Chapter 8: Something Awry

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Most of the contemporary articles I found about Emmett were read as they came in, in no particular chronological order.  To keep things straight, I cataloged every detail I found into a timeline.

The first column is the date of the article, the second column summarizes the story, the third column are my notes, and the fourth column includes publication information, as well as a link if one was available. I had to break the timeline into four different date-specific files towards the end of data collection because of the amount of information.

After three weeks of reading and documenting articles about Emmett, I took a few days off to clear my head. When I came back to the timeline, I saw some items about Emmett with new eyes. For example:

Emmett would make sure to let the newspapers know when he was headed off on vacation every year. We do something like this today in social media. Maybe this was Emmett’s version of Facebook. Source: The Pensacola Journal, August 5, 1908

In the 21st century, you don’t see the comings and goings of a U.S. attorney reported on a society page; maybe this was a thing back then, you know, like Facebook?

And I was curious — did Emmett actually give this information about his comings and goings to the society editors on a regular basis? It seemed petty and pompous, the idea he was planting information in the paper himself about himself. If he’s that important, he’d not need to do that, if you see what I mean. He wasn’t ‘news’ yet, but it seemed he sure wanted to be.

Here’s another example:

Emmett appointed acting U.S. District Attorney, until Fred Cubberly would come along in 1908. Source: Pensacola Evening News, September 7, 1907.

This would prove to be one of many examples in the articles I found that Emmett, a die-hard Democrat without a lot of experience but good family and political connections, landed this job during a Republican administration out of nowhere — he’s even quoted in the article as being surprised he got the appointment, because he hadn’t even applied for it. Other candidates with more experience were not pleased, and his lack of experience despite being promoted to prominent, lofty positions was turning out to be regular thing across his career.

I know it happens all the time, but that still doesn’t make it right. And yeah, I still didn’t have all the details about this story yet. I admit that I had to tamp down my irritation at Emmett — I had to quit thinking, “Who the hell did this guy think he was, asking me to tell his story?”, and “Was he some kind of pompous ass pretending to be more important than he really was?”

Or was there something else?

And then, something else jumped out at me from the timeline:

If he was such a social climber, ambitious, and popular, as per the information I had on him at present (spanning about 10 years), it was odd that he died alone, without anyone knowing he was sick….

….that he was so public yet in the end, so few people knew what was going on with him.

“Numerous friends…were visibly shocked….” See what I mean? The Pensacola Journal, May 30, 1918.

That didn’t seem right. Something was awry.

There was much more to come.

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An Interview With Minnie

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Towards the end of December, I came across an excellent interview conducted with Emmett’s close friend Minnie Kehoe. The text of the interview is below, along with the original source information.

Note that this wasn’t exactly an in-person interview; Minnie apparently took issue with one of the articles published by The Typewriter and Phonographic World, sent extensive comments supported by data, and included a photograph of herself — talk about a sistah who was sassy AND thorough.

This was an excerpt of the interview, by the way. Page 279 of the same publication is another (different) article.

You can find the article, published in The Journal of Commercial Education, volume 24, at this link.

Not her father’s daughter

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I’m not one to go about picking on other’s research, but I suppose (with five years of Emmett Wilson research — that’s way over 10,000 hours of continuous digging and nit-picking) I can safely call myself an Emmett Wilson Expert.

…at least, that’s what my colleague (who is a credible researcher) over at the National Archives called me the other day, when I stopped by to do a source check. 😀

Anyway. Today’s post is about our resilient Minnie E. Kehoe.

Yesterday, I found this:

Source: Florida Bar

Details of the book.

A Who’s Who of the first woman lawyers of Florida. One of the nice things about this resource is not only does it provide the bios, but also the timeline of when the women were admitted to the Florida bar.

And yes, Minnie is listed as one of the first women lawyers in Florida, starting on page 8.

But, despite the fact the information has sources, there’s several errors. Here’s what I mean:

The first error in the rectangle.

Yes, Minnie was admitted to the bar in 1913; she worked in Pensacola for many years, then moved to Miami to be near family, namely her prominent brother J. Walter Kehoe, then she returned to Pensacola.

But Ervin’s incorrect about her father’s vocation. John Francis Kehoe, Minnie and Walter’s father, was a prominent bricklayer/brickmaker, and in fact supplied some of the materials for the construction of the Jackson County (Florida) Courthouse in Marianna.

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From the Pensacola City Directory, 1885. Note the lack of lawyerly vocation info.

 

Minnie’s brother, J. Walter, was a U.S. Congressman for one term (1917-1919).

The next item to note:

John Kehoe died in 1906, so, even if John was an attorney, Minnie couldn’t have practiced with him.

Actually, in the 1913 Pensacola city directory, Minnie was a court reporter — she wasn’t exactly ‘practicing’ law right off the bat in 1913, and she wasn’t working with anyone else:

Pensacola City Directory for 1913. Note that brother Walter has a different office address.

