law degree at Stetson.

Between working for Cephas all summer, and being quizzed by Paul, I felt well prepared, but I felt the pressure, too, to succeed, and I was stressed.

Being around Cephas this summer was probably the best thing that could have happened, to prepare me for law school; I didn’t want to admit that at first. While I learned a lot working for Judge Jones, Cephas was the tougher mentor. Cephas wasn’t also as diplomatic in his criticisms of my work; he demanded perfection out of me at all times in his legal work, and when I’d complain, Ceph would tell me that I probably wasn’t fit for the bench anyway, and if I thought the law was some soft or cushy job, maybe it would be better if I went back to the telegraph office, or just planned on clerking the rest of my life, because I’d never make it as a lawyer.

Cephas had me doing research on cases, drafting documents, running errands to court and to other offices, composing letters. Occasionally, Ceph would let me accompany him to court, where I would listen to him argue cases in such a manner that often made me feel proud, embarrassed, and afraid all at the same time. Cephas was an eloquent speaker, a gifted debater, and always thoroughly prepared. Ceph’s presence in the courtroom was something you could not overlook: He was tall, broad, distinguished, polished, commanding. He looked — and was — a force to be reckoned with, and he was absolutely respected, even by fellow attorneys who plainly did not like him. I was often amazed at the audacity Ceph had in representing his clients: He was always of the mind that he was going to win, period, and so, Cephas would not stop at anything in the service of his clients, or his own self-interest. This meant, occasionally, that he would resort to what I considered low blows — essentially, ad hominem attacks — things which may not have been completely substantiated, but Ceph knew how to weave those things into his arguments in the courtroom.

Cephas Love Wilson, 1906. Source: http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/143975

He’d then get called out on it by the judge, who would then admonish the jury to disregard Cephas’ words. Ceph knew that even if a judge and the opposing counsel deemed his comment immaterial, and the jury was instructed to ignore or disallow what was said, that he had planted the seed of doubt in certain jurors’ minds about his opponents, and their characters, which is what often made the difference in the outcome of his cases.

As Paul and I walked down the hall towards the examination rooms — as a lawyer, he would take his exam in a different room than I — he said, “Remember, the law is a whore. Don’t forget to put that on your test.”

I laughed out loud. You sound like Cephas, I said, as we parted ways.

Yeah, well, he ought to know, Paul retorted with a chuckle. See you outside when you’re done.

As I took my seat in the classroom, and waited for the proctor to distribute the test, I remembered Cephas saying the same thing. “You have to take what you need and get what you can out of the law for your clients. Then, move on, and not think about. You can’t get caught up in clients’ personal lives. It’s all about business, it’s all law, plain and simple. None of it is ever personal. You get into trouble, you lose, when you let it get personal.”

The proctor called the room to attention, and started explaining the administration of the exam.

I realized this summer that Cephas may not always use the most ethical means to win his cases; and in fact, he did get personal with some of his clients and their business, all behind the back of Lula. I never said anything to her or anyone else; I knew better. I didn’t like everything he did to win; but he was right — it was about winning. He had the reputation of a winner. That meant he was prominent, wealthy, respected — a force to be reckoned with. I wanted what he had, too. I said as much to Cephas, too.

Cephas replied, “You need to toughen up, first, and sometimes, put your high sense of moral ethics and integrity in the background, else you will be held back. And you need to be the absolute best at everything you do in this profession.”

“All right students,” the proctor said. He looked at his pocket watch. “Open your test booklets, and begin.”