THE HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF JOHN FINLEY
John Finley was born in Rockbridge county, Virginia, January 11, 1797. After acquiring a knowledge of the rudiments of an English education at a country school, he was apprenticed to the tanner’s business; and on the completion of his term of service, he emigrated to Indiana, in 1821.
Soon after his arrival in Richmond he undertook, for a term of years, the management of John Smith’s tannery; but after conducting it for a single season, he abandoned it. In 1826, he was married to Rachel H. Knott, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, who lived but a few months after marriage. In 1830, he was married to Julia Hanson, of Indianapolis. In 1831, he assumed the editorial management of the Richmond Palladium, in which position he continued for three years. He was for three years a member of the state legislature, and for three years enrolling clerk of the senate.
In March, 1837, he was elected clerk of the courts of Wayne county for the term of seven years. In January, 1852, he was elected mayor of the city of Richmond, and was continued in that office by annual re-elections to the time of his death, December 23, 1866. He was buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, east of the city, in the presence of a large concourse of citizens and members of the masonic order, and the officers of the city government.
Mr. Finley had, by his first marriage, a son, William K.; by the second, Sarah A., Julia H., Mary F., and John II. Sarah A. was married to Benjamin P. Wrigley, who is deceased, and has two sons, Roy F. and Luke H. She has been for seven years, and is still, librarian of the Morrisson Library. Mary F. married Aaron W. Hibberd, and resides in Richmond.
John II. enlisted early in the late war, in the Sixteenth Indiana Regiment; was promoted to 2d lientenant, and soon after appointed adjutant of the regiment. After the expiration of the term of his enlistment he raised, in 1862, a company for the Sixty-seventh Regiment, and was commissioned captain; and in 1863, was made major. While charging upon the Rebel works at Vicksburg, he received a mortal wound, and died Aug. 26, 1863. He was an estimable young man, and possessed of qualities which endeared him to Li’ fellow-soldiers and companions.
Source: History of Wayne Co., Andrew W. Young ~ 1872
Mr. Finley was born in Brownsburg, Rockbridge county, Virginia, January 11, 1797, his father being a merchant of that place. He was sent to a country school, and learned to ” read, write and cipher as far as the rule of three,” and says it required ten years to acquire that much education. He served an apprenticeship as tanner and currier and then emigrated west.
He visited Richmond first in 1821, but did not decide to make it his residence until 1823, and in 1826 was married at Yellow Springs, Ohio, to Miss Rachel H. Knott, who died soon after. He was again married at Indianapolis, April 9, 1830, to Miss Julia Hanson, with whom he has traveled down the journey of life to tho present time.
From 1831 to 1833-4 he was connected with the Richmond Palladium, as editor and proprietor, in whole or in part. Mr. Finley is one of tho few men upon whom official honors set naturally, and the people recognizing that fact, have called upon him to fill many places of public trust. He was three years a member of the Indiana Legislature, and three years Enroling Clerk in the State Senate, after which he served seven years as Clerk of the Wayne Co. Courts, commencing in March, 1837.
In January, 1852, ho was elected Mayor of the city of Richmond, entering at once upon the duties of his office. He has been annually ro-elected to the present time, and it is generally conceded that he is Mayor for life, although it may be thought necessary for the people to go through the form of an election once a year. In all the positions of life he has occupied, Mr. Finley has found time to cultivate his literary tastes, especially as a poet.
His pieces have been received with very general favor. Among those thought to be the best may be mentioned: “A Wife Wanted,” “To My Old Coat,” “To a Skeleton,” “What is Faith,” “Bachelor’s Hall,” and “Hoosier’s Nest.” Mr. Finley’s “Bachelor’s Hall” has been widely circulated in England as well as in America with the name of Thomas Moore attached. The “Hoosier’s Nest” formed part of a New Year’s Address, written in 1830, for the Indianapolis Journal. It has been published without his name in a majority of the newnpapers of the United States, and quoted in England as a graphic specimen of backwoods literature. The poems above named may be found in the “Poets and Poetry of the West,” by Coggeshall. We are pleased to learn that Mr. Finley’s poems have been collected, and are now in the hands of a publisher.
MAJOR JOHN H. FINLEY: RICHMOND INDIANA SOLDIER DIES IN THE CIVIL WAR
FINLEY, JOHN H. enlisted in Co B, 16th Reg Ind Vol Inf, for one year. Was promoted to 2d Lieutenant upon the organization of the Co, and afterward appointed Adjutant of the regiment. Served until the expiration of his term of enlistment, then raised a Co (A ) for the 69th Reg Ind Vol Inf, and commissioned Captain of same, Aug. 4th 1862. Was promoted to Maior of the regiment, March, 1863. Was in the battles of Richmond, Ky., Chicasaw Bluff, Arkancas Post, Ion, Port Gibson, Champion Hill and Black River Bridge. Took part in the siege of Vicksburg, and was severely wounded in the charge on the rebel works in the rear of Vicksburg, May 22d, 1863, from the effects of which he died, Aug. 26th, 1863. Son of Mayor John Finley, Richmond.
Source Of Mayor Finley Sketch and Civil War information regarding the loss of his son: Directory & Soldier’s Register of Wayne County, Indiana ~ 1865
John Finley, son of Andrew Finley, of Scotch-Irish Presbyterian ancestry, was born in Brownsburg, Rockbridge county, Virginia, Jan. 11, 1797. He received but a limited education, though his reading covered a wide field. In 1816, he left his native country for the West, reaching Richmond in 1820. In 1826 he married Rachel H. Knott, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, who lived but a few months after marriage. In 1830 he was married to Julia Hanson, of Indianapolis.
His official career began in 1822, as justice of the peace. He represented Wayne county in the legislature, from 1828 to 1831, and was then enrolling clerk of the Senate three years. From 1833 to 1837, he edited and held a controlling interest in the principal newspaper of the county, the Richmond “Palladium,” and, in 1837, was elected clerk of the Wayne county courts for a term of seven years; this necessitated a removal to the county seat, Centerville, but on the expiration of the term (1845) ne returned to Richmond.
Elected mayor of the city in 1852, he retained the office, by re-elections, until his death, Dec. 23, 1866, having had an almost continuous public service for more than forty years.
Mr. Finley’s reputation as a poet was established when the Indiana “Journal” published “The Hoosier’s Nest,” Jan. 1, 1833. It was the first “Carrier’s Address” written by the author and was followed by an “Address” in the “Journal” for eight or nine years in succession. The “Palladium” also had an annual “Address.” These were rhyming reviews of State and national questions, or humorous references to peculiarities of candidates for public office.
They were of local interest, but did not arrest general attention, as the description of Hoosier life had done. “The Hoosier’s Nest” has been quoted in England as a graphic specimen of backwoods literature. “Bachelor’s Hall” was published anonymously and was immediately credited to Thomas Moore; it was reproduced in England and Ireland many times before the authorship was established. “The Hoosier’s Nest,” a small volume of 105 pages, issued and copyrighted in 1865, had an extensive sale.
Source: MEMOIRS OF WAYNE COUNTY
AND THE City Of Richmond INDIANA
FROM THE EARLIEST HISTORICAL TIMES DOWN TO
THE PRESENT, INCLUDING A GENEALOGICAL
AND BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF
IN WAYNE COUNTY
HON. HENRY CLAY FOX, Editor-in-chief
WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
Note: Mayor Finley was originally buried in Maple Grove Cemetery (now the SW section of Glen Miller Park). Maple Grove was closed in the late 1880s and his remains were removed to Earlham Cemetery.
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