Chapter 61: The goal


January 4, 1903
East Hall Men’s Dormitory
Stetson University
DeLand, Florida

I love where I am at this moment.

Emmett was classified as a junior his first year at Stetson; administrators credited his two years’ work at WFS. Source: Stetson University College Catalog, 1901-02,

This is different than the Seminary, and the Business College; this is about joining in active discussions with my professors about something I am entirely interested in, and this all makes perfect sense — the work I did for Cephas, the drudge work I did for Judge Jones. Ceph had been right: The work I did last summer for him turned out to be some of the most valuable practical experience in preparation for law school. In fact, the required Elementary Law class has been nothing but repetitive information I learned in Cephas’ law office this summer.

Law school feels natural to me. I work hard; but I take nothing for granted. I feel like I had a real chance to shine  because it all feel right, being here at Stetson. 

The first week here, Paul and I immediately joined the debate club, and helped inaugurate the Kent Club, a law school organization. We are regular attendees of both groups.

For the first time, I feel like I belong completely, without reservation. I love it. I feel at home. More so than in my actual home in Chipley, for what it is worth. This has been my first time living away from family members and with my two closest friends at East House — Paul Carter and Billy Crawford — and we have a great time! 

We play pranks on each other (one of which actually caused a small fire last week), we roughhouse, we smoke, we relax by playing checkers or chess on the front porch. Some of us even get up a game of baseball with the underclassmen on occasion.

There are 13 of us fellows living in the dorm, and two or three of us share a room. In the fall, we had 14, but one fellow got fed up with us and our pranks, and moved out. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the evening he came home from studying in the Law Library, and discovered his room was completely devoid of furniture. (We’d simply stashed it in the attic.)

We are a fun, cohesive group. We often pool our food together for giant feasts (some of which was taken surreptitiously from the women’s dorms); Crawford has a chafing dish, and we add whatever we have on hand: Hot dogs, apples, random vegetables to make up a stew of sorts. Most of the time, we eat at the stag table at Chaudoin Hall, the large women’s dormitory, which features the biggest dining room on campus. The dining is segregated by gender; there is also a ‘training table’ where the football and baseball players eat separated from the rest of us.

Most of the fellows, like myself, go on outings with a few of the girls on campus now and then; these are chaperoned affairs, but now and then, you can get alone with a girl, which is pleasant, especially if you are out with one of the girls who is ‘accommodating’ . You have to be careful; all of us do. One slip, and you’d be married, then out of school, and off to a drudge job, drudge life. I feel comfortable saying that none of us in our group expect or want anything serious with a girl at this point.

Paul Carter was popular among the girls at Stetson. Because one-on-one meetings were mostly chaperoned between men and women, the men would climb through the womens’ dorm windows to visit. The Stetson Collegiate. p. 7, December, 1902.

I haven’t met anyone at Stetson who interests me, though I am friendly with a lot of the girls on campus. I attend parties and functions at the dorms, as most of the fellows,  but none of it is serious to me. I don’t want it to be serious.

Honestly, I feel like most of the girls here are in it to find a husband, the way they skip classes, and carry on in their dorms with fellows who sneak in through windows at night. Some of the fellows don’t come home until almost sunrise sometimes.

It’s not as if I am not tempted. I am. I know what girls do and do not at Hamilton Hall — the girl’s dorm — for instance, but I also know I absolutely cannot screw up my chances here at Stetson, so my personal needs are met off campus when necessary.


Emmett’s dorm, East Hall, is in the upper right hand corner. Hamilton is right below it. Source: Stetson University Archives

Last evening, while sitting on the front porch, smoking with a few of the fellows, Crawford, who is always nosing into my nonexistent love life, asked:

“Met anyone lately who looks interesting, Wilson?” 

“No. Not really.”

“There’s dancing lessons to be offered at Chaudoin Hall on Fridays by a Mrs. Spaulding.”

“She has two rather good looking daughters, doesn’t she?” one of the fellows at the checkers game on the other side of the porch said.

“That’s the one,” said Crawford, lighting a cigarette. “Might be worth checking out over there, to see what’s what, Em. Her daughters are quite outgoing.”

“I already know how to dance,” I said.

“Maybe this Spaulding woman knows newer steps. I understand she promotes herself and her daughters as quite the life of the party where they are from, Massachusetts, I think. Or New York,” Crawford said, as he exhaled smoke, and eased back in his chair.

