Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 208
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
M. Finley is a prominent and representative farmer and stock-raiser of Rice county, where he located at an early day, and throughout the intervening years he has been known as an enterprising business man of the community. He was born in Ross county, Ohio, November 30, 1846, and was reared to the honest toil of the farm. His parents were Isaac and Mary (Henness) Finley, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Virginia. The paternal grandfather was John Finley, a native of the Green Isle of Erin, in which country he was married, and all of his six children were there born with the exception of the father of our subject. By occupation John Finley was a farmer, and in following that pursuit provided for the support of his wife and children. The following is the list of his sons and daughters, - John, Moses, William, Mary, Jane and Isaac.
The last named was reared to manhood in the buckeye state and learned the carpenter and cooper’s trades, which he followed for many years. In Ohio he married Miss Mary Henness, and there they spent the residue of their days, the father passing away in 1862. He was a Whig in his political affiliations in early life and afterward joined the ranks of the new Republican party. However, he never aspired to office, preferring that his attention should be given to his business affairs. His wife survived him only a short time, passing away the same year. It was the mother who practically reared the children and instructed them, for the husband was away from home working at his trade in order to provide for their support. She was a devoted and loving wife and mother, whose gentle counsel and kind words had marked influence over the lives of her children. She early impressed upon their minds lessons of integrity and industry, and they have become an honor to her name. Of the Baptist church she was a consistent and honored member, and her Christian faith permeated her entire life. John Finley, her eldest son, was among the first to enlist at the call of the president for troops to aid in crushing out the rebellion. He received a wound and then returned home on a furlough, but after recuperating his health rejoined his command and continued at the front until after the close of the war. He then once more took up his abode in Ohio, where he afterward died. William, the second son, enlisted as a member of the Twenty-sixth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers and was killed at the battle of Chickamauga. James also served as a Union soldier, and becoming ill, was brought to his home, where he died not long afterward. The next of the family is he whose name introduces this review, and the younger members are Scott, who also wore the blue in the Civil war; Isaac, who is living in Ohio; Mrs Margaret Guess; Nancy, who died at the age of eighteen years; Mrs Martha Wilson, of Ohio; Mary, who died in childhood; and Mrs Ida Hurst.
Mr Finley acquired a knowledge of the elementary branches of English learning in the public schools, and by reading and study, as well as practical experience in later life, he has added largely to his knowledge and is now a well informed man. He is the only member of his father’s family who left Ohio. His father died when he was quite young and he was then thrown upon his own resources, being strictly a self-made man. Soon after the death of his parents he was employed by the month as a farm hand, and continued to serve in that capacity until his marriage, except during the period when he aided in the defense of the Union. He was only seventeen years of age when, in 1864, he enlisted in the Ohio militia, and after serving there for a short time he joined the United States volunteer service as a member of Company E, One Hundred and Forty-ninth Ohio Infantry. This regiment was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, under the command of General Thomas, and saw some hard service. The troops were sent on long and difficult marches and were almost daily engaged in skirmishing with the Confederates. Mr Finley participated in the battle of Frederick, Maryland, where the Union troops were repulsed and made a retreat of forty miles. After his second enlistment he was engaged in guarding the White House at Washington, and on the expiration of his term of service he received an honorable discharge, in September, 1864.
After returning to his home Mr Finley learned the carpenter’s trade, which he followed in connection with farming. In 1868 he went to Illinois, where he was employed as a farm hand, and after his marriage he rented a tract of land, which he cultivated for six years. With the capital he had acquired in the meantime he then purchased a small farm, which he continued to operate until 1887. He then sold that property and removed to the new Eldorado, for at that time the attention of the country was directed toward Kansas and its possibilities. He settled in Rice county, where he leased three quarter sections of land, upon which he yet resides. It was then a tract of raw prairie and he has made all of the improvements upon the place, including the erection of a commodious house and barn. He has the entire place under fence and the land is devoted to the raising of crops and to grazing purposes. In connection with general farming he makes a specialty of handling stock, keeping on hand only high grades. He has a herd of fine Hereford cattle and a large herd of cows, well graded, owning several full-blooded animals. He has a reputation for the excellent grade of stock which he places upon the marker, and he finds a ready sale for all of the calves of which he wishes to dispose, receiving high prices. For many years he has always purchased and bunched cattle and he always has a good bunch on hand on his farm. His business ability has made him widely recognized as a capable financier and his enterprise and thrift have won for him a very desirable competence. He has purchased a well improved farm, which he rents, and he also owns two residence properties in Lyons, the rental from which adds materially to his income.
Mr Finley was first married in 1869, to Miss Mary Wood, who was born in Sangamon county, Illinois, and was a daughter of Solomon and Mary (Preston) Wood, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of New York, in which state they were married. At an early day they removed to Illinois, where her father followed the blacksmith’s trade until his life’s labors were ended in death, in May, 1852. Only a few days elapsed between the deaths of the parents. The mother was a consistent and worthy member of the Methodist church. Their children were Harriett, of Iowa; Harvey, who died in Illinois in 1901; Aurilla, who is the present wife of Mr Finley; Franklin H, of Iowa; Mary, the first wife of our subject; Angelia, now Mrs Connor, of Illinois; Elmira, of Iowa; and Scott, who is living in Lawrence, Kansas. By his first marriage Mr Finley had two children, William I and Scott, but the latter died in early childhood. The former is still at home and assists his father in the conduct of the farm and in his stock-raising interests. He is also township clerk. The mother, who was a loyal and devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal church, passed away on the 10th of February, 1876, and in July, 1877, Mr Finley was again married. She was born and reared in Illinois. Mr and Mrs Finley and their son William are identified with the Methodist Episcopal church, in which the last named has held membership since the age of ten years. Mr Finley joined the church at the age of eighteen and has lived a consistent Christian life. He has been a liberal contributor to the support of the church, has served as class leader and has filled all other positions and does all in his power to promote the work of the church and Sunday-school. For fourteen years he has been superintendent of the Sunday-school in this district and has done much to promote the cause of religious education through this channel. He has also been president of the township Sunday-school organization for six years and has given freely of his means toward the building of many houses of worship. In his political views he is a stalwart Republican, using his influence for and furtherance of the party’s good. He has attended township and county conventions, has filled the office of township treasurer and has served in many other local positions. Socially he is connected with Kit Carson Post, No. 20, GAR, of Lyons, and in political, social and business circles he is widely and favorably known, his salient characteristics being such as command confidence and respect and awaken the favorable consideration of all with whom he comes in contact. Today he occupies an enviable position among the men of prominence in his adopted county, and his life demonstrates the advantages which Kansas offers to her citizens, for he came here with little capital and all that he now possesses has been won through his persistency of purpose and unflagging diligence.