Charles Almerin Tinker, born 8 January 1838 in Chelsea, VT. Moved to Illinois. Was a friend there of Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War he was a telegrapher in the Virginia theater during the beginning of the war, then transferred to the War Department in Washington, and ended the war as the Manager of the U.S. Military Telegraph System. See his biography at http://vermontcivilwar.org/units/army/obits.php?input=39301.
He spent most of his later life in Brooklyn, NY, but died in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 12 March 1917. Ref. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 17 March 1917.
TINKER, CHARLES ALMERIN (1838-1917). Telegrapher in the War Department. Born in Chelsea, Vermont, by 1850 he was living in Michigan with his family. Tinker assisted the war effort as a decipher operator for the United States Military Telegraph. His obituary in the New York Evening Post reports that he first was an operator for the Vermont & Boston Telegraph Company in 1855 then, after learning Morse code, became manager of the Illinois & Mississippi Company's office in Pekin, Illinois, before taking a position with the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad in 1857. Ronda Rich, a writer whose family traces its roots back ten generations in Georgia and whose husband, John Tinker, is a great-great grandson of Charles Tinker, wrote on her website about the close connection between Tinker and President Abraham Lincoln. According to Rich, the two met before the Civil War in Illinois when both men lived there and became acquainted through Tinker's expertise in telegraphing, a modern technology at that time. This information is confirmed by Tinker's obituaries and other documents. Tinker remembered later that Lincoln, one of the lawyers who came to the Tazewell House, a hotel where the telegraph center was located, said to him, "Mr. Operator, I have always had a curiosity to see the telegraph work. You don't seem to be very busy. I wonder if you would explain it to me." Tinker's obituary in the Evening Post reports that he declined a commission as a lieutenant colonel because he thought that he could better serve the country as a telegrapher. First assigned to the field, he was at Poolesville, Maryland, then served under General James Wadsworth at Upton Hill, and with Generals George B. McClellan and Samuel P. Hentzleman before taking sick and returning to Vermont. He subsequently went to Washington, D.C., where he worked closely with President Abraham Lincoln as one of four telegraph cipher operators (although the Brooklyn Daily Eagle says three) in the War Department. The telegraphers were the only ones who knew the secret code by which the movements of the troops were ordered. They also sent out and received all official information about the progress of the War. Tinker recalled that he saw President Lincoln about one thousand times when the President made daily or nightly visits to the telegraph room. It was Tinker who delivered the news to the President that he had been nominated by the Republican Party for re-election. Rich's husband has inherited two-handwritten notes from the President to Charles A. Tinker that are evidence of their friendship; he is also the care-taker of 30 of Tinker's diaries. Ms. Rich wrote about the journals in "Dixie Divas." The diaries, written meticulously in quill and ink, were numbered and dated and then duplicated in pencil. Some entries from 1865:
Subsequently, as per an article in the New-York Daily Reformer (Watertown, New York) on April 4, 1868, Tinker was called to testify at the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. In his testimony, he related that he telegraphed a copy of Johnson's speech on August 18 and that transcript was relayed to offices throughout the country by the Associated Press. After leaving the Military Telegraph Corps in 1869, he was manager of the Western Union office in Washington, D.C., then became manager of the telegraph lines of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The census of 1870 notes that he had a personal estate of $3,000. An article in the New York Herald on April 30, 1879, indicates that he was one of three stakeholders in the Union Telegraph Company with a capital investment of 10 million (Jay Gould held half of the shares). Tinker lived in Baltimore, Maryland, as per the census of 1880. He moved to Brooklyn in 1881 where he was general superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Service. The census of 1890 lists him as a telegrapher living in Brooklyn. On July 13, 1891, an article in the New York Evening Post, "Did Lincoln Want Hamlin," focused on an in-depth interview with Albert E. H. Johnson, a patent attorney who had been a confidential clerk to Edwin M. Stanton, President Lincoln's Secretary of War. In that interview, Tinker is mentioned in reference to a letter that he wrote to the Sun a few days earlier remembering when Lincoln read the telegraph announcing that Andrew Johnson, instead of Hannibal Hamlin, was the vice presidential candidate in 1864. The crux of the discussion with Albert Johnson centered on Lincoln's comment about Andrew Johnson, "Well, I thought he might be the man. Perhaps he is the best man, but-" In 1896, Tinker was elected vice president of the American District Telegraph Company. He retired in 1902. As per his passport application of 1903, he was 5'7½" tall with gray eyes, gray and auburn hair, light complexion, high forehead, not prominent nose, full and ruddy face with short-cut side whiskers, and square chin. On February 12, 1907, he spoke at the unveiling of a portrait of Abraham Lincoln by Benjamin Eggleston at the Brooklyn Lincoln Club. His remarks were made into a souvenir book, "A Simple Tribute to the Memory of Abraham Lincoln." In it, Tinker details his friendship with Lincoln, describing a man who was aged beyond his years and was distinguished for his homely looks, practical common sense and unwavering honesty. Tinker was convinced that Lincoln "was born to rule," admired his appreciation of wit and humor, his tender heart and the truthfulness of his nickname "Honest Old Abe." On January 31, 1909, an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that Tinker would speak about his relationship with President Lincoln at P.S. 144 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. That article said Tinker "…saw the President in his darkest hours as well as when he brought the nation successfully through its struggle…" On April 15, 1913, as per the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tinker spoke to the Emmanuel Baptist Brotherhood at their annual dinner and reminisced about his friendship with Abraham Lincoln on the 48th anniversary of his assassination. Tinker began his recollections with their meeting in Pekin, Illinois, at the telegraph office and ended a few days before the assassination when Lincoln was in a happy frame of mind. He was also chairman of the deacons at the Washington Avenue Baptist Church and was at one time the president of the Lincoln Club in Brooklyn. Rich and her husband visited Green-Wood in a chilly winter's rain to see Tinker's gravesite and wrote about that experience in her July 2013 newsletter. Three of Tinker's children, born after the Civil War, bore the names of men he admired—Arthur Lincoln, Stanton (named for Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War and Tinker's boss), and Charles Grant. He last resided in Stamford, Connecticut, with his son, but died in Winnipeg, Canada, where his daughter lived. Section 165, lot 27130.
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