I really wasn’t interested in going to the dance; I had a debate coming up next week, and there was a case I was preparing in my Contracts class that needed attention.

For the past few weeks, I’d been getting later and later starts with my homework, often I wasn’t starting to read until around 10 o’clock each night. Sometimes I pull a few all-nighters, especially if I let myself get talked into a social over at Chaudoin Hall, which I honestly don’t enjoy that much. I go mostly so I don’t get a reputation of being anti-social.

The girls are nice enough, but they all seem as if they are trying too hard, if you know what I mean. The more standoffish I am, the harder some of them try, and I was not brought up to be rude to young ladies.

“No,” I told the fellows, as I stood up to go upstairs. “I really have to hit the books, fellas. It took me almost two years to get back to college; I worked too hard to return to school and if I don’t get to it, Professor Brierly will chew me out in Contracts.”

They left me alone after that.

But what I didn’t say to them: “This is my last and only chance to become someone more than who I am at present, and I’m not going to screw it up.”

I think maybe some of them know that about me already, though.



Chapter 48: She Wore a White Ribbon


January 12, 2020
Chevy Chase, Maryland

I’ve been thinking deeply about this new article on Emmett’s mother that I located during one of my regular database re-check activities two days ago, and wishing I’d been able to find it at the start of Emmett Wilson’s research project.

But then, the ancient hard-copy newspaper (The Pensacola News from 1891) was unaccessible to everyday researchers because of its frailty, and, it takes time to scan precious pages into a database without destroying the artifact.

Better late than never, though.

Without further ado, here’s what I found:

Source: The Pensacola News, from June 26, 1891, via

If you’ve been following the Emmett Wilson story so far, then you’ll remember a few earlier posts I wrote about the death of Emmett’s mother, and its impact on Emmett and his family. Also, this news item supports/confirms much of the first-person narrative of Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson’s death as told by Emmett’s older sister, Katie Wilson Meade.

With the info from those earlier posts in mind, I’d like to focus on several new things that enlighten our understanding of Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson.

In 2016, I wrote about Katie Wilson Meade’s reflections on the death of her mother, that she had stopped by the drug store for a soft drink. The Pensacola News article from 1891 confirms this, stating the ‘drink threw her into convulsions….’ 

The soda isn’t identified, but it most likely was a fountain version of Coca-Cola or something similar, and it wouldn’t have been bottled, but mixed by a soda jerk behind a counter. [Coca-Cola wasn’t bottled until 1894, at the Biedenharn Candy Company in Vicksburg, Mississippi.] Was there something wrong with Elizabeth’s drink? We don’t know, because there isn’t any information that the drink was the problem. Or, that anyone examined the components of the soda.

…which caused a hemorrhage of the brain.’ A brain hemorrhage is also known as a stroke. Could the drink have caused the stroke? Maybe; but another explanation could be that Elizabeth had undiagnosed high blood pressure. Katie makes no mention of problems with her mother’s health leading up to this event, but Elizabeth herself may have brushed off the symptoms (headache, stiff neck, numbness, and so forth), or perhaps had no symptoms. We know it came on suddenly, without warning, as the paper reported that Elizabeth appeared to be ‘in perfect health’ leading up to the stroke.

The Horns’ residence was Katherine and Richard Carey Horne‘s home, which was located over their business, adjacent to the drug store. [Katherine and Richard’s daughter, Mary Baltzell Horne, was a lifelong friend of Emmett Wilson; Mary would later wed Emmett’s best friend, Paul Carter in 1912.]

This section indicates that all Wilson children, except Max, were present at their mother’s death. Imagine Emmett and his twin brother Julian, bewildered eight-year-olds, holding their mother’s warm but lifeless hand, perhaps thinking ‘she might wake up,’ and yet everyone is saying goodbye. No one was prepared for this; no one knew how to handle it. Perhaps the young fellows were told to ‘be men’ now since their father would need them. Oy.

One final item of note from the article is this:

Elizabeth was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. That means she went to meetings; she read the literature about the problems of booze on individuals and families; she wore a white ribbon in support of abstinence from alcohol.


