Chapter 57: Secretarial School

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September 7, 2016
Bender Library
The American University

I have holes in my Emmett Wilson timeline. Oddball gaps where I don’t know what was going in on his life. The only way I know how to narrow that gap is simply to read the contemporary newspapers from Emmett’s time — his family was prominent in West Florida. If anything, I can track down his family to see what they were doing, then try again to contact descendants about the time period. I don’t have much to go on.

One of the tools I’ve lately discovered is contemporary newspapers. There are several online, and many are available on microfilm for me to borrow via InterLibrary Loan. Today, I’m using the microfilm reader at The American University, where I am both an alumni and adjunct faculty, so I have privileges here.

Last month, I reported on finding electronic copies of The Pensacola News for 1902. The electronic newspaper is located on a database at the George A. Smathers Library of the University of Florida. You can see the copies for yourself at the link here.

There are only a few years of this publication available — and luckily, it exists electronically. My colleagues at the University of West Florida have several bound copies of The Pensacola Evening News (the later iteration of this same paper) from 1913 to 1918, but unfortunately, could not let me (or anyone else) look at it, because the bound copies are literally disintegrating. When I was in Pensacola in October 2015, I asked (my second request), even brought my own cotton gloves with me. The archivists — who know me fairly well by now — really wanted to let me look through the books, but they couldn’t.

One thing to note about the electronic copy is that it is only as good as the hard copy that was scanned in. Here’s an example:

Notice the faded text on the left side of the page. Unfortunately, this is the situation for the left side of the pages throughout the bound book of newspapers. Source: The Pensacola Daily News, Feb 14, 1902, page 1. University of Florida

Notice the faded text on the left side of the page. Unfortunately, this is the situation for the left side of the pages throughout the bound book of newspapers. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, Feb 14, 1902, page 1. University of Florida

I spent several weeks carefully going through every single paper available electronically during the brief period when Emmett lived in Pensacola (September 1901 to February 1902), before he enrolled at Stetson University.

Ad from The Chipley Banner, 1894. DJ Jones was a well-established attorney and judge for many years. Source: Chronicling America.com

After Emmett came home from WFS in January, 1901, he immediate started clerking for Judge Daniel J. Jones, one of the most important lawyers in West Florida, with the idea that he would do as his brother Cephas: Clerk for a prominent jurist for a few years, take the bar exam, and begin his practice.  But times were changing for the legal profession around 1900, as more states were requiring law school and official degrees as proper credentials over old-school apprenticeship training.

Emmett and Judge Jones must have discussed the future of the profession, and I am certain Judge Jones would have encouraged Emmett earn a law degree at a college or university, to ensure his best possible professional opportunities.

And surprise — I’ve discovered Emmett was attending Meux’s Business College, taking shorthand and secretarial courses.

Advertisement from August 30, 1901 edition of The (Pensacola) Daily News. Emmett had been clerking for Judge D.J. Jones, during this time -- but he could only do so much without knowledge of shorthand. It is likely Jones recommended Emmett obtain shorthand training. Emmett was visiting family during the summer of 1901, and this advertisement got his attention. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, August 30, 1901.

Advertisement from August 30, 1901 edition of The (Pensacola) Daily News. Emmett had been clerking for Judge D.J. Jones, during this time — but he could only do so much without knowledge of shorthand. It is likely Jones recommended Emmett obtain shorthand training. Emmett was visiting family during the summer of 1901, and this advertisement got his attention. Shorthand was cataloged under the ‘Sciences’, as in business science. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, August 30, 1901.

Emmett most likely lived with his uncle, Judge Evelyn Croom Maxwell during his six months in Pensacola. Emmett’s grandfather, Judge A.E. Maxwell, was also in Pensacola, but not in the best of health in 1901 — and at that point, A.E. Maxwell had moved in with his son. It’s possible he was staying with the Kehoe family, but I like to think about Emmett being in proximity to his grandfather. I’ve always believed that Emmett Maxwell and Emmett Wilson were very close.

Here's the census of 1900 showing that Emmett's grandfather (who went by 'Emmett'; hence the "E.A." in the list) was living with his son and daughter-in-law on Belmont Street in Pensacola. Source: U.S. Census, 1900

Here’s the census of 1900 showing that Emmett’s grandfather (who went by ‘Emmett’; hence the “E.A.” in the list) was living with his son and daughter-in-law on Belmont Street in Pensacola. Source: U.S. Census, 1900

Alas, there’s a big, empty lot now where the Maxwell house once stood.

And then, I found this:

Source: The Chipley Banner, September 1902.

Imagine clerking for a judge and not knowing shorthand? I suppose that was a problem for Jones. At least he gave Emmett a chance; mentored him for a bit, told him perhaps that he had the brains to do well in law, but he needed some basics. Stenography for sure, and then once he could truly do the work of a clerk for awhile, go to law school.

So, I’ve figured that Emmett remained with Jones as a clerk for about six months, before he left to take the shorthand course at Meux’s Business School in Pensacola. The course ran between eight and 10 weeks.

