Joseph Nathan Finley

HANCOCK COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA BIOS: FINLEY, Joseph Nathan (published 1924)
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File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by
Valerie Crook
vfcrook@trellis.net
September 13, 1999
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The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 232
Hancock County

JOSEPH NATHAN FINLEY. The maintenance of a busi-
ness establishment for thirty years is ample proof of its
worth. Commercial ventures of the fly-by-night order may
pay their promoters for the time being, but they bring
their communities nothing: it is the firmly-established,
standardly-existing business that contributes to the lo-
cality’s prestige in commercial circles. The men who
stand behind such helpful enterprises are found to be of
sterling worth and solid integrity, and to be citizens in
whom a realization of the responsibilities of citizenship
is firmly grounded. A merchant of Chester since 1892,
Joseph Nathan Finley, president of the Finley Brothers
Lumber Company, has assisted in building this business
to a point where it is justly accounted a necessary com-
mercial adjunct. He has been a promoter, organizer and
official of movements which have made the city grow and
expand, and to his helpfulness in a civic way Chester
may give gratitude for much of its development.

Mr. Finley was born at the old family residence on the
hill, on the old farm which extended to the Ohio River at
the west end of the City of Chester, January 25, 1865,
a son of John R. and Louisa (Scott) Finley. John R.
Finley was born in 1824, in Washington County, Pennsyl-
vania, and at the age of four years was brought to the
Ohio Valley by his father, Thomas Finley, who passed the
rest of his life here in agricultural operations and died
when John E. was eighteen years of age. Of the four
sons of Thomas, three, Richard, James and William, served
as soldiers of the Union during the Civil war, all probably,
in Ohio infantry regiments. Richard later went to Ash-
land County, Ohio, where he died, while James and Wil-
liam remained in the Ohio Valley, where they passed away.
John R. Finley had charge of the farm with his mother
and maiden sister, Rebecca, who died on the farm. The
mother died at the age of eighty-four years. John R.
Finley after his mother’s death bought out the other heirs
and added to the property until he had 125 acres. In
addition to farming he was engaged in carpentry and made
a success of his affairs. He died in 1898, at the age
of seventy-four years, while Mrs. Finley passed away in
1914, aged eighty-two years, having survived him sixteen
years.

The education of Joseph Nathan Finley was acquired in
the public schools of Hancock County, and, like his broth-
ers, while being reared on the home farm he learned the
trade of carpenter. This he followed somewhat independ-
ently until 1892, when, with his brothers, James William,
Richard Franklin and Robert Andrews Finley, he began
contracting and building, mainly at East Liverpool. In
1902 the brothers, with their brother-in-law, Joseph McCoy,
formed the Finley Brothers Lumber Company, which has
developed into the largest business of its kind in this
section. While ostensibly a lumber company, this enter-
prise also continued contracting and building, including
all manner of structures. Among the work accomplished
by this firm may be mentioned ten residences for the
Government, railroad stations, potteries, factories, schools,
court houses, churches, Y. M. C. A. buildings, garages,
etc. in fact anything in the contracting line. More than
one-half of the buildings at Chester have been erected by
this concern whose patronage has also extended to Newell,
Follansbee, Weirton and other communities. The company
now consists of the four brothers, Mrs. Joseph McCoy, now
a widow, and George Hasson. They own a well-equipped
mill utilized for mill work, stair work, etc., and the entire
plant is modern in every particular. Mr. Finley was one
of the original incorporators of the First National Bank
of Chester and has been its vice president since its incor-
poration.

He was a member of the first council of Chester, served
as a justice of the peace for some time, and in 1909 was
sent to the State Legislature as representative, being one
of the few democrats ever elected to that body from Han-
cock County. He formerly served for some time as chair-
man of the County Democratic Committee. He has a
number of civic and fraternal connections.

Mr. Finley married Miss Ella Rose, a sister-in-law of
John E. Newell, a sketch of whom appears in this work,
and to this union there have been born four children:
Claire C. in the engineering department of the Crucible
Steel Company at Midland, Pennsylvania; J. Paul, a stu-
dent at the University of Pittsburgh; and Mary Louise and
Martha Jane, twins, born seventeen years after J. Paul.

Mr. Finley is a charter member of Chester Lodge No.
142, A. F. and A. M., and also belongs to the Scottish
Rite bodies up to and including the thirty-second degree.
He also belows to Osiris Temple A. A. O. N. M. S. of
Wheeling, West Virginia.

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