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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Finegan

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 377-380 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

This family, represented in Albany in the present generation by Thomas E. Finegan, Assistant State Commissioner of Education, descends from Irish parents and ancestors. The founder of the family in the United States was Michael Finegan, born in county Lough, Ireland, in 1826, and died in Schoharie county, New York, 1906. He came to the United' States in 1847, having just attained his majority. He settled in Schoharie county, New York, where he was in business as a carriage maker and in connection ran a general blacksmith shop. He resided in Schoharie village, afterward in Cobleskill, and later in West Fulton. He prospered in business and was a man of influence in his town. He was an active Democrat, was town clerk of Fulton, and held other local offices. He married, in Schoharie, Ann Welch, born in Ireland, in 1832, and died September, 1888, at West Fulton. Children:

  1. Etta, unmarried; resides in West Fulton, New York.
  2. Michael (2), succeeded his father in the business which he still continues; is a practical blacksmith and carriage builder; he is an active Democrat, has served as town clerk several terms, and is one of the leading citizens of his town; he is a member of the I. O. O. F.; is unmarried.
  3. John, died 1903; was a farmer; member of the Baptist church, and a Republican. He married Lottie Zeh, who survives him (1910); children:
    1. Ada, graduate of Oneonta Normal School; now a teacher in the public schools of Yonkers, New York;
    2. Nina, resides with her mother;
    3. Erwin Z., now with firm of John G. Myers Company, Albany.
  4. James, has been for many years with Hodge Brothers, merchants, of Cobleskill, New York; married Edith Olendorph; child: Ethel. He is a member of the Lutheran church, and a Democrat.
  5. Matthew, died at age of six years.
  6. Thomas Edward, see forward.
  7. Mary, married Norman L. Spencer, of Richmondville, New York; children: Floyd, married Emma Sutphen; Harry, Lena, Una. The members of this family attend the Methodist Episcopal church.

(II) Thomas Edward, son of Michael and Ann (Welch) Finegan, was born at West Fulton, Schoharie county, New York, September 28, 1866. He was educated in the common and high schools of West Fulton and Cooperstown, New York, and was graduated from the State Normal College at Albany, class of 1889, and received the degree of A. M. from Hamilton College, in 1894, and the degree of Pd. D. from the New York State Normal College in 1909. He chose the profession of law, and read law with E. A. Dox, of Richmondville, completing the required studies and years of service with Charles J. Buchanan, of Albany. He was admitted to the New York bar June, 1894. Prior to his college graduation he taught in the public schools. He was principal of the public school of West Fulton, New York, 1889-1890; elected school commissioner for the second district of Schoharie county and served from January 1, 1891, to December 1, 1892, when he resigned and accepted an appointment from James F. Crooker, state superintendent, as supervisor of examinations in the State Department of Public Instruction. He served twelve years, during which period the present system of examination and certification of teachers in New York state was developed. In December, 1904, he was appointed by State Commissioner Andrew S. Draper to the position of chief of the law division,State Education Department. He served in this position until October 1, 1908, when he was appointed by Commissioner Draper to be assistant commissioner of education, and placed in charge of elementary education, which includes the elementary and normal schools of the state, training schools and training classes, teachers' institutes, and the certification of teachers. He is a member of the board of question revision. Besides the vast amount of labor Mr. Finegan has performed in behalf of the educational system of the state, he is the author of text books principally on legal educational subjects. His principal works are New York School Law, Education Code, and Judicial Decisions of State Superintendents and Commissioners of Education, the latter treating of all the important decisions since 1820, when the department of education was given judicial powers. He stands very high in educational circles, and is a member of state and national associations devoted to education. He is a trustee of the New York State Normal College, trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Albany, trustee of the Albany Exchange Savings Bank, trustee of the Albany Chamber of Commerce, trustee of New York State Historical Association, charter member of the Aurania Club, and president for the first three years of its existence. He is also a member of the University Club, and of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In politics he is a Democrat. He married, December 10, 1894, Grace E. Browne, of Schenectady, New York, and has a son, Edmund Randolph, born October 22, 1898.

