The Brent-Warren Wedding

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Bonnie Burnham, society editor of The Pensacola Journal predicted that the wedding of Emily Brent and Alba Warren would be one of ‘the most elaborate of all the weddings’, and it was one of the first weddings held after Lent — on Easter Monday.

The Brent-Warren wedding was one of the society events of 1911. The gerund “queening” isn’t considered complimentary; I’m sure Bonnie Burnham didn’t mean it that way — or did she?  Source: The Pensacola Journal, http://www.chroniclingamerical.gov

The article mentioning the Brent-Warren wedding indicated that a Catholic wedding ceremony had to delayed until after Easter — and so it was fitting that Cora’s wedding had an Easter theme!

Source: The Pensacola Journal, http://www.chroniclingamerica.gov

Source: The Pensacola Journal; http://www.chroniclingamerica.gov

What is really great is that I found photographs of the Brent home, all decorated for the wedding!

One of the Brent-Warren descendants, Anne Field, has a web page dedicated to the Brent home, complete with wonderful photographs of the house, the room where the wedding took place, the wedding gifts (!!), and even a photograph of the cake that is described in the article above! (Thanks to Anne for permission to link to her page!)

The second photograph on the web page shows the library where the wedding took place. Our Emmett was definitely in attendance, standing in support of his friend Alba Houghton Warren. We can imagine Emmett standing on the right side, somewhere next to the bookcases, casting an occasional glance at the tomes on the shelves, avoiding the glances of some of the unmarried women in the room, who fancied him a bridegroom for themselves.

 

Circle of Friends: Alba Houghton Warren

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The distinguished Alba H. Warren. Source:Find-a-grave.com

One of Emmett’s friends when he lived in Pensacola during the height of his suave-and-sophisticated club-man existence was Alba Houghton Warren (1874-1950).

Warren was from an upper middle-class family in Worcester, Massachusetts, was, according to The Pensacola Journal, one of the city’s “leading young (men) of affairs;” affairs meaning ‘business interests’ back in the day.

Emmett and Warren were friends; they socialized together, they both liked baseball, they enjoyed boating parties on the Gulf of Mexico.

And, although both Emmett and Warren were considered ‘leading young men of affairs’ in Pensacola, Emmett’s ‘affairs’ were less business-like, and more social; i.e., frequent attendance at the Osceola Club, frequent attendance at soirees given by the upper crust of Pensacola’s society, whereas Warren (who was also a member of the Osceola Club, and attended society events), was deemed more serious, more moderate.

Certainly more sober than Emmett. But I digress.

 

Warren was an alumni of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (1895), where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. He was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and the Baseball Association.

In the 1900 U.S. Census, Warren (age 25) is listed as a bookkeeper at the loom works in Worcester.

By the 1910 U.S. Census, Warren (now 35) had a major career change:

Warren is now the manager of the electric company in Pensacola. 1910 U.S. Census. Source: Ancestry.com

Pensacola City Directory for 1910. Source: Ancestry.com

According to the U.S. Census, lived at 1101 Barcelona Street, and was listed as the head of the house — a boarding house — perhaps he owned the house at the time as well, because his primary job was manager of the Pensacola Electric Company. Notice in the census image that several of his boarders worked with him and/or were affiliated with the Pensacola Electric Company (specifically Superintendent Reynolds Harding), and W. Dennon Smith, the Assistant Superintendent.  Interestingly, Harding and Smith were also natives of Massachusetts.  Out of the six men who boarded at Warren’s house, four were from Massachusetts.

Warren moves to Galveston, Texas. Source: The Pensacola Journal, October 17, 1913, in http://www.chroniclingamerica.gov

Warren’s obituary from The Pensacola Journal (March 28, 1950) stated that he was superintendent of the utility, and served in a similar capacity for electric companies in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. Perhaps it was because of better job opportunities (hence the change from the loom works to the electric company between the years 1900 and 1910). The city directories between the years 1900 and 1910 (that I was able to find that mention Warren) don’t have much to say about his career development, except that he ‘removed’ several times:

1901 Worcester, Massachusetts City Directory. Source: Ancestry.com

1909 Boston City Directory. Source: Ancestry.com

At least we know where Warren was in 1909! Pensacola City Directory for 1909. Source: Ancestry.com


In the next post, I’ll feature more about Alba Warren and his wife, Cora Emily Brent. Emmett was a guest at their wedding — and don’t worry — Emmett didn’t do anything like upset the cake or embarrass himself in front of the guests.

July 4th, 1898

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Here’s a summary of the July 4th celebration in Emmett’s hometown, as reported in the July 8, 1898 issue of The Chipley Banner. Dissecting this article provides an interesting snapshot of some of the people, places, and things in Emmett’s life.

July 4th, 1898, from the July 8, 1898 issue of The Chipley Banner. Source: chroniclingamerica.gov

The local celebration centered around organized sports events, a patriotic flag-raising, and speeches (probably political), as it was a mid-term election year. Stephen Sparkman was running for reelection, and would handily defeat Republican candidate E.R. Gunby in the general election.