I found out that members of the WCTU also had a White Ribbon Recruit ceremony, where members would bring their babies to dedicate them to the cause of temperance. At the ceremony, the parent-sponsors would pledge to help their children lead a life free of alcohol; a white ribbon was also tied around the baby’s wrist at the ceremony. I wonder if Elizabeth brought any of her children to such a ceremony, and if she took that pledge to help her children live sober lives.


Elizabeth Wilson may not have drank alcohol, but the men in her family did. That’s a fact; also, there is documentation that alcohol was a problem (for at least) the Wilson side of the family. Was booze a problem for the Maxwells? I’m not sure; but a letter from A.E. Maxwell’s son, Judge Evelyn C. Maxwell to a historian relates the story about how A.E. Maxwell loved toddies and during the Civil War regularly carried his own private trunk of sugar (a rare commodity) wherever he went to ensure he had his favorite drink whenever possible.

Could that be indicative of a drinking problem for Elizabeth’s father? Maybe.

Did Elizabeth understand that some of the men in her life were using alcohol as a means to escape discomfort, unease in their lives? Did she understand that drinking to avoid the demons in people lives was futile, because everyone has a demon of some sort on their backs, and drinking only made it worse?

Did Elizabeth see and understand Emmett’s demon before anyone else ever did, and she was, in fact, modeling how to live with that demon, not run from it, but to own it, because acknowledging it was the first step to being free of it?

And perhaps, this is the main reason why Emmett never really got over the loss of his mother during his brief life?

I wish we knew for sure.


The Earls of East Hall, Part I


This week, I’m putting together the section of the book about Emmett’s life as a law school student, at Stetson University.

Because I still don’t have a journal of Emmett’s, or, his scrapbooks (yet), I had to look at a lot of secondary sources to get an idea of what his life was like on campus in 1903.

I found out from the Stetson University archives that in 1903, Emmett’s junior year in law school, he lived in a cottage dormitory named “East Hall” or, “East House.”

So, I started mining the archive for information about that dormitory. And boy, did I find something interesting: An essay in the Stetson University archives, which was printed in the school newspaper (The Stetson Collegiate) in May, 1903, titled, “Life in East Hall.” It is full of all kinds of interesting anecdotes and pranks these guys played on each other. What’s more, it gives a lot of interesting information about Emmett and his friends. For instance:

The "Earls of East Hall": Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, "Happy" Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, "Berry" Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on "Hamilton Hall," which was a cottage women's dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

The “Earls of East Hall”: Anthony, Carter, Fulgham, Pelot, Calmes, “Happy” Merryday, Wilson, DeCottes, “Berry” Sturgeon, Worley, and Fee. Emmett is noted as the authority on “Hamilton Hall,” which was a women’s dormitory. Source: Stetson University Archives

Life in East Hall must have been a lot of fun for Emmett and his friends.

But, who were these friends of his, and, what became of them? More importantly, did Emmett remain friends with them beyond Stetson?

Today, I introduce to you the “Earls of East Hall:”

  • Emile D. Anthony, in later years. Source:

    Emile D. Anthony, in later years. Source:

    Emile D. Anthony. Anthony earned a diploma in Bookkeeping from the Business College in 1903.

    I was curious as to how he was an expert on both ‘women and oratory;’ but further reading in the always-informative student newspaper, The Stetson Collegiate, indicates he had quite an active social life, in both areas. Here’s only two examples:

Anthony in search of oratory assistance. Source: Stetson University Archives

Anthony in search of oratory assistance. I have another article, also from the archive, that says Anthony got into fisticuffs with Benedict. Curious. Source: Stetson University Archives


The lady in question was Miss Louisa M. Foote, resident of Chaudoin Hall, enrolled in the Academy. Source: Stetson University Archives

The lady in question was Miss Louisa M. Foote, resident of Chaudoin Hall, enrolled in the Academy. Source: Stetson University Archives

Anthony’s family was prosperous and important; they were from West Palm Beach, listed as merchants in several U.S. Census reports. The Anthony family is still in business today. Emmett doesn’t seem to have been in contact with Emile much after college days; Emile also lived out of Emmett’s congressional district, so he wouldn’t have been able to vote for him.

    • Paul Carter. You’ve met Paul in an earlier post. Paul was Emmett’s best friend from childhood; he was also one of the best student orators at Stetson during his tenure there.
Mayor Paul Carter of Marianna, Florida. Source: The Pensacola Journal, 1912.

