Double the LL.B.

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Paul Carter, from the 1899 Argo, the yearbook of the West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University). The original valedictorian of the 1904 Stetson University Law Class. He didn’t finish at Stetson; rather, he took classes at Georgetown University while he was private secretary to William Bailey Lamar.

Emmett’s best friend, Paul Carter, was the original valedictorian of the Stetson University Law School Class of 1904.

But fate — a job opportunity as private secretary to U.S. Congressman William Bailey Lamar — intervened. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for a smart, ambitious 23-year-old not even out of college. According to an article in the Stetson Weekly Collegiate, Paul was supposedly to return to Stetson to graduate with his class later that year — perhaps he had an arrangement with the school to finish his last semester via correspondence? Perhaps the school would have granted him credit for his work alongside Lamar in Washington, D.C. for some of the coursework?

The Class of 1904 waited until late April to elect their replacement valedictorian, Emmett Wilson. Interestingly, Emmett was not the original choice for any of the graduation class honors when the choices were made in December,1903; valedictorian and salutatorian were decided by popular vote of the graduating law school class.


Although Paul was busy in Washington, he didn’t let his law degree ambitions fall to the side. With plenty of professional experience, law school credits, and other credentials to his name, he enrolled in Georgetown University’s Law School in 1905 as a third-year student. Even though he possessed most of the credits to graduate (i.e., he needed one more semester of coursework), he was required to finish the entire year. The curriculum was challenging for Paul, and expensive: $100 a year for tuition (books not included) on top of his living expenses in D.C. (Law school tuition at Stetson for a year was $72.60 in 1906.)

The Washington Evening Star, June 8, 1906. Source: Chronicling America.gov

On June 8, 1906, Paul received his bachelor of law degree from Georgetown University.

And —

The Deland Weekly News, June 8, 1906. Source: Chronicling America.gov

Both the Georgetown article and the Stetson article mentioning appeared on the same day. What’s up with that?

Well —

1907 Stetson University Catalog. Source: Stetson University Archives

According to the 1907 Stetson University Catalog, Paul was in Florida in time to receive his degree from Stetson University.

Immediately after the ceremony, Paul and his fellow graduates went to Jacksonville to be sworn in to the Florida Bar. Then, Paul took the train from Jacksonville back to Washington, in plenty of time to attend his second graduation at Georgetown.

So, Paul Carter earned two bachelor of law degrees within two weeks. From what I’ve learned about Paul Carter over the past three years, he was an excellent lawyer and certainly deserving of his credentials. I’m curious about the arrangement he had with Stetson that allowed for him to receive his degree given his absence for over a year (even though he continued his education at another institution).

Not So Unexceptional Sources

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Last time I checked, I realized that I’ve collected over 500 individual newspaper articles about Emmett Wilson. That’s pretty good, considering that when I started this project, I didn’t expect to find more than a few dozen, given his obscurity in Florida politics.

Granted, most of these newspaper articles aren’t anything more than a one- or two-sentence gossip column blurb about Emmett’s comings and goings. In the grand scheme of things, these would be considered unexceptional information sources.

But that’s not always the case. After four years of ‘hanging out’ with Emmett, I’ve learned that these seemingly unexceptional articles hold more information than I realized when I first discovered them. One has to look beyond the words in these little clips to understand the event, even something as simple as a report on Emmett’s comings and goings.

For example: Here’s an article I initially considered unexceptional in the first few months of Emmett’s research.

An item on the society page about a private party for select members of the Pensacola Bar. Notice that Emmett’s name is misspelled. Source: The Pensacola Journal, February 20, 1907.

Three years after finding this seemingly unimportant clip, I’ve noticed several important things about this news item.

Let’s pick this article apart for research tidbits, shall we?

===

I didn’t notice it when I first found the article (because I was only a few months into Emmett’s research), but everyone attending this dinner party had a close personal connection to the other.

First, an overview of the dinner party attendees:

Emmett and the Crawford brothers (John Thomas Gavin Crawford — or ‘John’, and William Bloxham Crawford — or ‘Billy’) attended West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University) together; Emmett and Billy Crawford were roommates and classmates at Stetson University Law School. According to the 1907 Pensacola City Directory, Billy and John Crawford were law partners.

