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Rinker, C. A. Earle (Cleveland A. Earle), 1883-1965


Cleveland A. Earle Rinker was born in Indiana in 1883 to S. Cleveland Rinker and Isadora (Fenwick) Rinker. Shortly after his twentieth birthday Rinker went to Parker, Indiana, seeking work as a stenographer. He soon began working as a clerk for Thomas Condon, a coal and oil dealer who was also an enthusiastic investor in Nevada gold mines. Condon encouraged Rinker to seek his fortune in the gold fields and, in late October of 1906, Rinker boarded a train to make the journey to Goldfield, Nevada.

Rinker settled into Goldfield quickly and within twenty-four hours of his arrival secured work as a clerk-stenographer in the brokerage office of MacMaster and MacMaster. Rinker's uncle, John W. H. Fenwick, owned a store in Goldfield and helped him adjust to his new surroundings. A little over a month after Rinker's arrival, two friends and former roommates from Indiana joined him in Goldfield; the three young men lived together for most of the duration of Rinker's residence in Goldfield. John Fenwick, his wife Myrta, and friends "Hurry" and "Jeff" were central to Rinker's social network and figure prominently in his letters home.

As Rinker's letters suggest, daily life in Goldfield was quite different from that in Indiana, from the high price of food and water to the twenty-four hour gambling and drinking halls and periodic street shootings. Despite these differences and the town's remote location, Goldfield offered its residents many of the more mainstream diversions common to large cities of the period. Rinker and his friends attended social dances, plays and musical offerings, enjoyed several high profile boxing and wrestling matches, went ice skating, and belonged to social clubs similar to those back home. Special occasions included holiday parades, horse races, football games, the Great 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, and other touring attractions that passed through Goldfield. Earle also enjoyed exploring the local area, climbing hills and mountains on foot and occasionally on horseback.

Rinker and many others in the boomtown frequently experienced the repercussions of the mining industry's instability. Rinker worked in MacMaster and MacMaster's office for several months, but the town's economy soon forced him to seek other employment. He found a job at Mohawk Ledge Mining Company doing office work for R. J. Shoemaker and Lincoln Davis, but lost that position when their office closed in August, 1907. A month later, Rinker began working for the Goldfield Transfer and Trading Company only to find himself unemployed a month later when a railroad strike halted almost all business activity in the town for over three months. By Christmas he was working in the office of Lincoln Davis at the Baby Florence Mining Company, but the lack of work in the spring of 1908 forced him to take a position as "top man" at the Florence mining site, dumping ore trucks as they arrived at the surface.

Frustrated by the shortage of work in his field Rinker left Goldfield in early October 1908. He traveled through parts of California, Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Upon rejoining his family in Daleville, Indiana, Rinker secured a position selling shoes in a department store. Over the next year, he worked to establish more stable employment, first working in the offices of a stockyard and a fertilizer plant in Chicago and later in other parts of Indiana. He married Vieune Prigg in February 1910 and for the next year the couple moved around the state following work. By November 1912 the Rinker’s were living in Anderson, Indiana, where they settled to raise their growing family of four children, Eloise, Alice, Mary, and Thurman. Settled at last, Rinker worked briefly as a farmer before establishing a successful hardware business.

Earle Rinker's two years in Goldfield, although relatively brief, were a significant part of his life. He continued to be interested in mines and mining and visited the town at least once in 1939. Through an historical society contact in the late 1950s, Rinker began a correspondence with Frank Crampton, also a former Goldfield resident during the boom years. The two men reminisced over the town and their life experiences then and since.

C. A. Earle Rinker passed away in Indiana in 1965, at the age of eighty-one.


C. A. Earle Rinker Papers, 1880-1960. MS-00514. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.