John H. Finger - An Adopted Son

The following is based on a post at The author presents this article and then asks for additional information.
Some of our own research is listed at the end.

John H. Reese came to this country from Germany aboard a sailing vessel with his parents and one sister, 1859 (1862), age 4. His parents died at sea. Upon arriving in New York he and his sister were placed in an orphanage. His sister later married. When John was 11, (some say 9), he was sent to Illinois by train with many other orphans whom the people there adopted. John was adopted by a family named Finger in La Salle County.

John H. Finger had a farm in Lostant, Illinois, Sec. 16, Richland Township. At the age of 19 John left the Finger family and later lived with the family of Henry W. Rose in La Salle County, Illinois. Henry W. Rose and his wife Elizabeth Schneider were married 25 September 1858. Henry had a farm, Sec. 16, 163 acres, Lostant, Illinois. Henry took John Finger into his household. Henry Rose was born 16 June 1836 in Germany and came to America in 1861. Elizabeth Schneider was born 11 November 1833 in Germany. There is a report that Henry adopted John, but other family notes state that he did not let the Rose family adopt him but lived with them until Henry Rose died.[This seems to be proven by the fact that John's name continued to be Finger in subsequent census records]

John H. Finger later lived in Grand Junction, Iowa, where he had many children. (Taken from family information).

John & Louisa are buried in the cemetery west of Grand Junction. The large stone has the dates as John H. 1853 - 1936, and Louisa 1860 - 1917.

Family Notes: Taken from "Past and Present of LaSalle County" - John H. Finger, Farmer, Sec. 16, Lostant, IL. Richland Township. (John H. Finger born in Germany 12/25/1854)

The following is a list compiled from published sources of Orphan Train Arrivals and the National Database. It is by no means a complete list. Its accuracy depends upon the accuracy of the reporters of the time.

Name Foster Family Sending Organization Agent Town, County, State Year Notes
Reese, John or Johann Finger CAS A.L. Hill, H.D.Clarke Danville, Vermillian, Illinois 1864  
Reese, Emily Florence C.U. Parker CAS A.L. Hill, H.D.Clarke Chicago/ See Iowa; Wisconsin Lists Mar 1906 married name: Kidder

(W. Finger, farmer, Lostant, Ill. No Children, Adopted two boys, John Reese and John B. Matzen) The railroad went through Danville, IL. in 1864.

The writer would like to know if anyone has information of this Finger family in Lostant, IL. in the mid 1800s. We have heard the name of John Finger as the man who adopted Johann, (John), Reese. Also we have heard, through the family coming from John Finger himself, that the (?) Finger family, after his adoption, did have their own birthright children.


Based on the above, and on census and other records we find: John Reese, born in Germany in 1853 or 1854 arrived in New York in 1858. Since his parents died at sea, he and his sister Emily were put into an orphanage (it is interesting to note that John Finger always reports his birth as New York. Since he was in the orphanage there at age 4, perhaps this is what he remembers). About age 10 (1864) John was sent by train to Illinois where he was adopted by a Finger family (we don't know who this family was). About 1872 he left this family and lived with the family of Henry Rose. In 1879 he married Louisa Stroh (b. Apr 1860 Illinois) and had 5 children (John and his wife are found on the 1880 census living next to Henry Rose). In 1893 they moved to Iowa, where two more children were born. Daughter Elizabeth married William B. Bridgett (born c.1875 Indiana) in 1898. By 1910 John and Louisa were the parents of 7 children:

John Franklin Finger, born 20 Jan 1880, IL
Elizabeth Delia Finger, born Mar 1885, IL
Edward Ruben Finger, born 26 June 1887, Lenora, IL - Died Apr, 1963
Harry William Finger, born 13 Feb 1889, LaSalle County, IL - Died Sept, 1964
Roy Victor Finger, born 4 Nov 1890, IL - Died Sept, 1969
Lester E. Finger , born 31 July 1894, Paton, Iowa
Paul H. Finger, born 1901 Iowa - Died 7 Oct 1972

In 1920 we find John is 67 years old and a widower. He and his son Lester are living with his daughter Elizabeth and her husband William Bridgett, age 48. Sons Roy and Paul are single, in Boone County, Iowa working for the railroad (Roy's WWI draft registration card lists it as "C+NW Ry Co" [Chicago and North Western]).

In 1930 we see that on the Grand Junction, Greene Iowa census John is now 76 and still living with daughter Elizabeth and her husband William Bridgett. Here William's wife is listed as Delia.
· John F. is married with 7 children, a farmer living in Dawson, Iowa.
· Edward is married with 2 children, living in Streator, Illinois and is a polisher in a glass factory.
· Harry is married with 1 child and is a farmer living in Vermilion, Illinois.
· Lester is married, has no children, is living in Des Moines, Iowa and working for the railroad.
· Paul is married with 4 children, living in Waterloo, Iowa, working for the railroad.

In 1940, John H. and Louisa have both passed away.
· John F. is a farmer living in Dodge, Iowa
· Delia and husband William Bridgett are living in Grand Junction.
· Edward is a laborer, living in Streator, Illinois
· Harry works doing road maintenance for the government and lives in Richland, Illinois
· Roy is single and is in the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home and Hospital
· Lester is divorced and is living with William and Delia Bridgett
· Paul is a brakeman for the railroad, living in Waterloo, Iowa.