Mayor Paul Carter of Marianna, Florida. Source: The Pensacola Journal, 1912.

Emmett and Paul drifted apart a bit. During the time when Emmett moved to Pensacola, and ran for Congress, Paul ran for mayor of Marianna (he held the office for four terms), settled down and got married to Mary Horne of Chipley. They remained friends, though, as Paul served as one of Emmett’s honorary pall bearers at his funeral.

  • Walter B. Fulghum. Walter was originally from Richmond, Indiana, and was a combination Latin-Science major. Walter’s name shows up several times across different issues of The Stetson Collegiate, (mostly mentioned in the “Locals” section, which was a gossip column that ran for several pages) as attending parties at the women’s dorms, and the like.
One of many campus parties attended by Fulghum. Source: Stetson University Archives

One of many campus parties attended by Fulghum. Source: Stetson University Archives

One interesting thing I discovered about Fulghum was that he was a Quaker in the White Water community of Indiana. I mention this because after following Emmett and his friends around for three years in research land, this was a group that liked booze-fueled parties. Maybe not every single party, but I’ve been able to establish that Emmett’s drinking career was established back when he was at West Florida Seminary in 1900. Quakers aren’t forbidden from consuming alcohol, but most abstain.

Fulghum eventually became a merchant, then a farmer. Later in life, he had a farm in Caldwell, Texas; he died there in 1951 from arteriosclerosis. Fulghum probably did not see Emmett after Stetson, given that he moved back to Indiana right after graduation.

  • Charles E. Pelot. Charles was originally from Manatee, Florida, and he was enrolled in Stetson’s Law School.

After graduating from Stetson, he practiced law in Jacksonville for most of his life. He was active in the alumni association:

Pelot as President of the Jacksonville Stetson Club, 1911. Source: Google Books

Pelot as President of the Jacksonville Stetson Club, 1911. Source: Google Books

I don’t have much information on Pelot; he seems to have stayed in local and state politics, though, and based on this item I found in the May 7, 1916 edition of the Tampa Tribune, Emmett probably had been in contact with Pelot on and off during his career:

Pelot was up for a circuit court judgeship. Kirke Monroe and Cooper Griggs were friends of Emmett's. Source:

Pelot was up for a circuit court judgeship. Kirke Monroe and Cooper Griggs were friends of Emmett’s. Source:

I’ll continue with the rest of this study of Emmett’s roommates in a few days. Stay tuned!


Circle of Friends, Part Two: Paul Hayne Carter

Friendship troika (top to bottom): Walter, Cephas, Paul.

Friendship troika (top to bottom): Walter, Cephas, Paul.

One thing that stands out to me in getting to know Emmett’s closest friends is that his inner circle was consistent and remained close to him all his life. Emmett’s true inner circle were: Walter Kehoe, Big Brother Cephas, Paul Carter.

Emmett wasn’t a snob. He seemed to make friends everywhere he went. But there’s a difference between true friends and acquaintances, and Emmett never confused the two. True friends stick around because the relationship is genuine. When the shit hit the fan for Emmett several times in his life, those three guys were always there for him.

If Emmett were ever uncertain about something, these were the three he’d consult. But whose opinion weighed the most to Emmett?

I think it was Paul’s. Here’s why I say this:

Dateline: June 1, 1905.

Paul Carter, a full-fledged attorney, is now working as a private secretary of Congressman William Bailey Lamar in Washington D.C. Emmett is the junior partner in his big brother’s law firm in Marianna, Florida. Kehoe has moved on to Pensacola, to expand his growing political career. Impatience and adventurelust strikes our hero: Emmett is tired of living in Cephas’ shadow, he’s tired of small-town life, he wants something different. His successful older brother, and his two best friends both seem to have a lot more going on than he did.

Nicholas Van Sant. Source:

Nicholas Van Sant. Source:

A friend from college days, Nicholas Van Sant, has stayed in touch with Emmett over the past year. Recently, Van Sant offered him an opportunity to go into practice with him as a full, equal partner. Business was thriving, he’d be busy, he’d meet new, influential people.

This seemed like just the ticket at the right moment: It sounded good, but the opportunity was about 1,500 miles away, in Illinois. He’d be a Democrat working for a Republican, in the North. He knew nobody, had no real contacts up there other than his old college friend. Still, it seemed a chance of a lifetime for Emmett.

