Jacob A. Finfrock
Jacob A. Finfrock was the great-grandfather of Frank H. Ervin. Again, as with other surnames, there were several spellings used on the census and Civil War records – Finfrock, Finefrock, and Finafrock. Although Jacob’s obituary spelled his last name Finfrock, his wife Annie’s obituary spelled it Finafrock. In his Civil War diary, Jacob spelled his name Finfrock, which I will use except when quoting official documents.
Jacob’s obituary from Greencastle’s newspaper, stated that Jacob, “…was born in Fulton County, a few miles from McConnellsburg, March 25, 1844,” but it did not give the name of his father or mother. To date, I have not been able to find him or his family in Fulton County. The first U.S. Census that I could find with Jacob’s name on was the 1860 census. His mother, Izebella (43), was the head of household and their surname was spelled Finefrock. In the household were: Elizabeth (21), Christian(n) (17), Jacob (16), Liza (14), John (12), Panama (8), and Irena (1). With Izebella being the head of household and Irena being one year old, it is possible that Izebella’s husband had died within the year.
Jacob A. Finfrock enlisted in Co. D. 209th PA Infantry on September 2, 1864 and was discharged May 31, 1865, serving nine months and 29 days. He was promoted to Corporal on April 3, 1865. Co D was from Franklin Co., with a majority from Greencastle and Antrim Township. The captain of the company was John L. Ritchey, Mercersburg, and Andrew Davison was the adjutant.
The 209th left Pennsylvania on September 17, 1864 for Bermuda Hundred, VA. The regiment was attached to the Defenses of Bermuda Hundred, Army of the James, until November 27, 1864. Shortly after arriving, the 209th was in the trenches as the Union forces were trying to capture Fort Harrison. Finfrock and several of his friends were together, when a Confederate shell hit the exact spot where four of his friends were standing. Two were killed and two were wounded.
From When War Passed this Way, Finfrock kept a diary and on December 22, 1864 he wrote, “The boys got their boxes from home.” The passage was referring to a visit he received, on December 14, from Jacob Lear, a blacksmith from Shady Grove, and his friend Christian Hager, who were both in the 21st PA Cavalry. His friends had already received their Christmas packages.
At the beginning of 1865, the 209th was attached to the Army of the Potomac and was involved in the following battles: Dabney’s Mills and Hatcher’s Run from February 5 – 7, 1865; Ft. Steadman, and the final assault on Petersburg and its fall on April 2, 1865. The regiment’s men were involved in the chase of Gen. Lee for six days between April 3 and 9. They were present for the surrender of Lee and his forces. Finfrock’s diary entry for April 9, 1865 said, “In the evening we had the dispatch read to us that Lee had surrendered his army and there was great cheering.” Finfrock participated, alongside his comrades, in the Grand Review on May 23, 1865. The 209th moved to City Point, VA and on to Alexandria between April 20 and 29. The men were mustered out on May 31, 1865 and then they headed for home. The 209th PVI Regiment lost two officers and 17 enlisted men were killed and mortally wounded. Disease killed 20 for a total of 39 men.
Finfrock went back to Antrim Township after the Civil War, purchased a farm and started growing peach and apple trees in an orchard. The obituary states that Jacob owned and operated, “one of the finest farms and most productive peach and apple orchards in this section of the county.”
On October 4, 1866, almost a year and a half after discharge, Jacob married Anna Henneberger. In 1870, Jacob (25) was living in Antrim Township with his young family. His wife Annie was 23 and their daughter, Rebecca, was nine months old. John Deardorff (17), a farmhand, was also included in the household. They had a domestic servant, whose name was Catherine Sellers (26). Jacob’s personal property was worth $1,885.
Their oldest child Rebecca’s given name was actually Florence Rebecca. There were two more daughters recorded on the 1880 census; they were Maggie M. (7) and Anna Bell (1). Frederick Stoner (23) was their farm help.
On the 1890 Veterans health schedule, it was noted that Jacob had suffered from rheumatism for 27 years. The 1900 U.S. Census shows that Jacob Finafrock owned his farm in the Shady Grove area but he was still paying a mortgage. He was 56 and was born in March of 1844. Jacob and Annie (54), who was born in October of 1846, had been married 33 years. The 1900 census recorded the number of children each woman had given birth to and how many of her children were still living. Annie gave birth to 12 children. Andrew McDowell, the census taker, recorded that only three children were still living. The children on the 1900 census were: Ida (18), Bertha (17), and Franklin (13). Harry E. Maure (25) was their farm hand, along with their son, Franklin. All of Jacob’s and Annie’s first nine children had died, by June 13, 1900, the date of the census.
In 1903, Jacob retired from farming and sold his farm and orchard and moved to East Madison Street in Greencastle. Because of his great success in fruit production, Jacob’s expertise was sought after by large city firms who dealt in the wholesale purchasing of fruit. After retirement, Jacob traveled the East Coast for a Philadelphia fruit processing business.
Finfrock was a very active member of the Corp. Rihl, GAR Post #438 and served as its Commander. In the minute book in 1886, it was noted that he gave a new flag to the Post.
The obituary says Jacob was, “…a genial, kind-hearted man making friends with all with whom he come into contact.” On August 15, 1903, Jacob suffered a stroke and died from its effects. “He had always been a man of exceedingly robust health.” The funeral was held on Tuesday morning, August 17, at 9:30, in the Liberal United Brethren Church. Graveside services were conducted by the Corp. Rihl Post #438. Jacob A. Finfrock is buried in the family plot at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Section D, Lot 40.
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