Birmingham Public Library
Main Residence Hall
Pickens County Courthouse
by Louis M. Finlay Jr.
Well, Steven Cleveland was an adventurer. He was born here in
Suggsville, which was quite a town back in the antebellum period. At a
young age, he went to California to participate in the gold rush. He came
back and built this house and married a local girl. He was also active in
the Civil War. He helped to organize a troop of men to go and fight in the
war. They were called "The Sons of the Grays." The story is told
that when he went off to war, they gathered here in the yard of this house
and went off to war.
Apparently, he was a very devoted family man. He had two children. As
far as I know, he was a very well-respected citizen. He was an attorney
who practiced law here.
Well, the story relates that when he went off to war, his son Walter
was asleep. And rather than wake him up and go through a painful farewell,
he rode off without saying goodbye. Walter had very hurt feelings. It took
him a long time to get over it. So the next time Steven came back, he
tried to make up for it. He promised Walter that he would never leave
again without telling him goodbye. He took Walter on horseback with him.
He rode him up the front steps and around the porch and then down the
other steps. Of course, Walter was thrilled to death. He enjoyed it and
asked to do it over and over again. And the story is told that when he
came back from the war, Walter had died. This was August of 1863. Stephen
was desolated by the death of his son. He was always close to Walter,
probably closer than he was to his daughter. The clatter of horse hooves
late at night and early in the were hours of the morning can still be
heard around the house long after Steven’s death. And the story is that
the clatter is Steven Cleveland taking his son Walter on a final ride
around the porch, the ride that he was never able to take before he died.
Many, many years ago, my wife and I and my first cousin and his wife
were spending a weekend here and were playing bridge very late one night.
I guess it was about one or two o’clock--when suddenly we heard this
loud clatter. It was unmistakably a clatter. It was not a possum or
raccoon walking on the porch. Well, we were speechless. We sat there for a
minute looking at one another. I rushed to the door and flung it open and
looked out on the porch, but nothing was in sight.
People have given their own interpretations of the story. The house is
used quite regularly by civic groups that have meetings out here. A lot of
people capitalize onto the story and they’ll go out on the porch and
make clopping sounds, like a horse is galloping on the porch, just to
scare the people inside.