What did Emmett do? He talked to his trusted friends.

Who would not want to bask in my hotness 24/7, anyway?

Who would not want to bask in my hotness 24/7, anyway?

He told his brother, Cephas, who probably said, “It sounds OK, but, gee, look at all you are giving up here: Free room and board at my house. The cache of working with me, Cephas Love Wilson. This is comfortable for you. Why give up something comfortable for something unknown?”

He told his friend, Walter Kehoe, who probably said, “Affiliation with the Van Sants, even though they are a powerful and important Republican political family, may be challenging for you, a lone Democratic Southerner, far away from home, with no other contacts. There are benefits, but you would be far away from friends and family. Won’t you be lonely?”

Still undecided, Emmett went to visit Van Sant in Illinois to discuss it in person. After that visit, Emmett may have felt better about making the change…but he was still on the fence. So, on his way home to Florida, Emmett took a significant detour to Washington, D.C., to visit Paul, and to talk about this opportunity. This speaks volumes about how Emmett valued Paul’s opinion. I think it was this conversation that pushed Emmett off the fence, and to Illinois.

I think Paul told Emmett that it didn’t really matter that Van Sant was a Republican per se, as this was an opportunity to do something completely different than he’d ever have the chance to do in Florida. If he stayed in Florida, working for Cephas, he could expect more of the same for years, probably. That’s not such a bad thing, but Paul knew his friend wanted to try his wings, and that Emmett probably would never learn to stand on his own professional merits unless he got away on his own. Moving to Illinois, starting fresh, even though it would be hard at times, was one way to say to the world, “I’m Emmett Wilson, not Cephas Wilson’s little brother.”

Paul probably said to Emmett, “What would you stand to lose if you did try this? You aren’t leaving anyone or any big opportunity behind. If nothing else, you’ll gain valuable experience working with the Van Sants, and you’ll know you can stand on your own.”

Illinois in January! It would be a whole new adventure!

Working with Van Sant in Illinois in January! It would be a whole new adventure!

Also, “Look at this like an adventure. If it doesn’t work out, you can always start over. You’ve done it before, you can do it again.”

That’s just what happened.

Emmett moved to Sterling, Illinois; it lasted six months. He moved back home to Florida, and indeed, started over — this time, in Pensacola —  more experienced, wiser. I don’t think Emmett had regrets, but it made him realize a few things: He had it good in Florida with his friends, even though it seemed dull at times. And, in the political/legal business, it is all about connections and relationships, two things he really didn’t have in Sterling.

Would Emmett have done this if Cephas or Walter advised against it? I’m not sure.

But: I believe that if Paul had said the move was a bad idea, Emmett would not have done it.

I mentioned earlier that I believe Emmett absolutely trusted Paul’s opinion. Here’s one more example why Paul and Emmett’s friendship is so critical in telling Emmett’s story.

Dateline: August 1, 1910, Panama City

At this point in Emmett’s life, he was still unmarried, unattached, and was being groomed for a more significant political career. His friends (who now included Frank Mayes, editor of the Pensacola Journal and head of the local Democratic Committee) believed that if Emmett were able to ‘settle down,’ i.e., get married, stop hanging out at his club so much, cut back on the drinking and carousing, he’d be considered more seriously for office. He had a good political career ahead of him. His public image, though, was being questioned by the party dads. He didn’t send a ‘mature enough’ impression for political office consideration.

Emmett’s friends, who also had political ambitions tied to Emmett’s rising star, believed they needed to be proactive to force this change on Emmett. A few friends (Kehoe, Cephas) thought this was a great idea, and set about doing some matchmaking. One of the people they called in to help was Paul Carter, who was now the third-term Mayor of Marianna. (Note: Paul would be elected in 1912 for a fourth term; he and Mary Horne, a longtime friend and childhood sweetheart from Chipley, would be wed September 5, 1912.)

Mayor Paul Carter of Marianna, Florida. Source: The Pensacola Journal, 1912.

Mayor Paul Carter of Marianna, Florida. Source: The Pensacola Journal, 1912.

Operation Matchmaker was activated by Walter Kehoe and his wife during the first week of August, 1910. They ‘found’ a suitable girl from Georgia, who was (according to her descendants) uptight, tense, did not dance, did not play cards, did not drink, but played piano beautifully. The Kehoes introduced Emmett to this girl while hosting friends in Panama City over a two week period. Paul Carter was invited to visit during this matchmaking weekend, as were several of Emmett’s family members.

