Albion Interactive History / People / Finch Sisters

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People

Warner, Mariah Jane Finch (1820-1907);Diffenbaugh, Harriet Finch Colby (1822-1908)

In September 1834, the Asahel Finch family was the third white family to settle in Albion, then known simply as “The Forks.” The family, which included four children, came by wagon from Parma, Monroe County, New York, following Indian trails and fording streams. They built a log cabin, the first one west of the Kalamazoo River, near the present intersection of Center and Clinton Streets. The Peabodys and the DeVoes (a French family) lived on the east side. The children attended school, first in the DeVoe stable and later in the Little Red Schoolhouse.The Finch family made bricks, worked in a sawmill, and ran a boarding house for men building the mills and the raceway for the new community. They often went to church on a stoneboat.According to local sources, the transaction which brought the College to Albion took place in the Finch home.Maria Finch married William A. Warner of Coldwater. Her sister, Harriet, married Alonzo H. Colby in 1838. He went to the California gold fields in 1849 and died there in 1850, leaving Harriet a widow with four children. In 1856, she married Charles Diffenbaugh. Harriet and Charles lived in Albion until Charles’ death in 1891. Harriet then went to live with a daughter, first in Denver, and then Texas. She belonged to the Methodist church and was described as a “lifelong Christian woman.” James Finch, one of Mariah and Harriet’s brothers, married the sister of Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University.

Source: Albion Evening Recorder, February 22, 1986

From: Albion AAUW. Some Notable Women of the Albion Area. Albion, Michigan: American Association of University Women. 1998.

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