In 1898, the new flag that flew on the 80-foot pole had 45 stars; the President of the United States was William McKinley; the Spanish-American War was in its third month; and 15-year-old Emmett was a telegrapher at the Chipley train station.

The Spanish-American war lasted only four months (it was fought between May and August 1898). Emmett could have volunteered, perhaps even lied about his age to join the military, but perhaps he was disinclined after hearing the stories of hardships and realities of war (i.e., it wasn’t so glamorous or exciting) from his father and grandfather’s experiences during the Civil War.

Lamp Harman was Miles Lampkin Harmon (1871-1934), first policeman of Panama City, Florida. I wonder if Emmett or any of his brothers participated in the race too.

The fleet Charlie Chandlee (1874-1973) eventually became a well known real estate and insurance salesman in Panama City. His obituary (Panama City News-Herald, January 15, 1973) stated that his family moved to Chipley for the health of his mother, finished high school there, then attended school in DeFuniak, settling in Panama City in 1905.

Poley Slay is also known as Napoleon Bonaparte “Poley” Slay (1871-1956), and was a longtime resident of Chipley.

Unfortunately, I haven’t uncovered much about Godfrey Clemons is a mystery still, although I found that Clemons received payments from Washington County in 1898, and is listed as a pauper.

 

June 23, 1891

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Emmett’s mother, Elizabeth V. Wilson.

On June 22, 1891, Emmett’s father, Dr. Francis C. Wilson, returned to Chipley, and his family, after a four-month separation. Dr. Wilson had been in Kentucky, attending medical school for one semester, to obtain a now-required medical credential so that he could continue to practice medicine in Florida.

The separation was a hardship for the family. The family was dependent on Dr. Wilson’s salary, and his absence meant money would be tight for awhile. Also, it meant Elizabeth would single-parent 10 children, manage Dr. Wilson’s medical practice (maintaining records, paying bills, providing nursing services when necessary, and so forth), and run the household. But Elizabeth was resilient and strong. She was not a stranger to difficult situations; I’m sure she told Dr. Wilson that she would manage just fine, everyone would pitch in, and not to worry. Things would be back to normal in only a few months.

And indeed, on June 23, 1891, things seemed back to normal for the family. That morning, Dr. Wilson immediately resumed his medical practice.  He hitched his horse to his buggy, packed his medical bag, and invited Elizabeth to come along with him as he made his rounds in Chipley.

Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson, about 1865.

I imagine Dr. Wilson wanted to spend some quality time with Elizabeth, as they rode out together in the buggy along the dirt roads of Washington County, on that warm, sunny day in June.

We can imagine Elizabeth catching Dr. Wilson up on all the family activities and news. Theirs was definitely a love match — I imagine them talking about how much they missed each other. It is easy to imagine Dr. Wilson telling his beloved Elizabeth that would make it up to her for keeping everything together so well all by herself, especially now that he was home for good.

Midday, Dr. Wilson and Elizabeth rode into downtown Chipley, and stopped at a drugstore, to get a cool drink. One of the storekeepers brought the drink out to Elizabeth — she drank it — then collapsed, unconscious.

Dr. Wilson took Elizabeth immediately to the nearest house, where the neighbors put Elizabeth in bed right away.

Despite all his best efforts, Elizabeth never regained consciousness; she died several hours later.

It is not known what Elizabeth drank at the drugstore. Some family members believe she died of an aneurysm, but because an autopsy was not performed, the cause of death was not conclusive.

Medical History

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Yesterday’s essay about Emmett’s father, Dr. Francis C. Wilson, spurred me to pay a visit to one of the best-kept museum secrets here in metro Washington, D.C.: The National Museum of Health and Medicine.

National Museum of Health and Medicine. Photo source: http://www.go4travelblog.com

Just so you know — this is not a museum for the faint of heart or the weak-stomached. But this is a great place to visit if you are interested in how medicine was practiced during The Civil War, and how one learned to practice medicine via an apprenticeship (as was the case with Dr. Wilson).

This post is quite picture heavy; I think the photos best tell the story of what you can learn from this museum.

 

 

Photographs that accompanied case studies.

 

 

 

The box of slides containing tissue of the tumor that was in Ulysses S. Grant’s throat. Grant was a heavy smoker and was diagnosed with throat cancer in February, 1885; despite the removal of the tumor, the cancer had advanced and he died in July, 1885.

 

A type of microscope that Dr. Wilson might have used in his medical practice.

There are several displays of battlefield injuries from The Civil War, complete with the original bullet intact. This part of the museum is disquieting when you realize the artifacts were, once, human beings.

 

 

Several of the displays identify the actual battle where the injuries were received. For the record, Dr. Wilson was at Spotsylvania, as well as the Battle of the Crater.

Also on display is the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln.

 

Pocket surgical kit belonging to Dr. Mary Walker.

Yikes.

