|Thomas J. Finn
Born September 7, 1845
Born Born February 14, 1857
||Few of the men of Washington township can show a larger, or better record of years spent in profitable toil than can the two Finn brothers, Thomas J. and Michael, who conjointly operate a tract of eight hundred and sixty acres and are extensively engaged in the stock business. The strong traits of character which made it possible for their father, handicapped though he was by poverty and lack of education, to rise to a successful and well respected position in his community, after having overcome some of the most severe hardships that confronted the pioneers of Jones county in the early days, these and others, gained through their own struggles, have stood forth prominently indicating the why and the wherefore of their good fortune.
John Finn, the father, was born in County Galway, Ireland, in 1816, and came to America in 1837, settling in Boston, Massachusetts. There he found employment with a Mr. Champney, who was in the service of the government, and for three or four years acted as general utility man in his establishment. In 1842 he was married to Miss Alice Murray, also a native of Erin, whose birth occurred in 1815 and who had come to America in 1836. After their union the couple started upon their journey to Jones county, Iowa, traveling only thirty miles by rail, for they passed by boat through the canal and the Great Lakes. Having arrived here Mr. Finn bought of Mr. Hutton, the first county clerk of Jones county, three hundred and twenty acres of wild prairie land, the warrant to it bearing the date of October 1842. Immediately he began to break the soil and built a log cabin, putting a clapboard roof upon it. With continual repairing and additions, this served as his home until 1870, when he erected a new house, which with repairs, additions and improvements has done duty to the present time. Upon this half section of land he pursued his vocation as a tiller of the soil with a success which won the approbation of those who witnessed the manner in which he had surmounted the obstacles that beset his path. However, toward the close of his life, he sold part of the original farm, so that he owned only two hundred and forty acres at the time of his death. It was on the 15th of January 1878, that his life was brought to a close. He was one of those energetic and persevering Irishmen, who had no fear or doubt that an undertaking might be beyond their powers and nothing presented an appearance of such harshness as to daunt them. His one idea in life was to succeed; he spared no effort to accomplish his purpose; but his record of work is honorable as well as gratifying from a financial standpoint. Having never enjoyed the advantages of a good education, he was but the more eager in his support of progressive educational facilities, doing everything in his power to bring schools of standing into the little pioneers community. He was equally zealous in working for the church and was one of the committee of three to whom was intrusted the work of obtaining a site and securing the funds for the erection of the first Catholic church in Cascade. He was very attentive in the performance of his religious duties and surely his was a life which commanded the highest respect of everyone who knew him personally or by hearsay.
Of the family of seven children born to John Finn and his wife, Thomas J. and Michael, alone survive. The former was born September 7, 1845, the latter February 14, 1857, on the old homestead, on which they both grew to maturity. They attended the district school of Washington township, but the education derived there was meager indeed, so that the well informed minds, and the intellectual keenness which distinguish them today have been of necessity the result of patient home study and experience. When death deprived them of their father's assistance they came into the possession of two hundred and forty acres of valuable land. In the years that have since elapsed they have added to their heritage until they now own eight hundred and sixty acres all in one farm, which they own and operate in conjunction. In addition to general farming, the brothers keep about one hundred and fifty head of cattle each year, about three hundred hogs, and have six horse teams. Unforgetful of the rule of life which brought such large returns to their father, with energy, industry and carefulness they have conducted their undertakings, regarding nothing as impossible, should they but put their minds to its accomplishment, but at the same time are aware that the reputation for honesty and integrity was as covetable a thing as the attainment of prosperity.
Thomas J. Finn has not married but in 1893 Michael Finn was joined in wedlock to Miss Mary Murray, a daughter of James and Bridget (Kinney) Murray. Her father was born in County Roscommon, March 25, 1826, but when a very young man emigrated to the United States. For a short time he lived in Fall River, Massachusetts, and then, in 1849, came to Jones county, Iowa, where he secured a farm. Here through industry and frugality he accumulated a large competency, until in 1890 he felt he was justified in retiring from active work. Accordingly he took up his residence in Cascade, which remained his home until he was called to his eternal rest. On the 26th of April, 1861, he was united in marriage to Miss Bridget Kinney, a native of this country, who with the following children survives him: Mrs. Frank O'Brien, of Washington township, Albert, of Cascade; Mrs. Michael Finn, of Washington township; and Josie, of Cascade. During his lifetime Mr. Murray was one of the strong men of the community, a type of the courageous citizens who contributed to the early development and settlement of the wilderness. A man of firm character and uprightness, the eighty years of his life were spent earnestly and honestly, as should be those of a man who is at heart a Christian. He was a member of the Catholic church.
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Finn are the parents of three children, namely: Josephine, born March 21, 1895; Joseph Louis, born April 26, 1897; and John C., born September 1, 1899. All are attending school. The family are members of the Catholic church, devout and attentive in the performance of their religious duties. In political matters the brothers have supported the democratic party, and although ever strong in their adherence to it, some years ago when Thomas J. Finn was the candidate for county supervisor, he was elected largely through the votes cast by the republicans, an evidence of the general respect and high esteem in which he is held throughout the county. For twelve years he has also, served as township trustee, and the public has had little need to regret their choice of a representative.
Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 364.
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