WILLIAM W. FINK, president of the El Paso Fuel Company, belongs to that class of representative American citizens whose business activity is not only a source of individual profit but is a factor in general prosperity and progressive in the community where they reside. Born and reared in Lima, Ohio, he spent his youth upon a farm and acquired a public school education there. He is one of the pioneer business men of this city, for he arrived here in the spring of 1881—the same year that the railroad was completed to this point. On leaving his Ohio home with the determination of trying his fortune in the west he located first in Kansas, where he secured employment on the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad, on the branch then building from McPherson, Kansas. After three months there passed he went to Joplin, Missouri, where for a short time he was engaged in trading horses and later he proceeded to Kansas City, where he purchased a ticket on the Santa Fe Railroad to carry him as far west as the trains were then making regular runs, this point being Las Vegas, New Mexico. The rails, however, had been laid further south and he proceeded on his way to San Marcial, and afterward to Lava, the next station south. At that point he met Jim White, who afterward became sheriff and chief of police of El Paso, the two remaining together. Mr. Fink began shipping freight for some contractors on the construction work on the railroad on the railroad, and was so engaged until his arrival in this city in February, 1881.
On reaching El Paso he entered the employ of William Garland, one of the most noted railroad contractors of that day, who had been awarded some important contracts on the Santa Fe. In the employ of Mr. Garland Mr. Fink went to Arizona as commissary clerk with the outfit, working on the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (the Santa Fe line) westward through Arizona. Several months were thus passed, during which time Mr. Fink was promoted to the position of head foreman of his outfit an during that time he saved some money with which he returned to El Paso, here to engage in business on his own account. He became connected with dairying in partnership with Mr. Doane, a pioneer diaryman of El Paso, and there he developed a large enterprise, having four hundred cows when they sold out. The business grew very profitably and the energy and enterprise of the partners brought to them a very gratifying measure of success.
After five years’ connection with the diary business Mr. Fink disposed of his interests, and with the capital he had thereby acquired he made extensive investments in ranch and cattle interests in New Mexico, still retaining his residence in El Paso, however. On account of the hard times and the abnormal depression in the stock business this venture was not as successful as the preceding one, and Mr. Fink therefore turned his attention to farming in the valley below El Paso, being engaged in that business for two years. In the fall of 1891 he established his present business in El Paso as a dealer in coal and has since developed the enterprise until the El Paso Fuel Company now controls an extensive trade. From an investment of two thousand dollars, which represented the value of the business at the outset, Mr. Fink has built up a business that is now fifty thousand dollars. In addition he owns other valuable interests, mainly real estate in El Paso, and he has one of the finest homes of the city. The offices of the El Paso Fuel Company are located at the southwest corner of West Second and Leon streets in a substantial brick building, and here Mr. Fink is carrying on a wholesale and retail business as a dealer in lime, cement, building materials, plaster of paris, building and fire brick, hair, roofing, felt, pitch, coal, wood, hay, feed and grain. A branch enterprise is also maintained as the White Oaks Fuel Company, corner of Texas and Noble streets, and the trade is constantly increasing in volumes until it is today one of the leading enterprises of the character in this part of the state.
Mr. Fink was married in El Paso to Miss Clara Doane, a daughter of his former partner in the diary business, the family being from Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have two daughters, Laura Maude and Clara. Their home is one of the most attractive residences of the city and the members of the household occupy an enviable position in social circles. Leaving his Ohio home in early manhood without capital Mr. Fink has made steady progress in the business world, undeterred by obstacles or difficulties which have seemed rather to serve as an impetus for renewed effort. His persistency of purpose, his firm determination and honorable methods have proved the salient features in a success which is as desirable as it is gratifying.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 485-486.