Secretary of State

Charles Finley

Term of OfficeJanuary 1, 1896 - December 10, 1899; December 12, 1899 - December 29, 1899
PartyRepublican
Significant AccomplishmentsFinley, a Republican, was Kentucky's first elected Secretary of State. He served in the administration of William O. Bradley, the first Republican Governor of Kentucky. He was chairman of the Republican Executive Committee, 11th Congressional District, from 1912 to 1928.
Governor during his term of OfficeGov. William O. Bradley; Gov. William S. Taylor*
EducationAttended Milligan College (Milligan, Tennessee)
ResidenceKentucky (Williamsburg, Whitley County)
OccupationCoal Operator; Banker; Publisher
Birth Date3/26/1865
Birth PlaceKentucky (Williamsburg, Whitley County)
Date of Death3/18/1941
Place of DeathKentucky (Williamsburg, Whitley County)
Place of BurialKentucky (Highland Cemetery, Williamsburg, Whitley County)
National OfficesU.S. Congressman (1930-1932)
Other State Offices HeldKentucky House of Representatives: 1894 -1896.
NoteAt the conclusion of Gov. Bradley's administration, incoming Governor William S. Taylor asked Charles Finley to serve until the first of the year, i.e. January 1900, when Caleb Powers would be inaugurated Secretary of State. (The policy of retiring Secretaries, if not elected to successive terms, remaining in office until their successors take the Oath of Office continues today.) As a point of historical interest, Gov. William S. Taylor included Charles Finley (and Caleb Powers) in his March 10, 1900, pardon of persons implicated in the assassination of Gov. William Goebel. To read the complete text of the Gov. Taylor's pardon, access the March 10, 1900, entry on the Secretary of State's Timeline.
Historical FirstsKentucky's First Elected Secretary of State
Last U.S. Congressman from the 11th District.

Charles Finley was born on March 26, 1865, in Williamsburg, Kentucky. His parents were Hugh Frank and Jennie Renfrow (Moss) Finley. He was educated in public schools and attended Milligan College in Milligan, Tennessee. He engaged in various business ventures as a coal operator, banker, and publisher. He served as president and director of the Proctor Coal Company and as president of the Farmers Bank and Trust Company.

A Republican, Finley served in the state House of Representatives (1894-96) and was the first elected Secretary of State. He served in the administration of William O. Bradley, the first Republican Governor of Kentucky. He was chairman of the Republican executive committee of the Eleventh Congressional District from 1912 to 1928 before being elected to the Seventy-first Congress in February 1930 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John M. Robison. He was reelected to Congress in 1931 for a full term. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1932. His father Judge Hugh Frank Finley was the first U.S. Congressman from the Eleventh District and Charles Finley was the last because the Eleventh District became part of the Ninth District during his last term.

Charles Finley was unmarried. He died in Williamsburg on March 18, 1941, and is buried in the Highland Cemetery in Williamsburg. He was survived by his sister, Mrs. E. E. Wood of Williamsburg.

References:

Biographical Directory of the American Congress (1961);

Mary Young Southard, ed., Who’s Who in Kentucky (1936), pgs 136-37;

obituary, Whitley Republican, March 20, 1941.