"What has become of Prof. Wiley," asked the Ocala Evening Star on September 6, 1915.1 Joseph L. Wiley, longtime principal of Fessenden Academy at Martin, had mysteriously disappeared on July 1 while in Ocala to attend a movie. He had parked his car on West Broadway and walked to the Temple Theater downtown. The next morning his car was still there, but Wiley was never seen again. His financial affairs were in order, he had drawn no money from the bank, and his family and possessions remained behind. Rumors abounded as to his whereabouts. Many local blacks believed that he had been murdered. An acquaintance, writing years later, recalled that gossip at the time hinted that the slender, light-skinned, straight-haired teacher may have decided to leave the area and pass as white somewhere else. But, she added, “I have never been sure that he was not merely taken to a swamp or out to sea.“2 Whether Wiley simply had disappeared or had been killed, Fessenden Academy and the community had lost a prominent leader and educator.
Richardson, Joe M.
"Joseph L. Wiley: A Black Florida Educator,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 71:
4, Article 5.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol71/iss4/5