Evelyn C. Maxwell in 1890 Pensacola

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In today’s edition of ‘Where are they now?’ we search for one of the original office buildings and residences of one Evelyn Croom Maxwell, distinguished jurist and lawyer of Pensacola, Florida.

Justice Evelyn Croom Maxwell. VIP in bar and bench circles. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, https://floridamemory.com/items/show/47155

In 1890, Emmett’s uncle, Evelyn C. Maxwell was the law partner of Stephen Mallory II, who served as U.S. Senator and Representative from Florida, and was the son of Stephen Russell Mallory (the law partner of Augustus Emmett Maxwell, Evelyn’s father, and Emmett Wilson’s grandfather).

Evelyn C. Maxwell in 1890 Pensacola, according to Webb’s Pensacola (City) Directory. Source: Ancestry.com

According to Webb’s Pensacola Directory, Mallory & Maxwell’s office was located at 204 1/2 South Palafox.

The address of Mallory & Maxwell’s law firm, from Webb’s Pensacola Directory for 1890. Source: Ancestry.com

The original Mallory & Maxwell office building still exits.

The block where Mallory & Maxwell’s original office stood in 1890. Source: Google maps

More good news: Evelyn Maxwell’s 1890 residence at 317 North Barcelona Street exists as well.

Evelyn C. Maxwell’s one-time residence at 317 N. Barcelona in Pensacola.

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Good News, Sad News

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Good news and sad news in Emmett Wilson research this week.

First, the good news: I received a beautiful invitation from my dear distant cousin, Carol:

In exactly one week, Emmett’s niece Jule will celebrate her 100th birthday!

Alas, I cannot travel to join in the festivities, but I do have a story to share with Jule and her family, which I’m busily drafting this lovely Christmas Eve.

Edith Wilson Snyder. Source: www.legacy.com

Finally, the sad news: I discovered that Augustus Maxwell Wilson’s youngest child, Edith, died earlier this year. You can read here about how I discovered both Jule and Edith, first cousins, were living in the same town, and neither knew the other was there. Jule told me she visited Edith, and planned to stay in touch with her.

Edith was a professional educator; she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in teacher education and mathematics. She was loved and appreciated by colleagues and former students.

I wish I had found her earlier on in my research and had interviewed her.

Although I can’t make it in time for Jule’s birthday celebration, I’m hoping to visit her early in the new year.

 

The Mystery of the Pocket Watch

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There’s Wilson family lore about a silver pocket watch that’s I’d love to prove.

A.E. Maxwell, who also went by "Emmett;" our Emmett's role model & hero.

A.E. Maxwell, who also went by “Emmett;” our Emmett’s role model & hero.

I don’t know what it looked like, other than it was smooth, silver, and had Emmett’s grandfather’s initials engraved on it — AEM — for Augustus Emmett Maxwell. It probably had a chain, and maybe a fob. I don’t know how Maxwell obtained it first.

Maxwell died in May, 1903, a year before Emmett’s graduation from Stetson Law School.  It is reasonable to think that family might have saved Maxwell’s watch — an expensive and precious heirloom — to give to Emmett as a graduation gift in 1904.

Maxwell was living with the Wilsons at the time of his death, and our Emmett, who was quite close to his grandfather was there, it would seem a grand gesture to the young man who modeled himself after a man who was truly interested in him. Emmett did not have this close relationship with anyone, other than his older brother, Cephas, and that relationship felt more competitive.

This watch was in Emmett’s possession, at least sometime after 1903. Either Maxwell either gave the watch to Emmett himself, or, family members gave it to Emmett after Maxwell’s death.

Emmett and his grandfather were close, had a lot in common, and were said to be very much alike in behavior and and appearance: Tall, quiet, loner-types, who read often, liked to take long walks, and enjoyed fishing.

They were the only two members of the family who attended law school: Maxwell attended the University of Virginia Law School; Emmett attended Stetson University Law School.

