Historical Society celebrates yuletide
By By LYDIA GRIMES Features writer
Last week I told you I would be telling you some more cemetery facts and I do want to continue with that. But first, let me tell you about the Christmas party the Escambia County Historical Society had on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2005.
The Society has a meeting once a month on the fourth Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Thomas McMillan Museum at Jefferson Davis Community College. But during the month of December, there is a Christmas party held, usually at the Ritz, the college or at a member's home.
This year was a little different. The party was held at what is known around town, the old Finlay home on Belleville Avenue. The home was built in 1903 and is the current home of Donnie and Catherine Finlay Fountain.
The Fountains graciously welcomed Society members and their guests into their home for refreshments and a tour of the house, along with some history. John David Finlay and Emily Finlay Wesley were both born in the house. They attended the party, along with Catherine Finlay Fountain's sister, Mary Finlay Martin, and Tom McMillan, who is the grandson of Ed Leigh McMillan I, who lived in the house. Another surprise guest was Diana Foshee Watson Smith, of Birmingham, whose ancestors built the house in 1903.
There were lots of stories told about the home with a lot of reminiscing of things that had happened there. Catherine told the story of the columns at the front of the house. She said they were not original, but added on later. When the T.R. Miller house next door was built, Mrs. Finlay liked the columns so much that she wanted some also. But in order for the columns to go in, there had to be something for them to support. The roofline was changed and the upstairs porch was put in. According to stories handed down to Catherine, Mrs. Foshee came back to visit and had a fit when she saw what had happened to the house.
Another story told of when John Edward Finley and his wife, Katie Leigh, lived there with their two sons, John David Finlay and Norvelle Robertson “Bob” Finlay, and her two sons from her first marriage to Edward Sylvester McMillan, Ed Leigh McMillan I and Malcolm McMillan. The four boys turned one of the downstairs rooms into their room with bunk beds. The problem was the room was directly under the parents' bedroom and the boys were making too much noise. That is when the little apartment was built off to the side of the downstairs porch. The boys were put in there when they got a little bit rowdy in the main house.
There are many stories told of the house and its occupants and they were very entertaining to those attending the Christmas party who are pictured here in front of the house.