The Fact of the Matter Is…
From the Files of Gustavus Historical Archives & Antiquities
Q Everyone knows that Rink Creek was named after Lester Rink, but very little is known about him. Does GHAA have any information?
A You’re right, for all Mr. Rinks 20+ years in Gustavus, less is known about him than any other original homesteader. Yet, in our research to date, GHAA has uncovered a surprising amount of what we believe to be previously unknown information.
He was born Horace Lester Rink on April 27, 1887 in Indiana, enlisted in the military artillery and transferred to California. He dreamed of adventure and gold fields and at age 23, in 1910 (his tour of duty over) he lived and worked in a California mining camp.
In about 1915 Lester arrived alone at Strawberry Point lured by the promise of 320 acre homesteads, and began the task of “proving up”. He declared an exemption for WWI service in 1917 because his crops “were in but not yet harvested”. In addition, he raised cattle, had a team of wagon horses, found time to prospect, and nursed a long mutual grudge with homesteader Harry Hall. He was renowned as a “culinary wonder” and gave dinner parties for special events, describing on invitations his menu in poetic verse.
For extra cash, he worked in Juneau during the 20s living at Treadwell Village for months at a time. According to Mackovjak’s book, "Hope and Hard Work", pg. 31, he reportedly moved to Hoonah in the late 30s, married a woman with 5 children and opened a bakery (unconfirmed by GHAA). During WWII (40s) he was seen by local residents “on duty” in Juneau guarding military complexes.
H. Lester Rink was a feisty, wiry man of small stature ---under 5’6”, though it is believed his thick, wild thatch of brown hair nearly straight up accounted for 3-4” of that. He had gray/blue eyes, loved to talk, and was a one-man marketeer for extolling the virtues of Strawberry Flats. He died in July 1963 in Washington State at the age of 76.
Click here for a photo of Lester.
GHAA NOTE: Thanks to Sally Lesh who donated a rare H.L. Rink artifact to GHAA (see www.GustavusHistory.Org, click on “Historic Artifacts” for the story on How Lester Rinks “Bean Pot” Got Saved) and to Wayne Howell, who provided a photo of Lester taken in 1941 while a cook at a camp on the outer coast (click on “Historic Photos”).
Copyright 2006 Gustavus Historic Archives & Antiquities