Cold Facts

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All together, we have about 30 inches of snow on the ground at my house. My husband has dug a path down the driveway to the street … which probably won’t be shoveled by the county until Wednesday.

The view of my driveway to the street -- as if we could drive anywhere. That's 30 inches of snow at the end of my driveway.

The view of my driveway to the street — as if we could drive anywhere. That’s 30 inches of snow at the end of my driveway. No plows through the subdivision yet. We’re usually last because our street isn’t near a major route.

Looking back at my house.

Looking back at my house.

My neighbor's house is behind that big pile of snow, which is over my head.

My neighbor’s house is behind that big pile of snow, which is over my head.

I’m not going anywhere for a few days. Thankfully, we have plenty of provisions and firewood, and PEPCO has been on its toes — no lack of power.

The kids will be out of school until (most likely) Thursday. I can work from here except for actual writing on the book; unfortunately, with the young kids in and out all day, it is too distracting. So, I decided to spend time checking back with archives, checking in with sources, revisiting outlines, organizing information. And just out of curiosity, I checked, and yes, Mercury is in retrograde. Ironic?

Checking back in with sources is often the step that gets overlooked or forgotten, so I don’t consider this negative, or as if I’m spinning my wheels.

It’s been productive over the last few days, too.

  • On Friday, I checked into Florida State University’s Heritage Protocol & University Archives, and discovered they’ve added the Platonic Debating Society Book, 1897-1904. The book includes meeting minutes, debates, assignment of officers and debate contestants. According to the collection note:
    Platonic Debating Society, 1900. Emmett is in the back row, fifth from left. Source: FSU archives

    Platonic Debating Society, 1900. Emmett is in the back row, fifth from left. Source: FSU archives

    “The order of business for regular meetings included such proceedings as regular debate, decision of judges, irregular debate, decision by the house, and the appointment of debaters, officers and committees. During regular debates, each speaker was given fifteen minutes to make his argument and five minutes for a rejoinder.”  This is where Emmett would have practiced his early debates, and gained debating skills and feedback! Imagine — finding text of some of his early speeches! I’ve asked for a copy of anything relating to him from this book. I can’t wait to hear back from the archivist!

  • And heeerrreeee's Bryan! Third row, third from the right. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

    Wynter Elijah Bryan Smith. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

    The excellent Sue Tindel over at the Jackson (Florida) County Clerk’s office found contact information for the grandson of Eudora (‘Dora’) Neely Wilson Smith. Dora was the oldest daughter of Dr. FC and Elizabeth Wilson; she was about four years older than Katie Wilson Meade. I have no photos of Dora, or anything else other than a few clippings from various newspapers about her life. Her husband was Wynter Elijah Bryan Smith, a lawyer and state representative. They had one child, a daughter. That daughter had one child, a son. I have written a letter to the gentleman, and I hope to hear back from him.

  • Yesterday, I spent most of the day tracking down Meade Wilson’s descendants. He had two sons, Meade Jr. and Francis M. Wilson. Both are deceased; Meade Jr. did not have children. Unfortunately, I’ve found out that Francis M. Wilson and his son, Francis Jr., are also now deceased. The last known address of the family was Lakeland, Florida.

The challenge: Once you get into the third generation (great-grandchildren) and beyond, the likelihood that memorabilia, letters, and so forth about any of the original Wilson siblings is greatly reduced.

However, it would seem to me that if a member of a family held national- or state-elected office, that information would be worth keeping, or, donating to a library or historical society.

My next task will be to check in with state and local libraries and historical societies, for new additions.

 

 

 

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Circle of Family: Dora Wilson Smith

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Emmett had two sisters: Eudora Neely Wilson Smith, and Catherine Elizabeth Wilson Meade. They went by “Dora” and “Katie.”

I’ve introduced you to Katie Wilson Meade already; Emmett was very close to Katie, who was born in British Honduras about five years before Emmett and Julian.

Even after two years of digging around in Wilson family arcana, Dora is still a bit of a mystery to me. I simply don’t know that much about her; I haven’t been able to locate a lot of information just yet. (I’m also thin on information about a few of Emmett’s other siblings as well). I’ve not been able to locate descendants, either.

Here’s what I know about Dora:

  • She was born in 1875 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, when Emmett’s parents had moved in with Elizabeth Wilson’s sister and brother-in-law, Everard and Lucy Maxwell Meade. This was right before the entire family moved to British Honduras, where Emmett would be born.
  • She earned a teaching certificate to teach third grade in Washington County (I have no record that she did, though).
  • Around 1900, she and her sister Katie moved to Marianna, to live with their older brother Cephas and his family (wife Lula; daughter Kathleen, son, Ceph Jr.).
  • About 1902, Dora married Wynter Elijah Bryan Smith, a lawyer, who eventually served as Mayor of Marianna, and he served in the state legislature in 1909. Family information indicates he went by “Bryan.”
Members of the 1909 House of Representatives, Tallahassee, Florida. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Members of the 1909 House of Representatives, Tallahassee, Florida. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

 

And heeerrreeee's Bryan! Third row, third from the right. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

And heeerrreeee’s Bryan! Third row, third from the right. Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

 

I’m not exactly sure where Dora and Bryan lived in Marianna, but I found an interesting story in the Jackson (Florida) County Times about the Smith family; there’s mention of a historic home there called Great Oaks. It is unclear if Dora and Bryan actually lived there; but Bryan’s family did. It would be great if there were artifacts or documents related to Dora and Bryan (and of course, anything relevant to Emmett). I know Emmett and Bryan had some interactions over the years related to law cases and politics. I’m not certain that this was a close relationship, though.

Minimally, I’d love to find a photograph of Dora. I’m also interested in her middle name, “Neely.” I haven’t seen that in any of the Wilson or Maxwell genealogies to date.

All I have is a graveyard shot of Dora's head stone. I'd love to see a photo of her. Source: Find-a-grave.com

All I have is a graveyard shot of Dora’s head stone. I’d love to see a photo of her. Source: Find-a-grave.com

Perhaps I’ll find a photo of her when I make the research trip down to Marianna in September. Maybe I’ll luck out and some out there will have a photo of her! I hope!


I’ve been writing up a storm the past three days. I’ll be back in a day or so to give you an update.