Robert Finley, M.D.


DR. ROBERT FINLEY, was born in County Longford, Ireland, in 1803 and died in 1866, aged sixty-three years, having lived on American soil for just forty years to the day. When he left Ireland his father gave him a small sum of money, anticipating that it would suffice until the son would have established himself as a physician, he having already given him a collegiate education in Dublin College. The voyage across the Atlantic Ocean consumed ninety-six days and by the time the New York harbor was reached the young man was ill and before he recovered enough to take an interest in his fortune, his money had been almost spent. He had many adventures and experiences before he finally found the medical precepter his father had imagined would be glad and ready to receive his son as a student. After seeking some kind of an opening in the strange city to which he had come, that would enable him to make his way to Mt. Pleasant, O., where his older brother, Patrick Finley, was manager of the salt works on Short Creek, for James Updegraff, he became acquainted with a horseman who was in New York on business but whose home was at Wheeling, and the latter invited him to return there with him and when he reached there his capital had dwindled down to $2.50, and with that he bought a pair of shoes and thus managed to reach Mt. Pleasant. Here he was employed in the salt works during the day time while at night he kept the company's books. Hearing later of a desirable tract of land easily to be secured from the government, located in Guernsey County, he decided to take out a patent for it. It happened that some one else was of the same frame of mind but Mr. Finley reached the land office first, although it entailed a rapid horseback ride of eighty miles, and thus he became the possessor of the property which he later sold to his brother for a horse, bridle, saddle and $100.

Notwithstanding many discouragements, Robert Finley kept to his determination to study medicine and at length became a student under Dr. Hamilton, in Jefferson County. Later, Dr. Finley was associated in practice with Dr. Hamilton, who became his father-in-law and he continued to practice medicine in Mt. Pleasant Township for thirty-five years. He invested in land at different times, purchased first the James Gill farm on Short Creek and later the farm on which he subsequently died. He was a Democrat in politics and was an advanced Free Mason and at one time this fraternal relationship probably saved his life, as it may have done on other occasions during the disturbed state of the country, especially during the Civil War. His son recalls a notable incident of his personal courage. One morning while the latter was saddling the fine horse his father usually rode while making his professional calls through the country, two men rode up and made known their desire to have Dr. Robert Finley accompany them to see General Shackleford. Thinking it a professional call the physician accompanied them but had not gone far when he discovered their motive to be the theft of his horse and when he declined to give up the animal voluntarily one of the men started to take Dr. Finley into a neighborhoring cornfield to shoot him although the doctor boldly offered fight. In the meanwhile the supposed General Shackleford rode up and proved to be no other than General Morgan, the Confederate raider. The latter, however, recognizing in Dr. Finley a broterh Mason, gave the order for his horse to be returned to him and that he should be allowed to go unharmed.

In 1835 Dr. Robert Finley was married to Miss Angelina Hamilton, a daughter of Dr. William and Margaret (Norton) Hamilton. Her mother was a sister of James, John and Oliver Norton, pioneers of this county, who settled near Richmond. Mrs. Finley was born in 1819 and died in 1877. Her father, Dr. William Hamilton, was the oldest practicing physician in Jefferson County when he died. He was a man of striking appearance, tall of stature and weighing 245 pounds. He came to Mt. Pleasant in 1809, and passed through Steubenville when the place was nothing but an Iandian post with timber standing. He died in Steubenville at the age of eighty-five years, having practiced in Mt. Pleasant Township until 1850. He was thrice married, there being no issue to his first union, Margaret Norton, the maternal grandmother of the present Dr. Finley, was his second wife, he marrying her before he was twenty-one years of age. She died in 1848, the mother of eight children--one son, Lavoyzier, and seven daughters. To Dr. Robert and Angelina Finley four children were born, two sons and two daughters: Margaret, who married John Hanna, and died at Cadiz, O. in 1872; James E; Carried, who married Archie Hanna, a brother of John Hanna, and died in Chicago, in 1908; and F. B., who is an attorney-at-law. The family has always been Presbyterian in religious attachment.

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