Everyone was there to vet this young woman for Emmett. She was from a good family; she impressed everyone she met. The Kehoes thought she was a good match for Emmett, because she was a strong, tough character, who (apparently) did not tolerate ‘loose’ behavior of any kind. She certainly had a strong enough character to ‘change’ Emmett, since (it seemed) Emmett was not going to change himself.

I can imagine Emmett talking to Paul about her and the fact he and the woman were being pushed towards each other.

I can imagine Emmett saying to Paul, “She’s nice, but I don’t know her. I’d never see her on a regular basis.” And, “I know they (the Kehoes) are just trying to help, but this woman would try to change me into someone I’m not.”

It is likely that Paul weighed in against the matchmaking. I can imagine Paul saying, “Do you want to take a chance that you’ll get to know her, maybe fall in love with her, after you get married? What if you don’t? If she loved you, she’d take you as you were. If you truly wanted to change, she’d leave that up to you, if that was what you wanted.”

I can also see Paul saying something like:

“Gee, Emmett, it is like they are picking out the person for you to have sex with for the rest of your life. Can’t you do that for yourself?”

I believe that if Paul had suggested that if Emmett really liked her, and there was ‘something’ there between them, Emmett should at least spend time with her on a regular basis (she lived 250 miles away, which was a 10-hour trip one way back in 1910), and get to know her. It would have been tough: It wasn’t just the distance, but this young woman was only allowed to ‘date’ on the front porch of her house in Columbus, Georgia, with her tyrannical father in hearing range of the courting couple. This matchmaking episode pretty much died on the vine, but I do think if there had been sparks, Paul would have encouraged it; and Emmett would probably have followed through with it.


Paul was the kind of friend who helped Emmett stay true to himself, when people were trying to micromanage Emmett’s life to their own political/professional benefit. He was just there for Emmett, whether Emmett needed him or not.

Emmett was lucky he had Paul in his life.

Circle of Friends: Paul Hayne Carter


Today’s post is about unconditional friendship.

I believe that everyone has a friend in their lives who you know that no matter where you are, or how much time has gone by, the relationship is there. This is the person who knows you best, maybe better than your spouse knows you. It doesn’t matter that it has been a year or more that you were in same room together; when you are together, it is as if you saw each other only the day before.

Me and Blanche, graduation, 1981.

Me and Blanche, graduation, 1981.

I’m blessed to have that kind of friend in my life. Her name is Blanche. We were 13 when we met each other during summer basketball practice at St. Joseph High School.

We lived only a block away from each other, so we grew up in each other’s houses. We argued, we held each other up when our hearts were broken, we stood up for each other as Maid/Matron of Honor at each other’s weddings.

We’ve always ‘gotten’ each other. We’ve always been completely comfortable telling each other anything, even the hard stuff neither of us would listen to from another person, such as, “Look at yourself. I think you drink too much.” Or, “That guy you say you are in love with? He doesn’t deserve you. Here’s why.”

We’ve had our share of ups and downs, and awkward moments after a disagreement or three. None of that has ever mattered. Today, we live hundreds of miles away from each other, but that distance doesn’t matter, either. If she asked me, I’d hop on a plane to be there with her today. No questions asked.

Everyone should be this lucky to have a Blanche in their lives.

Unconditional friendship. This was the relationship Emmett had with his best friend, Paul Hayne Carter.

Paul Carter, from the 1899 Argo, the yearbook of the West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University).

Paul Carter, from the 1900 Argo, the yearbook of the West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University).

Emmett and Paul grew up together in Chipley; Emmett lived on 6th Street, and Paul just a block over, on 5th. The houses were close, the properties almost backing up to each other. I like to think that as boys, these two would go back and forth to each others’ houses all day long, plotting and planning fishing trips, or pranks to play on their siblings, or just daydreaming about what they wanted to do once they were free of parental bondage.

Bottom line, it seems both boys wanted something bigger than what Chipley had to offer, and so, they’d eventually need to leave their home town to find out what that was. Paul wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps (Paul Sr. was a successful lawyer and judge); Emmett wanted adventure.