Emmett and Maxwell were also drinkers — I don’t know if Maxwell drank alcoholically, but he was reported to be partial to mint juleps so much that when he traveled, he made certain to bring a supply of sugar, in case there wasn’t enough on hand where he was staying.

Emmett was reported to be partial to any kind of alcoholic beverage (especially at the end of his life), and made certain to have a large personal supply of liquor stored at either the Osceola Club or the San Carlos Hotel, prohibition be damned. (Florida had already elected its first and only Prohibition Party governor; several Florida counties [including Escambia County], were already considered “dry” well before the ratification of the 18th Amendment on January 29, 1919.)

Of course, by 1919, Emmett was dead; what little money and few possessions he had long gone, including the silver watch, which was not listed among his personal effects at the time of death.

He might have hocked it to pay his bills. Or, perhaps, it was stolen during one of Emmett’s drinking adventures (he had alcoholic hepatitis at least from 1913 on; blackout drinking would have been a typical event for him).

Or, perhaps Emmett gave it another family member, knowing that he, himself, was an unstable drinker. Big questions around this small but important artifact in Wilson family history.

If anyone knows about this pocket watch, or, can share information about it, I’d love to hear from you.

Julia Anderson Maxwell

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Readers, early on in the Emmett Wilson research, I found this article from The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch:

The unveiling of the Florida window at Blandsford Church. Source: The Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 23, 1912.

The unveiling of the Florida window at Blandsford Church. Also, a clue to a potential lead/family member, and an error. Emmett wasn’t elected to the Senate. Source: The Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 23, 1912.

Julia Maxwell, Emmett’s first cousin, was the only daughter of Emilie Cussen and Walker Anderson Maxwell, who were married in 1902, in Richmond, Virginia. Julia, named for Walker’s mother, Julia Anderson Hawkes Maxwell, was born in 1904 in Marianna, Florida.

Matthew Leonidas Dekle, of Marianna, Florida. Source: Makers of America

Matthew Leonidas Dekle, of Marianna, Florida. Source: Makers of America: An Historical and Biographical Work by an Able Corps of Writers, Vol. 2, 1909

In 1909, Walker ‘died suddenly’, owing his employer, M.L. Dekle, a lot of money. As mentioned in an earlier post, Emmett’s brother, Cephas, handled the legal paperwork and Walker’s life insurance probably settled the debt. I still haven’t found out what, exactly, was the cause of death.

When Walker died, Emilie and Julia moved in with W.E.B. and Eudora Wilson Smith (Emmett’s sister and brother-in-law, and Walker’s niece) in Marianna in 1910. Julia was only five years old.

We don’t know if Emilie and Walker had other children; the 1910 Census asked respondents for the number of children born and children living, but both items are left blank for Emilie Cussen Maxwell. It’s likely Julia was an only child.

We next hear about Julia in June, 1912, right after Emmett won the primary for U.S. Congressman. The Ladies’ Memorial Association invited Emmett to Petersburg, Virginia, for the dedication of the Florida window at Blandford Church. Emmett was the keynote speaker, as noted in the article above, and his cousin, 12-year-old Julia Anderson Maxwell, unveiled the window for the event.

The Florida window at Blandford Church, Petersburg, Virginia. This is the window Emmett helped dedicate in June, 1912. Source: Florida Memory.com

The Florida window at Blandford Church, Petersburg, Virginia. This is the window Emmett helped dedicate in June, 1912. Source: Florida Memory.com

We don’t find any other information about Julia until 1925. She’s now living in Washington, D.C., at the Elizabeth Somers YWCA building on M Street, N.W. Her mother is nowhere to be found; Emilie may have remarried; but more likely, I think that Emilie died, and Julia was on her own before her 21st birthday.

 

It's Belgium Week for the YWCA campers! Source: Washington, D.C. Evening Star, 1925

 

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This article, from the Washington, D.C. Evening Star is dated July 19, 1925. All of the young women listed here are residents of Elizabeth Somers YWCA, and, Julia is listed as a ‘senior’; perhaps a resident of the YWCA of senior status, since Julia did not go to college, according to the 1930 Census.

