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Horace Monroe Frink

Question: Was fifteen-year-old Horace Monroe Frink a member of the Church when he went in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?

Answer: Horace Monroe Frink was born in Livingston county, New York, May 31, 1831. His father was Joseph Jefferson Frink. His mother was Emily Lathrop, a direct descendant of the Rev. John Lathrop of Yorkshire. Emily’s mother was Sybil Bliss (Lathrop) who played a major role in the life of Horace.

Records indicate there were many “Bliss’ families that migrated west to Western New York, including Sybil Bliss’ father, to the neighborhood of Palmyra. Sybil and her young family were there in 1830. Sybil’s husband, Grant Lathrop, had died in 1823, so Sybil was left a widow with six children. The family was in the right place at the right time, to hear and accept the concepts of the new gospel. It is known for sure that Sybil and three of her children joined the church around that time.

Emily, Horace’s mother, was Sybil’s oldest child. She was baptized in 1835 when Horace would have been only four years of age. It appears that Horace’s father never joined the Church, which may explain one reason Horace never joined. When Emily moved West with her mother and other family members, her husband did not go with them. At that time, Emily had four children: John Randolph, Horace Monroe, Olive (died young), and Sybil Mariah.

The family seemed to be involved with the movements and activities within the church. They moved with the body of the church to Kirtland, Ohio; Missouri; Nauvoo, Illinois; and then Iowa. Emily remarried while living in Iowa, to Henry Hoagland and had two children. This marriage didn’t last, as Emily married a Michael Jacobs in 1846 in Nauvoo and had a little girl who died later in Nebraska.

In all these travels, Horace’s family became acquainted with Brigham Young. In the spring of 1847, at the age of 15, Horace was invited by Brigham Young to be in his Vanguard Company headed to the Salt Lake Valley. Horace was in the 7th Ten led by James Case. They reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

Horace did not remain long in Salt Lake City, however, but pushed on west by horseback. He arrived in the Sacramento valley at Hangtown (now Placerville) in the fall of 1847, and was there at Sutter’s Fort during the excitement of the gold rush. Later he returned to Missouri by horseback, where he immediately outfitted another covered wagon and returned to Salt Lake City, bringing with him on this second trip his maternal grandmother, Sibyl Bliss Lathrop/Jacobs, his sister, Sibyl Frink and two half-brothers (Asahel and Hiram Hoagland) by his mother’s second marriage. Horace’s mother, Emily, died in Nebraska in 1850. Horace’s older brother, John, had joined the Church and had traveled to Utah in June 1847, with his young wife, in the Jedediah M. Grant/Joseph B. Noble Company.

The family remained in the Salt Lake Valley for a short time and lived in the fort while the Indians were hostile. They joined the Captain Jefferson Hunt caravan and arrived in San Bernardino in the year 1851.

During his early years in California Horace served as a scout and guide under General John C. Fremont and also as scout and dispatch bearer for Commodore Stockton. He was employed by mining companies in Arizona to transport their gold from the mill at Wickenburg, Arizona, across the desert to Wilmington, from where it was taken by steamer to the mint at San Francisco. He carried the gold in a light wagon with a double or false bottom for concealing the gold, driving a swift team of four fine horses, often traveling roads unknown to others and managing to elude Indians and robbers without ever losing any of the gold.

In 1854 Horace, with his brother Captain John Randolph Frink, who was one of Kit Carson’s scouts and an early day pioneer of California, secured several hundred acres of land at El Casco in the San Timoteo Valley. There they engaged in extensive farming, in addition to raising cattle and horses. The old Frink rancho at El Casco was a favorite stopping place for overland stages, freighting caravans and other travelers.

On Feb. 27, 1857, Horace was married to Polly Ann DeWitt (McMayan), she having been previously married and had one son by that marriage, John McMayan, who always lived with the Frink family. Polly Ann was born in Switzerland County, Indiana on August 6, 1836. Horace and Polly had seven children together, three making it to adulthood.

In 1862 Horace acted as guide to the United States troops, under Captain Prentice, on the march from San Bernardino to Fort Yuma. On that trip he discovered the springs since known as Frink Springs. The springs became a watering place for travelers in the early days.

In 1866 Horace sold his interest in the El Casco Ranch to his brother, and in the same year purchased from a Mr. Wallace the Frink home in the Mission district, consisting of one hundred acres of land. The family moved to the new home in 1866.

In 1868 Horace Monroe Frink planted one of the first groves of oranges in the valley. There were 20 trees in the original planting. This is one of the oldest original planting of oranges in the valley. In 1871 he built a large house of adobe on “Cottonwood Row” in Old San Bernardino. Horace Monroe Frink died at age 43 of tuberculosis on July 28, 1874, the year his orange trees came into bearing. Truly he was a pioneer of the old west. He was buried in the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in San Bernardino. His grandmother, Sybil, outlived him by five years, dying in 1879, at age 93, in Riverside, California.

Source: “Biographies of the Original 1847 Pioneer Company,’ Church News, Updated, 14 October 2009; for Horace Monroe Frink, narrative by Lena Frink Watkins.

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