I have great news!
Emmett’s grand-niece, Elizabeth Meade Howard, has published a book!
Elizabeth is the granddaughter of Katie Wilson Meade. I’ve ordered mine from Amazon, and I cannot wait to read it!
In my last post, we found Cephas Jr. back home in Marianna post recovery from a throat injury he received while he was stationed in France in 1919.
According to the U.S. Census for 1920, Cephas Jr. had moved back in with his parents and had a job as a ‘presser’ in a shop, possibly a laundry business, upon his return to Marianna.
Last year, I wrote about Cephas Jr. and his first marriage to Mamie (or Mary) Gertrude Baker, and the fact that Cephas and Mamie had one daughter, Shirley. Although I haven’t heard from any family members or descendants about Cephas Jr. to date, I have been able to fill in some of the blanks.
After the 1920 Census, my next source of information is an article in The Washington Times, dated February 8, 1922, announcing a marriage license between Cephas Jr. and Mamie Baker.
So — Cephas, as of sometime in 1921, was back in Washington, D.C. How do I guess that?
I wonder how Cephas and Mamie met? Is it possible she was a nurse at Walter Reed, and the two of them met there, fell in love? (Yep, I’m trying to track that down — but it is a distinct possibility, because I’ve found information indicating she was a nurse. Still trying to confirm it, though!) Cephas was in the hospital for a long time. Mamie was from Silver Spring, Maryland (a suburb of D.C.). Walter Reed is not far from the D.C./Maryland state line… I don’t like to speculate. But, it looks like this may have been how they met.
Less than a year later:
The next item found about Cephas Jr. was in the 1925 D.C. City Directory:
I believe Mamie died sometime between 1925 and 1930 — and 1930 was a big year of change for Cephas Jr., because we find him in two different places. First, he’s listed in the 1930 D.C. City Directory, but he doesn’t live in D.C. anymore:
Notice that he’s in Alexandria? That’s because he — and baby Shirley — had likely moved in with Emmett and Cephas Sr.’s sister, Katie Wilson Meade, who lived in Alexandria.
This was only temporary, though, because Cephas and his daughter, Shirley, are also listed in the 1930 U.S. Census as living with his grandparents, the Wiselogels, in Marianna (Cephas Jr.’s mother had remarried, to John Grether, and was now living in Jacksonville).
The rest of the story after 1930 is found here.
For now, this is everything I have about Cephas Love Wilson Jr. I’d love to have a more comprehensive story, especially about whatever happened to Shirley, and if Cephas Jr. had any of his photographs or artwork published anywhere else. If any family members stumble across this information, I’m happy to share what data I’ve gathered.
On or about October 9, 1918, there was a knock at the door of the Cephas Love Wilson, Sr. house, on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton Streets, in Marianna, Florida.
It was a telegram for Cephas Love Wilson’s parents — something people dreaded receiving during wartime. And it wasn’t good news.
It said their son, Cephas Love Wilson, Jr., had been injured — gassed in action — in France.
Perhaps he had a long recovery time in a French hospital, because Cephas was not released to return home until August 21, 1919.
He sailed from Brest, France to Camp Mills, Hoboken, N.J., on the U.S.S. Pastores.
After arriving at Camp Mills, Cephas Jr. was sent to Walter Reed Hospital.
I’m not sure how long Cephas Jr. was at Walter Reed, but I have doubts that his injury was slight, given the amount of time he was hospitalized. Below is an article from September 18, 1919, where his father came to Washington, D.C. to visit him at Walter Reed.
The lengthy recovery time makes me think that a) his throat injuries were more serious than the record indicates, and b) that he might have also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. During World War I, it would have been called battle fatigue, or Combat Stress Reaction (CSR). I don’t have access to Cephas Love Wilson Jr.’s military or medical records yet to confirm, but it is possible this was also part of Cephas Jr’s recovery.
I also wonder if, given the publicized mental breakdown that Emmett had in 1914-1915 while he was U.S. Congressman, that Cephas Jr.’s father would have kept the CSR information out of the record or the press.
By January 10, 1920 (the date on the U.S. Census document for Marianna, Florida), Cephas Jr. was back in Marianna, living at home with his parents, his married sister and her family — pretty much the same scenario he left prior to the outbreak of World War I. It seemed like nothing changed.