Speak of the 1930 U.S. Census, Julia was 26, still living in the Elizabeth J. Somers YWCA in Washington, D.C., and is listed as a librarian for the U.S. Navy. I have found several other articles that indicate she lived for several more years at the YWCA, then eventually moved to Alexandria, Virginia. She made a good career for herself, never married, remained very active with YWCA activities, fundraisers, and other community service projects.

Julia died in 1995 and is buried at St. Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery in Alexandria.

Julia Anderson Maxwell. Source: www.findagrave.com

Julia Anderson Maxwell. Source: http://www.findagrave.com

 

An Update on Walker Anderson Maxwell

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Earlier this week, we looked at a few of Emmett’s colleagues from his early days in Pensacola. Since then, I’ve had an update on Emmett’s uncle, Walker Anderson Maxwell, from the excellent Sue Tindel of the Jackson County (Florida) County Courthouse.

Just to review, here’s the newspaper clip from the last post:

From the May 21, 1909 edition of The Pensacola Journal.  Source: Chronicling America.gove

From the May 21, 1909 edition of The Pensacola Journal.
Source: Chronicling America.gov

According to Sue,

“Letters of Administration were filed by Cephas (Emmett’s brother); stated that Walker A. died intestate and the estate consisted of an insurance policy payable to his estate.

“The widow waived her rights as administrator and Cephas petitioned to have Sheriff H.H. Lewis act as administrator.  Cephas stated that Walker A Maxwell died owing M.L. Dekle (Matthew Leonidas Dekle) a large sum of money which was payable out of the insurance funds.  No land etc is mentioned.  I was a little surprised by this.”

As was I. The obituary in The Pensacola Journal states a surprise, short illness, but does not identify it. This raises all kinds of red flags in my imagination.

In the movie, George is in debt to the evil Potter to the tune of $8,000. He doesn't have the money, but, according to his life insurance policy, he's worth more dead than alive.

In the movie, George is in debt to the evil Potter to the tune of $8,000. He doesn’t have the money, but, according to his life insurance policy, he’s worth more dead than alive. Source: filmsite.org/itsa

Could it be that Maxwell borrowed a lot of money from Dekle and couldn’t pay it back? Could it be that Maxwell, who was in ‘charge of the extensive mercantile and plantation interests’ of Dekle got in over his head, somehow, and took his own life, thinking along the lines of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life?”

Once upon a time, the Maxwell name carried a lot of weight in West Florida politics.  The Maxwells were considered a dynasty in West Florida legal circles, starting with Emmett’s grandfather, Augustus Emmett Maxwell, and uncle Evelyn Croom Maxwell, both of whom served on the Florida Supreme Court.

Augustus and Evelyn were wealthy, prominent men; Walker didn’t seem to have had that sort of prominence, and I wonder if that bothered him. Perhaps Walker aspired to the same, and just wasn’t getting there fast enough (in his estimation).

There’s nothing wrong with leading a life of non-prominence; an everyday job has dignity and meaning, maybe even more so than some of the more ‘important’ jobs and jobholders we see in the workforce these days.

At this point, I’m only speculating, because I haven’t seen the copy of the death certificate yet.

Circle of Family: Everard Meade Wilson

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Today’s Wilson family essay is about Emmett’s older brother, Everard Meade Wilson, 1873-1914.

Meade was the fifth son of Dr. Francis C. and Elizabeth Wilson. He went by “Meade;” named for Everard Meade, Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, and husband of her sister, Lucy Brockenbrough Maxwell Meade. Meade was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, when the Wilsons and Meades lived next door to each other. It isn’t clear if the Meades or the Wilsons owned their property; given the low estate totals ($180 and $150, respectively), I’d say they didn’t.

