Friday, April 28, 2006

"that good brave, noble, valuable friend..."

Dr. John L. Finlayson
[Photo from Florida State Archives]
Fairly prosperous land and slave owners before the war, the Finlayson family had suffered financially, particularly during the 1864 Union arm raid known as "the Battle of Marianna." The oldest son, Dr. John L. Finlayson, a Confederate army veteran, born in 1838, was about two years older about than Hamilton and Purman and became close friends with the two men. Remarkably, Finlayson allied himself with the Bureau, providing medical services to freedmen and teaching adults at the Bureau night school in Marianna. He attended a Florida Republican convention in 1867 and accepted appointments as Bureau medical officer and later clerk of court for Jackson County (July 1868). Dr. Finlayson was shot dead by a concealed assassin on the night of Feb. 26, 1869 in the town of Marianna while walking together with Purman after attending a minstrel performance by the local army garrison. Shortly after John's death, his sister Mary Martha married Charles Hamilton. In October 1871, sister Leodora married Purman. In a letter to Dickinson, Hamilton recalled Finlayson, "that good brave, noble, valuable friend, whom I loved with an almost holy affection." John L. Finlayson's burial place is unknown.

Addendum (Jan. 2007):
Reading through the Florida legislative journals, I learned that Finlayson's assassination was followed by the "almost immediate death of his wife, who fell an innocent victim to grief in devotion to her husband." The Finlaysons left behind "two little orphans": Sallie (born about 1865) and John P. (born Nov. 1867). In Jan. 1870, state Senator Purman introduced a bill entitled "An Act for the relief of the children of Dr. John L. Finlayson, late Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jackson county." The bill passed and the children were awarded an annual payment of $300 for the period of ten years.

Addendum (Feb. 2007)
The orphaned Finlayson children, John P. and Sallie, are listed in the 1870 census living in Mobile, Ala. with a family named Bond. Presumably the Bonds are the family of their late mother. John P. continued to live in Mobile, married Lillie Ellen Barry, and had a son in 1895 whom he named John Purman Finlayson. "Purman Finlaysons" have resided in Mobile to this day. According to a descendant, the family became quite successful in the grocery business.

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