Emmett’s Regular Getaway

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Although the life and behavior of an alcoholic can be unpredictable, Emmett Wilson appears to have been a man of regular habits, especially when it came to his annual vacation.

The Gulf View Inn, 1910. Source: The Panama City Pilot, July 28, 1910, p.1

Every year, on or about the first week of August, Emmett would go to St. Andrews or Panama City for two weeks. When there was room available, he would stay with either the J. Walter Kehoe family, who would rent a cottage in Panama City for several weeks, or he would stay at the Gulf View Inn.

Advertisement of the Gulf View Inn’s room rates, from the March 17, 1910 issue of the Panama City Pilot, page 4.

Two weeks was pretty much the upper limit of Emmett’s vacation time, as he was a busy lawyer. Emmett would take a steamer, primarily The Manteo, from Pensacola to Panama City.

Emmett on the steamer Manteo, August 1908. Source: The Pensacola Journal

What’s interesting about Emmett is that while he was considered a well-connected lawyer and politician who’s job it was to see and be seen, to be out and about in circulation, I get the feeling that he really wasn’t comfortable in all that circulation, that he had to force himself to be social, to interact, to make public speeches.

It wasn’t that Emmett was unable; but it seems that he was uncomfortable being in the public eye so much. He had to have known that the legal profession would necessitate social/public circulation, and he had to have known that would certainly be the case if he got into politics — but Emmett was an accidental politician — a last-minute substitution by the Florida Democratic Party when Judge Charles Parkhill suddenly withdrew from the race for the third congressional district on January 6, 1912.

The Pensacola Journal, January 6, 1912

Emmett on vacation, again during the first week of August, in 1912. Source: The Pensacola Journal

So of course, by the time August rolled around, Emmett would relish his time by himself, with just his fishing gear, a camp stool (and maybe a bottle of Scotch), deep in appreciation for the quite moments away from the crazy reality of his life.

 

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A Much Bigger Deal

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We continue the exploration of A. Maxwell Wilson’s progeny. There’s four more children to meet: Warren, Woodrow, Harry, and Edith.

Today, we’ll discuss Woodrow. Woodrow Wilson.

Belle and Max named him for the current present; their brother Emmett was in his administration. Max obtained a postmastership (which was a presidential appointment back then) from President Wilson. They were staunch Democrats.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if said president’s namesake would later register as a Republican? But I digress.


 

For this particular search, I began at the end; i.e., an obituary. One of the most recent information sources I’ve found is an obituary for A. Maxwell Wilson’s wife, Belle, from the Panama City (Florida) News-Herald.

The text looks strange because I had to type it in using my notepad function on my computer. Long story. :-) Source: Panama City (Florida) News Herald.

The text looks strange because I captured it from OCR text and saved it using my notepad function. Long story. 🙂  The Bay County (Florida) library has a copy of this. Source: Panama City (Florida) News Herald.

Woodrow’s name is not listed in the 1967 obituary, which is curious, not only because he was still around — he died in 1978 — but also because of a huge accomplishment in his career, which gave him national attention.

 

Here’s what we know about Woodrow, son of A. Max, according to U.S. Census reports:

  • In 1930, he was 16 years old, living at home with his mother and father in Blountstown, Florida.
  • In 1935, lived at home in Blountstown with his mother and siblings, and working as a clerk in the local drugstore.
  • In 1937, Woodrow married Anne Carolyn Avinger (she goes by Carolyn in the Census). She was born in Montgomery, Alabama.

In the 1940 Census, Woodrow is 26 years old, and the publisher of the Blountstown newspaper. This is interesting, because Woodrow followed in the footsteps of his father, who was the publisher of the Blountstown paper for a few years in the early 1900s, but gave it up. Whereas Max did not succeed in journalism because his heart didn’t seem to be in it, ink runs in Woodrow’s blood. He does well at Blountstown; as his talent increases, he moves on to a bigger paper.

September 4, 1953: Woodrow on the job. Source: Panama City News

September 4, 1953: Woodrow on the job. Source: Panama City News

According to this article, Woodrow is now the city editor of the Panama City News. Source: Panama City News

According to this article, Woodrow is now the city editor of the Panama City News. Source: Panama City News

Woodrow's byline. April 3, 1954. Source: Panama City News

Woodrow’s byline. April 3, 1954. Source: Panama City News

What’s really cool is what happened in 1962: Woodrow was listed as a member of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team! He and three other reporters won the Pulitzer for articles exposing local corruption within the police department in 1962. You can read about the history of the paper here, which includes how the award-winning reporting came about, for more information.

Talk about brave — exposing this corruption within the community in which you live. We can only imagine how tough that must have been on his family.

From the Lakeland (Florida) Ledger, 1963. Source: news.google.com

From the Lakeland (Florida) Ledger, 1963. Source: news.google.com

On July 11, 1968, Woodrow was named director of research and public informational services for the Panama City school system, according to an article on page 1 of the Panama City News-Herald. His wife, Carolyn, was hired to serve as his secretary.

Woodrow died in 1978; Carolyn died in 2003, in Panama City; she and Woodrow are buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Panama City.


If Max or Emmett had been alive in 1962, I’m sure they’d have been proud of Woodrow.

 

Being Frank

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I came across this today. I wonder if this Frank Wilson is related to my Emmett Wilson.

From the St. Petersburg Times, June 16, 1956. The article calls the Wilson couple 'young.' Meade's son, Frank, was born in the early 1900s, so, this is not Meade's son. Grandson, maybe?

From the St. Petersburg Times, June 16, 1956. The article calls the Wilson couple ‘young.’ Meade’s son, Frank, was born in the early 1900s, so, this is not Meade’s son. Grandson, maybe?

Emmett had several older brothers, mentioned in previous blog entries. One was named Francis Childria Wilson, Jr., after Emmett’s father. Frank Jr. died in 1943.

Source: findagrave.com

Source: findagrave.com

Frank Jr. and his wife, May, only had a daughter, who died in infancy. They lived in Pensacola for awhile, but later removed to Marianna.

Meade's grave, at St. John's, Pensacola. Source: findagrave.com

Meade Sr.’s grave, at St. John’s Cemetery, Pensacola. Source: findagrave.com

Another brother, Meade (also known as Everard Meade Wilson), died in 1914. Meade had two sons, Everard Meade and Francis, (named for Emmett and Meade’s father and older brother. Popular name in that family.) Meade and his wife, Carrie, are buried in Pensacola.

I'm pretty sure this is Meade's son, Everard Meade Wilson. Buried in Sumter County, Florida. Source: findagrave.com

I’m pretty sure this is Meade’s son, Everard Meade Wilson, Jr. The grave is in Sumter County, Florida. Source: findagrave.com

I’d guess that the Frank Wilson in this article is possibly grandson of Meade’s. Here’s the thing: I also know that several of Emmett’s siblings named their sons in honor of Dr. Francis C. Wilson. Again, I’d guess the young man in the article is a nephew or grand nephew of Emmett’s, but whose?

I’ve had no luck finding or contacting any of Meade’s descendants, and I’d love to hear from them, ask them questions about Meade and Emmett’s relationship (if they know anything), and share what I know from my research.