Biography of John M. Finch
Steuben County, NY Biographies





Finch, John M., was born in the town of Hornellsville, January 29, 1841. His father, Nathaniel Finch, was one of the most prominent and widely known citizens of the county. He was born in Greenwich, Conn., in 1798, and for several years prior to moving to Hornellsville, was engaged in surveying public lands in Tennessee and Mississippi. In 1837 he located on a farm just cast of the present city of Hornellsyille, and in 1845 he moved into the then small village, where he continued to reside until his death in 1866. When it was an open question whether the Erie Railroad should be located through the Cohocton or the Canisteo valley, Nathaniel Finch, with other residents of the Canisteo valley, interested himself to secure its location through the latter valley, and was largely instrumental in bringing about that result. The acquaintance he then formed with the officials of the Erie road led to his being employed by that company, and until his death-for a period of over twenty five years he occupied the highly important position of attorney and general land agent of the company. John M. Finch was educated in the public schools of Hornellsville, and at the old academy in Nunda, N. Y. At the age of eighteen years he entered into the service of the Erie Railroad Company, under his father as clerk, and later, as assistant to his father. To fit himself more fully for the particular service that he was engaged in, he studied law and civil engineering, and at the age of twenty two years was admitted to practice as an attorney. His duties were mostly in connection with the company's real estate and taxes, and upon the death of his father in 1866, he succeeded him as attorney and general land agent. Soon after, the work of the office was divided and Mr. Finch continued as general land agent until 1891, having been in the service of the company for nearly a third of a century. Mr. Finch has engaged in several enterprises, nearly all of which have contributed to the building up and improvement of his native place. The beautiful cemetery, of which Hornellsville is justly proud, is the work chiefly of Mr. Finch, and to him and Andy L. Smith all the credit is due for its present favorable condition. The organization of the Hornell Library was the result of Mr. Finch's suggestion, and he was the first contributor to it, and its first elected member. The first real government the village of Horneilsville had was when Mr. Finch was one of the village trustees, and under a new charter drafted by him, which continued with little change untilthe city was organized. He has been vice president of the Citizens' National Bank since its organization, in which he took an active part. He is manager and treasurer of the James Alley Real Estate and Building Company. He is president of the American Illuminating Company, and secretary of the Allegany Gas Company. During the war he was an ardent Republican, but since has shown a leaning toward Democratic principles.

From:
Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted by: L. C. Aldrich and others
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, N. Y. 1896


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