Clay County

Biography - The Finch Family

Sir Heneage Finch was the first Earl of Nottingham, England (1682), and was Lord Chancellor of England. He was descended from an old family, many of whose numbers had attained a high eminence in the legal profession; and he was the oldest son of Sir Heneage Finch, the Recorder of London. He was born in Kent, December 23, 1621, educated at Westminster and became a member of the Inner Temple, 1638; he was admitted to the bar in 1645, and became one of the leading members thereof, being called the "English Cicero". He was chosen a member of the Convention Parliament in 1660, and shortly afterward appointed Solicitor-General, and in 1675 Lord Chancellor. In 1660 he was also created a baronet, and in 1670 he was made Attorney General. He died in Great Queen Street, Lincoln Inn Fields, December 18, 1682, and was buried in Ravenstone in Bucks. He was spoken of as the father of equity, and was the originator of the Statutes of Frauds, which are accepted in America and England as universal law and justice. He also published some of the speeches in the trials of the Judges of King Charles I, in 1660, and later emulated himself with other publications appertaining to the execution of King Charles I, but was not their author.

Sir Daniel Finch was the second Earl of Nottingham, and the son of Sir Heneage Finch, was born in 1647, and died January 1, 1730. He entered Parliament in 1679, and was one of the privy counselors who in 1685 signed the order for the proclamation of the Duke of York, but kept away from the court during the reign of James the II. After the abdication of James II, he was one of the leaders of the party who were favorable to the establishment of the Regency. He declined the office of Lord-Chancellor under the reign of William and Mary, but accepted that of Secretary of State, and filled that position until December, 1693, and he also held the same office under Queen Anne in 1702, and retired in 1704. On the accession of George the First he was made President of the Council and withdrew from office in January 1716; on the 9th day of September, 1729, he succeeded to the Earldom of Winchelsea and died on the 1st day of January, 1730.

Sir John Finch was a son of Sir Daniel Finch, the second Earl of Nottingham, was counsel to the Crown under George II, in the early part of his reign, and for his strong liberal views, and the active interest he took in espousing the cause of liberalism he was by King George the Second, banished from the realm, and coming to America, landed at the port of Boston, and married somewhere in the eastern part of Massachusetts, and after a time emigrated to New York, and founded what is taken to be the Northern branch of the Finch family. To Sir John Finch, the banished counselor of the court of King George the Second, were born two sons, whose names were respectively, Isaac F. Finch and John Finch; Isaac Finch and John Finch left their homes in the State of New York and settled in Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, sometime previous to the Revolutionary war; they engaged in the milling business in an extensive way; and when the Revolutionary war broke out they were each at the head of a large family.

Isaac Finch enlisted in the Revolutionary war, and John remained at home to look after the families of his brother Isaac and his own, and also their property; they were then living in Wyoming Valley, at Fort Forty. Isaac Finch was killed in the battle of the Wyoming Massacre, July 3, 1778, and John and his entire family were massacred at the same time. Unto Isaac Finch and Amy Finch, his wife, were born five sons and five daughters, and the names of these children were: Isaac, Moses, John, Enos, Amy, Rebecca, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary and Solomon. On the 4th day of July, 1778, Amy Finch, the widow of Isaac Finch, with the aid of faithful servants, loaded her household effects into a wagon drawn by a pair of oxen, and with all the children, excepting Isaac Finch and Amy Finch, who were then visiting in Massachusetts, prepared to fly from the recent scene of the bloody carnival. As the wagon was about to pull out with the household goods and children, a number of Indians seeing one of the servants standing by the wagon, with savage yells and flourishing tomahawks rushed upon him and with their tomahawks dashed out his brains, bespattering with blood and brains the five-months old baby of the deceased Isaac Finch and his widow, who was lying upon the bed-clothing in the wagon. The name of this five-months old baby was Solomon Finch, the last-born. The widow of Isaac Finch, together with these children, then took their departure from the scene of the massacre and after many days of tedious, tiresome and dangerous travel, made their way through swamp and wilderness for some three hundred miles to Genesee county, New York, where they were finally given shelter, food and clothing, and abided until they were joined by the son and daughter who had gone on the visit to Massachusetts. They finally built them a house of logs and remained in this settlement for some years, and until the children were grown and married.

It seems that all the children of Isaac and Amy Finch were married in this part of New York, except Solomon, who again returned to the scene of the battle where his father and other relatives had met their death, and there married a Sarah Gardner, whose father owned the battlefield on which had been fought the bloody battle of Wyoming, and here he was married, and soon afterward returned to Genesee county, New York, and joined his relatives. He was married on the 13th day of March, 1804.

