Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Edwin A. Fink

The state of New York is represented in almost every county of the west by sons or daughters who sought under favorable circumstances to establish a home among strangers. In numberless instances their efforts have met with success and today many of the most honored people of the great west are from the Empire state. Edwin A. Fink, now living retired at Denison at the venerable age of eighty-two years, was born at Prattsville, Green county, New York, August 9, 1829.

His parents were Harry and Lucinda (Beers) Fink, also natives of Greene county, New York. They were descendants of old Holland Dutch families that were among the first settlers in that county. The father was' reared as a fanner and devoted his life to that occupation. He came to Iowa in 1879 and died November 1 following, being then seventy-one years of age. His remains were interred in the cemetery at Deloit, Crawford county. His wife departed this life May 28, 1855, at the age of forty-nine years. He was a member of the Dutch Reformed church but she was a devout Methodist. Adam Fink, the paternal grandfather, married Katrina Hummell and died from the effects of the kick of a colt.

There were eight children in their family, namely: Peter, Harry, John, Martin, Eli, Margaret, Jane and Polly. The maternal grandfather was Cornelius D. Beers, who was a native of New Jersey and engaged in farming. He died when a young man from the effects of a bayonet wound which he accidentally received. His wife was Weighty Disbro and in their family were six children: Seth, Betsy, Lucinda, Harry, Clara and Silas. Eleven children were born to Harry and Lucinda Fink, seven of whom grew to maturity: Cornelius K.; Edwin A., the subject of this review; Cordelia and Cornelia, twins; Willis T., now living in Cherry county, Nebraska; Martha; and Ann Augusta.

Edwin A. Fink was reared in his native county until nineteen years of age and as his parents were poor he had in his boyhood but limited opportunities of education. At eleven years of age he went to live with a widow who gave him his board and clothes and sent him to school. He remained in her home for five years and made himself useful by taking care of about forty head of cattle. After leaving the friendly shelter afforded by this kind-hearted woman, he went to Red Falls and worked in a sawmill and at various other occupations for three years, never receiving during this time more than eight dollars per month.

After a visit at home he started out in 1849, being then not quite twenty years of age, to seek his fortune in the world. He followed the Erie Railroad to Hornellsville, New York, and spent three or four years in Steuben county, at the end of which time he went to Sheboygan, Michigan, in company with about sixty men, to work in the woods and in the sawmills. After a short stay he started southward and at Detroit got off the boat and out of curiosity visited the shops of the Michigan Central Railroad. The businesslike air that prevailed about this establishment attracted his fancy and the next morning he went to work for the company and for nearly two years ran a switch engine in the yards at night. He next found himself in charge of an engine on the construction of a railroad and became so enamored of railroading that he was identified with that line of industry for twenty-five years. In 1866 he came to Clinton, Iowa, and for twelve years followed railway engineering and the machinist's trade.

Mr. Fink arrived in Denison in 1878 on the same train that carried Hon. Leslie M. Shaw and his wife to this city. Later he traded a farm in Clinton county for land in Otter Creek township, Crawford county, upon which he lived for five years. He began with one hundred and sixty acres, to which he later added eighty acres. Subsequently he bought land in Goodrich township and owned at one time four hundred and seventy acres in the township and two hundred and forty acres in Otter Creek township, being one of the leading farmers in that part of the county. He lived in Goodrich township until 1899, when he retired to Denison. He still owns two hundred and twenty acres of land in this county, for which he has refused one hundred and seventy-five dollars per acre. He has been remarkably industrious and enterprising and well merits the prosperity that resulted from his labors.

On the 24th of May, 1855, Mr. Fink was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Amadon, a daughter of Smith Amadon. She passed away on the 12th of January, 1893, at the age of fifty-eight years. There were eleven children in the family, seven of whom grew to maturity, namely: Isabel, who married Dorr Comfort, of Pender, Nebraska, and has become the mother of two children; Hannibal. now owning three-eighths of the old homestead, who married Nellie Comstock and has five children; Nora, who lives on a farm near Laurel, Nebraska, and married Eli Johnson, by whom she has three children; Edwin, Jr., living eighty miles south of Dallas, Texas, who married Rhoda Swinson, of Minnesota, and is the father of three children; Oliver, of Wills Point, Van Zandt county, Texas, who married Florence Brogdon and has two cihldren; Harry, now deceased, who married Ida Conquest and had two children; and Eliza, now living at Onawa, Iowa, who married Lewis C. Albright, and is the mother of three children.

Mr. Fink was again married January 7, 1897, his second union being with Mrs. Laney Miller, the widow of Amos H. Miller, who served two years and eight months in the Civil war as a member of the Fourteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and was hurt by a fall from a freight train during his service. He remained an invalid during the rest of his life and at his death left his widow with four small children to care for, but she nobly performed her part, being an excellent mother. The children by her first marriage were: Abram, Eugene, George M., John T. and Frank R. Mrs. Fink was born in Alsace Lorraine, Germany, and is the daughter of Joseph and Mary (Smith) Rice. both of whom were natives of Germany. She came to America with her parents when she was nine months old, in 1831. and was thirteen years of age when her parents moved from New York and settled in Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin. She migrated to Iowa in 1896.

Mr. Fink has passed through many vicissitudes in the course of his long and useful life. He gained in the great school of experience a practical education which assisted him in becoming a model farmer, setting an example in the conduct of his business which awakened a spirit of enterprise wherever he was known. As a public-spirited citizen he has performed his part in the development of the county, taking a lively interest in the promotion of enterprises calculated to improve the social condition of the people. Possessing a kindly and benevolent disposition, he has generously responded to calls for assistance from those less fortunate than himself, and his actions have always reflected honor upon himself and those with whom he has been associated.

Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.