The Crawford brothers practicing law. The partnership didn’t last but a few years. John Crawford had only been admitted to the bar in 1906. Their office was located at 300 Thiesen Building. Source: 1907 Pensacola City Directory, Ancestry.com

The Crawford’s father was none other than Henry Clay Crawford, Florida’s secretary of state, from 1902 to 1929 — an important political muckety-muck who would have absolutely known J. Walter Kehoe, who was the state attorney for Florida at this moment.

And, it stands to reason that the Crawfords would have been known well to the host of the luncheon, John Harris Smithwick, who was J. Walter Kehoe’s law partner.

Kehoe & Smithwick, located at 306 Brent Building, Pensacola. Source: 1907 Pensacola City Directory, from Ancestry.com. Notice that they are getting ready to move their office location eight days from the publication of the news article. Emmett would stay with K&S until he joined his uncle’s law partnership on January 1, 1908.

Kehoe, as you may recall from an earlier post, was Emmett’s brother Cephas L. Wilson’s law partner in Marianna. Walter and Cephas were still close friends; their wives Jennie Kehoe and Lula Wilson were best friends. Walter Kehoe also considered Emmett another son; Emmett considered Walter his mentor.

A 1905 rendering of the Brent Building. Kehoe & Smithwick were on the third floor. Source: Pensapedia.com

My photo of the Brent Building — in great shape for 112! — from my last trip to Pensacola.

Judge Francis B. Carter, of Marianna, a former Florida supreme court judge, had just joined the law firm of Blount & Blount in 1907, which then became Blount, Blount & Carter. And, yes, their office was located in the Blount Building, which was right next door to the Brent Building.

Emmett (L) and Paul Carter. Roommates, long-time friends. Paul was (supposedly) related to Judge Francis B. Carter of Marianna. Source: FSU archive.

Everyone at the luncheon obviously knew Judge Carter; but what’s really interesting is that I believe he was related distantly to Emmett’s best friend, Paul Hayne Carter.

Emmett, who had just moved to Pensacola to re-start his law practice, was temporarily sharing office space in the Kehoe-Smithwick law practice.

Recall six months earlier, Emmett returned home from the failed law partnership with Nicholas Van Sant. And then, there was the rumor that Emmett enjoyed his liquor a bit too much, which might have had something to do with his sudden, but not openly discussed return to Florida without professional prospects. Emmett relocated to Pensacola because he’d be able to heal his wounded pride away from the reproving looks of family and friends in Marianna.

Emmett’s appointment as acting U.S. District Attorney in February becomes permanent in September. Source: PEN, September 7, 1907.

Emmett was the most obscure member of this luncheon party, but things were looking up for him. On February 1, 1907, Emmett was named acting assistant district attorney for the Northern District of Florida (it would become official in September, 1907). There were several local Pensacola attorneys up for the post because it was prominent and paid $1,500 a year — approximately $39,186 in 2017 dollars. Emmett didn’t get this appointment on his own; and in fact, had told the media he hadn’t even pursued it.

It is important to note that at least three of the men attending this luncheon helped persuade Department of Justice officials to select Emmett over the other, more experienced Pensacola lawyers. Given the right guidance and opportunities, Emmett would become a man of consequence in his own right.

Emmett himself may not have realized it, but it appears that he was being looked over, scrutinized for his usefulness in Florida politics by party leaders. It was too soon for anyone to get the idea that Emmett would be ideal material to shape into a future U.S. Congressional candidate, but this is when it started.

And isn’t it interesting how these guys were all so interconnected?

===

Over the next several posts, I’ll do a closer look at the luncheon attendees, and their relationships to Emmett and each other in Florida politics.

 

Grits the Dog

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The Internet says today is National Puppy Day, and with that, I give you a little story about a dog in Emmett’s life, named Grits.

‘Grits’ the dog. Source: The Stetson Collegiate, January 1903

While Emmett attended Stetson University from 1902 to 1904, it turns out that he had group ownership of a yellow Labrador Retriever/pit bull terrier mix. The dog was similar to the one in the photo, below.

Source: Dogbreedinfo.com

Grits was the mascot and house pet of the residents of East Hall.

More on East Hall and their mascot, “Grits.” Source: The Stetson Collegiate, April 1903.