Solomon Finch was born on the 31st day of January, 1778, married to Sarah Gardner on the 13th day of March, 1804, and died on Elm Creek farm, Clay county, Illinois, in June, 1851, at the age of seventy-three; and to this union were born Rebecca, Mary, James Gardner, Almena, Solomon, Tomkins and Amos Parm Finch. Rebecca Finch was born January 5, 1805, in the Wyoming Valley, in Pennsylvania, married to George Shirts in Indiana, November 29, 1821, and to this union were born William Shirts, February 12, 1823, who died in 1885; Augustus Finch Shirts, November 26, 1824; Mary E. Shirts, July 26, 1826; Angeline Shirts, November 26, 1828; Sarah Shirts, November 29, 1830, and Hiram G. Shirts, July 15, 1834; in May, 1842, after the death of George Shirts, Rebecca Finch Shirts was married to Jay Ridgeway, to whom was born Solomon Ridgeway. Rebecca Finch Shirts died in 1873.

Mary Finch, born January 24, 1807, in Genesee county, New York, and was married to Hiram Finch, son of John Finch, who was the son of Isaac Finch, November 28, 1829, and to this union was born one son, Henry Clay Finch; Mary Finch died December 29, 1839.

James Gardner Finch was born October 16, 1809, in Rochester, New York, and was married to Sarah Woodborn, November 28, 1833, settled in Clay county, in November, 1839, and to this union was born one son, Francis M. Finch, April 29, 1837, who died in Andersonville prison, July 27, 1864. After the death of Sarah Woodburn Finch, James Gardner Finch married Mary Ann Purdom on the 21st day of July, 1839, and to this union were born Walton H. Finch, October 13, 1840, and he died in Pamona, California in 1894, leaving a large family. Cynthia C. Finch was born February 24, 1845; John C. Finch, born January 23, 1847; George W. Finch, born June 21, 1849, and died in Harper county, Kansas, in 1896, leaving a large family; Henry Clay Finch, born October 1, 1852: Charles Sumner Finch, born July 24, 1856; Florence Evaline Finch (Kelly), born March 24, 1858; Almena Finch, born in the State of New York, January 13, 1812, married to Stephen Knolton, afterwards to Benjamin Creus, and later to Gabriel Manly, the latter to whom she bore one daughter, Emma Manly, July 28, 1832; Emma Manly married A. J. Hurlock in 1862, and after his death she again married John Ryan, in Kansas, 1876.

Emily Finch was born to Solomon and Sarah Finch, May 12, 1816, and died October 13, 1871.

Augustus H. Finch was born to Solomon and Sarah Finch September 1, 1818, and died November 12, 1820.

Solomon Tompkins Finch was born to Solomon and Sarah Gardner Finch in Hamilton county, in the state of Indiana, on the 21st day of November, 1820, and in February 1847, he moved with his parents to Clay county, Illinois, where his mother, Sarah Gardner Finch, died June, 1847, and on the 22d day of July 1847, he was joined in marriage with Bethsheba Long, who was born April 15, 1831, and who was the second daughter of Rosamond and Hanna Stanford Long, and to this union were born Rebecca Margaret Finch in April 1852, and who died with premature consumption in March, 1868. Mary Elizabeth Finch, who was born in Flora, Clay county, Illinois, on the 25th day of September 1854 (being the first child born in the city of Flora), and Solomon Tompkins Finch on the 23d day of February 1857, in the town of Flora, Illinois. On the 14th day of April 1857, Solomon T. Finch died, leaving surviving him Bethsheba Long Finch, his widow, and the three children, viz.: Rebecca Margaret, Mary Elizabeth and Solomon Tompkins Finch. Solomon Tompkins Finch, son of Solomon Finch and Sarah Gardner Finch, was the first business man in Flora, Clay county, Illinois, having embarked there into business with one George Harter, under the firm name of Finch & Harter, which continued until his death. In 1870 Bethsheba Long Finch on the 15th day of February was married to John Resen Finch, who was a son of Aaron, and grandson of John Finch, who was a brother of Moses and Solomon Finch. To this union was born one child, Martha Luella Finch, on the 7th day of February 1871, and on the 16th day of July 1871, Bethsheba Long Finch departed this life.