The 1920 U.S. Census indicates he worked as a presser — likely operating an iron in a professional laundry business — in a shop in Marianna.
And Cephas Jr. HAD changed. This was only a temporary stopping point.
Cephas Jr. was only biding his time until he felt well enough to leave — because he left Marianna for good before the year was out.
There’s more. Stay tuned.
Cephas Love Wilson, Jr. was stationed in France in 1917, during which time he wrote home to his mother and father whenever he could, letting them know he was safe, and likely, telling them a sanitized — and probably censored — version of what was going on with him and his comrades.
I would have loved to read Ceph Jr.’s letters to his family about his experiences during World War I. But until I establish a connection with a descendant (who, hopefully, still has the letters saved somewhere), I very gladly will make do with this:
Yes, people, this is the big deal I came across the other day. This is the honest-to-God story of this unit’s experiences, complete with anecdotes, personal reflections, poetry, letters, artwork, homage to fallen comrades who were left behind in the battlefields. There’s nothing pretty or glamorous about the stories of these men who fought in this unit during the Great War: There is honest, thoughtful, and heartbreaking writing in this book.
And check. This. Out:
NOW can you see why I was so thrilled?
As I said, the men who wrote about their experiences hold nothing back.
Not only do we have the story of Ceph’s time in World War I, but we have samples of his drawings!
It’s a wonderful find, full of excellent details, resources, photos, and — yes — artwork attributed to Cephas Jr. Modestly, he signed them “W.” You can see his cartoon experience reflected in his drawings!
There’s this one:
And this one:
But this one by Cephas Jr. is most touching:
In my next post, I’ll fill you in on the rest of Cephas’ experiences in France — that is, unless you read this book for yourself (he is mentioned in here!).
By 1917, Cephas Love Wilson, Jr., was probably at the end of his rope, in terms of direction, vocation, and personal satisfaction.
He was 22, still living at home.
College hadn’t worked out for him (law school, likely 100 percent financed by his father, Cephas Love Wilson Sr., until Junior decided it really wasn’t for him). He knew what he wanted to do: His talent was in the arts — music, but mostly photography and drawing — but Cephas Sr. either wasn’t encouraging him to become a professional artist, or perhaps he was overly realistic with his oldest child: If Cephas Jr. wanted to make a decent living, drawing cartoons probably wasn’t going to do it for him. Cephas Jr. was playing the piano to accompany the silent movies that were shown at the Dixie Theatre in downtown Marianna every evening. It was job. It better than nothing, but I have a feeling it was something to simply make a living, and his heart wasn’t entirely in it.
The Wilson house, at the corner of Clinton and Jefferson Streets was getting crowded: His sister Kathleen (1898-1981) was married and living in the family home with her husband Ira Martin, and son, Ira Jr. So, when Cephas Jr. would come home from work, wanting to unwind, to think, to draw, or write, or create, he couldn’t. It was loud and busy at the house where he grew up. He was probably feeling less like this was his home in those days.
On April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a Declaration of War with Germany.
Four days later, on April 6, Wilson got his Declaration of War.
Two weeks later, on April 20, 1917, Cephas Love Wilson Jr. made his Declaration of Independence:
The Marianna Times-Courier reported that Cephas Jr. went to Jacksonville, Florida, along with several Marianna young men to enlist in the U.S. Army. I often wonder how much of Cephas Jr.’s desire to join the U.S. Army was based in patriotism, or in relief to be away from home. Maybe it was both.
Regardless, Cephas Jr. was finally on his own.
Things began to move fast that summer for Cephas Jr.: He completed basic training within weeks at Ft. Screven, Georgia, then was sent to the Washington, D.C. Barracks, where he was promoted to Corporal, and assigned to 1st Engineers, Company B.
On August 6, 1917, Cephas Jr. was sent to the port at Hoboken, N.J., where he boarded the USS Finland (ID-4543), a troop transport, for Brest, France.
According to the Marianna Times-Courier, when Cephas Jr. arrived at Brest on August 20, he sent his mother a telegram that he had made it safely. His unit remained in Brest for training until about August 30.