East Hall housed between 12-15 men enrolled in Stetson’s law school. Apparently, it wasn’t uncommon for the dorm residents to adopt a dog or cat. It doesn’t look like “Grits” belonged specifically to Emmett, or to any one of the residents, but would likely have been left behind when the students left campus for summer vacation.

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

Emmett only spent that one semester (Spring 1902) as a resident of East Hall; he spent the remainder of his time living in an off-campus boarding house on Rich Avenue, and commuting (either on his bicycle or walking the three or four blocks) to his daily classes. I doubt that Emmett’s landlady would have allowed Emmett a dog while at the boarding house on Rich Avenue.

It isn’t clear if Emmett had pets growing up, but it seems likely he had dogs, as he would go hunting and fishing with his brothers. While he was living with Cephas in Marianna, there was definitely a family dog in residence.

There’s something about realizing Emmett liked dogs and had pets that appeals to me. So much of the research into his story has revealed a lot of sadness and disconnection from important personal relationships in his short life. Thinking about Emmett spending time with a beloved dog, enjoying time spent with a companion pet, is comforting.

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.

Emmett & The Protest March

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With all the protests going on in and around Washington lately, I wondered if Emmett Wilson ever participated in a march or protest?

At first, I couldn’t have imagined it; certainly not in Chipley or Marianna, Florida. What would there be to launch a protest in either of these small towns in the early 1900s? Not that there wouldn’t or couldn’t be a protest, but neither town seems to have had any issues where a protest would be called for.

And, if a protest opportunity did come about, Emmett’s father, Dr. F.C. Wilson, or older brother Cephas Wilson (with whom he lived in Marianna) would have counseled him otherwise:

“You have plans to be a lawyer and a judge one day, as well as a career in politics. Do you think voters would take you seriously if you were out protesting, making a spectacle of yourself?”

And knowing Emmett, he’d have listened.

But given the opportunity — and a good reason — I think he might have participated in a protest. In fact, while Emmett was at Stetson University, I believe he did, when the president of Stetson University was caught in an affair with a teacher.

Here’s the story I wrote about it, which appeared in this blog last year:


The President and the Kindergarten Teacher

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John Forbes. Source: Stetson University Archives

“If you were a student on the Stetson campus, and you observed the married president of Stetson University climbing out of the women’s dorm window well past calling hours, you’d think it suspicious too. Right?

“So did students and faculty members who witnessed this event (and others like it) during the summer of 1901. It was unseemly. It was scandalous, and students and faculty were outraged.

“The scandal mentioned in the clip, above, is the story of a summertime hookup between Stetson President John Forbes and normal school instructor Lena B. Mathes, who lived in Chaudoin Hall, along with other women students and faculty members. See page 15 in the Ryan essay, at the link here, for one version of what happened. The Rupert Longstreet essay, which includes more details (including reported evidence of a botched abortion or a miscarriage), is particularly interesting. See page 18 for that version. Also, there’s Olga Bowen’s oral history of Stetson University, which includes a section on the Forbes-Mathes scandal. The transcript can be found here, beginning on page 50.

“Additionally, the Stetson University Archive has the a collection of the documents related to the scandal available online. (The transcripts from the hearing are in the collection, but not online.) As Longstreet stated in his essay, “…it was naturally assumed that where there was so much smoke, there must at least be a small bonfire” (p. 18). It was clear, from the numerous witnesses’ testimony (which was graphic and corroborated), that there was something illicit between Forbes and Mathes. What was amazing was that many of the trustees still didn’t think Forbes was guilty despite the large amount of testimony.”

Source: EmmettWilsonBook.com


Emmett and his fellow students circulated a petition in defense of Forbes and the university:

Emmett signed the petition in support of Forbes and against John B. Stetson's attempts to denigrate Forbes. Source: Deland Weekly News 1903.

Emmett signed the petition in support of Forbes and against John B. Stetson’s attempts to denigrate Forbes. Source: Deland Weekly News 1903.

The Deland Weekly News also mentioned civil unrest while the hearing was taking place; i.e., posters were torn down from store windows and other displays encouraging the removal of Forbes as president of Stetson University. It was noted that students from Stetson were the ones tearing down the posters, and that they were agitated. True, this was not exactly a protest or riot; no specific student was named, and no one was arrested.

