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Delaware County, Iowa


 Biography Directory

Dwight H. Finch





     Inventive genius and business ability have gained for Dwight H. Finch a most creditable and enviable position among the business men of Manchester, as he is now at the head of the Manchester Machine Company, engaged in the manufacture of devices which he invented. He was born in Wisconsin, October 4, 1852, a son of George and Roxanna (Wheaton) Finch. The father was born in New York in 1832 and the mother's birth occurred near Lake Champlain, in the Empire state, in 1837. George Finch removed from New York to Wisconsin and after a number of years came to Iowa in 1869, settling in Delaware county, where he engaged in business as a coal and lumber dealer. During the Civil war he served from 1861 until 1864 as a member of the First Wisconsin Heavy Artillery and was always loyal in matters of citizenship.  He passed away in Manchester in May, 1881, and was survived by his wife until 1897. In their family were four children: Dwight H.; Jeannette, the wife of David Hooper of Idaho; Warren, who died in 1891; and Mary, who passed away in 1875.

     Dwight H. Finch attended the graded and high schools of Milton, Wisconsin, and the first two years after his arrival in Iowa he was in the employ of Hiram Hoyt, a grain dealer, weighing practically all of the grain that came into the market. For eight years he engaged in clerking in a grocery store in Manchester and afterward devoted four years to the restaurant business. He then went upon the road as a traveling salesman for H. C. & C. Durand, of Chicago, being connected with that house for four years, at the end of which time he entered the employ of Witmer  Brothers, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for whom he traveled for eight years. He afterward spent five or six years in the real estate business and about that time he invented a lawn shovel, which he placed upon the market. It was then his inventive genius resulted in the building of a street sweeper and dump wagon, the practical value of which was so apparent that he soon began the manufacture of this, organizing the Manchester Machine Company, with local capital, for the purpose. This street cleaner is destined to revolutionize street cleaning methods in hundreds of cities. It is built somewhat upon the plan of a carpet sweeper and, taking up all of the dirt, delivers it into a dump wagon, thereby eliminating the expense of taking it up a second time or leaving it in the gutter, where the first wind will blow it back into the street perfectly clean. It cleans a swath eight feet wide at the rate of three miles an hour or as fast as a team will walk. It is figured that streets can be cleaned at a cost of less than two dollars a mile, while the old methods of cleaning streets with the aid of men employed for the purpose costs ten dollars per mile. The cleaner is built entirely of steel and weighs eighteen hundred pounds. The conveyor and brush are operated by levers within easy reach of the operator, which makes it easy for him to apply the proper friction of the brush to the street. Power is secured from a fifteen horse power water cooled two cylinder gasoline engine. The value of the engine has been demonstrated in various towns and it is fast coming into general use. To the development of the business Mr. Finch is now devoting his entire attention.

       In 1879 occurred the marriage of Mr. Finch and Miss Katherine Lawless. Mrs. Finch passed away in November, 1912, leaving two children: Dwight Burr, who is now in his father's machine shop; and Doris, who is a senior in the high school. Mr. Finch held the rank of captain of Company C, of the Fourth Regiment, Iowa National Guard, for ten years and his was one of the best companies in the regiment, but after a decade he resigned. His political views are in accordance with the principals of the republican party, and fraternally he is connected with the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, while his religious belief is that of the Congregational church. His has been an active and useful life, in which he has made good use of his time, talents and opportunities, and gradually he has steadily worked his way upward until he is now one of the foremost representatives of industrial activity in his city.



~ source: History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume II. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914, Chicago. Page 158-159. Call Number 977.7385 H2m; LDS microfilm #934937.

~transcribed and contributed by Constance Diamond for Delaware County IAGenWeb


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