GEORGE WASHINGTON FINNEY, still in active practice as a lawyer at Larned, is one of the pioneer members of the Pawnee County bar and has been identified with that section of the state since 1883, before reaching his majority. He is a lawyer of solid ability, has given hard work and conscientious service to his profession, and has made a record in keeping with his old American ancestry.
Mr. Finney was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, January 11, 1864. He is descended from a minister of the Episcopal or Established Church of England, John Finney, who was sent to this country in 1611 and was one of the first ministers of the gospel in the colony of Virginia. He established his family in that colony, and had many descendants. One branch of the family went to Pennsylvania. Of this branch Samuel Stewart Finney was a loyal soldier of the American colonies during the struggle for independence. This old patriot was a farmer and an Indian trader, and he paid ten pounds for a tract of 400 acres of land in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. He lived there until his death.
A son of this Revolutionary soldier was George W. Finney, grandfather of the Larned lawyer. George W. Finney was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and on the same farm as his son William S. He married Elspy Smith, who was of Irish ancestry and her people were early settlers in Pennsylvania. Her father, Isaac Smith, was a soldier in the Revotionary[sic] war. George W. and Elspy Finney had seven sons. One of them, Isaac, was a comrade of the late Admiral Dewey in the United States navy during the Civil war. Another son, James Finney, served as a surgeon in the Union army. The only two of the sons to rear children were William S. and Thomas.
William S. Finney, father of George Washington Finney, was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the country where his ancestors had lived for so many years. In 1878 he brought his family to Kansas, locating in Harvey County, where he followed farming until the spring of 1883, when he removed to Pawnee County. He handled considerable stock as a Kansas pioneer, but at his death in 1887, at the age of fifty-seven left his family in only moderate circumstances. He married Miss Martha Baker, daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Hyde) Baker. The Hydes were seafaring people. Her father, Benjamin Baker, was of Quaker stock, and his ancestors had come to America and located in the Pennsylvania colony of Quakers. Mrs. William S. Finney is now living at Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of seventy-nine. Her children are: George W.; Mrs. Mary Booth, of Salt Lake City, Utah; Mrs. Elspy Seamands, living at Kansas City, Missouri, a widow, her husband having been a Confederate soldier and at one time in service on the historic ironclad Merrimac; and Miss Clara Finney, also living in Kansas City.
George W. Finney received his early educational advantages in his native State of Pennsylvania. He was fourteen years of age when he came to Kansas, and also attended the country schools in Harvey County and for a time was a student in the old Fort Scott Normal School under Professor Saunders. He helped about the pioneer farm in Harvey County, and after his father's death he proved the main support of the household. On going to Larned in 1883 he took up the study of law with L. H. Corse, and was admitted to the bar from the office of George Dickey, with whom he afterwards formed a partnership. He was admitted before Judge J. C. Strang upon examination by a committee, one of the committee being Nelson Adams.
Mr. Finney began regular practice in 1885, having some duties as a lawyer even before his admission to the bar. For a number of years a large share of his work was in the examination of land titles and in other work connected with land office practice. Otherwise his time has been taken up with the general routine of a lawyer's career, and he has proved a skillful and able counselor and also an advocate. He made a reputation as a prosecutor during his term as county attorney. He was first appointed to that office by Judge Vandivert, and was afterwards regularly elected and served five full terms in the office. For many years he was city attorney of Larned, and for twenty-four years was a member of the board of education and its clerk.
Mr. Finney represents two of the banks of Larned as attorney and is also one of their stockholders and a director in the First State Bank. Through his profession he has acquired sufficient prosperity for his modest needs, and is the owner of considerable land and has been connected with wheat raising in this section on a rather extensive scale. He is also a stockholder in the local elevator.
Mr. Finney is a democrat by birth and inheritance, and in early times he was a delegate to various conventions. Being a comparatively poor man he realized that politics was no place for him and he has rather kept out of the political current and has devoted himself to the practice of law. Fraternally he is a Mason and has taken nearly all the degrees in both the York and Scottish Rite. He has filled the offices in his lodge, chapter and commandery, and for twenty years was local recorder of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He was also one of the organizers of the local Company F of the Kansas National Guard.
Mr. Finney was married at Larned March 8, 1903, to Miss Hattie Wickware. She is a daughter of Vincent and Amanda (Cushinberry) Wickware. Her father came to Kansas from Kentucky but his ancestry goes back to Massachusetts history and is of English origin. After coming to Kansas Mr. Wickware became a farmer in Pawnee County. Mrs. Finney was one of four children.
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.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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