Grace E. (Browne) Finegan is a descendant of Wolston Brockway, the first of the name in America as far as known.

(I) Wolston Brockway, the progenitor of the New England family bearing his name, was probably born in some part of England, not far from 1638. In a deposition made by him July 10, 1714, and recorded in Lyme, his age is stated at seventy years or thereabouts, and he stated that he had dwelt in Lyme for fifty years past, but there are indications that both his age and the length of his residence in Lyme were placed too low. He bought land with a house and barn thereon of John Reynolds, of Saybrook, Connecticut, December 3, 1659, the land being described as "one ye east sid of ye river ouer against he towne of Saybrooke" and the consideration was twenty pounds sterling. The natural inference is that he was of full age when he made this purchase, and that he settled at once in his new home, which would fix the date of his birth about 1638 and make his residence in Lyme cover nearly fifty years in July, 1714. His first home in Lyme was probably on Duck river, at some distance south of the present village of Lyme, and near Long Island Sound. He was frequently elected to some office in the town, the most important of which was surveyor. He owned land at Tantum Morantum, near what is now Brockway's ferry, as early as February 1, 1703, at which date he bought forty acres of land of Rev. Moses Noyes, which was already in Brockway's possession, but it is not known that he lived there.

He married (first) Hannah Briggs, widow of John Harris, of Boston. She was born at Boston, August 28, 1642, daughter of William and Mary Briggs. She died at Lyme, February 6, 1687-88. William Briggs lived most of his life in Boston; but he purchased land in Lyme, October 27, 1680, of his son-in-law, Wolston Brockway, and sold the same to his son, John Briggs, February 15, 1680-1, "with the frame of a house thereon, stand which I purchased of John Lareby." He returned to Boston about 1685. He married a second wife whose name was Hannah, but her maiden name has not been found. He gave his land to his children during his life. Perhaps the latest deed was to his daughter, Hannah Wade, dated May 16, 1717, giving her certain personal property to take effect on the death of himself and wife. He died not long before November 11, 1717, at which date his son Richard Brockway was granted administration on his estate. He was probably buried in the Duck River cemetery, in the village of old Lyme. Children; born in Lyme, Connecticut:

  1. Hannah, born, September 14, 1664, married there, August 23, 1682, Thomas Champion, born at Saybrook, Connecticut, April, 1650, son of Henry and Deborah Champion; he died at Lyme, in 1705. She married (second) John Wade, and as "my daughter Hannah Wade, of Lyme," received a deed from her father May 16, 1717, conveying to her certain personal property on the death of himself and wife.
  2. William, born, July 25, 1666; married there, March 8, 1692-3, Elizabeth Gregory Wilterton, of Hartford, Connecticut, by his will of 1674, gave him a legacy of ten pounds in consideration of which his father deeded land to him in 1709. He settled at Brockway's Ferry, in that part of Lyme to which Joshua, son of Uncas, gave the name of Joshuatown, and died there March 29, 1755, in the eighty-ninth year of his age, as testified by his gravestone, still legible in the family cemetery at that place. His wife, it is said, was buried by his side, but no stone is there to tell the date. His father deeded land to him at Tantum Morantum (Joshuatown), June 8, 1697. On this land he probably settled. At the May session, 1724, the general court granted to him, in connection with William Pratt, who lived on the west side of Connecticut river, the right to keep a ferry, still known as Brockway's Ferry.
  3. Wolston, of whom further.
  4. Mary, born January 16, 1669-70; married Samuel Mott, of Lyme, April 6, 1692, and they had a gift of land from her father, March 27, 1697; her name on town record is written Marah, that being the form which town clerk, Joseph Peck, was in the habit of using for Mary.
  5. Bridget, born January 2, 1671-2; married 1714, Jonathan Beebe. She died in East Haddam, Connecticut, April 6, 1758, aged eighty-six years, according to her gravestone.
  6. Richard, born September 30, 1673; married, (first) October 25, 1697, Rachel ————. She died at Lyme, April 9, 1718. He married (second) May 5, 1720, Elizabeth Tiffany. He joined the First church in Lyme, October, 1739.
  7. Elizabeth, born May 24, 1676; married, about 1701, William Harris, of Lyme, and her father gave land to them January 23, 1705-6. He probably died as early as 1710, and she married (second) March, 1711-12, Roger Alger, Sr. "Elizabeth, widow of Roger Alger, late of Lyme, deceased, formerly the wife of William Harris, dyed in July in ye yeare 1729."
  8. Sarah, born September 23, 1679; married, January 20, 1703, Nathaniel Beckwith; they were living at East Haddam, November 23, 1704, when her father gave land to his "well beloved son-in-law, Nathaniel Beckwith, of Haddam, of the east side of the river."
  9. John; his father, in deeding his homestead to Richard Brockway, March 13, 1708, provided that Richard should pay fifteen pounds sterling to John Brockway on the death of his father. He was probably the son of the first, but possibly of the second wife.

