Victor Finch

Biography courteously provided by Joyce Riedinger, Delaware County Coordinator.


VICTOR FINCH, a prominent citizen of Tompkins, Delaware County, N.Y., was born September 12, 1820, in Lexington, Greene County. The ancestors of Mr. Finch came from Holland to American with the early settlers of this country, and the family has been known in its history since that time.

Amos Finch, father of Victor, was born in Lexington in 1794, and died in 1868. After engaging in farming, in his native town for many years, he disposed of his property there, and purchased a farm in Maryland, Otsego County, where he lived for some time, subsequently removing to a farm that he bought in Tompkins. After the death of his wife, his eyesight failed; and he gave his property to his sons, passing his last days at the home of his son Victor, where he died November 16, 1868, a the age of seventy-four years. He was buried in the cemetery at Trout Creek. His wife, was Polly Merwin, also a native of Lexington; and she was the mother of six children — Lura, Victor, Samuel, Emmeline, Debias, and Wilson. Mrs. Polly M. Finch was herself the eldest of a family of fourteen children, of whom her brother, David Merwin, of Hensonville, now in his seventy-ninth year, is the only survivor. His earliest ancestors in this country came from Wales. His paternal grandfather, his father, and his uncle, Daniel Merwin, came to New York from Wallingford, Conn., soon after the Revolution, crossing the Hudson on a raft of their own construction, and traveling thirty miles, mostly by blazed trees, through a howling wilderness. They took up a tract of land in Greene County, where the father of Mrs. Finch cleared a small piece of land, sowed it with wheat, built a log house, and then went back to Connecticut, and married Thankful Parker, who returned with him to the new home, where the children were born.

Victor Finch passed his boyhood in Tompkins, attending the district school, and helping with the farm work. When seventeen he went to work for a Mr. Palmer, learning the carpenter’s trade, and at twenty-one started out in life for himself, engaging in lumbering and farming. When he was thirty-five years of age, he purchased a farm in Manchester, Wayne County, Pa., where for fourteen years he engaged extensively in his old occupation of farming and lumbering. Selling his property there, he purchased in 1856 the farm where he now resides, comprising one hundred and eight-six acres. Besides raising crops and making maple sugar, he also operates a large dairy, keeping forty-five cows, doing much of the work of the place himself. He is strong and hearty, was never known to be ill in all his life, and although seventy-four years of age, is as active and energetic as when much younger.

January 30, 1855, Mr. Finch married Sarah E. Taylor, daughter of James and Clementina (Harse) Taylor. Both of Mrs. Finch’s parents were born in Winford, Somersetshire, England, where they were married, four children being born in England, two of whom died in that country. In 1828 they sailed for America with their two children in the ship “Cosmo,” the voyage occupying sixteen weeks and four days. The passage was an unusually rough one, the good ship being twice blown off the coast; but, after much suffering and narrow escape from shipwreck, --the family reached New York City and settled on a small farm where Jersey City is now situated. For three years they lived there, and then moved to Honesdale, Pa., which contained at that time but one log house. The journey from the old home in Honesdale was made on foot with the children on their backs, a man driving an ox team containing all their worldly goods. The country to which they immigrated was a barren wilderness, abounding in wild animals, and was not particularly pleasing to Mr. Taylor. He accordingly removed to a tract called the French Woods, in Delaware County, N.Y., and here erected a bark cabin, in which he lived until able to build a log house. He proceeded to clear land on what is now called the Rolland farm, near Sand Pond, which is one of the largest in French Woods. Several years later he sold this property, and went to Bouchonville in the same county, where he carried on a hotel, which he afterward sold to purchase a farm in Manchester, Wayne County, Pa. Ten years later he disposed of this, and bought a farm near Lordville, Delaware County, consisting of one hundred and three acres; and here he lived until his death, which occurred January 14, 1871, the result of injuries received by being struck by the cars near his home. His wife died one year later, in 1872, and they sleep side by side in the cemetery at Lordville.

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were the parents of ten children: John and Michael, born in England; Mary Ann, Nathaniel, Sarah E., Henry, and William, born in French Woods; Bessie, born in Bouchonville; and two others, who died in England. In 1848 Mr. Taylor again crossed the ocean, the death of his father, without a will, making his presence necessary in the settlement of the property. The passage over occupied three weeks; and the return trip, being very stormy, occupied seventeen weeks, both voyages being made in the ship “Rappahannock,” of Liverpool. Mr. Taylor being the eldest son, and his father a wealthy farmer, his portion of the estate amounted to a comfortable fortune. His daughter, Mrs. Finch, was born July 14, 1837, in French Woods, and passed the early part of her life in Lordville, attending the district school, and residing with her parents until her marriage.

Mr. and Mrs.. Finch are the parents of three children; Alva Wilson, born October 16, 1856; William L., born May 4, 1860; Elmer E., born February 6, 1863. All are natives of Manchester, Wayne County, Pa., and attended the district school on Knickerbocker Hill, assisting their parents on the home farm. The son, A. Wilson, married Susan Brown of Tompkins; and they have one child, Ava, born January 30, 1891. William L. finch died July 19, 1862, at the age of two years; and Elmer works on the old home farm with his father and brother. Mr. Finch is profoundly respected for his upright character and honorable dealings.


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