Acquisitions

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Good news in the world of Emmett Wilson research, namely: A new computer!

My old MacBook, bless its sluggish old hard drive, served me well for eight years; but, it was really slow (especially with handling all the images I’ve collected over the past two years for Emmett’s book). Also, my university switched to a new learning management system that requires me to use different applications that the old computer’s operating system couldn’t handle. (Cue the sad trombone.)

So, it was time for an upgrade.

MacBook Pro. Source: wired.com

MacBook Pro. Source: wired.com

The new computer is a MacBook Pro 2015. It’s speedy, handles nicely, and is three pounds lighter than the other computer. Plus, the battery lasts for about 11 hours! (The old MacBook’s battery has been pretty much useless for the past three months, as it was not holding a charge for longer than 45 minutes.)

It has taken a few days to get used to the new computer — making sure it is backing up properly, making sure that in the transition that I didn’t lose any of the research files, and so forth.


My father has been packing up his home and getting ready to move into a senior community. Recently, he sent me a box of family artifacts that I had no idea existed! They date from about 1890 to 1930. What’s great about these artifacts is that I’m sure Emmett would have had some of these, and/or used them in his everyday activities, too.

Today, I’ll share this little item that belonged to my great uncle Guy Stackhouse:

It came in a hard shell leather case about the size of a pencil.

It came in a hardshell black leather case about the size of a pencil.

Surprise! It's a pince-nez!

Surprise! It’s a pince-nez!

I’m not sure how long my great uncle used this; my dad told me that he always saw my great uncle wearing modern-style glasses to read, and not a pince-nez. My great uncle was about 62 when he died in 1951.

What’s the connection between Emmett and a pince-nez? Well, Emmett wore one!

(My sister, who is a professional photographer, looked at one of the photos I have of Emmett about two years before his death. She can usually tell if an old photo has been retouched, and I wanted to get her opinion on a photo I have of Emmett. She pointed out a prominent indentation on his nose, at the bridge — something she has seen often in old photographs of people who were known to wear pince-nez glasses. In fact, it jumped right out at her. But I digress.)

Given the amount of reading that Emmett, a lawyer, would have done in his very busy, meteoric career, I would be very surprised if he didn’t wear glasses at all.

Anyway.

My dad said that this pince-nez is about 90 years old; Uncle Guy got this pair in the late 1920s.

The frame is silver, with some gold detail around the lens. It is heavy in my hand. The chain is tarnished silver.

The frame is silver, with some gold detail around the lens. It is heavy in my hand. The chain is tarnished silver.

I tried them on.

I looked at printed words on a page through them, and the text was pretty clear!

I looked at printed words on a page through them, and the text was pretty clear!

This thing is heavy. The pince-nez puts a lot of pressure on the nose bridge (obviously), because that’s where it holds on to the wearer’s face. It is a little painful to wear because the pince-nez indeed, pinches the nose at the bridge; also, the weight of it on the face at that point feels uncomfortable. The frames are lightweight; they are well constructed to hold the heavy lenses.

It felt a little funny wearing the pince-nez and having a chain running down the side of my face, but back in the day, one just had to get used to that if you didn’t want to wear regular glasses. There’s a little catch at the end of the chain, where the wearer could attach it to a button on a vest.

Here’s the label on the pince-nez case:

I'm not sure why my great grandfather would have obtained his glasses from Greenville, as he lived in Vicksburg at the time. Perhaps he knew this optometrist personally.

I’m not sure why my great uncle would have obtained his glasses from Greenville, as he lived in Vicksburg at the time. Perhaps he knew this optometrist personally.

I found an old advertisement in the Greenville Delta Democrat-Times from 1940 that mentions Dr. Mock; also, a record in Ancestry.com says he was born in 1908, died in 1995 in Greenville, and was an optometrist.

My great uncle was born in 1895 and died in 1951. The pince-nez is in great condition, considering how old it is.