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The near-riot in Deland by the student body, as reported in The Chipley Banner, March 5, 1903.

Emmett and his fellow students who signed the petition felt strongly loyal to their university and Forbes; it would not be a stretch to imagine that he participated in tearing down the posters denigrating Forbes and Stetson University. The Deland Weekly News did not mention any addition property damage; nor did it mention any other organized protests related to the hearings.

Emmett as protester? As rioter?

It’s possible!

Scandal Sidetrack

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For the past week, I’ve been working on the section of the book about Emmett’s graduation ceremony from Stetson University, and searching for Emmett’s valedictory speech.

While the archive has a few things from 1904, such as Emmett’s commencement program, Emmett’s speech isn’t there — and unless his Elusive Scrapbooks turn up, I doubt I’ll find it.

Emmett's law school commencement program. Source: Stetson University Archives

Emmett’s law school commencement program. Source: Stetson University Archives

I had a feeling that there was some media coverage of this event, as Stetson’s law school was the first of its kind in Florida — and, Stetson was considered a big deal in Deland/Volusia County. So, I next examined the local papers for May 23-24,1904, for any coverage of the Stetson commencement, and bingo! Two lengthy articles about the commencement by two different newspapers!

The first article, from the DeLand Weekly News provided only a complimentary overview of the entire week’s commencement celebrations. There was only general praise for Emmett, but no particulars, no transcript about his speech.

The second article was something else entirely.

The commencement coverage from The Volusia County Record, May 28, 1904 -- but the lead is about an unnamed 'scandal'. Source: The Volusia County Record, May 28, 1904

The commencement coverage from The Volusia County Record, May 28, 1904 — but the lead is about an unnamed ‘scandal’. Source: The Volusia County Record, May 28, 1904

Stetson’s graduation — the subject — is buried several inches down in the next column. What scandal does the writer mean?

Of course, I had to track this one down, and temporarily sidetrack Emmett’s graduation, especially if it was big enough to push a different subject out of its own news article!

The President and the Kindergarten Teacher

If you were a student on the Stetson campus, and you observed the married president of Stetson University climbing out of the women’s dorm window well past calling hours, you’d think it suspicious too. Right?

So did students and faculty members who witnessed this event (and others like it) during the summer of 1901. It was unseemly. It was scandalous, and students and faculty were outraged.

The scandal mentioned in the clip, above, is the story of a summertime hookup between Stetson President John Forbes and normal school instructor Lena B. Mathes, who lived in Chaudoin Hall, along with other women students and faculty members. See page 15 in the Ryan essay, at the link here, for one version of what happened. The Rupert Longstreet essay, which includes more details (including reported evidence of a botched abortion or a miscarriage), is particularly interesting. See page 18 for that version. Also, there’s Olga Bowen’s oral history of Stetson University, which includes a section on the Forbes-Mathes scandal. The transcript can be found here, beginning on page 50.

Additionally, the Stetson University Archive has the a collection of the documents related to the scandal available online. (The transcripts from the hearing are in the collection, but not online.) As Longstreet stated in his essay, “…it was naturally assumed that where there was so much smoke, there must at least be a small bonfire” (p. 18). It was clear, from the numerous witnesses’ testimony (which was graphic and corroborated), that there was something illicit between Forbes and Mathes. What was amazing was that many of the trustees still didn’t think Forbes was guilty despite the large amount of testimony.

From The Minneapolis Journal, January 30, 1903

From The Minneapolis Journal, January 30, 1903. Source: GenealogyBank.com

A hearing was held to remove Forbes. Forbes submitted his resignation in September, 1903; the board accepted it at their annual meeting in February 1904.

The trustees decided to ‘exonerate’ both Forbes and Mathes, to silence the gossip and to put the issue to rest as best they could.

Exonerated, but the damage was done. Source: The DeLand Weekly News, 1904.

Exonerated, but the damage was done. Source: The DeLand Weekly News, 1904.

The reputation of Stetson was in trouble at the start of 1904; the new president, Lincoln Hulley, had to dig the university out of a major economic hole, and to rebuild a relationship with John B. Stetson.

