On Saturday, September 4, 2004, Joseph Prell, of Symmes Township, organized a patriotic dedication honoring both Ebenezzer Ward Finney and Finney's son-in-law, David Sprong.
Prell, whose fifth great-grandfather was Ebenezer Ward Finney, one of the original settlers of the Finneytown community, replaced the headstones of Finney and Sprong and donated the originals to the Finneytown Local School District.
Our Community - Beginning
Finneytown's settlement began at a meeting of three ministers on June 18,1795 in Columbia, OH. They were: Reverend John Smith, first preacher in Columbia, aged and ailing Reverend Ebenezer Ward, and Reverend David Barrows, a visitor in Columbia on his way from Virginia to Greenville for the signing of a treaty with the Indians. Mr. Barrows, a guest of Benjamin Sites, had called on Mr. Smith and found 87-year-old Mr. Ward in poor health. He helped Mr. Ward write his last will and testament. The will included a section of land Mr. Ward had purchased in April, 1795 from John Cleves Symmes and his wife Susan for the sum of $426.23. This section, Section 24, Township 3, Fractional Range 2, 640 acres, was bequeathed to Ebenezer Ward Finney, grandson of Rev. Mr. Ward, who was a Revolutionary War soldier and lived in Rensselaer County, NY.
Ebenezer Ward Finney came to take over his land in January,1798. After registering himself as the representative of this land, he returned to New York for his family and interested a group of relatives in settling on his land.
The birth of a Founder
Ebenezer Ward Finney was born in 1755 at Norton, Massachusetts and married Rachel Raymond in 1775. his family can be traced back to Peter Finney, who was born in Greenwich, England and died there in 1620. Peter Finney's wife, known only as Mother Finney, came to Portland, MA in 1631 with three children: Catherine, Robert and John. John Finney married Elizabeth Bailey on June 26, 1645. His son, Jeremiah, married Ester Lewis on January 7, 1684. Jeremiah's son, John, married Mary Campbell on January 12,1715. John Finney's son, Solomon, married Mary Ward, daughter of Rev. Ebenezer Ward. Their son was our community's founder, Ebenezer Ward Finney.
Those who came back to the Ohio Valley with Ebenezer Ward Finney were his daughters, Betsy and Abby, Lois (and her husband David Sprong) and their three children; his son, John; Finney's brother-in-law Samuel Raymond, and Raymond's wife and two children. This group left Rensselaer County, NY in covered wagons drawn by oxen. They crossed the Allegheny Mountains to Pittsburgh, where they built flatboats. They took the tops off the wagons and secured them to the boats to shelter the women and children. After loading their belongings, including the oxen, they started down the mighty Ohio, arriving in Cincinnati in October, 1800 - two years after Ebenezer Ward Finney first say his inherited land.
When Finney's party arrived at his section of land it was a wilderness. According to records, Winton Road was an Indian Trail (through Section 24, and on through Section 19) used by soldiers traveling from Fort Washington to Fort Hamilton. The settlers used this trail as their roadway to reach their homes. When Winton Road and the "Road to Carthage" were completed, the intersection of these roads became the center of the new settlement, which was named Finneytown, in honor Ebenezer Ward Finney. Finney was about 44 years old when he arrived.
Finney kept the Northeast quarter of Section 24 for his own farm, selling a small southeast quarter to his brother-in-law, Samuel Raymond, and part of the southwest quarter to his son-in-law David Sprong. The remainder of the southwest quarter to his son-in-law David Sprong. The remainder of the southwest quarter Finney sold to David Gray, for whom Gray Road is named. On his land, a small brick church was built, housing the "New Light Church," an offspring of the Presbyterian Church. the Reverend John Smith occasionally preached there before he became Ohio's first United States Senator. In 1802, Finney deeded a half acre to Stephen Flynn, Jacob Compton, and Luther Kitchell, trustees of the township, for a "public burial ground."
Named God's Half Acre, three Revolutionary War soldiers, John Dodson, David Sprong, and Ebenezer Ward Finney are buried there. Veterans of the War of 1812, Isaac Bruen, William Cummings, Samuel Dodson, and Samuel Raymond (Finney's brother-in-law) are also buried there. The earliest burials were in 1799, and there have been none since 1891. Most took place in the first half of the 19th century, usually in family plots.
In 1984, a local couple reported the discovery of an Indian burial mound. "for some reason lost in history, the cemetery was abandoned before it became filled up with bodies. The cemetery is small but it still has plenty of room," (Stephen Rosen, Cincinnati Enquirer, Feb. 4, 1984). In this little abandoned cemetery (on Winton Ridge Lane, a.k.a. Old Winton), are the stones of the community's patriots and their families and friends who did much to make the foundation of Finneytown strong and firm.
