Obituary of Rev. Amos Finch written by his son Luther Lee Finch
American Wesleyan Feb. 19, 1879 (Denominational Paper of Wesleyan Methodists)
Rev. Amos Finch was born in Green Co., N.Y. April 25, 1820 and died of Pleurisy and Lung Fever, January 16th, 1879.
During his life some of the most exciting and momentous events which our country has ever known took place. He was one of the older children of a large family and left home when quite young. For a short time he worked at the shoemaker’s trade, then for different farmers. When eighteen he was converted at a Methodist camp-meeting near White Pigeon, Michigan, and soon after feeling that it was his duty to preach began as a Methodist exhorter. He felt that a minister should be educated, and accordingly before and after he was ordained exerted himself towards that end. While traveling on circuits he carried books in his saddle-bags, studied on horseback and recited to the best educated man he could find. While teaching school he studied nights and mornings and soon acquired the name of an excellent teacher. He attended school at Mission Institute, also at Raisin Institute in Michigan. At both places he sustained himself by work and made warm friends many of whom in after life showed their attachment some by little gifts others by letters and visits. He was often perplexed for the want of books, but with much exertion he, by degrees, became possessor of a good library.
He was an Abolitionist from his very youth. Was an admirer of Orange Scott, and joined the Wesleyan church soon after it was organized. His special guides and friends during his early ministry were Revs.Rufus Lumry and W. W. Crane. Between those men and father there was ever the warmest attachment. The letters written between them are of interest. “Father Lumry” (as Rev. R. Lumry was always designated in our family) wrote letters while father was in school urging him to leave and go into the active ministry. On one of his first circuits he traveled with father Lumry and as he wore no beard and looked exceedingly young was quite extensively known as the “boy-preacher”. While traveling on a circuit in Jackson Co., Michigan, he became acquainted with and married Miss Eliza Smith. Four years after his marriage he moved to Iowa and bought a small place between Cedar Falls and Waterloo. On either side where these beautiful cities now stand if a person had then inquired for the town he would have be pointed to a few log huts and received the answer, “There is the place.” In the spring of 54, father was impressed with the importance of making Kansas a free state. That fall he started for Kansas under the auspices of the American Missionary Board.
The particulars of what he did and suffered in Kansas cannot be given; hardly a synopsis should be expected. He arrived at Lawrence about the middle of October and as sod houses were full went into one of the hay wickers. This contained six families. The women and children crowded round one old stove on which the food for each family had to be cooked. The damp prairie winds whistled through it almost as through the leafless groves. In a few weeks father had up one of the first frame houses which was built in Lawrence. The next spring he moved down near Osawattomie, where his family remained during the eight years they were in Kansas. His labor began immediately. It was souls and free state votes he worked for. Such objects amidst the dangerous elements which then flooded Kansas required no little effort. He traveled very extensively through the territory and much of the time preached five times during the week. His private correspondence was wide, being both with those who wrote merely for information and others who wished to make Kansas their homes. Among the number was Horace Greely, and John Brown. He received monied offers from different editors to induce him to write for their papers, but most of his articles appeared in the Wesleyan and were extensively quoted in other papers. Those quotations greatly increased his danger as they made his name widely known among the Border Ruffians. During the terrible times of 56 and 57, he often had occasion to use the friendship he had formed by preaching to the Indians. On the morning Osawattomie was burned, Fredric Brown shot, and Rev. Adair chased into the woods he narrowly escaped. For two weeks his wife knew nothing of his whereabouts, and then she heard that he was sick among the Indians. Years of exposure and excitement brought on an uncommonly severe attack of typhoid fever. He was once supposed to be dead, but skillful medical aid and careful nursing raised him from a bed of sickness on which he had suffered long and survived three sinking chills. After that he was never well. Generally in the morning and often during the day he had a severe pain in the right side.
When the war had fairly commenced he felt that slavery had received a death-blow and in the Fall of 62, went north for his health. During eight years (with the exception of one old gentleman from York State, who became discouraged and went back) he had been the only Wesleyan minister in Kansas. He organized the first Wesleyan churches and left them in a thriving condition. Many of the emigrants who found homes through him became excellent citizens. Some seven years after leaving Kansas he went back on a visit. No sooner had he entered Osawattomie than it was noised abroad and a large crowd gathered. So many invitations were given that he had to decline all, and state that he could only call at a few places.
At the time father left Kansas he bought a farm in Fayette Co., Iowa but shortly after sold out and moved to Quasqueton, Buchanan Co. During this time he preached occasionally. In 1865 he received an urgent offer of twelve hundred dollars per year if he would lecture in Iowa for the Freedman’s Bureau. He accepted and acted as lecturer and financial agent for Iowa until he resigned on account of ill health. Shortly after he made a trip to northern Michigan, found it a good fruit country and concluded his health would be better in that climate. He spent three summers in that traverse region, and in 1870 moved to a place on the lake shore south of Frankfort. In this place his health was better than it had been for some years. During the past nine years he has preached as occasion and health permitted.
Father was a hearty supporter of all reforms and was especially interested in the anti-masonic cause. His business talents were good. He was very fond of literature, appreciated the beauties of poetry and the sublimity of eloquence, but gave most of his leisure time to history and theology. His nature was free and open. He could conceal nothing. Even a little social surprise, if known to him, would be known to all. Among the many hymns he loved to sing were those beginning:-
“I would not live alway: I ask not to stay
Where storm after storm rises dark o’er the way’ etc.
“What’s this that steals, that steals upon my frame?
Is it death?
That soon will quench, will quench this vital frame!
Is it death?
If this be death, I soon shall be
From every pain and sorrow free!
I shall the King of glory see!
All is well.”
Prior to his late sickness he had been afflicted with a bad cold. On Saturday, Jan. 4th, he was taken with a severe attack of the pleurisy which afterwards ran into lung fever. In spite of medical aid and careful nursing he continued to waste away. During the night of Jan. 15th, his suffering was great, but towards morning the Dr. thought his pain much less. His last hours seemed peaceful. At ten o’clock in the morning his savior called, he went to meet Him and left us weeping.
He leaves a family of six, wife four daughters and a son all of whom are professing Christians. During his sickness he told of the firm hope he had in Christ, and said he felt prepared to go and meet his Savior. When he could only speak in a whisper he was often heard to lisp, “Bless the Lord!” Although we cannot help missing and grieving for him we feel that he has only passed from one room to another, has gone from the Creator’s earth to our Savior’s heaven.
His funeral sermon was preached at half past ten A.M. jan. 18, by Rev. W. S. Sly, of Frankfort. Teams came from eight and ten miles and accompanied the procession from the residence to the place of burial. While we take up our burdens with sorrow and press onward, his body worn and weary with the struggles of this life, finds a sweet resting place in the quiet cemetery at South Frankfort.