By Mark Gutglueck
Horace Monroe Frink, an old time freighter, was one of the earliest pioneers of San Bernardino County. The son of Joseph Jefferson and Emily (Lathrop) Frink he was born on May 31, 1831 in Livingston County, New York.
A young man when the first Mormons traveled west, he personally drove Brigham Young’s wagon to Salt Lake City. He came with the settlers to San Bernardino in 1851.
Thereafter, he drove and sent heavy teams from San Bernardino into Utah and later to the various mining camps in Arizona.
He was personally acquainted with and trusted by General John Fremont, for whom he became a scout and for whom he drove wagons full of gold. He was also a pilot when the old stage line was established, having blazed the way for several early stage routes in the Southwest. His business at home was largely ranching and cattle raising.
He married Mary Ann DeWitt (1836 – 1907) and they had three children, Alonzo Monroe Frink (1858 – 1918), Marcus L Frink (1860 – 1929), and George Grant Frink (1869 – 1880).
In 1866 he traded the lower half of the old race track farm with a man named Wallace for 100 acres on the old Cottonwood Road, giving Wallace $400 in value in cattle to even up the transaction. This land was still owned by his heirs in the 1930s. He moved his family into an old slab house on the new tract, but during 1871-72 constructed a substantial adobe house.
The adobe bricks were made on the old Barton tract, and Marcus Frink and his brother Alonzo hauled them to the site of the building where their father laid them in the wall. The City of Loma Linda now owns the Frink Adobe, which is considered a historical monument. On this land in 1868 Horace Frink set out some seedling orange trees, made additional plantings in 1870, and this was one of the pioneer successful efforts at orange growing in this vicinity.
In later years these plantings were greatly extended by Marcus L. Frink and his brother Alonzo, much of the tract being given over to navel oranges.
On July 28, 1874, at the age of 43, Horace Frink died. His sons were 16, 14 and 5 at the time of their father’s death. George died six years after his father’s passing, at the age of 11.
At that time, San Bernardino was a wide open town which boasted 28 saloons but a single store, owned by Louis Jacobs, who later became prominent as a banker. Drinking, shooting, gambling, and riotous excitement were staples of life in San Bernardino at that time. It was the rendezvous of miners and freighters, and Indians were frequent visitors and were allowed to drink without hindrance. According to the recollections of Marcus Frink, recorded by John Brown and James Boyd in their tome, History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, published in 1922, Mr. Frink stated that the Indians living in the local area in the 1870s would willingly do ranch work for fifty cents a day and were good laborers, working from daylight to dark, but spent all their earnings in the saloons.
The building of the railroad to Colton in 1874 began the modern era of progress and development, all of which Marcus and Alonzo Frink witnessed and in which they participated as ones glad to see the wonderful advantages in the region made available to a constantly increasing population, which in turn furthered the worth of their holdings and their wealth.
Marcus Frink during his boyhood had little opportunity to attend school. After his father’s death. he had to work regularly at home. In 1880 he married Miss Caroline Wilson, who was born at the old San Bernardino Colony, daughter of Joseph and Rhoda (Van Leuven) Wilson. The Wilsons and Van Leuvens came over the plains and mountains in ox trains. Marcus and Caroline Frink had seven children. Four of those were still living in 1922.
Lena, born November 3, 1881, was educated at Redlands, and became the wife of Fred W. Watkins, who was born in Pennsylvania and was employed as a shorthand reporter and clerk of court under Judge Curtis in San Bernardino. Mr. and Mrs. Watkins had a son and a daughter.
Amy Frink, born February 14, 1884, was educated in the Redlands High School and in 1906 became the wife of George A. Murphy, of Redlands Junction. Their children, Horace Frink’s great grandchildren, were Florence Loraine, born in 1907, and Mark Murphy, born in 1912.
Milton J. Frink, born September 3, 1890, became an orange grower in the Redlands district. He married Ruth Weed, of Michigan, and their two sons were Kenneth Milton, born March 20, 1916, and Donald Eugene, born September 20. 1919.
The fourth and youngest child of Marcus and Caroline Frink was Howard Lloyd, born May 11, 1897. He enlisted September 6, 1918, and was in training at Camp Kearney until after the signing of the armistice in 1918.
In November 1900, the 105 acre Frink estate was divided and Marcus Frink received 60 acres, thirty of which he used to grow oranges and thirty acres of which he devoted to alfalfa.
Marcus L. Frink was a member of the Native Sons, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In politics he was a member of the GOP and served on the Republican County Central Committee.
By Mark Gutglueck