According to Ryan, Forbes left for New York, and, with colleagues, purchased the Rochester Business Institute, and spent the rest of his life at that institution.

Mathes had already left the university to ‘recover from an illness.’ She wouldn’t return.

Convalescent from what? Source: Stetson University Archives, March 1902

Convalescent from what? Source: Stetson Weekly Collegiate, Stetson University Archives, March 1902

Out of curiosity, I looked into her background, briefly. She was married to George McCown Mathes, who lived in Turkey Creek, Florida. The U.S. Census for 1900 lists George Mathes as a farmer. Lena, on the other hand, appears to have lived separately from George for quite some time, as she’s listed as faculty member at Stetson as of 1900, according to the Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Florida, 1903 (the report includes faculty disbursements from 1900 up to 1903). In thinking about why she lived separately from her husband and family (it would be unusual in 1900), consider the fact that George was 62, and Lena was 38. The big age difference might have been a factor; that, plus she was considered a talented teacher who was active in her professional association. She probably liked teaching better than farm life, but I’m only guessing.

From The School Journal, January 26, 1901. Source: Google Books

From The School Journal, January 26, 1901. Lena was active in her professional societies. Source: Google Books

After the publicity in 1903, Lena didn’t return to Stetson; she went back to teach in Turkey Creek, but not without difficulty.

From the Tampa Tribune, September 29, 1905. Source: GenealogyBank.com

From the Tampa Tribune, September 29, 1905. Source: GenealogyBank.com

Life in Florida with this cloud of the scandal following her must have been difficult.

George Mathes died in 1906, in Turkey Creek, Florida.

Eventually, Lena moved to North Carolina, as she is listed in 1909 as the principal of Spencer High School in Spencer N.C.

The 1910 U.S. Census reports that she moved to Chicago and was listed as having her own income.

Lena Mathes died in 1951, in Baltimore, Maryland.


So, what did Emmett think about all of this as it unfolded?

Emmett signed the petition in support of Forbes and against John B. Stetson's attempts to denigrate Forbes. Source: Deland Weekly News 1903.

Emmett signed the petition in support of Forbes and against John B. Stetson’s attempts to denigrate Forbes. Forbes tendered his resignation in September, 1903, but left in February, 1904. Source: Deland Weekly News 1903.

Emmett sided with President Forbes against John B. Stetson and his attempts to denigrate Forbes. There’s mention of a pamphlet that John B. Stetson had published that outlined the details behind Forbes’ ousting; I wonder if Emmett read it, or, had a chance to read ALL of the testimony, or to hear ALL sides of the issue? He was a lawyer-in-training. Surely he and his fellow law students (and the law professors) were discussing this case.

Given what we know as we look at this case, 100 years later, it seems hard for me to believe that Emmett would have given Forbes a pass on what happened. It’s clear that Forbes acted dishonorably not only to his wife and family, but in his capacity as president.

But, Emmett and his colleagues who signed the petition may not have been privy to all of the testimony. I can see how, also, how Lena Mathes could have been made the fall person for this whole situation. We don’t know.


I should be back to posting more regularly — and back to writing Emmett’s chapters, now that summer is in full swing, and I’ve had a chance to step back from a few other projects that I was closing out at the start of June.

The Company He Kept

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Yesterday, I came across this little article, nothing more than a little snippet from a news roundup about weekly goings-on in Washington, D.C.

Emmett in Washington, D.C., in high-powered company. Source: Genealogybank.com

Emmett in Washington, D.C., in high-powered company. Source: Genealogybank.com

It was something easily overlooked, buried away on the second page of the paper.  Actually, I found it about two years ago, when I was busily collecting anything and everything that had ‘Emmett Wilson’ in it, and filing it away to read/reference later.

Now, three years into Emmett’s research, I now see that it is full of information about Emmett. It speaks volumes to me about Emmett’s ambition, his resiliency, and what he was willing to do to make it big in West Florida politics.

I say all of this because I’ve been in a bit of writer’s funk for the past week. I’m stuck in the middle of a chapter that is going nowhere. When that happens, frustration builds, because I think I should be much further along with the manuscript than I am at present — bla, bla, bla — and then, I have an experience like I did yesterday, of looking back at a seemingly minor and unimportant article, and recognizing important details.