Eventually, Minnie did have her own practice, as well as a business school (but today we’re talking about her as a lawyer):

Pensacola City Directory for 1916. By 1916, she had her own office, again, separate from her brother Walter. According to family information, she ALWAYS did it HER way.

I’m glad to see Minnie getting her due recognition, but disappointed in the sloppy data confirmation.

I’m a little surprised that a Bar publication would use sources with unverified information (i.e., Ervin’s statement about Minnie ‘may have been the daughter….’). Not to be a nitpicker, but c’mon; spend more than five minutes to confirm information that others may use in their own research.

Here’s to Minnie Kehoe. A woman of her own making, and definitely, not her father’s daughter.

Coffee-spit-worthy Clip

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I admit I spewed a bit of coffee this morning when I saw this new-to-me clip freshly found in the January 3, 1917 edition of The Pensacola Journal:

Check the fourth paragraph. Source: GenealogyBank.com

“Mrs. Emmett Wilson?” GAH.

I turned immediately to all of my known and collected documents — and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The “Mrs.” is a typo. Of course. I should know better — after all these years of researching Emmett, I’ve learned to take many of the articles written about him with a major grain of salt until I’ve done the background checking on the information. Editors interesting in pushing their agendas (I’m looking at you, Frank Mayes) said what they wanted about Emmett regardless of fitness for office, or the truth.

I should also know better than to read this stuff at 4 a.m. with only one cuppa under my belt.

Cemetery picnics

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Here’s a great article from Atlas Obscura on a once popular fad,  picnics in cemeteries.

Actually, I think it’s great — I’m not just saying that because I like to hang out in cemeteries ‘getting to know’ the individuals who will play prominent roles in Emmett’s book — but there’s so much one can learn from cemeteries beyond the birth and death dates. And here in D.C., Congressional Cemetery holds actual events in the cemetery (tours, a foot race, even movies during the summer) to encourage the living to get to know the locals!

Source: Congressional Cemetery

Unfortunately, the last time I was in Pensacola, I didn’t have enough time to picnic with my guy. But does having coffee with Emmett count?

Coffee with Emmett.

Modeste Sierra Hargis

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I have new information to share on Modeste Hargis, entrepreneur, professional whistler, and Emmett’s pharmacist!

It’s the obituary for Modeste Hargis‘ mother, Modeste Sierra Hargis, from the Pensacola Daily News, Friday, January 22, 1904, page 1:

Obituary for Modeste Sierra Hargis. Source: Pensacola Daily News, Jan 22, 1904.

I love finding these old obituaries; they often include a sentimental (and perhaps charitable!) description of the deceased’s personality, plus clues about their lives and other family relationships.

At the time of Modeste Sierra’s death, she was about 68 years old. Her husband, Dr. Robert Bell Smith Hargis, who was about 15 years older than Modeste Sierra, died eleven years earlier, in 1893.

One other item I’ve discovered is that Modeste the Younger had a half-brother, Dr. Robert Whitmore Hargis. Robert is not mentioned in the above obituary; he was the son of Dr. Robert Bell Smith Hargis and Susan Catherine Horton, who died in 1852. (Modeste Sierra and Dr. Robert Bell Smith Hargis were married in 1854.) He would have been about two or three years old when his father married Modeste Sierra, effectively being the only mother he would have remembered. Perhaps he wasn’t listed in the obituary because Robert Whitmore died in 1899, yet Modeste Sierra’s deceased sister is listed. Perhaps it was an oversight, perhaps not; I’m just curious about it.

Anyway — what’s interesting about the information at the link on Dr. Robert Whitmore Hargis is that it identifies the name of one of his descendants who possesses the family Bible! I’d love to see that precious primary source in person!

Eclectic Research Findings

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As mentioned in previous posts, I do regular check-ins for new/updated items in databases for information about Emmett Wilson. Following is an mix of different/oddball items of interest:

First, the actual copyright information for Emmett’s official portrait for his first term in office.

Harris & Ewing copyright data for Emmett’s official congressional portrait. The first copyright date of August 6, 1913 is attached to the main photo of Emmett in the upper left corner of this blog.  Source: Google Books.

Notice that there are two dates. The first date refers to the main photo I’ve used in this blog, in the upper left hand corner. The second date refers to a second photograph/pose. Emmett didn’t sit for the photos in August; Harris & Ewing took the photos of Emmett probably right after he was sworn in, because the second photo (below) appears to be a different pose of Emmett’s original sitting, and it was published in June, 1913 in The Washington Post.

I’ve only seen a newspaper print of that photograph, not the original, and I don’t know if that original exists (I’d love a copy of it if it exists!), but here is the second photo:

From microfilm of The Washington Post, June 15, 1913.

The next item is about Emmett’s older brother, Cephas Love Wilson, from the University of Florida archives. It goes way overboard praising Cephas, just short of canonization IMO:

From the University of Florida’s archives, as published in The Gainesville Daily Sun, July 19, 1904.

The digging continues, and — as we say in the program — more will definitely be revealed/found! Stay tuned!