The Jacksonville Story was once one of this city’s most popular websites. Designed, written and managed by Jacksonville librarian Glenn Emery, this website went out of existence with Glenn’s untimely death on December 16, 2006.
The loss of Glenn on December 16, 2006 was a blow to the local historical community. And for all of the teachers, students, researchers, and interested people who visited The Jacksonville Story, the loss of the website was a cause for sadness as well.
With the cooperation of Glenn’s family and the Jacksonville Historical Society, we are pleased to bring back many pages from The Jacksonville Story as a tribute to Glenn and his tireless efforts, and as a service to the community as well. Glenn’s unique voice and relentless curiosity live on in many of the stories now found in the Going, Going, Gone and Dive Into History sections of our new website.
We also understand that history is not just about the generals and the presidents, the heroes and the stars, nor is it only about the events that shake the world. History is about people and their impact on the place in which they live. Only a few people can actually change the whole world. But history reminds us that bright and courageous people who have the gifts to change a smaller world, that is, their own community, often leave behind a legacy that effects people more personally and just as memorably as the giants of nations.
Glenn Emory was such a man. He loved history with a great passion, and he had the desire to help others understand and appreciate it. He knew his stuff. He was wonderful resource. He devoted thousands of hours of his life as a librarian, leading inquiring children as well as dedicated scholars to the facts and meaning of history. He also spent thousands of hours more disseminating his knowledge into cyberspace through his website, “JacksonvilleStory.com.” ~Excerpt from Glenn‘s eulogy, written by Dr. Wayne Wood.
A sixth-generation Floridian, his roots ran deep in Florida’s sand. Glenn’s forebearers, the Sherouse family, were also early settlers of Georgia, first arriving in 1741. They fled Germany to escape the persecution of Protestants.
A native of Ocala, Glenn Emery had a master’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library & information science. He specialized in Florida history at the University of Florida. His senior thesis was entitled “The Medical World of Marion Surgical” (a hospital in 19th-century Ocala), and his master’s thesis was “Urbanization in Florida during the 1890s.” Glenn worked as a librarian in Jacksonville, and he served as the manager of a Florida history collection there for many years.
In addition to operating The Jacksonville Story website, Glenn’s personal interests included racquetball, antique Florida postcards, and the study of movie history, pop music history, and African American history. He enjoyed the music of Natalie Merchant, Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Paul Simon’s “Graceland: The African Concert.” His pride and joy was a long-haired, tiger-striped, laid-back cat named “Parrot Head.” Glenn also liked the songs and stories of Jimmy Buffett, the Florida-based leader of the flock of Buffett fans called “Parrot Heads.”
His favorite films were “Nashville,” “The Caine Mutiny,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Roots,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “A Christmas Story” (with the classic line, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”), and “Plan 9 from Outer Space” (widely regarded as the worst movie ever made, and fun to laugh at). All-time classic TV programs included “Seinfeld,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Six Feet Under,” the early episodes of “Late Night with David Letterman,” and the original “Star Trek” and “Saturday Night Live.”
Glenn’s favorite book was Joseph Girzone’s “Joshua,” the work that he reread the most. Other top choices included the writings of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the Washington, D.C. native who moved to Alachua County in 1928 and penned such Florida classics as “The Yearling” and “Cross Creek.”
Glenn wrote about his ancestors
EARLY PIONEERS ~ Today, Florida ranks as the fourth most populated state, behind only California, Texas, and New York. During the 1820s, however, all of the people in Florida would not have filled one-half of the 73,000 seats in Jacksonville’s Alltel Stadium. Fewer than 35,000 residents lived here, but some of them were Sherouses. Members of the clan moved from Georgia shortly after the U.S. bought Florida from Spain. They set up housekeeping near Florida’s oldest inland town, Micanopy. This antique lover’s paradise is located in Alachua County, about 55 miles southwest of Jacksonville, not far from Gainesville and the University of Florida.
When downtown Jacksonville burned to the ground during the Great Fire of 1901, a handful of Sherouses resided in the city. They worked in a variety of jobs, such as preaching, clerking in a bicycle shop, and maintaining the printing presses at the Times-Union & Citizen. Some lived in the historic Jacksonville neighborhood of La Villa, traditionally the home for many African Americans, as well as for Cuban Americans for a while.
One of Glenn’s ancestors wore gray during the Civil War and lost an arm during the fall of Atlanta. Great-great-grandfather Israel served as a Florida private in the Confederate army. His son Jerry earned a living as both a farmer and a coffin dealer near Windsor, a community in Alachua County. In February 2002, Jerry’s daughter Clara, Glenn’s grandmother, died in Gainesville at the age of 100.
“Granny” had long recalled the horse-and-buggy days of her youth. A favorite tale centered on the Saturday trips into Gainesville for farm supplies. At the end of a busy day of buying and socializing, young Clara and her family would start back home in a wagon. Night would quickly descend on the unlit dirt roads. Everyone in the farm cart would fall asleep — and this included her father Jerry, the driver! The horse would know where to go, though. He’d eventually pull the wagon into the front yard and then wait patiently for someone to wake up.
Panthers used to prowl the roads around Gainesville, according to Granny. Their ferocious screams could be sometimes heard at night while she and her family rolled along in their wagon. Once when Clara was only four or five, she cried out with what she considered her best panther call — and a panther roared back! “Baby,” her older brother cautioned, “You’d better be quiet or you’ll get eaten by that big cat.” Little Clara never tried to talk to a panther again.
Granny also remembered how scared she was of her one-armed grandfather, Israel. Whenever he visited, she hid under her bed. His gruff voice and mannerisms, along with his thick, white, Santa Claus beard that was stained with tobacco juice, proved too much for a four-year-old. And when her father took Clara to Israel’s house, she couldn’t believe how her granddad seemed indifferent to the bugs that floated in his soup. He simply growled, “I ate worse things when I was enlisted!”
There were fonder memories of an elderly woman, a former African American slave, who helped with the family’s cooking and washing. The service from this kind, conscientious lady proved indispensable after Clara’s mother died at a young age. (And no doubt she could’ve made a positive difference at Israel’s home.)