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Carroll County Biographies


Was Conductor of the Train Pulled by Engine "Samson" in 1840 and 1842.
MOUNT CARROLL - Aug. 17. - "To The Editor"

It may be of Interest to your many readers and especially railroad men to know that the first railway conductor, who ran the train pulled by the engine "Samson," now in the Transportstion building. World's Fair, is still alive and a resident of Carroll county - His name is William Finlayson. He was conductor on the train for two years while the train ran between the Albion mines and Picton Harbor, N. S. from 1840 to 1842. He came to Carroll county in 1843 and has lived here, one of our respected citizens, since that date. He is now in his 84th year, as hale and hearty as it is possible for a man of that age to be.

If there is to be a railroad day at the World's Fair would it not be interesting to railway men to have Mr. Finlayson present at that time? It is asserted and believed that Mr. Flnlayson is now the oldest living railway conductor in the United States. The Burlington and Northern railway on learning the above facts promptly forwarded transportation to Mr. Finlayson and he no doubt will avail himself of the courtesy of that road to visit The Fair in the near future. Would it not be a good idea for the World's Fair officials, particularly Mr. Holcomb and Mr. Young to look this matter up and let railroad men and the public generally see at The Fair the oldest living railway conductor in the United States?
--- Henry MacCay

Date: Saturday, August 19, 1893 Paper: Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) Volume: XXII Issue: 146 Section: Part 2 Page: 12


Duncan MacKay who was born in Scotland. came first to Nova Scotia, then to Maine and in 1840 settled in Salem Township at Oakville.

His brother, William, came about the same time and was engaged in running the saw mill which he rented of Hitt and Swingley to Mt. Carroll Township. In the autumn of 1843 their brother John MacKay and sister Helen, who afterward married Daniel Hurley of Salem Township, together with William Finlayson and William Graham and their families, all came together from Chicago and settled in Oakville.

These early settlers have all passed away but they have left many children and grandchildren to revere their memory and enjoy a rich inheritance which was left to some of them in lands. They, however, are widely scattered through the country from Maine to California and from Canada to Panama, even South America.

Mr. William Finlayson of Salem township, enjoyed considerable notoriety during the World's Fair at Chicago, when they had the first locomotive that was used in America. Mr. Finlayson was the conductor on the train it drew.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Carroll County edited by Newton Bateman, Paul Selby, Charles Linnaeus Hostetter Chicago: Munsell Publishing Co 1913 VOL 2


William Finlayson, the oldest railroad conductor in the United States, died in this city. He was 84 years old and ran on the first railroad train in the country.

Friday, August 28, 1896 Paper: Republic (Rockford, Illinois) Page: 4 Mount Carroll ILL., Aug. 28

Mr. Finlayson, his wife Jessie MacKay and his son Daniel William Finlayson are all buried at Oakville Cemetery.

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