I don’t know what Cephas Jr. expected when he enlisted, or what he thought it would be like once he landed in a foreign country — but when he returned to Florida in 1919, when the war was over, he was a completely different man, and he’d earned the respect of his father.
How do I know?
No, I have not found his letters or diaries — I wish — but I found something better! You’ll love it!
Yeah, it’s huge! Not to tease you about it, but it covers a lot of ground, and is deserving of its own post. I’ll have something up about it in the next day or so.
Continuing our story about Cephas Love Wilson, Jr. from here:
We next find Cephas Jr. and his father, Cephas Love Wilson Sr., visiting Emmett in Pensacola:
Cephas Jr., age 17, should still be enrolled at Marianna High School, but he appears to be clerking in his father’s law firm. It’s a logical leap — at this point, Cephas Sr. still has dreams of living in the Governor’s mansion, and of building a Wilson-family political dynasty. Cephas Sr. and the Florida Democratic party are in the process of moving potential candidates for U.S. Congress around on their chess board. Emmett is being groomed for a Congressional run; and so, why wouldn’t Cephas Sr. decide to groom his namesake for further Wilson family prominence?
But what were Cephas Jr.’s dreams?
Without any of his actual letters or anecdotes from family members, it is hard to tell, but if we observe his actions as they were written about in contemporary media, we see that he loved music, he loved photography, and he was a gifted artist (much like his mother, Lula). We get the picture (no pun intended).
Here’s why I believe Cephas Jr. was clerking for his father (keep in mind by this point, 1912, Cephas Jr. is 18 years old):
Cephas Jr. is a junior in the College of Law at the University of Florida in Gainesville — an upperclassman. So, when did he finish high school?
I don’t doubt Cephas Jr. was intelligent. But it is dubious that he’d go right from high school into advanced academic standing that quickly. There were definitely several strings pulled for Cephas Jr., by his father. Cephas Sr. only wanted the very best for his son, and he knew what it took to get there in 1912 — a law degree. It’s natural he’d want his son and namesake to have similar aspirations, and at least similar professional success.
But law school? I sense that was Cephas Sr’s dream, not his son’s, because otherwise, why wouldn’t Cephas Sr. encourage a vocation in the fine arts?
Compare this photo of Cephas Jr. to his father, below. Striking resemblance, isn’t it?
As I go through the clips, I get the feeling that Cephas Jr. wasn’t happy at The University of Florida. I don’t believe it had anything to do with his intelligence, or ability to do the work: He just didn’t want to be a lawyer. Cephas Jr. was being pushed to do something he wasn’t ready or willing to do — similar to what happened with Uncle Emmett.
Fast forward to April 1913:
Cephas Jr. moved back home at the end of the Spring, 1913 semester, and apparently got a job with the local newspaper as a photographer. He never finished his degree at the University of Florida, and he spent the next few years in search of a way to market his talents:
And an article in the Marianna Times-Courier for 1917 mentioned that he had a job playing the piano in the local movie theatre. Cephas Jr. is clearly not sitting around twiddling his thumbs; but, he was working in a variety of different jobs to earn a living. It is unlikely he went back to work for his father.
Then — the U.S. entered World War I, and things changed for Cephas Jr.
I’ll continue with his story in a few days.
Want to know why writing Emmett’s book has been taking so long?
I found this during my ‘go back and check databases for updates’ routine. Something I do every other month or so.
The Chronicling America database is huge, which is why one would want to limit the searches to states, or specific newspapers.
It isn’t that I haven’t done an entire sweep of the database this size before, but it can be overwhelming to see thousands of items returned in a large sweep. I’m glad the database is there — and I’m thrilled to have found this extra source of information. Emmett’s uncles and cousins, and his sister, Katie Wilson Meade, lived in Alexandria and were community/church leaders — there’s wonderful new articles to read about Emmett’s family in this paper!
My concern, as always, is missing or overlooking information that’s out there, but information I’d never find because it is misfiled or mislabeled, or has typos. This is one of the reasons I do regular checks of databases. The effort is completely worth it, but I’d never considered the idea that the newspaper in this particular database would have been filed under the wrong state.
And, of course, this will mean going back into the databases to consider that variable.
Commencing rolling up the sleeves and digging in….