The 1870 Census of Holly Springs, Marshall County, Mississippi. Source: Ancestry.com

The 1870 Census of Holly Springs, Marshall County, Mississippi. Everard Meade is a teacher. He started out as a private school teacher in Pensacola, which is where he met the Maxwells. Source: Ancestry.com

Here’s what I’ve learned about Meade in the Wilson family research:

While three of the eight Wilson brothers ran for political office and had public service careers, Meade was more of a behind-the-scenes kind of fellow. He was politically active, well connected, well liked and respected. Almost all of the sources I’ve found about Meade are consistent: He valued the importance of his family’s solid reputation, he understood the importance of getting along with his peers, of an excellent work ethic, of being reliable, of doing his best possible job every single day.  Meade was a positive force in the Wilson family, without a doubt.

Meade got his start at the bottom of the rung with the L&N Railroad, along with his brother Frank. It wasn’t too difficult for the Wilson boys to get a job with the railroad; they were able to use the influence of their grandfather Augustus Emmett Maxwell, who had once been president of the Pensacola & Montgomery Railroad. But it wasn’t a sinecure for either — both Frank Jr. and Meade worked hard and earned their stripes. Working for the railroad back then was a great job for a young man, especially one who lived in a small town; it was akin today to working for NASA in a lot of ways: Travel, excitement, exploration of new places, while earning a wage and getting great on-the-job training.

An example of the ORC membership card from 1900. Source: Ebay.com

An example of the ORC membership card from 1900. Source: Ebay.com

Meade eventually became a conductor (as did Frank), joining the Order of Railway Conductors. This was an important job, as the conductor was considered the ‘captain’ of the train (which I did not realize). You can read about the importance of the conductor on trains here, a great resource from the Smithsonian Institution, and a transcript of one of the meeting rituals, here.

Emmett, Julian, and Walker also earned their first work experience via the L&N Railroad too — you can bet that the older brothers Frank Jr. and Meade put in a good word for them, and because both Frank Jr. and Meade were highly valued, well respected on the railroad, their word meant something. Regardless of their brother’s influence, both Emmett and Julian also had to work their way up the railroad ladder — starting with jobs that included sweeping out the depot, handling baggage, dealing with surly customers, and the like. Eventually, the twins became telegraphers — another valued position with the railroad.

Meade’s career was going well until September 26, 1906, when a devastating hurricane (probably a Category Five storm according to today’s standards) hit Pensacola. Meade was on a train that day, and was one of three seriously injured, as his train went through a culvert.

From the October 6, 1906 edition of The Pensacola Journal. Source: Chronicling America.gov

From the October 6, 1906 edition of The Pensacola Journal. Source: Chronicling America.gov

It doesn’t say how badly Meade was hurt, but obviously, it must have been serious. The engineer died of his injuries. And, there were probably other underlying health issues, as Meade resigned from the railroad less than a year later, in 1907. This must have been a tough decision for him: He was clearly someone who enjoyed going to work every day.

As of July 30 1907, Meade resigns from the railroad. This was probably a tough decision for him. Source: The Pensacola Journal, in ChroniclingAmerica.gov

July 30 1907. This was probably a tough decision for him. Source: The Pensacola Journal, in ChroniclingAmerica.gov

That was not the end of the road for Meade, though: Politics ran strong in the Wilson men. Meade was popular; it would make sense that he would parlay that popularity into politics, probably at the encouragement of Frank Jr., Emmett, and Cephas.

Meade ran for office at least once:

April 8, 1909 -- Meade announces for 13th precinct alderman race. Source: The Pensacola Journal, in Chronicling America.gov

April 8, 1909 — Meade announces for 13th precinct alderman race. Source: The Pensacola Journal, in Chronicling America.gov

Alderman race, May 2, 1909 returns. He ran a close race, but unfortunately, didn't win. Source: The Pensacola Journal in ChroniclingAmerica.gov

Alderman race returns, May 2, 1909. Meade ran a close race, but unfortunately, didn’t win. Source: The Pensacola Journal in ChroniclingAmerica.gov

Even though he didn’t win, Meade often served as a ward heeler, serving as a precinct captain in several elections, helping with registration/voting, and, definitely backing Emmett when he eventually ran for Congress in 1912. (Yes, he was a member of the Emmett Wilson Club!)