Then, Emmett returned to Marianna in 1902 to clerk for Cephas for several months, then earning enough money to attend Stetson University in September, 1903.

Portions of this post came originally from my blog here, and here.

Emmett in Pensacola, 1902

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A little over a month ago, I reported on finding electronic copies of The Pensacola News for 1902. The electronic newspaper is located on a database at the George A. Smathers Library of the University of Florida. You can see the copies for yourself at the link here.

There are only a few years of this publication available — and luckily, it exists electronically. My colleagues at the University of West Florida have several bound copies of The Pensacola Evening News (the later iteration of this same paper) from 1913 to 1918, but unfortunately, could not let me (or anyone else) look at it, because the bound copies are literally disintegrating. When I was in Pensacola last October, I asked (my second request), even brought my own cotton gloves with me. The archivists — who know me fairly well by now — really wanted to let me look through the books, but they couldn’t.

One thing to note about the electronic copy is that it is only as good as the hard copy that was scanned in. Here’s an example:

Notice the faded text on the left side of the page. Unfortunately, this is the situation for the left side of the pages throughout the bound book of newspapers. Source: The Pensacola Daily News, Feb 14, 1902, page 1. University of Florida

Notice the faded text on the left side of the page. Unfortunately, this is the situation for the left side of the pages throughout the bound book of newspapers. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, Feb 14, 1902, page 1. University of Florida

I spent several weeks carefully going through every single paper available electronically during the brief period when Emmett lived in Pensacola (September 1901 to February 1902), before he enrolled at Stetson University.

What I know about this period is that Emmett was attending Meux’s Business College, taking shorthand and secretarial courses.

Advertisement from August 30, 1901 edition of The (Pensacola) Daily News. Emmett had been clerking for Judge D.J. Jones, during this time -- but he could only do so much without knowledge of shorthand. It is likely Jones recommended Emmett obtain shorthand training. Emmett was visiting family during the summer of 1901, and this advertisement got his attention. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, August 30, 1901.

Advertisement from August 30, 1901 edition of The (Pensacola) Daily News. Emmett had been clerking for Judge D.J. Jones, during this time — but he could only do so much without knowledge of shorthand. It is likely Jones recommended Emmett obtain shorthand training. Emmett was visiting family during the summer of 1901, and this advertisement got his attention. Shorthand was cataloged under the ‘Sciences’, as in business science. Source: The (Pensacola) Daily News, August 30, 1901.

Emmett most likely lived with his uncle, Judge Evelyn Croom Maxwell during his six months in Pensacola. Emmett’s grandfather, Judge A.E. Maxwell, was also in Pensacola, but not in the best of health in 1901 — and at that point, A.E. Maxwell had moved in with his son.

Here's the census of 1900 showing that Emmett's grandfather (who went by 'Emmett'; hence the "E.A." in the list) was living with his son and daughter-in-law on Belmont Street in Pensacola. Source: U.S. Census, 1900

Here’s the census of 1900 showing that Emmett’s grandfather (who went by ‘Emmett’; hence the “E.A.” in the list) was living with his son and daughter-in-law on Belmont Street in Pensacola. Source: U.S. Census, 1900

Alas, there’s a big, empty lot now where the Maxwell house once stood.

Hall of Fame

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This was an interesting find the other day.

The Florida Bench and Bar for 1899, with annotations. Source: Florida Memory.com

The Florida Bench and Bar, 1899, with annotations. Source: Florida Memory.com

Yes, this is the veritable “Who’s Who” of Florida’s legal and political leadership as of 1899. If you were ANYBODY of importance, your mug was here, in this eye-test of a montage.

I went through every single doggone one of these images. There’s a list on Florida Memory.com of who is on this page, but that list is not in any order whatsoever. So, I spent an hour or so identifying several key players in this photo that figure significantly into Emmett’s story.

Here’s who was considered hot stuff of Florida Bar and Bench back in 1899:

Nathan P. Bryan, a man without a comb.

Nathan P. Bryan, a man without a comb.

Nathan P. Bryan — in the green circle at the top of the photo. Bryan served as a U.S. Senator at the same time Emmett was serving as U.S. Congressman. Bryan knew Emmett fairly well; in fact, he ‘loaned’ Emmett his personal secretary as an escort home to Marianna in 1915, after Emmett nearly died at Providence Hospital in 1914.

And yes, that is a cowlick on the left side of his head in the photo.

Charles Parkhill, family man and handlebar mustache aficianado.

Charles Parkhill, family man and handlebar mustache aficianado.

Charles Parkhill — in the second row, blue circle. Parkhill was the initial candidate for the third district congressional seat in 1912 (Frank Mayes’ first choice). He had gone ahead and resigned his post as judge of the circuit, and purchased an automobile so that he could travel the district, impress the constituents.

The thing was, Parkhill really wanted to wear the congressional toga, but he was torn: He had a large family, the salary of a judge didn’t pay much, and his wife wanted to move back to Tampa. Three weeks after announcing his candidacy, Parkhill changed his mind — he put his family first, pulled out of the race. Frank Mayes then approached his second choice, Emmett Wilson …and the rest is history.

