Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

John L. Finley

JOHN L. FINLEY is the pioneer lawyer of St. Francis. When the people of that county determined to organize a county government in 1886, their action was probably the incentive which led Mr. Finley to move from Hastings, Nebraska, where he had built up a considerable clientage in law and identified himself with the new and coming county. He has had a practice that has kept him in touch with all the important litigation in the county for more than thirty years and at the same time has carried many other responsibilities of business and public affairs. He is at present the county attorney and is a former representative of his county.

Mr. Finley was born in Stark County, Illinois, December 6, 1853. He is of Scotch-Irish ancestry and his forebears came from the North of Ireland and settled in Baltimore in colonial times. Later some of the family moved to Pennsylvania, and in that state Mr. Finley's grandfather, John Finley, was born in 1796. John Finley moved his home westward to Ohio, later to Northern Illinois, and was one of the first settlers in Stark County. He was one of the early sheriffs of Stark County, and he died in 1872.

A. J. Finley, father of John L., is still living at the venerable age of ninety years in San Diego, California. He was born in Richland County, Ohio, in 1828, and spent all his active career as a farmer. He moved with his parents to Decatur, Illinois, and thence to Stark County, and was married in that county. Later for three years he lived at Shenandoah, Iowa, and in 1903 formally gave up his labors as an agriculturist and has since made his home at San Diego. He voted as a republican from practically the formation of that party until recent years, when he threw all his influence in behalf of the prohibition cause. He has always been an active supporter of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

A. J. Finley married Margaret J. Carter, who was born in Ohio in 1832. Of the nine children born to their union John L. Finley is the second. Arabelle, the oldest, is the wife of M. K. Bright, living at Shenandoah, Iowa, where Mr. Bright has charge of the Municipal Water Works; William J. Finley is a farmer in Page County, Iowa; Della married Walker Berry, a farmer at Ree Heights, South Dakota; Ella B. Swackhammer is a widow living with her parents in San Diego, her husband having been a stockman in Oregon; Walter now lives on the old homestead at Toulon, Illinois; Oscar is a farmer near Shenandoah, Iowa; Mrs. Maggie White is the wife of a fruit farmer at Escondido, California; Daisy married Charles Carter, who runs one of the old Findley farms at Toulon, Illinois.

Though the horizon of John L. Finley's early life and experience was largely bounded by his father's farm, his ambition led him to seek advantages not found in a country district. From the rural schools of Stark County he attended the Galva, Illinois, High School, received his Bachelor of Philosophy degree from Hedding College at Abingdon, Illinois, in 1877, and then after farming for a year and teaching one year he entered the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and after a two years' course received his LL. B. degree in 1881. The same year he was admitted to the bar. He won his first successes in the law at Hastings, Nebraska, and practiced there until the spring of 1886. Cheyenne County, Kansas, was organized in the spring of 1886 and, as already mentioned, Mr. Finley was on the scene about that time. He still has a busy practice and his offices are in a building which he owns on Main Street. He also has a modern home in the town and has other valuable property, including 1,500 acres of farming land, devoted to the raising of grain and livestock in Cheyenne County.

Mr. Finley served as county attorney of Cheyenne County from 1898 to 1902, and in 1918 was again elected for a two-year term. He has to his credit two terms as representative of Cheyenne County in the Legislature. These terms were the sessions of 1907 and 1909. He is a steadfast republican and is a past noble grand of Rising Star Lodge No. 321, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at St. Francis, and his other fraternal connection is with St. Francis Lodge of Ancient Order of United Workmen.

In February, 1886, just before coming to Kansas Mr. Finley married at Hastings, Nebraska, Miss Nellie D. Holly. She was born in New York State. Mr. Finley's justifiable pride in his own achievements is now merged with the satisfaction with which he views the capabilities and worthy positions of his children. The oldest is Floyd L., formerly in the hardware business and now manager of the oil station at McDonald, Kansas; Ethel graduated from Cheyenne County High School, attended Fort Hays Normal, and has a life state teacher's certificate and is now principal of the high school at Parks, Nebraska; Myrtle is the wife of Marcus Ellis, a farmer near St. Francis; Holly is a graduate of the county high school and is now in the Students Army Training Camp at Fort Hays; Clifford enlisted in May, 1917, in the navy and is a second class gunner's mate, at the close of the war being stationed at Caldwell Rifle Range, New Jersey; Lila is a graduate of the county high school and is teaching near home; Lewis is a member of the senior class of the Cheyenne County High School.