Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FINLEY, Robert W., clergyman, born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 9 June 1750; died in Germantown, Ohio, 8 December 1840. His mother, who had some acquaintance with medicine, opened a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Revolutionary war, and ministered to them with her own hand. Robert received a classical and theological education at Princeton, being licensed to preach as a Presbyterian, and in 1777 volunteered to go as a missionary to the new settlements in the Carolinas and Georgia. During this time Mr. Finley, who was an earnest patriot, was often with General Marion in his expeditions, and narrowly escaped death at the hands of Tories in the partisan warfare then raging in that district. He removed to Virginia about 1784, two years later to Ohio, and in 1788 to Kentucky, where, after suffering from the depredations of wolves and savages, he finally settled in Bourbon County. Here, besides preaching to two congregations, he conducted a classical school, said to have been the first in Kentucky.
He removed to a place near Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1796, and in 1808 became a Methodist, joining the Ohio conference as an itinerant preacher about 1812. He labored for years with great success, and, when almost eighty years old, set off on horseback, as a missionary, for Sault Ste. Marie, where he formed a circuit and appointed a camp meeting.
His son, James Bradley Finley, clergyman, born in North Carolina, 1 July 1781; died in Cincinnati, Ohio, 6 September 1856, was educated by his father, entered the Ohio Methodist conference in 1809, and in 1816'21 was presiding elder of the Steubenville, Ohio, and Lebanon districts. He was a missionary to the Wyandot Indians in 1821'7, and retained the superintendency of the mission till 1829, subsequently continuing in the itinerant ministry till 1845, when ha became chaplain of the Ohio penitentiary. He retained this office till 1849, and then acted as conference missionary and pastor in southern Ohio till his death. His principal publications are "History of the Wyandot Mission" (Cincinnati, 1840);" Memorials of Prison Life" (1850); "Autobiography," edited by Rev. W. P. Strickland (1853); "Sketches of Western Methodism" (1854); and "Personal Reminiscences illustrative of Indian Life" (1857).
Another son, John P. Finley, educator, born in South Carolina, 13 June 1783; died 8 May 1825, removed with his parents to the west, was educated by his father, and in 1810'22 taught in schools and academies in Ohio, and also preached with success. He was given the chair of languages in Augusta College, Kentucky, in 1822, and in 1823 became an itinerant minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
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