John H. Norton — in the second row, red box. A lawyer out of Jacksonville. I’m not sure who this man is; but, I liked the looks of him. He reminded me of Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson.

I digress.

A.E. Maxwell, who also went by "Emmett."

A.E. Maxwell, who also went by “Emmett.”

Augustus Emmett Maxwell — in the fifth row, red circle. Emmett’s grandfather, once a jurist on the Florida Supreme Court. Emmett and his grandfather were close; I believe Emmett wished to emulate his grandfather as much as possible. Maxwell was Emmett’s mentor up until his death, in 1904, right before Emmett graduated from law school at Stetson University. Maxwell died in Chipley, at the Wilson family home, in the care of Emmett’s father, Dr. F.C. Wilson.

Lou Ella Pinnell — in the sixth row, green box. Meet the very first woman to pass the bar, and be admitted to practice law in Florida. The gentleman right next to her with the gigantic beard is her father (and law partner), Ethan A. Pinnell. It is doubtful that Emmett ever interacted with her, but I have to include her in this discussion because of who she is.

Lou Ella Pinnell and her father, Ethan Pinnell. Source: Florida Memory.com

Lou Ella Pinnell and her father, Ethan Pinnell. Source: Florida Memory.com

The Pinnells, of Bronson, Florida, were originally from Missouri. Ethan encouraged his daughter to study law with him when she expressed interest at an early age. She proved herself, in her father’s eyes, and so she took the bar examination, which, at the time, was an oral examination given by Levy County, Florida attorneys. According to Lou (and witnesses), the examiners were twice as hard on her with the questions, because they thought it unfit that a woman would want to become a lawyer. She answered their questions correctly; so, the board could not deny her admission to the bar — but, the Supreme Court of Florida did — because the justices at that time did not know what to ‘do’ with her.

Finally, five months after passing the bar, the Supreme Court of Florida admitted her, and she went into practice with her father.

Source: Hubbell's Legal Directory for Lawyers, Vol. 32.

Source: Hubbell’s Legal Directory for Lawyers, Vol. 32.

In case it hasn’t been said in many decades, thank you, Lou Ella.

A young J. Walter Kehoe.

A young J. Walter Kehoe.

J. Walter Kehoe — in the seventh row, yellow circle. Kehoe was Emmett’s ‘best friend’ for years; Emmett lived with the Kehoes most of his adult life as an extended member of that family.

The yellow circle around Kehoe isn’t careless, by the way. More to that story in the book.

 

Alice H. Johnson, of Live Oak.

Alice H. Johnson, of Live Oak.

Alice H. Johnson — in the eighth row, red box. Alice H. Johnson, like Lou Ella Pinnell, was one of two ‘documented’ female lawyers.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anything out about her, other than a minor writeup about her in a publication called Florida Agriculturist. Here’s what it said:

 

From the Florida Agriculturist, vol 25, p. 219, for 1898. The reporters didn't know about Lou Pinnell, obviously.

From the Florida Agriculturist, vol 25, p. 219, for 1898. The reporters didn’t know about Lou Pinnell, obviously.

I wonder if Alice knew Minnie Kehoe? I imagine Alice, Lou Ella, and Minnie probably did get together to compare notes, and so forth. I would love to have at least witnessed one of their gatherings!

Charles Swayne, Impeachment survivor.

Charles Swayne, Impeachment survivor.

Charles Swayne — in the seventh row, dark blue box. Once upon a time, Judge Charles Swayne was up for impeachment — and his own counsel admitted that he was guilty of some of the charges lodged against him, but said that the charges against Swayne ‘inadvertent.’

Emmett’s brother Cephas was called to testify in this case, which you can read about here. Swayne was guilty, but he got off. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

 

A youthful CHB Floyd. Unfortunately, he died at the end of the influenza pandemic, in Florida, about 1920.

A youthful CHB Floyd. Unfortunately, he died at the end of the influenza pandemic, in Florida, about 1920.

Charles Henry Bourke Floyd — in the 10th row, purple box. CHB Floyd was not only an attorney, but he was a well-read, prolific writer who was popular for bestowing his ‘sprig of laurel’ to various individuals he admired and featured in his syndicated editorials.

Floyd even bestowed upon Emmett this hallowed sprig after winning the nomination for his congressional seat in June, 1912.  Floyd and Emmett knew each other as acquaintances, not close friends.


 

What I thought interesting about the montage was that Emmett’s big brother, Cephas Love Wilson, who considered himself very hot stuff (at the bar, at the bank, at the bench, and in the, ahem, bedroom) is not included in this photograph.

There are several other Wilsons, but not Ceph.

In 1899, Emmett was still at West Florida Seminary, and so, would not have been included in this montage.

It is not clear who or what determined that these individuals were representative of Florida’s best of the bar and bench. It is an interesting collection of personalities, ages, level of experience, and the like. There doesn’t seem to be another one like this; I have not yet found out if this was an annual project. There are other photo collections of state representatives, but nothing similar in scope to this.