Portable dental and autopsy kits.

No wonder most of the casualties of The Civil War were due to infection.

An X-ray tube. Dr. Wilson might have used something like this in his practice.

There are several other displays in the museum dedicated to Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (or MASH units), military nursing (truly excellent), and a presentation on how recent flu epidemics are actual variations (‘descendants’) of the original 1918 pandemic.

Aside from coming away from the museum with a greater appreciation for modern medicine (and good health!), the visit made me curious about how Dr. Wilson got interested in medicine in the first place. Dr. Wilson was a private with the infantry during The Civil War; neither connected to a medical unit nor assigned to a hospital.

What I know from the family records is that a) Dr. Wilson did not talk about his experiences as a soldier and b) when he did, it was only about when he was with Robert E. Lee at the surrender at Appomattox.

I wish I could ask him about his experiences.

Portrait of a Father

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Dr. Francis C. Wilson, Emmett’s father, taking it easy in the back yard, @ 1895, Chipley, Florida. Check out that corn cob pipe!

This photograph of Emmett’s father, Dr. Francis C. Wilson, was taken on a sunny afternoon — maybe Father’s Day — around 1895.

His eyes are open, and they appear to be focused on the long corn cob pipe. I wonder if he whittled that pipe himself? Or perhaps one of his sons — Emmett? — carved it for him?

I like to think that in this photo, Dr. Wilson is glad to be off his feet and relaxing after a full day seeing of patients. Dr. Wilson had regular office hours — his home office may have been the building behind him, to the left — but he was a full-service physician who spent about a third of his time on Washington County roads.

Imagine what he had to include in his medical bag when he was on the road: Dr. Wilson treated everything from measles to yellow fever; he set broken bones, delivered babies, amputated limbs, counseled the depressed and addicted, embalmed the dead. He even performed emergency dentistry when necessary.

Here, Dr. Wilson is wearing his straw hat (a necessity when traveling for hours on the hot, dusty Florida back roads) and his white lab coat over a white shirt and suspenders, the coat bunched up a little in the back. Interesting that he’s still dressed for this office in this most casual of photos. (I have no information who took the photo, but the photographer is in the lower right hand corner of the shot, was likely one of the Wilson children.)

Of all the photos I have of the stately and serious Dr. Wilson, I like this one the best, because it illustrates something completely different for me — Dr. Wilson taking a break, which is something I don’t believe he did much, as the recently widowed, sole support of 10 children. Maybe that’s why he’s still wearing his hat and lab coat in the photo: Because he wasn’t comfortable relaxing completely.

The background information I have about this period in the Wilson family was that Dr. Wilson was channeling his grief at the loss of his wife Elizabeth into his work during this time — an absentee father who would strive to keep his emotions and feelings in check. Neighbors and friends would comment on how noble and dignified Dr. Wilson was after his devastating loss.

Obviously, Dr. Wilson loved his family, and dealt with his grief in the best way he knew how. Unfortunately, this would not have been something 13-year-old Emmett would have understood or realized at the time, and I believe this affected the relationship he had with his father, for theirs was a distant, formal relationship.

But in the end, Emmett cared about his father, as he made provision for him in his will, even while dying of alcoholism, and even after his father had basically washed his hands of Emmett.

Dr. Wilson was a tough, resilient, practical man who would sacrifice personal comfort and happiness for the good of his family. Perhaps Emmett recognized what was going on with his father toward the end of his life.

Congressional Baseball Game

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The annual Congressional Baseball Game was played last night at the Washington Nationals stadium.

I know Emmett Wilson loved the game — he played baseball for his college team (West Florida Seminary, now Florida State University), and for his town baseball team (the Red, White and Blues of Chipley).

But did he play during his two terms as a U.S. Congressman between 1913 and 1917?

Congressional baseball games from 1913-1917. Source: Wikipedia and U.S. House of Representatives Archives

It took a little fancy digging to tease out the rosters for three of the games; unfortunately, I haven’t yet located a 1915 roster — but here is what I found:

July 15,1913 article on the Congressional baseball game. Source: ChroniclingAmerica.gov

August 1, 1914 article on the Congressional baseball game. Source: The Washington Times, ChroniclingAmerica.gov

July 28,1916 article on the Congressional baseball team. Source: The Washington Times and ChromiclingAmerica.gov

Emmett’s name did not appear on any of the Democratic team rosters for 1913, 1914, and 1916. Given Emmett’s precarious health in 1915 (he had full-blown cirrhosis, and had nearly died from alcohol poisoning earlier that year), it is questionable that he’d have played, though he might have attended the games at Boundary Field (also known as American League Park II, then National Park); today, the site of Howard University Hospital.

According to Pensacola newspapers and other reports, Emmett was in Florida from late April until September,1915; therefore, he’d not have attended the game that year.

Emmett left office March 4, 1917, and immediately moved back to Pensacola.There is no evidence he ever returned to Washington after his second term as U.S. Congressman was up, even to attend a baseball game.