biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
JAMES W. FINLEY, a well-known citizen of Spring Creek Township, resides upon section 30, and is engaged in general farming and stock-raising. He was born in Guernsey, now Noble County. Ohio, June 6, 1832, and is the son of Daniel and Nancy (Roe) Finley, the former a native of Shenandoah Valley, Va., and the latter of the eastern shore of Maryland. In childhood they were taken by their parents to Ohio, where they became acquainted and were subsequently united in marriage. Ten children were born of this union, three sons and seven daughters, of whom the three sons only are now living: James W., the subject of this sketch; Thomas M., a machinist of Ottumwa, Iowa; Samuel J., Principal of the public schools of Quaker City, Ohio. Daniel, the father of our subject, was by occupation a farmer, and, moving to Ohio when the greater portion of the State was unoccupied territory, he endured all the toils and privations of pioneer life. He and his wife were consistent members of the Lutheran Church, respected and loved by all who knew them. Daniel Finley died Sept. 5, 1865, and his wife June 12, 1883. James W. Finley was the oldest child of the family, and as a matter of course, living upon a farm, he was soon made acquainted with the dnties of a farmer's son. Until nineteen years of age he assisted his father upon the farm in the summer and attended the district school in the winter. The winter following his nineteenth birthday, he went to Batesville, Ohio, and entered the High School there. The next summer he returned to the farm and assisted his father until winter, when he was solicited to teach the school of his home district, where he had himself attended for so many winters. Accepting the position, he filled it successfully, and in the spring of 1853 entered Wittenburg College at Springfield, Ohio, attending during the spring and summer. In the winter of 1853-54, he again taught a term of school in a district adjoining the first. Young Finley now desiring to see something more of the world, together with a laudable ambition of bettering his fortune, determined to visit California, and in the fall of 1854 he made the trip to the New Eldorado, by way of the Isthmus of Panama, where he remained five years engaged in hydraulic mining, in which he was fairly successful. He then returned to his home in Ohio to visit his parents, with the intention of remaining but a few mouths, but "the best laid schemes of mice and men gang oft aglee," says the poet Burns. On his arrival home he found his mother in delicate health, and for her sake he postponed his return to California, and finally abandoned the idea altogether. Up to this time Mr. Finley was "heart tree," but believing it was not good for man to live alone, on the 19th day of November, 1861, he was married to Elizabeth Jones, who was a native of Ohio, born Dec. 13, 1840, and the daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Robinson) Jones. To them have been born eight children: Thomas D. died in infancy; Sarah F. died at thirteen years of age; Iowa I., Mary A. and Samuel J. died in infancy; the others are Ann Lisa, Carl W. and Pearl M. After his marriage, Mr. Finley engaged in farming in his native State for two years, and in the spring of 1864, with his family, moved to Mahaska County, and for a few months was a citizen of Oskaloosa. While living in this city he was on the lookout for a good farm in its vicinity, and finding one to his satisfaction on sections 29, 31 and 32, Spring Creek Township, he purchased and moved on it in March, 1865. His father dying in September following, as already stated, Mr. Finley returned to Ohio to assist in settling up the estate, He was appointed administrator, and knowing that it would take a long time to close it up, returned to Mahaska County in the spring of 1866, packed up and stored his household goods, rented his farm, and took his family back to Ohio, where they remained until the spring of 1869. The business requiring his attention now being satisfactorily settled, he returned to his farm in Spring Creek Township. Mr. Finley, in 1882, added to his original purchase eighty acres on section 30, but adjoining the home place. To the new farm he subsequently moved. The whole now consists of 240 acres of excellent farming land, all of which is underlaid with a thick vein of bituminous coal of the best quality, and a shaft has been opened on the place. The land is well improved, and the buildings and other auxiliaries are of the best quality. Mr. Finley is a member of the Masonic fraternity. His wife is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Politically he is a Greenbacker. He keenly appreciates the demand of the country for constant watchfulness and protection against the frequent endeavors of the money power to control legislation. In his business of farming he has made a success, and in his transactions with others he is honorable and upright, and enjoys the respect of neighbors and friends. We herewith present excellent portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Finley, which will be viewed with pleasure by their friends, who are legion.
Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy