Biography of James F. Finley of Center Township

James F. Finley, a respected farmer of Center Township near Greenfield, Missouri, was born on September 11, 1818, in Hopkins County, Kentucky. He was the son of William and Leah (Dobbins) Finley and the grandson of Howard Finley, who moved from North Carolina to Kentucky in 1804. James’s father, William, was a lifelong farmer, and the family moved to Arkansas when James was an infant. After his mother died in 1850, James, at age 18, began working in retail. He married Nancy Brooks in 1843, who died in 1846, and later married Mary Earll in 1849, with whom he had fourteen children. Settling in Greenfield in 1848, James acquired and developed a successful farm of 100 acres. He was a Democrat, a member of the Masonic Order, and he and his family were active in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

James F. Finley, farmer of Center Township, residing three miles northeast of Greenfield, is a native of Hopkins County, Ky., born September 11, 1818, and is one of the old and much respected citizens of the county. He is the son of William and Leah (Dobbins) Finley, and the grandson of Howard Finley, who was a native of North Carolina, and who moved to Hopkins County, Ky., in 1804. He died in 1840. William Finley was born in North Carolina in 1792, was of Irish descent, and followed farming all his life. He was but twelve years of age when he went to Kentucky and was there married in 1817 to Miss Dobbins. In 1841 he came to Dade County, Mo., on a prospecting trip, remained a few years, and then returned to Kentucky. In 1848 he again returned to Missouri, and made his home with his son, James F. He died in 1872. His wife, Leah Dobbins, was born in Virginia, was of English descent, and died in Lawrence County, Ark., in 1850. After her death Mr. Finley returned to Hopkins County, Ky. Three children were born to this union, who lived to be grown: James F., Thomas R., and John M. James F. was but an infant when his parents moved to Arkansas and was twelve years of age when his mother died. He remained on the farm until eighteen years of age, when he commenced selling goods. In 1843 he married Miss Nancy Brooks, who was born in Hopkins County, Ky., in 1826, and one child was born to this union, William, who was drowned on a Mississippi River steamer near Cape Girardeau in 1865. In May 1846, Mrs. Finley died, and in December of the same year Mr. Finley came to Dade County, Mo., but later returned to Kentucky, where he remained until the spring of 1848, when he returned and located in Greenfield. He commenced clerking in a store, and October 15, 1849, he married Miss Mary Earll, a native of Stewart County, Tenn., born in 1832, and the daughter of Henry Earll. Fourteen children were the fruits of this union: Madora, wife of Samuel W. Dicus; Paulina, wife of John E. Garrett; Harry H., Albert and George (twins); Ellen, died at the age of sixteen years; Aurelia and Cordelia (twins), the former dying at the age of two months; Lolla, wife of J. W. Crank; James; Elder, died at the age of eighteen years; Grace, Gusta, and Howard. Mr. Finley sold goods in Greenfield for about four years, and in 1850 bought 166 acres of land, where he now resides, but did not locate on the farm until about 1851. He is one of Dade County’s old settlers and has been successful in his business pursuits. He came to Dade County a poor man, but year by year he has, by his industry, economy and good management, added to his property, and at present has about 100 acres of good land, well improved with good buildings, fences, etc. In politics he is a Democrat, casting his first vote for Gen. Harrison in 1840, but previous to the war he was a Whig. He is a member of the Masonic Order, Washington Lodge, Greenfield. He and wife and children are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.


Goodspeed, History of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade and Barton Counties, Missouri; Chicago, The Goodspeed publishing co., 1889.

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