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

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Patchwork, Progress, Petersburg!

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I could have used an extra brain last week. Image source: http://www.borg.com

It has been a crazy, patchwork kind of existence in Emmett Wilson Land over the past two weeks — a lot of writing, a lot of teaching, a lot of deadlines. My writing life has felt cobbled together, much like Dr. Frankenstein’s creature: It works, but it looks (and feels) scary and out of control.

As mentioned in the previous post, I submitted an Emmett Wilson essay to The Ponder Review, a literary journal published by the Mississippi University for Women, with only 15 minutes to spare on Monday night. It was the first essay about Emmett to a professional journal; so, I was angsty about it.  And I have to tell you — I’m not super thrilled with the final product, even after eight drafts, and significant editing. It went from a first draft of more than 6,000 words to about 2,800 words, well within the required maximum word count of 3,000.
The editing helped, but I don’t feel as good about it as I did with the little essay that went to Saw Palm.  I was well into the second draft when I realized my problem:  I wanted to get an article submitted to a literary journal so I could check a box off my bucket list.
Sure, I could have picked another journal with a later deadline; I could have planned the writing project better, definitely. I could have tried to do this article when I didn’t have two other writing deadlines to meet all within the same week! But I felt I HAD to prove to myself I could write under a tight deadline like in the old days, when I used to work for The Commercial Appeal and the Vicksburg Evening Post (now The Vicksburg News).
Now I remember why I changed from covering the education and police beats at the newspapers to a career in education:  The daily deadlines (three or more stories a day) drove me crazy.

Regardless, I’m glad for the experience. I will continue to write for literary journals, but with realistic writing plans in hand. Live and learn! And write!

This week, I’m reading the third chapter of Emmett’s manuscript this week. It is in fairly good shape; I’ve rediscovered some interesting facts about Emmett’s relationship with Frank L. Mayes, one of the protagonists in this biography.

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Frank L. Mayes of The Pensacola Journal. Champion grudge holder. And a jerk.

For instance, Emmett met Mayes at his family home in Chipley, only two days after graduating from Stetson University’s Law School. Why was the editor and publisher of West Florida’s largest newspaper at Emmett’s house in 1904? It wasn’t to laud Emmett; he was a virtual unknown.

It was, however, an important meeting for Emmett: Frank Mayes was visiting Chipley with Walter Kehoe, a friend of both Mayes and the Wilsons. Mayes was interested in building his connections in Washington County; Kehoe knew that Emmett’s father, Dr. F.C. Wilson, was one of the most important citizens in the community — and the timing was coincidental.
Mayes took note of Emmett, his achievements, his ambition, and mentally filed them away. He’d find a way to use Emmett to further his own professional goals. Emmett may not have realized at the time that Mayes was a master manipulator; I do have the impression that Emmett did not like Mayes after this first meeting.
Hmmm… Frank L. Mayes as an essay subject. Now that may be worth exploring!

Finally — I have purchased train tickets to Petersburg for an Emmett Wilson field trip!
Last summer, I posted a story about Emmett dedicating a Tiffany window at the Old Blandford Church in Petersburg, Virginia. I will be visiting Old Blandford Church and Petersburg on March 29-31 with my wonderful writing friend, Ann!
I’m also hoping to visit the Historic Petersburg Society archive — there’s old newspapers to see, specifically the one about the dedication ceremony. The ceremony was a very big deal in the community, and Emmett gave a speech. I haven’t found a transcript or text from that speech in any of the Richmond or Florida papers; I’m hoping the text of that speech was reproduced in one of the Petersburg papers. I don’t think the newspapers from 1912 have been digitized — but I will find that out this week.

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

 

Requiem

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I found this the other day at Shorpy.com. I thought it fitting, what with this being Memorial Day weekend.

As I watched this, I realized that Emmett’s father fought at Petersburg. He may have known some of the soldiers in this presentation.

Slideshow with music from Luigi Cherubini, from Shorpy.com. Photos are from Petersburg, 1865. Source: YouTube

Slideshow with music from Luigi Cherubini, from Shorpy.com. Photos are from Petersburg, 1865. Source: YouTube

Regardless of what side these men fought for, these men died fighting for what they believed in; something worth remembering this weekend.