They are handy glasses; I can see Emmett wearing his on his nose, with the chain attached to his vest, slipping them into a vest pocket when was done reading, much like my great grandfather would have done.

Coveted Artifacts

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Yesterday, a colleague told me that she had seen an actual notary public stamp belonging to Emmett Wilson on a legal document dating from 1905!

She told me it was quite unique; Emmett’s name is part of the official stamp itself. This made me wonder what ever became of the actual stamp device.

Not just anyone could become a Notary Public in 1905: It was a patronage position that only the Governor of Florida could bestow. My colleague told me that the stamps were made by the governor’s own embosser.

I would love to get my hands on Emmett’s Notary Public stamp — if not to possess it, for the chance to examine it.

This was not something you just schlepped around in a briefcase. This model (approximately 110 years old) weighs five pounds. Source: www.etsy.com

The notary public stamp from Emmett’s day was not something you would want to schlep around in a briefcase. This model (approximately 110 years old) weighs five pounds. Source: http://www.etsy.com

Actually, there are several of Emmett’s personal artifacts I’d love to find. For instance:

  • His fountain pen. Emmett indeed used a fountain pen. Back then, a man’s fountain pen was something special. My own grandfather had his father’s fountain pen in fact, and it was common to pass these down in a family. I can’t prove it, but I like to think that Emmett’s was given to him when he graduated from law school back in 1904. Sometimes the pens had initials or names engraved upon them; unless Emmett’s was engraved, it is unlikely I’ll find it.
  • His pocket watch. This one may be close to impossible to find as well. At the end of his life, Emmett was having money problems, and he might have hocked it to pay some bills; there was no mention of it in his will (assets). In fact, he barely had more than the clothes on his back when he died.
  • An Emmett Wilson campaign button. I’ve mentioned this item in previous posts. I’ve had feelers out on this one for awhile.
  • His scrapbooks. Of course.
  • Any books that belonged to him. I know he was a voracious reader and had a fairly good collection (other than law books). I hope to find a vintage book with his name in it one day. He left them to Emmett Wilson Kehoe, the son of his good friend Walter Kehoe. EWK did not have children; they may be floating around somewhere in a vintage book store, or dispersed among nephews and nieces.
  • His wishbone tie pin. If you look very closely in the photo on this page, you’ll notice he has a little golden wishbone tie pin.
    Look closely. A wishbone for good luck!

    Look closely. A wishbone for good luck!

    I’ve seen some of these on Etsy; this little pin has a bit of a story behind it, I’m sure. I believe it was gifted to him by someone close; perhaps the Kehoes, or Lula and Cephas, or one of his sisters. For awhile, I thought a girlfriend would have given this to him — it is possible — but I don’t think likely. Victorian ideals about gift-giving were very much still the norm in small Southern towns around 1913. Unless you were married or engaged, expensive gold jewelry (like a gold tie pin or cufflinks) was not something a woman gave to a man. His good friend Minnie Kehoe might have been able to get away with giving Emmett a gold tie pin like this as a gift, but anyone else outside of family? Probably not.

  • Minnie Neal was the photographer of Emmett's law school graduating class. Ad from the 1905 Stetson Weekly Collegiate, February 15, 1905.

    Minnie Neal was the photographer of Emmett’s law school graduating class. Ad from the 1905 Stetson Weekly Collegiate, February 15, 1905.

    Any photographs from Stetson/Law school graduation. I’ve been lucky to come across some photos in the microfilm, but the best ones I’ve received have been shared with me by relatives and friends of Emmett’s descendants, who I’ve become friends with through the research. I know that the photos were taken, but I have not been able to track down relatives or locate negatives anywhere. The photographer didn’t marry or have children; I’ll try to reach out to descendants of siblings next, as well as to Florida and Georgia libraries and universities (particularly those interested in women leaders/women’s studies of the early 20th century).

This is my wish list of Emmett Wilson artifacts I hope to uncover in the next year.