German Fingar

Compiled in 1894

The Chatham Courier August 22, 1940 page 2

German Fingar, a resident of Elizaville, in the Town of Livingston, Columbia County, N. Y., is regarded as the "model farmer" of that section of the country. There is a mistaken idea in the minds of some people that the occupation of farming does not require much learning or information, and Mr. Fingar is a standing rebuke to such appreciation of the fitness of things. In his farming enterprises he uses his brain as well as his hands, and his success attests the value of such practice. Mr. Fingar is industrious, energetic, and determined, while his commendable zeal has always been tempered by that degree of common sense which has enabled him to accomplish much, and retain in his mature years the elasticity of youth, and thus be able to enjoy the competence gained. He is the owner of many books, and is a great reader, having thus gained much of the wisdom by means of which he has so successfully managed his farming enterprises.

He was born in Germantown, Columbia County, September 14, 1823, and on his paternal side is of Dutch ancestry - His grandfather, Conrad Fingar, came from Holland with two brothers during the seventeenth century, and purchased land in what is now Germantown. One of the brothers settled in what is now Gallatin, and the other on the west side of the Hudson River, at Saugerties. At the time of the advent of the grandfather in Germantown, the country was mostly a forest, civilization was in a primitive state, and many difficulties had to be overcome. He went to work with characteristic energy, cleared a tract of land, built a log house, and began to make a home in a country that was almost terra incognita. He continued in his work of improvement. The soil was made to produce the necessities of life, the forest gave way to the open field, the rude cabin was replaced by a frame building of more pretentious dimensions; and thus commenced the history of the Fingar family in America. On this place was born Elias Fingar, the father of the subject of this sketch, who continued to subdue the forest and bring under cultivation the virgin soil, making the place his home until the time of his death, which occured at the age of seventy-eight years. He was prominently identified with the affairs of the town, and held many offices of trust and honor, among them being that of Assessor and Collector. His wife and his companion through these years of development was Margaret Clum; and eight children were born to them, four of whom are still living, as follows: Valentine; Hannah, who married James Powell of Germantown, a wagon-maker by trade; Adam; and German. The children now deceased were Thomas, Peter, Catherine, and Elisha. The mother was a representative of an old and prominent family, and died in Germantown at the age of eighty years.

German Fingar spent the first fifteen years of his life on the old place, receiving instruction in the district school, which was later supplemented by an academic education. He was then employed as a clerk in a store at Red Hook for Henry Bonesteel for two years; and after spending three more years in that occupation, he was familiar with the business, and entered into a partnership there, which lasted three years, when he purchased a store at Clermont, and engaged extensively in the business. Three years later he sold, out, and bought the farm where he now lives. At that time he remained here four years, and then moved to a place near Johnstown Village, and resided many years. He subsequently returned to his farm, and, after cultivating it a few years, concluded to retire from constant and active work, and moved to a place near Elizaville. The son, whom he left in charge of the farm, was taken sick and died; and in 1890 Mr. Fingar returned again to the old place, where he has since remained. He is engaged here in general farming, besides owning and operating two large farms in the town of Gallatin. He was married in 1846 to Susan E. Cotting, a daughter of Henry Cotting of Red Hook, who comes from an old family in that section of the country. From this union were seven children who are now living, as follows: The first was Ida, who became the wife of William H. Snyder, Sr.; and they have three children German, Warden and Edith. The second was Henry, who married Jennie Crosier, of Rhinebeck. The third was Elias, who married Annie Sheldon of Taghkanic; and he is engaged in farming in that town. The fourth was Johanna, who became the wife of Sydney Smith, a farmer of Livingston; and they have two children — John, and Susan. The fifth was Mary, who became the wife of Robinson Moore, a farmer of Clermont; and they have two children — Lizzie and Lloyd. The sixth was Margaret, who married Arthur Link, a farmer of Livingston and they have one son, Irvine. The seventh was Rosa, who became the wife of William Leach, a farmer of Taghkanic; and they have one daughter, Maggie. There was another son besides these seven children — Frank, who died at the age of twenty-three years, and who was married to Bertha Moore, daughter of Lewis Moore.

Mr. Fingar is a staunch Republican, and has the true American idea of government. He is not what would be called a politician, but knows more of the science of government than many who are so called. He was for a number of years Commissioner of Highways, and for some time Assessor. He also served one year on the Board of Supervisors. Probably no man in the town is held in higher esteem than Mr. Fingar. He is particularly well informed upon agricultural matters; and his advice is often sought, and is of value with reference to public and private interests. The ravages of time seem to have little effect upon him, and he still preserves the youthful presence which attracts the attention of all who see him. He is one of "Nature's noblemen," indeed, possessing the traits of a true gentleman. -

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