All in the Family

See you at your neighborhood precinct!

See you Tuesday at your neighborhood precinct!

I’m taking a break this week from the Emmett Wilson writing marathon to follow in the Wilson family traditions of being politically involved.

On Tuesday, I will be an Election Judge in my precinct. I’ve been assigned a 6 am to 3 pm shift to run the poll books (in the morning), and whatever other duties the Chief Judge assigns on Election Day.

Emmett’s brother (and my distant cousin) Meade Wilson minded the polls, as did Francis Wilson, Jr., in Pensacola for several different elections. I don’t think Emmett ever worked the polls, or served in any similar capacity. The first time he voted was in the 1904 elections, and he was a Senior at Stetson University. Within two years, he was the Assistant District Attorney, then, States’ Attorney — so he wouldn’t have served any voting assistance capacity.

Meade Wilson was an election judge, at least up until the point he ran for office in 1909. Source: The Pensacola Journal, April 1909.

Meade Wilson was an election judge, at least up until the point he ran for office in 1909. Source: The Pensacola Journal, April 1909.

I decided to sign up right after I voted in the primary. There was sign-up sheet at the exit for those interested in helping out at the general election. I signed up; three weeks later I was invited to apply to work the general election.

After my application passed review, I was given an Election Judge manual to read, then I took three tests (they weren’t that easy). After I passed the tests, I was invited to attend the training sessions. The training was rather involved, including setting up the electronic poll booths, the ballot collecting devices, and the electronic voting assistance for voters who are hearing and/or sight impaired.

What’s more involved is the paper-trail: You wouldn’t believe all the sign-offs required at just about every step of the voting process — almost every form requires the signatures of election judges of both parties. And talk about bipartisanship in action — for instance, if a voter is blind and needs assistance, then an election judge from both the Democratic and Republican parties have to assist the voter together.


Minnie Kehoe, a woman ahead of her time. Source: TJCE, Vol. 24, No. 5, p. 278.

Minnie Kehoe, lawyer, businesswoman, suffragette and trailblazer.

I’ve enjoyed learning how the voting process actually works:

  • It is completely citizen-run, and that is a great opportunity to do one’s part in something so important as an election.
  • It is particularly important to me, after having learned so much about suffrage during Emmett’s lifetime, to support and protect this precious privilege.

I don’t know if you read this article from October about some women who supported repealing the 19th Amendment. I gotta say, geez, women. READ HISTORY. Do you have ANY idea what Minnie Kehoe and her colleagues went through just for us to have the privilege to choose our leadership? Gah.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Also — in Emmett Wilson Book news, I am down to the last 35 pages of the last chapter. Once I finish — I’m still not done!

I will do heavy editing, then construct the reference and notes pages. I still plan to hit the December 31 deadline. That’s my cousin — and Emmett’s niece’s — 99th birthday! I hope to have a draft to send to her soon.





You Go, Girl


In honor of Minnie Kehoe and Minnie Neal, two strong women I’ve uncovered in Emmett Wilson’s biography, I want to see this movie. It is due out in October. The link to the movie trailer is here.

Suffragette. Source:

Suffragette. Meryl Streep (L); Carey Mulligan (R). Source:

Of course, no one alive is around to vet the details in this movie that the women who won suffrage endured, but I think Minnie would be pleased.

Does Minnie not resemble Meryl a slight bit?

Does Minnie not resemble Meryl a slight bit? Maybe if she wore a hat.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Emmett was an 11th hour supporter of suffrage. He was the sole member of the Florida congressional delegation to vote in support of suffrage in 1917 — as he was leaving office. He died before the 19th Amendment became law. I think Emmett would be pleased, too.

The 19th Amendment.

The 19th Amendment.



To Minnie Kehoe and Her Sisters in Suffrage: Thank You

That's Minnie on my shirt. Excuse the rough look. I ran before I hit the voting booth.

That’s Minnie on my shirt. Excuse the rough look. I ran before I hit the voting booth.

