John Robert Findley (1880-1957) moved with his wife Lillie Mae (1888-1958) from the Johns Creek area to Norcross shortly after they were married in 1913. In 1919, they bought the house at 135 North Peachtree Street from Amos A. Martin, a resident of Norcross since the 1880s, and they lived there for the remainder of their lives.
John R. Findley had a long career as a hardware “drummer,” or traveling salesman. He represented the Sharp-Horsey Hardware Company, a wholesale hardware dealer based in Atlanta, and visited retail hardware stores throughout Northeastern Georgia each week. In the early years in this profession he traveled by horse-drawn buggy, and he later switched to automobile travel as the roads in his territory improved.
April of 1936 brought one of North Georgia’s worst natural disasters, one that John Findley was lucky to survive. Traveling on his sales route that week, he spent the night of April 5, 1936 at the Dixie Hunt hotel in Gainesville, where he was a frequent guest. The next morning, around 8:15 a.m., the city was struck by a massive tornado that caused severe damage to the hotel, the collapse of several multi-story buildings on the Gainesville Square and the deaths of over 200 people. His family received no word from him for three days afterwards, and as a result went to Gainesville to search for him. Luckily they found that Mr. Findley had left the hotel early on the morning of April 6 for Clarksville, thus escaping injury.
John Findley’s sister Nora and daughter Hazel were both married at the family home on North Peachtree, and for some years Hazel and her husband Paul Mitcham lived in the garage apartment on the rear of the property (now a separate residence.)
John Findley’s brother Charles passed away in 1938, and Charles’ widow Sarah moved her family to the house at 313 North Peachtree when she took a job in the area in 1942. Her son John fondly remembers working for four years at Garner’s Grocery in Norcross while in high school during that era. His duties included such tasks as picking up shipments of fresh fish arriving by train from Atlanta, and delivering grocery orders to local customers after school in the store’s 1937 Ford truck.