 

The American National Bank Building, now Seville Tower, today. Source: Pensapedia.com

The American National Bank Building, now Seville Tower, today. Emmett’s office was on the seventh floor. Meade’s was on the sixth floor. Source: Pensapedia.com

And, even though politics didn’t work out, Meade found a lucrative and successful career in insurance and real estate. By 1909, Meade was affiliated with the Union Central Life Insurance Company. After a few years, Meade became an agent for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company.

At one point, Meade worked in the same office building as Emmett, the American National Bank Building, just a floor down from his younger brother. (When Emmett died, the only thing he had left of value was a life insurance policy with the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company. I wonder if Meade was the one who sold Emmett his a life insurance policy? Emmett purchased his policy in 1912, as he began his run for Congress. It seems likely, doesn’t it?)

Meade was married to Carolyn “Carrie” Bond Wilson, from Bluff Springs, Florida. They had two sons: E. Meade Jr., and Francis C. (who eventually changed his middle name to Maxwell, in honor of his great-grandfather, Augustus Emmett Maxwell).

Meade may not have found success in politics, but he was active on a variety of community organizations; for instance, he was vice president of the municipal campaign committee of the Jacksonville Board of Trade in 1913. But I get the idea that his health was often the speedbump in an otherwise active, fast-growing career; there are several articles in The Pensacola Journal over the years that mention his being unwell, and a sojourn in North Carolina to rest and recover.

Meade seemed to be doing well for himself and his family: His career was solid with Fidelity Mutual; in 1913, he even went to Washington, D.C., to visit Emmett (now a U.S. Congressman) while en route to the company’s home offices in Philadelphia.

But in 1914, his health appears to have gone downhill rather quickly and unexpectedly; he’d been sent to North Carolina to recuperate.

July 4, 1914. The Pensacola Journal. Source: ChroniclingAmerica.gov

July 4, 1914. The Pensacola Journal. Source: ChroniclingAmerica.gov

He seemed to be doing better, but the next day:

Tampa Tribune, July 6, 1914. Source: GenealogyBank.com

Tampa Tribune, July 6, 1914. Source: GenealogyBank.com

According to Meade’s death certificate, the cause of death was fast-moving  pulmonary tuberculosis.

A Study of Notoriety

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An example of the Tersely Told column, April 26, 1914. Source: The Pensacola Journal, in Chronicling America.com

An example of the Tersely Told column, April 26, 1914. Source: The Pensacola Journal, in Chronicling America.com

In the early 1900s, if you got your name in the newspaper, it was a big deal. It indicated prominence in your community. If you think about it, the community news blurb columns were a sort-of equivalent to our Facebook.

In Pensacola, these columns were mostly found in the Society section of the paper, with little headings over each news blurb; if you were a businessman or the items were often filed under a column titled, “Tersely Told.’ Mostly, these were about prominent individuals’ comings and goings, and what they were doing that day, much like what you see on Facebook, when friends post where they are at a certain moment, who they are with, what they are doing, and the like.

How it worked at The Pensacola Journal (morning paper) and The Pensacola News (evening paper) was that you (or your secretary) would call the item in to the editor’s desk. These columns often were filler, so there never was a guarantee that whatever you called in to include would get selected. But, if you were considered a hot property among the locals, you could be sure that your item would run in the paper.

F.C. Brent. Source: Pensapedia.com

F.C. Brent. Source: Pensapedia.com

Who were the key people of Pensacola in the early 1900s? If you were a member of the families Blount, Knowles, Brent, Avery, Maxwell, you would be certain of automatic coverage, at least in the society pages. No need to have to call up the society page editor to sell yourself for the treasured copy space.

But if you aspired to prominence, as did Emmett when he first moved to Pensacola in 1906, and were unknown, it was all about contacting the editors on your own; selling yourself, making yourself into prominence, using whatever connections you could to get your name in print.

