Vibrant threads of ambition and persistence run through the five Finn generations detailed in this truly American story. This volume traces the line of descent from Peter Finn (ca. 1800–ca. 1847), a tenant farmer in County Longford, Ireland, through three generations, to the eleven children of William Joseph and Katherine Irene (Mullen) Finn of Canton, Massachusetts. William (1881–1942) was a Canton textile mill owner whose grandfather, James Finn (1825–1871), left Ireland for Massachusetts, alone, in 1841 as a teenage pauper. James settled in Stoughton, Massachusetts, joining a community of Irish immigrant factory workers in the town’s booming shoe and boot economy. While James was marrying Bridget Ross in his new home, his family in Ireland was disappearing in the catastrophic potato famine. James’s son, Thomas Finn, an ambitious migrant himself, left his native Massachusetts for the plains of Kansas as a post–Civil War homesteader. After only a year or two, he returned to Massachusetts, purchasing a parcel of land in Canton, a luxury none of his Finn ancestors could ever have afforded. The entrepreneurial aspirations of Thomas’s son, William Joseph Finn, led to William’s presidency and ownership of the Neponset Woolen Mill in Canton’s historic Stone Factory, where he had started as a 20-year-old clerk in 1902. William’s success brought a comfortable and privileged lifestyle to his large family. After his sudden death in 1942, William’s sons continued to operate the mill through the war years. In the 1950s, technical and economic forces transformed the domestic woolen industry, causing the Finns to try in vain to keep the family business afloat.
By Susan Donnelly with Nancy G. Bernard and Whitney Buckley
Published by NEHGS in July 2023
8-1/4 x 10 hardcover, 198 pages, illustrated