Paul was a year younger than Emmett, but he was a year ahead of him academically. Paul advanced quickly through the Chipley public schools, but because he wasn’t challenged enough academically transferred to Auburn University in Fall of 1898 (when it was known as the Mechanical College of Alabama from 1872-99) while still a junior in high school. Emmett, on the other hand, was still enrolled in Chipley’s high school while working as a railroad telegrapher at the local train depot in between school terms. Emmett had to help support the family, and he wanted to earn his way up the ladder with the Pensacola & Atlantic Railroad. Back then, working for the railroad was a great job for young boys; it was the equivalent of working for NASA today. It offered employment, travel, adventure. It offered Emmett a route out of Chipley.

Paul H. Carter, Sr. in Chipley, Florida.

Paul H. Carter, Sr. in Chipley, Florida.

On about January 3, 1899, after Christmas break, Paul went back to Auburn to start the second semester of his freshman year.  Several days later, on January 8, 1899, Paul’s father, Judge Paul H. Carter, Sr., was shot and killed in downtown Chipley. Paul was called back to Chipley immediately.

The man who shot Judge Carter, R.U. Harrell, was charged with manslaughter and eventually sent to prison to serve approximately five years.

The whole episode devastated Paul, who had been very close to his father.

Inscription on the side of Paul Carter, Sr.'s tombstone.

Inscription on the side of Paul Carter, Sr.’s tombstone.

One difference between Paul’s family and Emmett’s family was money. Paul did not have to stay home to support his widowed mother and siblings; Judge Carter had left the family financially sound. After the funeral and trial had passed, and life settled back down, Paul went back to college in Fall of 1899, this time to the West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University) in Tallahassee. Emmett, on the other hand, had to earn money to help support the Wilson family; also, if he planned to go to college, he had to earn at least part of the money himself.

At this point, Emmett had discovered that that working for the railroad was often more tedious and administrative rather than adventurous. He was not sure what he wanted to do; he did know, however, that he wanted something else besides a railroad career.

Emmett (R) and Paul. Roommates, friends, sometimes debate rivals. Source: FSU archive.

Emmett (L) and Paul. Roommates, friends, sometimes debate rivals. Source: FSU archive.

Paul encouraged Emmett to follow him to WFS. If Emmett had any qualms about the tough curriculum, Paul would be there for Emmett, and they could coach each other as necessary. Emmett saved his money and by spring of 1900, enrolled in WFS, classified as both a third-year high school student and a freshman (the dual classification was because he had to make up academic deficiencies). Emmett managed to catch up academically, and by the end of their freshman year, both Paul and Emmett were classified as sophomores for the 1900-01 academic year.

Platonic Debating Society. 1900-01 Argo. Source: FSU archives

Platonic Debating Society. 1900-01 Argo. Source: FSU archives

Paul and Emmett were roommates. They joined clubs together, including the Platonic Debating Society. Both Paul and Emmett would eventually earn honors in their debates at WFS; the instruction Emmett earned in public speaking at WFS served him well for his entire career. But, before he earned those honors, it was a struggle for Emmett at the beginning:

Emmett's debating skills were still in transition. Source: FSU archive

Emmett’s debating skills were still in transition, as he is lampooned in the student yearbook. Source: FSU archive

As I think about Paul and Emmett’s friendship, I can see how Paul probably ‘mentored’ Emmett, especially in the debate/oratorical work. Paul won several awards for his debating skills; I can easily imagine them practicing together. Paul was definitely the top debater at WFS; Emmett had the best mentor, hands down.

Paul and Emmett stuck it out at WFS through their sophomore year; they did not return for their junior year, either because money ran out or they simply did not pass the mandatory entrance exams, which were held in September, 1901.

I definitely don’t think money was the issue with either Paul or Emmett in this case, because Paul did have the tuition, and Emmett had worked all summer to earn his tuition for the following year. In fact, I lean more toward the idea that it was because neither Paul nor Emmett were able to pass the entrance exams, which were notoriously difficult. They definitely weren’t alone, though: For example, the senior class of 1901 started out with 48 students — but only three actually made it to graduation.

A feature from 1951 about the difficult entrance exams at WFS. Source: Florida Flambeau.

A feature from 1951 about the difficult entrance exams at WFS. Source: Florida Flambeau.

What happened after Emmett and Paul’s sophomore year? Stay tuned. I’ll continue the story tomorrow.