Vinton county is named in hour of Samuel Finley Vinton, one of Ohio's eminent statesmen of a past generation. Mr. Vinton is a direct descendant of John Vinton, of Lynn, Mass, whose name occurs in the county records of 1648. The tradition is that the founder of the family in this country was of French origin, by the name of De Vintonne, and he was exiled from France on account of his being a Huguenot. Mr. Vinton was born in the State of Massachusetts, September 25, 1792, graduated at Williams College in 1814, and soon after 1816 established himself in the law at Gallipolis. In 1822 he was, unexpectedly to himself, nominated and then elected to Congress,an office to which he continued to be elected by constantly increasing majorities for fourteen years, when he voluntarily withdrew for six years, to be again sent to Congress for six years longer,when he declined any further Congressional service, thus serving in all twenty years.
Mr. Vinton originated and carried through the House many measures of very great importance to the country. During the period of the war with Mexico, he was Chariman of the Commitee of Ways and Means, and at this particular juncture his financial talent was of very great service to the nation. During his entire course of public life he had ably opposed various schemes for the sale of the public lands that he felt, if carried out, would be squandering the nation's patrimony. He originated and carried through the House, against much oppostion, the law which created the Department of the Interior. Hon. Thomas Ewing wrote of him: "Though for ten or fifteen years he had more influence in the House of Representatives, much more than any man in it, yet the nation never has fully accorded to him his merits. He was a wise, persevering, sagacious statesman; almost unerring in his perceptions of the right, bold in pursuing and skillful in sustaining it. He alwyas held a large control over the minds of men with whome he acted."
In 1851 Mr. Vinton was the unsuccessful Whig candidate for Governor of Ohio. In 1853 he was for a short time President of the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad and then, after 1854, continuous resided in Washington City until his death, May 11, 1862. There he occationally argued cases before the Supreme Court, and with remarkable success, from his havits of patient investigation and clear analysis. he exhausted every subject he discussed and presented his thoughts without rhetorical flourish, but with wonderful lucidity. His use of the English language was masterful, and he delighted in wielding words of Saxon strenght.
In accordance with his dying request he was buried in the cemetery at Galipolis, beside the remains of his wife, Romaine Madeleine Bureau, the daughter of one of the most repected French immigrants. His only surviving child in Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren, noticed on page 681 of his work. "Mr. Vinton was of slight frame, but of great dignity of presence. His mile and clear blue eye was very penetrating, and his thin, compressed lips evinced determination of character. His manner was composed and calm, but very suave and gentle, scarcely indicating the great firmness that distinguished him."
Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol 2, by Henry Howe. (pub 1888)