Amos Parm Finch was married to Louisa Griffith August 10, 1852, and to this union was born one son, Hiram Clayton Finch, on the 11th day of May, 1854, and after the death of Louisa Griffith Finch, Amos Parm Finch married Sarah Elizabeth Davis on the 5th day of December, 1860, and to this union were born Rosa Belle Finch, August 21, 1861; Henry Ernest Finch, August 28, 1868; he married Sarah E. Sibler; Clarence A. Finch, February 6, 1872, married Lulu Morrean on November 17, 1895, and Maggie Elizabeth Finch, November 3, 1875.

Mary Elizabeth Finch was on the 3d day of February, 1876, married to John Minor Cunningham, whose father was an early settler in Clay county, Illinois, and to this union were born three children, viz.: Fremont Cunningham, born on the 29th day of November, 1876, and died six years later. Nelle Cunningham was born September 19, 1878, and was married to Jerry J. Bowman, October 22, 1902. Max Finch Cunningham was born April 14, 1883.

Solomon Tompkins Finch was on the 28th day of May 1884, married to Lillie Estella Pearce, the youngest daughter of Frederick and Martha Ingrahm Pearce. The father, Frederick Pearce having been born in Leeds, England, came to this country with his father when he was but twelve years of age; first settled in Western Pennsylvania, and afterward moved to the city of Pittsburg. When at the age of manhood he married Martha Ingrahm, and in 1858, moved with his family, which consisted of his wife and two children at that time, to Ingrahm Prairie, Clay county, Illinois; engaged in the milling business, and was among the first settlers of Flora. After his removal to Flora, Illinois, his youngest daughter, Lillie Estella Pearce, was born on the 13th of January, 1862. To the marriage of Solomon Tompkins Finch and Lillie Estella Pearce were born two sons; Earle D. Finch, born in the city of Flora on the 14th day of March 1865, and Rollae D. Finch was born in the city of Flora on the 7th day of September, 1887.

Solomon Tompkins Finch, after taking a preparatory course at Loxa College entered the Michigan University, from which college he graduated in the law department, in 1879, and after being admitted to the bar of Illinois commenced the law practice in Flora, Clay county, Illinois, the home of his birth.

Hiram Clayton Finch, after graduating in medicine, entered into the practice, and in 1882 moved to Iowa, continuing the practice and on the 6th day of October, 1882, was married to Ausis Oliva Matthews in Jasper county, Iowa, and to them was born one daughter, Ethel Finch, on the 29th day of December, 1884.

Moses Finch, son of Isaac and Amy Finch, was born in the Wyoming Valley, April 15, 1771, and was married to Sarah Beanon in 1789, and to them were born eleven sons; their names were: Isaac, Kinney, Charles, Beanon, Abraham Wheeler, Benoni Wheeler, Moses, Archibald Wheeler, James Beanon, Nathaniel, Walter and John. Sarah, the mother of the above sons, died in Indiana, June 17, 1831. The sons all grew to manhood. Moses Finch, after the death of Sarah, his wife, married Manda Grange, a widow with three sons and two daughters. To Moses Finch and Manda Grange Finch were born two daughters, Florilla and Rebecca. Rebecca married in 1860, and she and her husband died in 1861. Florilla married a Doctor Graydon of Southport, Indiana.

To John Finch, son of Isaac Finch and wife, were born three sons, viz.; Jubal, John and Cyrus. The mother of these children died, after which John Finch married again, and by his second marriage he begot four daughters, viz.: Sarah, who married a Dr. Amos Palmer; Elizabeth, who married a man by the name of Davidson; Margaret, who never married, and Laura, who married a man by the name of Meak. After the death of the mother of these children, John Finch married the third time, and unto this marriage were born, Hiram C. Finch, John Finch, Fabious M. Finch, who was a prominent lawyer and judge in Indianapolis, Indiana, and lived to an advanced age. Rebecca, who married James Holl; Angeline who married a man by the name of Williams, Cynthia married Dr. Nathaniel Mall, and Horatio Finch studied law, and afterwards died in San Francisco, California.

Hiram C. Finch was married to Mary Finch, on the 28th day of November, 1829, and to this union was born one son, Henry Clay Finch. Mary Finch died December 29, 1839, and after her death, Hiram G. Finch married his second wife, and to this union were born Frank, Allice, who was married to John Connor, and Horatio Finch. The name of the second wife of Hiram G. Finch was Mariah Passwatter.