One hundred years ago today, Minnie Kehoe didn’t have the privilege of walking a few blocks down the road to her voting precinct and casting a ballot, as I do today.

And so, in honor of Minnie, and the privilege she worked for, I took Minnie into the voting booth with me.

Without Minnie and her sisters in suffrage, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Minnie had actually convinced Emmett Wilson, towards the end of his tenure in Congress, to support women’s suffrage.

Emmett was the lone member of the Florida delegation to state publicly he would support the 19th Amendment. Unfortunately, his term was up (and he was out of office) before this was to happen.

So, to Minnie Kehoe and her sisters in suffrage, wherever you are, please know that I do not take my privilege to vote for granted, EVER.

And thank you for helping to make the 19th Amendment possible.

The 19th Amendment. Image Source: The National Archives (

The 19th Amendment. Image Source: The National Archives

So Damn Irritating!


Readers, I just finished the second Brand Whitlock book, Her Infinite Variety, in two days. It was a quick read (only 185 pages), and thank God for that. It made me seethe, it was so damn irritating! Argh!

Her Infinite Variety, by Brand Whitlock. 1904. Free via Google Books.

Her Infinite Variety, by Brand Whitlock. 1904. Free via Google Books.

In a nutshell:

  • Busy Chicago state senator finds himself languishing and bored in his career.
  • Clingy, whiny fiancee thinks politics is for less evolved species, but if he could only get to Washington, and make a big difference in the world, their (ahem, her) life would be a socially wonderful thing.
  • State senator goes to Springfield, meets classy, smart woman lawyer genteely pushing suffrage legislation.
  • State senator fully champions her cause, finding new life in his career, only to meet the wrath of Chicago anti-suffrage society matrons (and the fiancee), who connive and scheme to stop him (and they do)
  • State senator, now completely whipped by society matrons and fiancee, grovels; smart woman lawyer leaves Springfield in defeat, oppressive society matrons save womanhood from unsexing themselves via suffrage.

Folks, I’ve never been what one would call a uber-feminist, but the way the anti-suffrage women and the clingy fiancee comport themselves in this book is just obnoxious. As I finished it, I thought that no self-respecting woman or man would allow themselves to be bullied and manipulated in this way — but the reality is, there are people out there who are treated this way, and take it. I only wish the state senator would have told clingy fiancee to grow up. Whitlock had other ideas with this book, though.

"But dear, if I get to vote, I'll grow hair on my chest and become a man. Then what will become of me? Wahhh."

“But dear, if I get to vote, I’ll grow hair on my chest and become a man. Then what will become of me? Wahhh.”

On reflection, given the year this book was published, the actions of the women and the senator aren’t that surprising. Did you know that one of the biggest hurdles to women’s suffrage was convincing women, themselves, that having the vote was a good idea? Whitlock illustrates this very clearly in the arguments made by the woman lawyer pushing for the legislation, along with her male supporters, in the dialog. Because I’m anal retentive about proving data, I looked it up, and amazingly enough, it’s true.

Surely the women of 1904 did not think that upon gaining suffrage, that their voices would immediately lower and they would grow chest or back hair? What were they afraid of? I’m still not really sure why women fought it.

While the characters were irritating (well, except the woman lawyer fighting for suffrage), Whitlock depicts the mindset of women (and men) in general in 1904 towards suffrage. If the 19th Amendment was going to become a reality, those supporting women’s suffrage had a long, tough battle ahead of them, and I’m sure that was Whitlock’s underlying message.

By the time Emmett Wilson got into politics, less than 10 years later, the view of suffrage had changed, and was now a national issue of importance. While he did vote against suffrage at the beginning of his congressional career, by 1916 Emmett eventually became a supporter of women’s suffrage, and was actually the only member of the Florida delegation at the end of the 64th Congress to publicly state his support of the legislation. Of course, he was also on his way out of office; but I believe he realized by this time that it was, indeed, only right that if women were paying taxes and earning their own salaries (as many were at this point) that they should have a say in elections.

I dare you to read this book. It does irritate, but Whitlock does educate, in an oddball way.