John. B. Finch,
Party Chairman (1884-1887)

John B. Finch, Chairman of the Prohibition National Committee 1884-1887, was born on 17 March 1852, the third son in a family of eight children. His parents were farmers near Lincklaen, New York.

      Finch early on was attracted to intellectual pursuits, especially to temperance. He began teaching school in 1870 (at age 16) and began lecturing on temperance in 1873.

      He married Retta L. Coy in 1871. Retta died of heart faiure in 1874. In 1876, Finch married Frances E. Manchester, gave up teaching, and became a travelling organizer for the International Organization of Good Templars.

Photo by Fritz Giehl, courtesy of Per-Hugo Kristensson

      Finch had become interested in the IOGT in 1872, joining a lodge in Smyrna, New York. He was made Deputy Grand Worthy Chief Templar for New York in 1876. In 1884, he was made Chief Templar of the (international) Right Worthy Grand Lodge and there earned a reputation as a peacemaker among conflicting factions within the IOGT.

      The second Mrs. Finch also did organizing for the IOGT. The Finches moved to Nebraska in 1877, lecturing and founding new lodges. Frances Finch became General Superintendent of Juvenile Lodges in Nebraska in 1879.

      John B. Finch became influential in the Prohibition Party soon after its founding. He claimed that the Prohibition Party threw the 1887 national election to the Republicans, by siphoning off Democratic voters.

      Finch died in 1887, of a heart attack, in Lynn, Massachusetts, while on an IOGT speaking tour of New England. He is buried in Chicago, at Rose Hill Cemetery. The IOGT erected there a substantial monument to Finch, at which Jupiter Lodge #3 conducts an annual Memorial Day service.

      The cemetery is at Ravenswood and Western avenues, at the north edge of Chicago (Peterson Avenue exit from I-94 or from Lake Shore Drive). From the main entrance, on Ravenswood, turn right immediately and go to Section 91—the extreme NE corner of the cemetery.

      Also at the Rose Hill are the IOGT Memorial (Section H) and Frances Willard's grave (nearby).

      For a comprehensive biography of John B. Finch, see: Frances E. Finch and Frank James Sibley (1888) -- John B. Finch, His Life and Work: NYC, Funk & Wagnalls.

[BACK]