Looking Back: Tom turkey helped hatch the hens’ eggs

Published 9:10 am Tuesday, March 2, 2021


Contributing writer

A Boyle County farmer owned a turkey gobbler that decided he wanted to help out the hens with their duties on the W.D. Finch farm on Scudder Lane, west of Danville, according to an article in The Kentucky Advocate in June 1900.

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“This fellow, besides being adept and an ideal gobbler, is willing to assist in the duties usually devolving upon the hen turkey,” Finch said.

When all well regulated hens began to cast about for ways and means of rearing families, this gobbler likewise got the setting business into his head and was determined to set on the eggs, whether or not the hens approved.

The gobbler’s persistence excited both the admiration and curiosity of the Finch household, and the “folks concluded to try the blamed old fool and see how far he would go.”

Tom turkey started with 20 eggs which started him into the hatching profession for keeps. In about a week, “Gobbler had brought fourth 18 young turkeys and seemed still in the notion of being both the father and mother of the family.”

Helped after battle

Finch and his family were living at their farm in the Atoka community in October 1864 during the Battle of Perryville. After the battle ended, their large two-story house was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers for the Confederate and Union forces.

The original house, built of logs in the 1790s, had been remodeled several times. The house was built on a 1,800-acre tract of land with a large spring.

Native of England

After arriving from England to the United States when he was 13 years old, Finch lived in Bourbon County. He later moved to Boyle County to the large farm on Scudder Lane. He was married twice.

He and his first wife, Margaret had one child, Margaret. With his second wife, also named Margaret Mae Williams, they had several children.

The 1880 Census shows William and Margaret lived in Bourbon County.

Their children listed were: Anna, 18; Sarah, 15; Georgie, 13; William, 12; Charles, 10; Elizabeth, 8; Birdie, 6; and Maggie, 4.

The 1900 Boyle County Census shows Finch was 61 years old and owned a farm in the third magisterial district. His wife Margaret was also 61 years old.

Four of their children lived in the same household: William W., 34; Charles H. 32; Jessie H. 19; Hazel 16.

Four grandchildren also lived in the household — Stanley, 8; Alice M. 6; Verna,10 and Nellie, 8, all children of Charles. He was a widower, and worked as a commercial trader.

William D. died Oct. 29, 1915, at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Frank Corbin in Lexington and is buried in Lexington Cemetery.

His wife, Margaret Mae, born in 1836, died in 1907, and also is buried in Lexington Cemetery.