(II) Wolston (2), son of Wolston (1) and Hannah (Briggs) Brockway, was born at Lyme, Connecticut, February 7, 1667-8; married, December 4, 1688, Margaret ————. He died at Lyme early in 1707. Letters of administration on his estate were granted to his widow, June 4, 1707, and the estate was distributed March 17, 1713-14. She married (second) at Lyme, February 7, 1710-11, Thomas Ennis, and died there January 17, 1738-39, aged seventy-three years. By her second marriage she had one son, Thomas Ennis, born at Lyme, May 28, 1712.

(III) Samuel, eldest son of Wolston (2) and Margaret Brockway, was born at Lyme, February 11, 1691-2. He settled in Branford, Connecticut, before January 21, 1734-5, when he joined his brothers Edward and Ephraim and his sisters Deborah Champion and Margaret Smith in selling a part of their heritage in Lyme to Samuel Seoden. The land lay at Fishing Cove.

(IV) Wolston (3), son of Samuel Brockway, was born in Branford, Connecticut. He married, in 1744, Dorcas Weeden, or Wheden, of Branford, and settled in Sharon, Connecticut, about 1750. Their homestead is still occupied by their descendants. It lies in the south part of the town, bordering on Kent, about one mile from the west line of Connecticut. A Congregational church was formed at what is now called Amenia Union in the fall of 1759, and in this church he and his children were publicly baptized on November 16, 1760.

(V) Joseph, son of Wolston (3) and Dorcas (Weeden) Brockway, was born at Sharon, Connecticut, about 1755, baptized there in the Knibloe church, December 28, 1760; married, January 19, 1775, Jane Doty, born November 27, 1756.

(VI) Artemas, son of Joseph and Jane (Doty) Brockway, was born at Sharon, Connecticut, December 16, 1789. He married, November 2, 1809, Desire Dillay, born May 7, 1787, died April 18, 1841. He died July 26, 1857.

(VII) Emma, daughter of Artemas and Desire (Dillay) Brockway, was born March 20, 1823; married Henry L. Browne.

(VIII) William Henry, son of Henry L. and Emma (Brockway) Browne, was born May 25, 1843; married, June, 1867, Acelia Bertrand Cramer. He enlisted in the civil war in October, 1863, in the 8th New York Light Artillery, October 9, 1864, detailed by order of Brigadier-General I. Bodges as hospital steward, Battery B, 2d United States Light Artillery; assigned to duty as hospital steward of artillery brigade, 25th Army Corps, by order of Captain L. L. Langdon, commanding brigade artillery; was in active service continuously from time of enlistment; from May, 1864, was in active hospital field service in General Grant's Peninsula campaign to the surrender, April 9, 1865; ordered on detached service as hospital steward on expedition to Mexico, June, 1865. August 4, 1865, ordered to report for muster out at New York City; mustered out August 14, 1865.

(IX) Grace Emma, daughter of William Henry and Acelia Bertrand (Cramer) Browne, born at Troy, New York, October 29, 1870; married Thomas Edward Finegan.

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