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William M.  Fincke
(1848-1879)

William M. Fincke was born in New Jersey on June 30, 1848, the son of Nancy Ann Mann and Charles Fincke, a. He married Julia Muirhead Clarke in 1872, and they had two children together: Benjamin Clarke Fincke (b. 1874) and William Mann Fincke (b. 1878). He was a draftsman in the office of the famous New York mineral collector (and builder of the Brooklyn Bridge) Washington A. Roebling; he did a great deal of drafting for the bridge design and worked closely with Roebling, so it may well have been Roebling who inspired his interest in minerals. Unfortunately he developed tuberculosis, and eventually his doctor recommended that he move to a warmer, drier climate for his health. He moved to California for a year or so, but his condition worsened and he died on April 15, 1879, on the train while attempting to return home to New Jersey.

According to Canfield (1923), Fincke had a small but fine mineral collection including excellent specimens of proustite and minerals from the Tilly Foster mine. Around 1890 his heirs put the collection in the hands of a New York mineral dealer with instructions to sell it as a unit. It failed to sell, and the heirs took it back and forgot about it.

References:
CANFIELD, F. A. (1923) The final disposition of some American collections of minerals. Privately printed.
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