The Finch Family & Business
Asahael P. Finch was born in 1809 in Windham, Greene County, New York. Asahael married Sarah Tuthill, who was born in Connecticut. The Finch family consisted of nine children in 1850, including Helen (b. 834), Asahael (probably Irving Asahael) (b. 836), Autoinette (b. 844), Garafelia (b. 845), Melvina Hartwell (b. 845), Horace (b. 845), Ester (b. 848), Sarah (b. 848), and Phebe (b. 849). The family lived in Prattsville, Green County, New York state. Asahael was a machinist, and entered the iron business early in life. Asahael P. ran an extensive foundry and hardware store in Windham and later in Redfalls, N.Y. a short distance away. The close birth dates of the children suggest that Sarah had children from a previous marriage, or through adoption.
Asahael Finch moved his machinist business to Scranton and established the Finch Company business in 1855. Also known as the Scranton City Foundry and Machine Works, the enterprise was on the Hyde Park side of the river, on west Lackawanna Ave. between Eighth and Ninth Streets. It covered eighteen city lots and included a front two hundred and forty feet on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The main buildings were two stories high, 140 feet long and 40 feet wide. Other buildings included those for boilers, iron planer, core oven, and storehouses for patterns.
In 1857 B.G. Morss of Red Falls, N.Y. became associated with Finch, and until the spring of 1865 they carried on a general foundry and machine business under the firm name of Finch and Morss. At that time Asahael's son, Irving Asahael Finch, purchased Mr. Morss's interest, became a partner, and the firm was then known as Finch & Co. Irving learned the business and took over active management. This let his father devote his time to management of an extensive hardware trade in Hyde Park.
For years Finch & Co. manufactured a turbine water wheel, an invention of the senior partner. They manufactured portable engines, mining machinery, circular saw-mills, iron fronts for buildings, and steam heating apparatus prior to 1880. The heavy machinery of the works was driven by a twenty-five horse power engine of the firms's manufacture at that time.
In 1880 A.P. Finch retired leaving Irving the sole proprietor. A.P. served as a councilman for Hyde Park starting in 1872, and also retired from that body in 1880, at the age of 71. Asahael was a student of literature and a voracious reader. He was interested in promoting education and was a school director in Hyde Park. He was a member of the Washburn St. Presbyterian Church. He was confined to his room with consumption (tuberculosis) for six weeks or more before he died on May 7, 1881. He is buried in the Dunmore cemetery.
During the 1880's between ninety and one hundred persons worked at the business. On May 7, 1890 a great fire severely damaged the business. The facility was rebuilt, with new shops erected covering 190 by 87 feet, with twenty-two galleries extending around the building. At full capacity the plant then employed two hundred persons, and was one of the leading industries of the city of Scranton. In 1893 the present Finch Manufacturing Company was incorporated.
Irving A. Finch married Hannah S. Bump of Windham, N.Y. They had three children, Edward N. Finch (1865-1869), William Irving Finch (b. 1868), and Florence G. Finch (b. 1878). The family home was at 404 N. Washington Ave., Scranton, the current location of the Scranton Club. Irving was president of the company from 1880 until his death in June 1904.
Irving's son, William Irving Finch, served as secretary of the Finch Company in 1895 until the time of his father's death. For some unknown reason William Irving Finch did not take over the management of the company. William married and moved to Atlantic City before 1913. He worked in the hotel business. His family (wife and daughter) moved to California for a few years. William came east in the fall of 1917 to settle a court dispute about stock in the Finch Company left to him by his father. He died at Old Point Comfort, Virginia December 29, 1917, and is buried at the Dunmore Cemetery in Scranton.
Eugene Marsh became owner and head of the Finch Manufacturing Company in 1914. During his time the company repaired all of the trains on the Delaware/Lackawanna Railroad. Eugene's son Leland worked for his father as early as 1920 as Secretary of the company. Leland assumed the presidency of the company when Eugene died in 1932.
The Finch manufactured sewer covers which are still on many streets in Scranton. They repaired machinery for the coal mines and breakers ( a machine which breaks up coal). An inventor, William Menzies, worked with Leland to produce a new kind of coal cleaner for the coal breakers, which the Finch Company made. It was a big success and all the coal companies in northeastern Pennsylvania discarded their old coal cleaners and bought the new Menzies coal cleaners made by the Finch Company The company drilled the inside of a Navy battleship guns and got a Navy "E" for excellence for his work for the country during World War II.
When Leland died in November, 1957, running the business fell to his daughter, Mary Marsh Fellows. Mary found out about the difficulties of running the business in a man's world, and sold the company to three investors, including Gilbert Weinberger, Julius Weinberger and E.S. Stahller. In the early 1960's the business moved from Scranton to West Pittston, about eight miles away. The company took over property formerly used as locomotive repair shops by the Glen Alden Coal Company. The Finch Manufacturing Company continued under new management, developing new products as the Scranton area saw the decline of the coal and railroad industries. Today the company makes a variety of heavy steel componets for rotary kilns, waste incinerators, mining, and other industries. The company has a large drawing of A.P. Finch, founder, in one of their meeting rooms, and an old safe with the name of I.A. Finch on it. Mark Stahller, son of E.S. Stahller, serves as vice president.