Two years ago, I didn’t (and couldn’t) see the importance of this short article, and now I do.


Why is this little article important? Here’s the back story:

In 1904, Emmett was the valedictorian of the Stetson University Law Class of 1904, a young man full of promise and potential, and energy. He had it made, too. This was a young man who (unlike most of his graduating class) had a job ready to go in his profession of choice upon graduation, a home where he would live rent-free, and powerful and important political contacts to use in fledging his career.

Emmett never had to ‘apply’ for a job at any time in his entire 35-year existence. Seriously.

Emmett never had to scan want ads in a newspaper, or sign up with a placement agency. He never had the experience of sitting in a stuffy reception room, sweating it out with other applicants, perhaps fiddling with his uncomfortable three-inch collar while waiting for his name to be called for an interview. He didn’t have to worry about the interview questions. He really didn’t have to ever worry about unemployment. Must have nice, huh?

Every single job he had was provided to him, by a family member.  No effort (and, so it seems, no significant experience) required.

Once Emmett started whatever job he had, he worked hard. I know this — his work ethic is mentioned several times across his career. We really don’t know what the actual quality of his overall work product was — but it had to have been at least adequate for him to represent clients. He didn’t win every single case, but he didn’t lose every single case, either.

During his first year as an attorney, his cases weren’t all that exciting: Mostly, his clients were either plaintiffs or defendants in lewd cohabitation, bigamy, assumption, partition, and embezzlement cases. My friend, the excellent Sue Tindel (the clerk and archivist of the Jackson County [FL] Court), once commented to me that Emmett was either a fiery, aggressive attorney or there was some influence that got him appointed federal prosecutor in 1907, because his court experience appears limited.

I rather think it was the latter, based on how Emmett was ‘given’ every one of the jobs he ever held — and — given the fact that two years after he graduated from law school, Emmett was jobless, homeless, and having to move back home with his father for a short period.

That must have been a hugely humbling experience for Emmett.


Emmett meets this guy, Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. I wonder if he could have imagined that, 18 months earlier? Source: Biography.com

Emmett mets this guy, Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. I wonder if he could have imagined that, 18 months earlier? Source: Biography.com

Back to the topic of the article in today’s post: Eighteen months after Emmett hit bottom, he’s apparently near the top again, as he is in the company of several highly important political figures in West Florida history, to meet the 26th President of the United States.

It is unclear why this group was in Washington, but one name jumps right out at me: General W.A. Maxwell. That would be Walker Anderson Maxwell, Emmett’s uncle, brother to Evelyn Croom Maxwell (with whom Emmett was a law partner in 1908) of Pensacola, son of Augustus Emmett Maxwell.

There isn’t a lot of information available about Walker, but this is what I’ve discovered so far:

In 1900, Walker was enumerated in the Phillips household, in Marianna, Florida. He was listed as a boarder, and was a bookkeeper by profession. Walker would have known (and seen) his nephews Emmett and Cephas on a regular basis.

Wedding announcement from The Richmond Dispatch, January 15, 1902. There must be an error in the reporting, as Judge Augustus E. Maxwell's actual death was in 1903. Source: Virginia Herald archives.

Wedding announcement from The Richmond Dispatch, January 15, 1902. There must be an error in the reporting, as Judge Augustus E. Maxwell died in May, 1903. Source: Virginia Herald archives.

In 1902, Walker married Emilie Cussen in Richmond Virginia.

I wasn’t able to locate any military service associated with Walker, but then, I found a source that indicated that his title was an honorific often given to members of the Florida governor’s staff.

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.gove

Walker Maxwell died in 1909 at age 48. I have a request in for the death certificate; I’m curious about the sudden death. The newspaper’s explanation (above) is worded very much like Emmett’s obituary; an ‘illness’ which, in reality, was not of a ‘short duration’ at all.


I’ll present a quick sketch of the other members of the group listed in the first article in a follow-up post. I remember once reading an article from Emmett’s days at Stetson, when he vocalized great disdain for the hero of San Juan Hill. After I dig around a little bit into these other fellows’ lives, I may be able to figure out why this group of important Florida Democrats would visit Teddy Roosevelt.

For now, I feel the muse speaking to me about the book chapter that’s been driving me crazy this past week.