81st PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized/ Mustered In: Aug., Sept. & Oct. 1861 Philadelphia, PA
Mustered Out: 6/29/65 Alexandria, VA
In October, 1861 this three year “Army of The Potomac” regiment left the state for Washington D.C. It remained there until March, 1862 when it joined Union Gen. McClellan’s Peninsula campaign during which the 81st “saw much fighting and suffered severely.”
Actions of note on the penninsula were Fair Oaks, the Peach Orchard, Savage Station, Charles City crossroads and Malvern Hill. The 81st arrived too late to share in the Aug. ’62 fighting at Second Bull Run. Shortly thereafter it was in reserve at South Mountain, but suffered heavy losses at Antietam. Involvement in the battle of Fredericksburg, VA proceeded winter quarters.
1864 found the 81st at The Wilderness, Po River, Spottsylvania, North Anna River, Totopotomy and Cold Harbor. Severe losses in the opening assaults upon Petersburg followed. The winter of ‘64/’65 was spent in the trenches before that city.
Final months of the War found the 81st actively engaged with the enemy and constantly on the march. A desperate Union assault on Confederate lines near FARMSVILLE, VA in the conflict’s waning days cost the regiment dearly. With Confed. Gen. Lee’s surrender the regiment returned to Washing D.C. for final muster.
Residence: Inf. Not Avail. Age: 17.7 yrs.
Enrolled: 9/2/64 Williamsport, PA Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 9/2/64 Williamsport, PA
Discharged: 6/1/65 Alexandria, VA
Highest Rank: Pvt.
NOTE: The original birth – to – death biographical profile of John L. Finch was written during the early years of the Civil War Veterans Buried In Washington State project. As a result it suffered from both size limitations and lack of research resources. The biography which follows was created in February, 2019. While it features many more details than the original, it still falls short in terms of depth when compared to more recent profiles presented on this website which draw heavily upon documents housed in the National Archives located in Washington, D.C.
The parents of John Labuus Finch were Reuben S. (b.1810 NY) and Mary (nee Simmons b. 1816 NY) Finch. Reuben was a farmer and shoe maker by trade. By 1850 Reuben and Mary had departed New York and were farming in Shippen Township Tioga Co., PA. A decade later, in 1860 they were in Delmar Township Tioga Co., PA.
John Labuus Finch was born 1/12/47 in Athens, PA. He was the fifth of at least nine Finch children. Older than John were Thaddeus (b. 1833 NY), Henry (b. 1842 NY), Henrietta (b. 1844 NY) and Jane (b. 1846 NY). Younger than he were George R. (b. 1848 PA), Harlan (b. 1850 PA), Helen (b. 1853 PA) and Thaddeus (b. 1857 PA).
John’s mother died on 1/5/64. In September of that same year, John - then a 5’5” blue eyed farm boy- went to war. The regiment he joined had seen and would see more hard fighting. As such, it is not surprising that on 4/7/65, two days prior to Confed. Gen. Lee’s surrender to Union Gen. U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, VA Private Finch was captured during heavy fighting with the fleeing Rebels near FARMVILLE, VA. Released because of the cessation of hostilities, his only other military involvement of note was treatment for catarrh (infection) on 6/4/65.
With war and army life behind him, exactly where John settled is not known. Post war, there is no documentation on him until 1875 when he turns up in Bellevue Morrison Co., MN. By this time he had a wife, Maria Antoinette (nee Morse b. April, 1853 MA), and a son named Henry A. who had been born during 1871 in Missouri. Apparently after marrying in Minnesota, John and Maria moved to an unidentified location in Missouri were they remained for approximately a year and a half before
returning to Minnesota.
Five years later. 1880. The Finch family was still in Bellevue, MN, but with two new additions: Maude B. (b. 12/75 or 76 MN) and Aubrey H. (b. 1/1/78 MN). Also residing in the household was John’s younger brother, George.
Two more children were still to join the Finch household. They were John A. (b. 2/87 MN) and Elmer D. (b. 9/91 MN.) Jumping ahead some years, in 1900 all five Finch children were alive. A decade later, in 1910 only three of the five were still living.
In 1885 the Finch family was residing in Langola Benton Co., MN. As of 1890 they were in Morrill and Buckman Township Morrison Co., MN, but by 1900 they had quitted Minnesota and moved westward to Washington State. What had prompted this move and exactly when it was made is not documented, but, most likely it was to be near the families of their adult children residing in the area.
The first documented community of residence for the Finch family in Washington is Colfax in Whitman County on the far eastern edge of the state. John, Maria and four of their children – Maude, Aubrey, John and Elmer – are noted as residing there. John’s occupation at the time was listed as “farmer.”
1903. Three years after being censused in Whitman County, the Finch family was noted as residing in the City of Everett located in Snohomish County in the western part of the state. There the City Directory noted that John L. was in the laundry business. In 1910 the laundry business was clarified by a notation that Mabelia Morse – Maria’s widowed mother who was living with John, Maria, John A. and Elmer – owned the laundry establishment.
On 9/5/11 Union veteran John L. Finch put in “an active day’s work” and retired for the night. The next morning 9/6/11 he was found dead from an apparent heart attack. John was aged 64.8 years. At death he was receiving a $12 monthly government disability pension based on ailments or other conditions that traced back to his days of Civil War soldiering.
Besides his wife, Maria, he was survived by one daughter in Colfax, WA and two sons in Everett. Burial was/is in the Grand Army Of The Republic (G.A.R.) Cemetery in Snohomish, Snohomish Co., WA
In 1920 Maria was living with son John A., a farmer in Snohomish, WA. She followed John L. to the grave on 8/11/27. Residing in Sultan at the time of her passing, she was receiving a $30 per month pension based on her late husband’s Civil War pension. She was/is buried beside John in the G.A.R. Cemetery.
Buried at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Snohomish
Dave & Terri Magill
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