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Fayette County, Iowa
Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa
Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of
Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County
Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago
Gilbert B. Finch
Gilbert B. Finch, a retired farmer now living in Fayette, was born on the 30th of November, 1837, in Berrien County, Mich., and is a son of Moses and Hulda (Gardner) Finch. He was reared to farm life, and the educational advantages which he received were those afforded by the common schools. His mother died when he was four months old, and his father when he was a lad of ten years. Having lived with a married sister for two years, he then began to make his own way in the world, and to him alone belongs the credit of his success in life. He worked for his board and clothes until he could earn wages. Some years he spent in Jefferson County, Wis., whither he had removed with his father when seven years of age. When a young man of eighteen he went to Minnesota, working in the pineries for about three years, and in 1858 went South to Mississippi. There he made a contract to construct a portion of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. When the war broke out, as he and his men were all opposed to secession they were ordered to come North immediately, and Mr. Finch returned to Wisconsin.
He enlisted in the State service, but the organization disbanded, and he then enrolled his name with the boys in blue of Company A, Fourth Wisconsin Infantry, on the 2d of July 1861. His command joined the Army of the Potomac, and made an expedition into Virginia, after which they were transferred to Butler's command at Ship Island, and took part in the battle of Baton Rouge. In the winter of 1862-63, the regiment was mounted and became the Fourth Wisconsin Cavalry. It participated in the siege of Port Hudson, where they were under fire forty-two days, and in the cavalry charge on the 14th of June, 1863, they lost one hundred and thirty-nine men out of the two hundred and eight who rode forward to meet the enemy. Our subject was wounded in the left shoulder, and was forced to remain in the hospital at Baton Rouge, La. Previous to that time he had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant. As soon as he was well enough he was sent back to Walworth County, Wis., to recruit, after which he returned to his regiment and on the 9th of June, 1864, was promoted to be Second Lieutenant. Six months later he was made First Lieutenant, in which capacity he served until the close of the war, when he was mustered out in Brownsville, Tex., May 28, 1866, receiving his discharge on the 20th of June following. He at once returned to Wisconsin, and on the 18th of June was honored with the commission of Captain, bestowed upon him by Gov. Lucius Fairchild.
In July, 1866, Mr. Finch came to this county and engaged in farming. On the 1st of December, 1867, he led to the marriage altar Miss Mary J. Ash, who was born in LaFayette, Ind., August 9, 1848, and is a daughter of Edwin D. and Matilda (Cave) Ash. Their union has been blessed with three children: Grant E., who is engaged in teaching in Colorado; Fred E., a teacher in this county; and Addie M. is at home.
Mr. Finch continued his farming operations in Westfield Township until December, 1890, when he determined to retire from business life and removed to Fayette, where he owns a pleasant home. He still retains the ownership of his farm comprising three hundred and sixteen acres of highly cultivated land with two sets of good barn buildings and many other improvements, all of which stand as monuments to his thrift and industry, for he is a self-made man, and his possessions have been acquired through his own efforts. In political sentiment he is a Republican and served as census enumerator for his township in 1890. Both himself and wife are members of the United Brethren Church, and are highly respected people.
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