Fabious M. Finch was married in 1810 to Mariah Allen, and to this union were born John A. Finch and Alice Finch. John A. Finch, after having studied law, made a specialty of the insurance law, and being associated with his father in the law practice under the firm name of Finch & Finch, became one of the first insurance lawyers in the United States, and compiled what is known in the law practice as Finch's Insurance Reports. John A. Finch died suddenly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while on business in that city.

Fabious M. Finch soon followed the death of his most honored son, and left surviving his widow and Alice Finch, a most estimable and accomplished daughter, unmarried. Aaron Finch was married in Indiana, 1823, to Mary Waddell, and afterwards moved to Clay county, Illinois, and settled on a farm eight miles southeast of Flora, Illinois. To Aaron Finch and his wife were born: James Austin Finch and John Resen Finch; also a daughter, Laura. Aaron Finch died in the early fifties. James Austin Finch was joined in wedlock with Mary P. Griffith and studied medicine and died in the early sixties. To this union was born one son, James Austin Finch, Mary P. Finch died in 1898. James Austin Finch was married to Florence Brissanden, studied law, became well up in his profession, and was elected to the office of Prosecuting Attorney of Clay county in 1876, and afterwards located in Olney, Illinois, where he died in the summer of 1881. To this union of James Austin and Florence Brissanden Finch were born four children, viz: Mary, William, Laura and James Austin.

John Resen Finch was born in Indiana, moved to Clay county, Illinois, with his father, and settled on the farm with his father. He first married Sarah Schooley, and to this marriage were born one daughter and one son, viz.: Mary Matilda and William Fabious Finch. After the death of his first wife he married Rachel Schooley, a sister of his first wife, and to this union were born one son and one daughter, viz.: Aaron and Amy Finch. After the death of Rachel, the second wife of John Resen Finch, he then married Bethsheba Long Finch, and to this union was born one daughter, viz.: Martha Louella Finch. After the death of Bethsheba Long Finch, John Resen Finch then married one Sarah Warmath, and departed this life in 1879, having continued to reside on the farm upon which he and his father located upon moving to Clay county, Illinois.

Augustus Finch Shirts, who was born to George Shirts and Rebecca Finch Shirts, was born November 26, 1824, married to Nancy Barnhill, and to this union were born three children, viz.: George Shirts, Mary Shirts, who married a man by the name of Baker, and Elbert Shirts. Augustus Finch Shirts studied law, settled at Noblesville, Indiana, became very prominent as a lawyer, and as a politician, also became noted as the author of the history of Hamilton county, Indiana, and retired from the law practice in 1900.

George Shirts, son of Augustus Finch Shirts, studied law, graduated at the law department of the University of Michigan, in 1876, entered the law practice at Noblesville, Indiana, became eminent as a corporation lawyer, and in 1903, was selected by the Governor of the state of Indiana, as one of the Codifying Commission, and selected by that body as their clerk.

In the early spring of 1814, Amos Parm, John, Moses and Solomon Finch, together with their families, went in wagons from Genesee county, New York, to Olean Point, New York, a point on the tributary of the Ohio river, and building a flatboat there, they floated down the river to the Ohio river, and thence down the Ohio river to North Bend, Ohio, the present site of Cincinnati, Ohio, and after landing there, Solomon T. Finch took service under Gen. William H. Harrison (Old Tippecanoe), and after the war was over still remained with him for a time as superintendent of his plantations, the old log cabins that were famous during the campaign of Gen. William H. Harrison as a candidate for President. Enoch Finch settled somewhere in the eastern part of Ohio, and Moses and John went to Brookville, Indiana, engaged to some extent in the milling business there, and afterward went to Connersville, and were there joined by Solomon Finch. Soon afterward Moses went to Michigan, and died there at an advanced age.

In April, 1819, Solomon Finch and his family and part of the family of John Finch, moved from Connersville to Hamilton county, Indiana, and settled on what was then known as Horse Shoe prairie, about two miles from the present site of Noblesville, Indiana, the county seat of Hamilton county, and they were followed in the following September by John Finch, and the remainder of his family. John Finch lived to a ripe old age, and as shown many were his sons and daughters. He died in Hamilton county, Indiana.

The compiler of these accounts, including deaths, births, marriages and events, has relied upon statistics furnished him by old members of the family in its various branches, and on the war records furnished him from the department at Washington, and on letters from the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, England, and on the true historical data as furnished by reliable authors. He has compiled this short history not for any compensation, but because he has felt that it ought to have been done by some member of the family, but up to this time, they have all been too busy a lot of Finchs to give it their attention.

Extracted 27 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay & Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 211-217.


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