Chapter 25: We began a new life

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Page six of Katie Wilson Meade’s narrative continues from the trip out of the jungle back to civilization. This section picks up from the last sentence of page five in the previous post.

The men walked along side of the wagon, so when the oxen got stubborn the men yelled and lashed them with long raw-hide whips — But nothing doing! They wouldn’t move!

At last, a native worker made great balls of mud and pushed it up their noses and they struggles so hard they pulled us out!

We went from Punta Gorda to Belize that way. We boarded a ship in Belize, going up a rickety ladder hung over the side. It was a sailing vessel going to New Orleans.

The trip took about a week. It was here that I saw my first train, as it huffed and puffed into the station, the steam coming out from both sides and black smoke out of the smoke-stack. It was a fearsome sight to a child raised up to this time in a jungle.

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My mother’s father gave her about 60 acres of land about half-way between Pensacola and Tallahassee, and we built a new house on it and began a new life. Father practiced medicine in the little town and for forty or fifty miles in the surrounding country. He was available day and night, from a baby case to small-pox to yellow fever. He would off a man’s leg one day and pull his tooth the next!!

A much beloved “family doctor,” whose chief interest in his life were his patients and his family of ten children — eight boys and two girls. A brave man and a Christian gentleman.

P.S.

Occasional reference to the ‘Big’ boys in this story means the five older boys who were born before either of the girls. My sister, Eudora, was four years older than I; then came a pair of twin boys, and last, my youngest brother, Walker. All these married in due course of time, except Emmett Wilson, the Congressman.

There are so many nieces and nephews scattered around in Florida I cannot tell the names, nor where they live.

When I was born the natives working on the Plantation came in to see the ‘picayune bambino’ and from that day to this I was called “Pic;” all the folks in Florida still use that nick-name — in Miami, where I visit each year the friends of Eloise (my niece) call me “Aunt “Pic”. I don’t mind; it reminds me of the old days of long ago.

In the Spring our parents took us all on a little trip to the Sapodilla Keys (Islands), not many miles from the coast of British Honduras where only natives lived. We ran around half clothed and played with the natives and loved every minute of it.

The steamer “City of Dallas,” a ship of the Macheca Line, which ran between the US from 1868 to 1900. This is the ship that carried Emmett and his family back to the U.S. in 1884. Source: http://onewal.com/jpmacheca/mships.html

The “City of Dallas” was a 915 ton steamer that ran regularly between the Port of New Orleans, Belize, and other Carribbean destination, according to the website. The ship’s master at the time the Wilsons boarded for their trip back to the United States was Reed.

Information about the “City of Dallas” from Macheca Fleet.

Katie mentions climbing aboard the steamer by way of a ‘rickety ladder,’ perhaps a rope ladder tossed over the side. Katie and Emmett’s mother, Elizabeth Wilson, was about three months pregnant with Walker Wilson in June, 1884, the date of their departure [Walker Wilson was born December, 1884 in Chipley, Florida]. Poor Elizabeth — I hope she didn’t suffer seasickness in addition to morning sickness simultaneously during the week-long voyage between Belize and New Orleans.

Manifest of the passengers on the City of Dallas, June 1884. The Wilsons only had a few trunks of possessions and clothing to take back to the United States, not much more than they had brought with them on the original trip to British Honduras back in 1875. Source: NARA, via Ancestry.com

From New Orleans, Katie said the family took the train to Chipley — it is possible they would not have had to pay for the fare, because Elizabeth’s father, Augustus Emmett Maxwell, in addition to his important political connections, had railroad connections — he was once president of the Pensacola & Montgomery Railroad, and family members could travel free or at a significantly reduced rate. But, it is more likely Maxwell paid for the railroad trip because there are several family sources that state the Wilsons’ sugar plantation investment was not successful (despite Katie’s description of a box of gold British coins in an earlier post).

Even though he was not president of the railroad in 1884, it is likely Maxwell paid the fare for the family because of the financial problems reported at this point in other Wilson family genealogies. Source: Herringshaw’s Encyclopedia, page 626

Here’s another clue that the Wilson family’s finances were in bad shape: Katie said that Augustus Emmett Maxwell gave his daughter, Elizabeth, 60 acres between Pensacola and Tallahassee. We now know that property was in Chipley, Washington County, Florida, and today it is located outside the city limits, on Orange Hill Highway. I wrote about it in an earlier post, here, which explains why I thought Maxwell gave the property to his daughter (and not Dr. Wilson).