Finney's daughters and sons were married shortly after coming west. Abby married Joseph Preston and settled on 10 acres in the southeast quarter of Section 24. Betsy married Stephen Hall; they bought part of Finney's land in Turtle Creek Township, Warren County, OH, near Fort Ancient. His son, John, married Stephen's sister, Elizabeth, and remained on his father's farm. Joseph Hall, Revolutionary War soldier, the father of Stephen and Elizabeth, was born in New Jersey. He lived in Pennsylvania after his marriage to Sarah Allen in 1782; from there he came to Finneytown with his family and lived on Section 19 until his death in 1818.
After the death of Ebenezer Ward Finney, just two days after Christmas, 1822, and a little over a year after the death of his wife, Rachael, the portion of his inheritance he had kept for his own farm was sold to Thomas Townsend by his executors, William Snodgrass and Samuel Raymond, with the exception of a 50 acre tract which John Finney kept and which was known as the John Finney farm for years, even after he and his wife Elizabeth, sold it to David Sprong, Jr. in 1831 and moved to Fayette County, IN.
Other Interesting Facts
• First place of business was Samuel Raymond's Blacksmith Shop. Raymond was Finney's brother-in-law. Three of his sons kept the business, while one went on to become a traveling Photographer.
• Matthew Brown owned land on both sides of Winton Road. His brick farm house was built about 1820, north of the school house (present day site of Whitaker School).
• William Cummings and his family, in later years, moved to the hilltop at the crossroads of Winton and North Bend. He sold, or gave, the land for the first school house used solely for education. The first building was a one-room school house erected in approximately 1850. At one time, 65 children attended this one room. Present day Whitaker School sits on this site.
• The View Place Apartments was the site of an Indian lookout over the valley.
• Samuel Raymond (the blacksmith, brother-in-law to Ebenezer Ward Finney) built the first two-story log cabin near the crossroads (Winton and North Bend) for his daughter, Lois Raymond (b.1798), whose husband, John B. Preston (b. 1790) had died, leaving her with several small children.
• Lois daughter, Jane, then lived in the house. The house was moved a short distance down the road, and now Lois Preston's house and her father's log house stood side by side on Winton Road. Samuel's log house, later covered with weatherboard and shingle, was near the old Finneytown Mower Shop. It (Finneytown Mower Shop) was razed in October, 1990, for the Bob Sumeral Tire Store.
• The house at 701 W. North Bend Road was the original Sprong home (part of the original John Finney farm). The original basement was of stone with walls about 19 inches thick and a stone floor. The original fireplace and "cooking arm" are still intact. The original log walls remain in the family room of the present home though covered up by paneling from wood of the old carriage house. An original well remains on the property, which was used to water horses during the Civil War. It was used again during the flood of 1937 as one of the few clean water wells.
• William Snodgrass, executor to Ebenezer Ward Finney and one of the early justices in the township, sold a portion of Finney's farm to Thomas Townsend. Upon Townsend's death in 1831, the tract was sold to Charles Valentine, who later sold 63 acres, after a question of clear title (which was declared clear) to Samuel Borden. Snodgrass' 160 acres were sold to John Jessup, who then sold 60 acres to Doctor Solomon Beach, who sold to William Tifts, and Tifts to David Peters. David Peters operated a brickyard and lumber mill. The brick in many of the Finneytown houses, some of the churches in the Millcreek Valley, and the original building of the Good Shepherd Convent (now Faith Fellowship Ministries) were fired in Peter's brickyard located in what is now Carthage.
• Paul Bartel's Baroque Violin Shop on North Ben was built in 1812.
• In 1870, the Convent of the Good Shepherd bought land on a farm and built log cottages on the site. Part of this building (later the Girl's Town of America, now Faith Fellowship Ministries) is still standing but supposedly surrounded by other structures; the brick building including the chapel with the green dome was built later (ca. 1874). When the nuns still owned the property and operated the institution for young women who needed a home, there was a cemetery on the land. The cemetery located on the property was for nuns, employees, and perhaps children of families in the area. However, graves were opened and the remains removed when the property was sold.
• Charles Buchdrucher tore down the New Light Church, the first church in the area, using the brick to build a combination grocery store and saloon. The women in the neighborhood were outraged at this use of church brick in the construction of a saloon. This building was known as the Finneytown Inn. The name Buchdrucher was later changed to Bookprinter. Charles' daughter Annie Bookprinter, married Albert R. Valentine and both were artists at Rookwood Pottery.
The above information was compiled from various sources. The Finneytown Local School District does not endorse or qualify, nor do we attest to or guarantee the accuracy of this information. The bibliography is as follows:
• Tom Jones, Mrs. Dolly Bottum, Roy Weber, Mrs. Ruth Sprong Fichter, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Hackermeir, Mrs. Wm. Moeller, John Haskins, Mr. and Mrs. Chris Howeweler, Miss Mary Hoffmeier, Mrs. Ida Kuhlman, Mother Superior of Girl's Town, Mrs. R.J. Shepman, Ernest Hanfbauer and the College Hill Library.
• William Jordan, Dr. Prigan and Den 6 Pack 390 (Addison Beach, Jon Bromberg, Dan Hunter, Bill Jordan, Todd Pfeiffer, Steve Wiley, Mrs. Pat Jordan - 1965)