Justice Evelyn Croom Maxwell. VIP in bar and bench circles. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, https://floridamemory.com/items/show/47155

Justice Evelyn Croom Maxwell. VIP in bar and bench circles. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, https://floridamemory.com/items/show/47155

In 1906, Emmett had already had two big start-overs in his life to overcome; the pressure was on him now to make good, not screw up royally. People who could make a difference for Emmett, such as Frank Mayes (the editor, publisher, and Democratic party kingmaker) were watching.

Oh, he didn’t have to try as hard as, say someone who was completely new to Pensacola; after all, Emmett was the grandson and nephew of two of the Maxwell family members. But he was still an unknown. Emmett would have to contact the papers, tell the editors what he was doing, and hope that information about his doings would be included in the news.

I wonder if Emmett felt uncomfortable doing this; that he felt this was akin to prostituting himself in some way, to selling his soul a little bit at a time?

In reviewing the statistics on Emmett’s press coverage in the Pensacola papers, there were less than 20 during the years 1906-07.

In 1908, Emmett’s name appeared more often in the society section of the paper; he was now attending important events, and his comings and goings were now being reported regularly. There were 42 society-news mentions in the papers; still, his name was spelled correctly only nine times during that period.

As Emmett’s popularity (and prominence) increased, his name was mentioned several times a week — and now, more often than not spelled correctly, especially leading up to and during his campaign years (1911- 1912). Rest assured, editor Frank Mayes had a lot to do with this — Mayes wanted a close association with President Woodrow Wilson, and he knew he could do this if he got Emmett into Wilson’s administration.

Frank L. Mayes of The Pensacola Journal. Champion grudge holder.

Frank L. Mayes of The Pensacola Journal. Champion grudge holder.

Emmett was elected by a landslide — an amazing thing in 1912, given the fact he had little political experience (every job he held that was public service was given to him via connections — he’d never run for office before), and his age. It was all Frank Mayes’ doing, everyone knew. Despite the fact that Emmett was a good public speaker, and a fairly good lawyer, he was unknown and new to the profession. If Emmett had been incompetent, Mayes wouldn’t have been able to cover that up so well.

Emmett was finally prominent. His family was proud of him; his friends knew how hard Emmett worked to get there — and, they knew how stressful it was on him, as he was drinking more than ever to cope. I wonder if this was related to the fact that he had to compromise his beliefs and political views to get what he wanted — that he was still selling himself, so to speak, to Mayes as well as the Democratic party officials?

In September 1914, when Emmett was in his second term as a U.S. Congressman, Emmett stood up for himself against Mayes — it was only once — and that would prove to be Emmett’s undoing. He failed to nominate a close associate and political friend of Frank Mayes to the coveted postmaster position in Pensacola. Mayes felt slighted by Emmett, and Mayes was the kind of guy who took slights personally.

The next day, a front-page article about Emmett and his disloyalty to his friends appeared, written by the postmaster runner-up Chipley Jones.

October 14, 1914. The Pensacola Journal. Source: Chronicling America.gov

October 14, 1914. The Pensacola Journal. Much of the letter Jones wrote for The Pensacola Journal appears to have been a collaboration with Mayes. It would not do for Mayes to blast Emmett in an editorial, since Mayes was the one who had to sell Emmett as a candidate to the Democratic state party in the first place. Source: Chronicling America.gov

Emmett had two more years left in his term, but Frank Mayes was done with him. In fact, Emmett’s name rarely appears in the paper anymore, except for articles that are negative about his service. He’s simply referred to as ‘the Congressman from the Third District.’ No name.

Mayes must have known the appearance of indifference would bother Emmett more than anything else. And it did. For the two years remaining of Emmett’s term in office, there’s less than 25 mentions of his name in The Pensacola Journal — and Emmett’s name isn’t always spelled correctly, just as when Emmett was fighting his way out of obscurity.