• archivist97

Edward Larocque Tinker

Portrait of Edward L. Tinker, wearing his trademark cape, by Patricia Windrow. TVHS collection

A lawyer, banker, photographer, adventurer, and author, Edward Larocque Tinker was born 12 Sept. 1881 in New York City. Probably best remembered for his love of the people and culture of Latin America he “was very influential in bringing about a better understanding of the history, art, and culture of Mexico and South America” (Tinker’s Home in the Village of Poquott)) and established a foundation in 1959 to this end.

Tinker Foundation

The Tinker Foundation’s mission “To promote the development of an equitable, sustainable, and productive society in Latin America. Tinker realizes its mission by providing funding to organizations working to address the region’s most pressing challenges” https://tinker.org/

“For more than sixty years, the Tinker Foundation has promoted economic and social development in Latin America by supporting “people, projects, and ideas. Tinker realizes its mission by providing funding to civil society organizations – among them nonprofit entities, research institutes, and universities – working to address the region’s most pressing challenges. The organizations we support use Tinker resources to test promising ideas, extend the impact of proven models, and bring together stakeholders to solve problems in new ways.” As one of a small number of private foundations focused on the entire region, we believe Tinker has a particular responsibility and opportunity to support the exchange of knowledge and approaches within and beyond Latin America. For that reason, we encourage comparative and collaborative work, and support grantees to learn from others’ experiences. https://tinker.org/about-us/

What spurred Tinker’s interest in Latin culture and history?

Known locally as the founder of Tinker National Bank many today may not realize what an interesting life E. L. Tinker led.

Tinker Bank founded 1920, Setauket, now HSBC Bank. On opening day Tinker Bank took in $135,000 in deposits and opened 125 accounts

He was the son of Louise Larocque and Henry Champlin Tinker, businessman and partner in a New York City brokerage firm. In 1890 Henry acquired property on the northern point of Dyer’s Neck (Poquott) for a summer home. He would eventually build two additional houses on Tinker’s Point, one for his daughter Annie the other for his son Edward.

Property at Tinker's Point, 1909.

Henry Tinker home on Tinker’s Point. The house no longer exists.

“Early in his life, Edward developed an inquiring mind, a thirst for adventure, a fondness for Latin America-especially Mexico-and a love of dogs and horses.” (An Inquiring Mind)

Edward graduated from Columbia in 1902. After receiving his law degree from the New York Law School in 1905 he served as assistant district attorney of New York City and in 1911 he opened his own law practice in New York. During this period Tinker who was a proficient horseman, met Buffalo Bill and was able to get a place for himself riding in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at Madison Square Garden.

“The next night I had one of the grooms at the Riding Club saddle White Chicken [Tinker’s horse] with a Texas saddle that I had had made at Sliver City and lead the horse down to Madison Square Garden,. I took my chaps and cowboy regalia in a suitcase and went down and dressed with the cowboys. Then came the first grand entry…The whole thing was lots of fun. I rode every night for a week until Buffalo Bill’s publicity man wrote an article which appeared on the front page of the New York Times, saying that a young Assistant District Attorney was riding in Buffalo Bill’s show, so I had to quit.” (New Yorker Unlimited)

Tinker in Mexico

When he was 11 years old his parents returned from Mexico with a chamois leather charro suit, a saddle, a bridle, and a pony. This wet Edward’s appetite and in 1912 his restless nature and love of adventure led him to leave his law practice in New York and head to El Paso, Texas. Tinker recounts in his memoirs “El Paso, Texas, which in 1912 was a most exciting place. It was right on the border, the Mexican Revolution was in full swing and the town swarmed with spies, gunrunners, racing touts, adventurers and Secret Service men.” (New Yorker Unlimited). Tinker got work as a time keeper for the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad and was later involved in setting up a railway safety organization.

TVHS Collection

The time was the days of the Mexican Revolution and while working for the railroad he traveled into Mexico where he met Alv