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Surveyor's Transit

Object Name: Transit
Date: 1950-1968
Box: 16 x 13 3/4 x 9 in. (40.6 x 34.9 x 22.9 cm)
Tripod: 57 in. long and 7 in. diameter
Medium: metal, glass, rubber, wood
Catalog number: 2008.28.53
DescriptionThe wooden box (A) has a hinged lid, rubber feet, a leather strap (broken) and special places for parts. The transit (scope) (B) is black steel. It is round with two (2) windows for degrees and a bubble level next to one window. A telescope is on top. On a side inside the wooden box is a plate with named patents. A booklet of instructions is attached to another side. Instructions for assembly are inside the lid. A side wooden hob holds a brass plumb (C). The other side has dowels holding a black cylinder (D), a tiny bottle of liquid (no letter) and a screwdriver (E) with an amber plastic handle. The tripod (F) has three (3) wooden legs with six (6) metal tops and tips. Parts to each leg include two (2) poles each and two (2) braces plus metal tips.
ProvenanceMeity Finley, donated this collection, which belonged to her husband Luther Eugene Finley and his two brothers, Frank and Larry Finley. Their parents Luther Lawerence Finley and Minnie Clay Finley moved from Missouri to Mesa in 1922. Luther Lawerence worked at the Dobson Ranch, and once his sons were old enough they worked alongside him. The family eventually established their own ranch in East Mesa.
All three Finley boys started riding horses and competing in rodeos at a young age, and eventually became career rodeo stars, competing all over the country during the 1930s and 1940s. Luther's rodeo nickname was "Chipmunk". He won the world's championship in wild horse racing both in 1937 and 1939. Larry was world's champion bareback bronc rider in 1947. Larry was also an actor, appearing in many western movies and TV shows.
During World War II, Luther and Frank served in the Marine Corps while Larry was in the army. Luther was stationed in the Pacific and he was wounded during the fighting. After coming back to Arizona, Luther attended Arizona State Teachers College and earned a degree in engineering. After becoming a Bachelor of Science in 1948, Luther obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Education in 1949. He earned a doctorate from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois in 1954. He worked as an engineering professor at Arizona State College for nine years, from approximately 1950 to 1959. He also did survey work in Tempe during this time. In about 1960, Luther started teaching in El Centro California. He taught in the Imperial Community College District and obtained secondary school administration credentials from California State Board of Education in 1967. While in El Centro, Luther also worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as a nuclear expert. Luther stayed in El Centro until the death of his first wife in 1977.
After the death of his first wife Luther sold the house in El Centro and moved to a ranch in Missouri. In 1983, he married his second wife Meity, a Chinese woman living in Indonesia. The couple split their time between Missouri and Scottsdale before permanently moving back to Mesa in 1989. They bought a house in the Dobson Ranch neighborhood, where his father had worked years before. Luther passed away in 1992. Luther, along with his brother Larry who passed away in 1975, is buried in Phoenix; meanwhile Frank who passed away around 1972 is buried out of state.
The Finley family is related to the Mitchell family of Tempe. According to Meity, the Luther boys and Harry Mitchell are second cousins.

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