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Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Charles J. Finger

A Fayetteville writer’s youthful adventures led to a long, productive literary career. Charles J. Finger was born in England in 1867 and studied music in Germany before heading to South America in 1890, where he herded livestock, panned for gold, harvested sealskins and worked with the gauchos on the Argentine plains.

He ended up herding sheep in Texas, where he wrote some of his first articles. He married in 1896 and to support his growing family began working for railroad companies, still submitting materials for publication. In 1906, the Fingers moved to Fayetteville, naming their homestead Gayeta.

Finger wrote 36 books after moving to Fayetteville, including Tales from Silver Lands, which won the 1925 Newberry Prize. The prolific writer welcomed literary and artistic guests to Gayeta, and the University of Arkansas awarded him an honorary degree in 1932. He served as an editor for the Federal Writers Project during the Depression and died on January 7, 1941.

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Mark Christ produces and hosts Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute on KUAR. He is head of adult programming for the Central Arkansas Library System. He previously served as community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which he joined in 1990 after eight years as a journalist.