Dr. Frank and Elizabeth Wilson’s original home on Orange Hill Road, about 1890. The property was given to Elizabeth by her father, Judge Augustus Emmett Maxwell, around 1884-1885, and not Dr. Wilson. Source: Elizabeth Meade Howard.

The mystery of who “Aunt Pic” was was finally solved with this page of Katie’s narrative. I’d seen the reference to ‘Pic’ here and there in the genealogies, but I wasn’t sure if that was a reference to Katie, Dora, or even Lula Wiselogel Wilson (Cephas’ wife, and Katie’s sister-in-law), or if it referred to another Wilson relative.

“Eloise”, mentioned in the narrative, was Eloise Smith, the daughter of Dora and W.E.B Smith.

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There’s one more page of Katie’s narrative; stay tuned.

 

 

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Chapter 20: Katie’s Story About British Honduras

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Katie Wilson Meade, June 23, 1936, Bluemont, Virginia.

Although Emmett mentioned in an interview that he was too young to have any real memories about what his life was like when he lived in British Honduras (he was two years old when his family emigrated back to the United States), his sister, Katie Wilson Meade, wrote a narrative about her memories living in British Honduras, and I have copies of the pages, thanks to Katie’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Meade Howard.

For the next several posts, I’ll let Katie tell the story. (Please note that the information in the text following is a verbatim personal narrative of Katie Wilson Meade, and is not reflective of the views of this blog’s author.)

 

Page one of Katie Wilson Meade’s story of her childhood in Belize, British Honduras. Published with permission of Elizabeth Meade Howard.

In 1878, I was born in a thatched house (thatched with palm leaves and other leaves I can’t recall) on a sugar plantation in Toledo Settlement, Punta Gorda, British Honduras, Central America.

The plantation was named “Big Hill.” My parents were Doctor Francis Childria Wilson and Elizabeth Virginia Maxwell. Father was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, and removed at an early age, to Mt. Hebron, Alabama. His parents acquired a cotton plantation on which prospered so well they finally had 3000 acres. His father had a good many slaves at the time of the War Between the States, and at that time he gave my father a negro boy named Jim. Jim went through the whole war with his young master and many times managed to get food for them both when they were in sore need. Much later in life I was privileged to visit this old plantation and actually saw five of the old slaves. One white-haired old fellow swept off his had and bowed nearly to the ground, calling me “little Missy.” It was quite an experience for me.

Augustus Emmett Maxwell, Emmett’s grandfather.

Mother was born in “Oakfield,” her father’s country home outside Pensacola, Florida. Her father was a lawyer and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Florida. This man rode on horse-back from his home in Florida to the University of Virginia. While there, he married a girl named Sarah Roane Brockenbrough, daughter of a Proctor of the University. Judge Maxwell was in U.S. Congress before the War, and later resigned to become Senator in the Confederate Congress. He held 16 different public offices in his state.

Now to Honduras — My father practiced Medicine after the War in Mississippi until a group of sons of some cotton planters decided to go to Central America and he joined them. They sailed to Balize (now spelled Belize) and from there looked over the plantations. Father bought one near Punta Gorda. He had an overseer who ran the place while he practiced medicine. They raised sugar cane and made brown sugar which was shipped in big barrels to the United States to be refined.

A little bit of conflicting information from the last two posts about Dr. Wilson and property ownership, isn’t it? Even though we have a sworn statement from Katie’s brother, Francis Jr., that Dr. Wilson never relinquished his American citizenship, the fact Katie claims he owned British property when one had to be a British citizen makes me wonder….

Of course, Katie wrote this reflection at least 30 years after the event, so she may not have had all the facts straight. Still, her personal recollection is the only one I have (so far) unless another one turns up.

Stay tuned for the second page.

 

(N.B.: Katie’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Meade Howard, graciously shared the typed narrative, and has given me permission to share the information. Please note that the original contents and information belongs to Elizabeth Meade Howard.)

 

 

The Pensacola (Fla.) Memorial Association

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In the continuing saga of rechecking all sources that have some connection to Emmett Wilson, I found this interesting article about the dedication of the Florida window in Blandford Church, Petersburg, Virginia. (I blogged about this road trip, here.)

Source: The Confederate Veteran, Volume 20, page 406, via Google Books.com

The article contains interesting history about the association, as well as details about the dedication. Julia Anderson Maxwell and Emmett Wilson were cousins, as both Julia and Emmett’s grandfather was Augustus Emmett Maxwell.

The window is beautiful, as is the Old Blandford Church.

Emmett’s window; also known as the Florida window. Old Blandford Church, Petersburg, Virginia

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.

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