A Guide to the Richard W. Finley Papers, 1883-1915
Richard Watson Finley (1851-1937), son of Reverend Robert S. and Mary H. (Cole) Finley, was born in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. As a child, his family moved to Texas. He was educated at Marshall College and then relocated to Jefferson, where he was employed as a store clerk. He next moved to Queen City, where he served as a justice of the peace and owned a successful cotton warehouse business. In 1883 he settled in Austin, working in the office of the comptroller of public accounts as a clerk and later as chief bookkeeper.
A loyal democrat, Finley supported and befriended James Stephen Hogg, who appointed him financial agent for the Texas penitentiaries. In 1894 he was elected State Comptroller and served in that position for two terms, resigning in 1898 to work in the private business sector in Austin. He became a representative for the United States Cast Iron Pipe and Foundry Company and an insurance agent for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. Furthermore, he founded the Southwestern Water Works Association and served as director of the Austin National Bank.
Finley married Texana Blalock in 1873, and they had eight children. He and his brother, Newton Webster Finley, belonged to numerous organizations including the Knights of Honor of Texas, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Freemasons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Methodist Church. Finley died in 1937.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Finley, Richard Watson," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/FF/ffi13.html (accessed July 8, 2010).
The Richard W. Finley Papers, 1883-1915, include correspondence, speeches, a campaign scrapbook of newspaper clippings, a map, an expense book, and printed material. The papers pertain to Finley’s activities as State Comptroller and to his association with the Knights of Honor of Texas.
Richard W. Finley Papers, 1883-1915, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Ralph Elder, August 1978.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers