William A. Spinks
|William A. Spinks|
Spinks, around age 56, in the January 1923 issue of Billiards Magazine
|Born||William Alexander Spinks Jr.
July 11, 1865
San Jose, California
|Died||January 15, 1933
|Residence||Brooklyn, New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; and San Jose, San Francisco, Duarte, and Monrovia, California|
|Other names||W. A. Spinks, Billy Spinks|
|Occupation||Billiards player, inventor,
sporting goods manufacturer,
oil company investor/director,
|Years active||ca. 1892–1920s|
|Known for||Co-invention of billiard chalk,
balkline billiards world record,
the Spinks cultivar of avocado
|Title||Pacific Coast Billiard Champion|
|Spouse(s)||Clara A. (Karlson) Spinks (1891–1933)|
|Awards||18.2 balkline chuck nurse world record|
William Alexander Spinks Jr. (1865–1933) was an American professional player of carom billiards in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was known professionally as William A. Spinks or (in the initialing practice common in his era) W. A. Spinks, and occasionally also referred to as Billy Spinks. In addition to being amateur Pacific Coast Billiards Champion several times, a world champion contender in more than one cue sports discipline, and an exhibition player in Europe, he became the co-inventor (with William Hoskins) in 1897 of modern billiard cue chalk.
He was originally (and again in retirement from the billiards circuit) a Californian, but spent much of his professional career in Chicago, Illinois. At his peak, his was a household name in U.S. billiards; the New York Times ranked Spinks as one of "the most brilliant players among the veterans of the game", and he still holds the world record for points scored in a row (1,010) using a particular shot type.:289 Aside from his billiards playing career, he founded a lucrative sporting goods manufacturing business. He was both an oil company investor and director, and a flower and fruit farm operator and horticulturist, originator of the eponymous Spinks cultivar of avocado.
As an inventor (1892–97)
While Spinks was a world-class player, his lasting contributions to cue sports were the innovations he brought to the game and the industry resulting from his fascination with the abrasives used by players on the leather tips of their cue sticks.
Cue "chalk" (used since at least 1807) helps the tip better grip the cue ball (very briefly) on a stroke and prevents miscueing, as well as permitting the player to impart a great deal more spin to the ball, vital for position play and for spin-intensive shots, such as massés. In the 1800s, true chalk (generally calcium carbonate:46 lumps, suspended from strings), and even plaster:46 was often used, but players experimented with other powdery, abrasive substances,:46 since true chalk had a deleterious effect on the game equipment,:46 not only discoloring the billiard cloth but also allegedly damaging the fabric.
In 1892, Spinks was particularly impressed by a piece of natural chalk-like substance obtained in France, and presented it to chemist and electrical engineer William Hoskins (1862–1934) of Chicago for analysis. He determined it was porous volcanic rock (pumice) originally probably from Mount Etna, Sicily. Using the rock as a starting place, the two experimented together with different formulations of various materials to achieve the cue ball "action" that Spinks sought.
They eventually narrowed their search to a mixture of Illinois-sourced silica and the abrasive substance corundum or aloxite (a form of aluminum oxide, Al2O3), founding William A. Spinks & Company with a factory in Chicago after securing a patent on March 9, 1897. Spinks later left the company as an active party, but it retained his name and was subsequently run by Hoskins, and later by Hoskins's cousin Edmund F. Hoskin, after Hoskins moved on to other projects.
While regular calcium carbonate chalk had been packaged and marketed on a local scale by various parties (English player Jack Carr's "Twisting Powder" of the 1820s being the earliest recorded example, although considered dubious by some billiards researchers),:46 the Spinks Company product (which is still emulated by modern manufacturers with differing, proprietary compounds):46 effectively revolutionized billiards. The modern product provided a cue tip friction enhancer that allowed the tip to better grip the cue ball briefly and impart a previously unattainable amount of spin on the ball, which consequently allowed more precise and extreme cue ball control, made miscueing less likely, made curve and massé shots more plausible, and ultimately spawned the new cue sport of artistic billiards. Even the basic draw and follow shots of pool games (such as eight-ball and nine-ball) depend heavily on the effects and properties of modern billiard "chalk".
As a player
Spinks was a formidable specialist and professional competitor in straight rail billiards (early on), and balkline billiards (one of the most difficult of all cue sports), especially 14.2 and later 18.2 balkline, and skilled enough at the even more difficult 18.1 variant to hold his own against World Champions.
1890s: Rise as a professional contender
He moved to the East from California, as it was the center of high-quality playing. He began his competitive professional playing career in Brooklyn, New York, ca. 1892, at about 27 years of age.
On December 19, 1893, in Brooklyn, Spinks played in an exhibition that also featured the great Maurice Daly and young champion Frank Ives, and gave demonstrations of fancy massé shots (see illustration). He also played a 14.2 balkline match against World Champion Jacob Schaefer Sr.; Schaefer won, 250–162, with a high run and average of 88 and 20 (respectively) to Spinks's 33 and 13.
In 1894, he was living in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in January of that year offered a convoluted challenge to veteran cueist Edward McLaughlin of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to play him either a single 14.2 match to 600 points for US$500 each (a substantial amount of money in that period for someone to put up personally on a bet – approximately $13,675 in modern dollars) in New York City, or one in New York and one in Philadelphia, or one in Cincinnati and one in Philadelphia, whatever McLaughlin preferred, and even offered to pay travel expenses to Cincinnati.
Spinks issued an even more curious challenge in November 1894, to play 14.2 balkline against (almost) any challenger to 600 points for a $1,000 pot again, and while including French champion Edward Fournil, the bet specifically excluded the top-three names in that era of the sport, namely Shaefer, Ives and George Franklin Slosson. The challenge was accepted by well-known Chicago pro Thomas Gallagher (in a match that future champion Ora Morningstar traveled all the way to Chicago to see).
Spinks was apparently not a fan of upstart cueist Ives in particular. Days after issuing his caveat-laden challenge, Spinks was described by an onlooking journalist as "very uneasy until the seventeenth inning" as a spectator at the 14.2 balkline World Champion challenge match between Ives and incumbent Schaefer; the latter's point total had been trailing, sometimes badly, in all sixteen previous innings until he rallied in the final inning of the game. Spinks, along with Gallagher, even helped Schaefer train in 14.2 for another match against Ives, in October of that year; though Spinks lost this practice match 600–369 (averages 23 vs. 14), he had a high run of 109, to Schaefer's 102 (and Gallagher's 157 total).
Spinks was reported in the press in 1895 to be specifically desired as a competitor in an upcoming seven-man invitational tournament for "second class" professional players (i.e., not the top 3), organized by Daly, and with as much as $1,200 (approx. $34,133 in modern dollars) added. 
Spinks had moved to Chicago by 1896, and was perfecting his billiard chalk with Hoskins. That year he was noted for besting McLaughlin at 14.2 by a comfortable 2500–2300 margin (with averages of 11 vs. 10) in a five-evening 14.2 match for $250 (approx. $$7,111, in modern dollars), December 8–12, in Slosson's New York City billiard hall. At one point he had trailed rather badly, 1500–1880, after McLaughlin pulled off a stunning run of 140 (Spinks's highest recorded run of the match was 69).
By 1897, the year of the launch of Spinks & Company, he had evidently overcome his seeming reluctance to face World Champions again (perhaps from having several years' experience with his own product prototypes). Spinks competed in (but did not win) a December 3 open tournament.
The next month in New York City, a January 15–21, 1898 double-elimination, five-man invitational 18.2 balkline tournament was arranged, again in Chicago. It was a handicapped event, featuring the five top players from the previous event – Schaefer and Ives, as World Champions, had to reach 600 points to Spinks's, William Catton's and George Butler Sutton's 260. Without having to rely on the 600-point handicap, Spinks beat Schaefer flat-out, 260–139 (with a high run of 48 vs. Schaefer's 38) in his January 18 second game. Spinks (with a high run of "only" 44) was defeated in a very close 249–260 third game a day later by Catton (high run 56) – by way of comparison, the same night Ives trounced Sutton by a whopping 400–160. By January 20, Spinks seemed to be running out of steam, as Sutton took him 260–118, (high runs 73 vs. 30), and he lost again 154–400 (with another high run of 44) to Ives a day later. (In Spinks's defense, he not only did better against Ives than Catton had, but Ives also had a very impressive high run of 136, making it virtually impossible to catch up.) This loss put Spinks out of the tournament at 4th place.
1900s: World-class competitor
Spinks was still considered a newsworthy contender over a decade later, for the World 18.2 Balkline Championship of 1909, being enumerated in "a fine list of entries" anticipated for the March event.
On January 11, Spinks (with a high run of 51) beat former amateur champion and then-pro Calvin Demarest, 250–199, in only 15 innings – despite scoring 0 points in 4 innings and only 1-point in another – by building several solid runs in the innings in which things went his way. For all intents and purposes it was a 10-inning win. Demarest took his revenge only days later, defeating Spinks in a close 250–225, 23-inning game on January 13, despite Spinks's high run of 78 (his highest 18.2 run on record in publicly available sources, and considerably higher than Demarest's 52 that night). Spinks lost to him again the very next day, 175–250, in an exhibition game, though Spinks had a solid high run of 69.
In January 1909, just prior to an 18.1 balkline championship at Madison Square Garden (in which Spinks was not competing), he and Maurice Daly were observed playing practice games with Sutton for the latter's pre-event training, in Daly's billiard hall in New York City, on multiple occasions over a several-day stretch. While Spinks lost all but one of the recorded matches of this series, one loss was by a single point, at 400–399, and another was a close 400–370. His victory was 300–194 – surprising given that 18.1 was not his preferred game.
1910s–1920s: Setting a record and leveling the field
Spinks was noted in 1912 for a still-unbroken world record run of 1,010 continuous points at 18.2 balkline using the "chuck nurse" (a form of nurse shot), and could have made more, but stopped.:52, 289 Later, anchor space rules were instituted especially to curtail the effectiveness of the chuck nurse.:8 The use of such repetitive, predictable shots by Spinks, Schaefer Sr. and their contemporaries led to the development of the more advanced and restrictive 14.1 balkline rules (invented in 1907, but not played professionally until 1914), which further thwarted the ease of reliance on nurse shots than the older balkline games already did.:15–16
In August 1915, Spinks was tapped to join a consultative panel of notable players and major billiard hall proprietors to help develop a new handicapping system for balkline billiards, organized by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, at that time the organizers of the World Championships. The inspiration for the new system was simply making it possible for the newly ascendant Willie Hoppe to be meaningfully challenged – his near-unassailability was hurting billiard tournament revenues, because the outcome was considered foreordained by many potential ticket-buyers. The system was expected to level the playing field in other ways, especially making it easier for skilled amateurs to enter the professional ranks.
Well into the 1920s, Spinks was still a well-respected figure in the billiards industry, and wrote articles for publications such as Billiards Magazine, in which he sometimes focused on rather esoteric topics, as in his January 1923 piece on "Ventilation of Billiard Rooms" in an era when tobacco smoking was prevalent.
As an oilman and farm operator
While Spinks was not operating a farm by 1900, the W. A. Spinks Ranch was a large enough operation by 1909 to employ a staff of farmhands, and included land in Bradbury Canyon, near Duarte, California, where Spinks resided at the time. He described himself as a flower farmer (among other such specialists in the area) in 1910, and later as an "avocado rancher". As a pomology horticulturist, he developed the Spinks avocado cultivar. Spinks was active in the growers' community, and in 1922 hosted a large regional farm bureau meeting of avocado farmers at his ranch-land "mountain estate". Although active as a floriculturist, Spinks made no known lasting contributions to that field.
The Spinks variety of avocado, Persea americana 'Spinks', was developed by William A. Spinks at his Duarte ranch between 1910 and 1920. In 1920, Spinks provided a supply of his avocados for a University of California at Berkeley and California Avocado Association comparison of avocado strains. The Spinks avocado fruit was shown to be more resistant to freezing than other avocados. They also proved to be the second-longest-lasting in storage out of the ten varieties tested.
Considered "famous" by 1918, the Duarte-based Spinks avocado orchards were contracted to supply seedlings in 1919 for the palace of Xu Shichang, the President of China before communism, and other prestigious gardens in Asia. The Spinks varietal was eventually supplanted in popularity by the Hass avocado, the dominant commercial strain today.
William A. Spinks Jr., the youngest of five children, was born July 11, 1865, in the then-small township of San Jose, California, to struggling farmer William Sr. and wife Cynthia J. (Prather) Spinks. He had blue eyes, dark hair and a ruddy complexion, and was 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) tall by adulthood. His education is obscure.
On September 1, 1891, Spinks married Clara Alexandria Karlson (b. December 12, 1871, Gothenburg, Sweden, immigrated 1872; d. October 4, 1949, Los Angeles); they were to remain together for over 40 years. They returned to California from Chicago before the turn of the century. After a period in a San Francisco apartment (ca. 1900), they lived in the then-rural Los Angeles suburbs of Duarte (ca. 1910) where their farm was, and Monrovia (later, by 1920) where they maintained a modest house. After William's business success, the couple became extensive world travelers.
William Spinks died January 15, 1933, aged 67, in Monrovia, California. In Los Angeles County's San Gabriel Valley, Spinks Canyon, its stream Spinks Canyon Creek, and the local major residential thoroughfare Spinks Canyon Road (running through Duarte's northernmost residential area, Duarte Mesa), are named after him.
- "Are Brought Together at Last: Gallagher and Spinks Will Meet Monday and Sign Articles". Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago). February 2, 1896. p. 7. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
- "Billiard Cue Chalk Inventor Dead". Associated Press. January 16, 1933. Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Appeared in the San Antonio, Texas Express, Helena, Montana Daily Independent, New York Times, Huron, South Dakota Evening Huronite, Hagerstown, Maryland Daily Mail, and many other newspapers. The exact title and text varies from publication to publication – from two sentences to five paragraphs – due to editorial alterations to the newswire. The full version can be found in the Express and Daily Independent. Provides specific mention of Chicago factory; confirms involvement in oil industry and avocado growing, as well as birthplace and that he made a "fortune" on the chalk; also provides info on use of pre-Spinks chalk.
- "W. A. Spinks Dies, "Sports: Local–District–World" section". International News Service (New York: Hearst Corporation). January 16, 1933. Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides more specific death place; confirms Pacific Coast Champion titles; implies incorrectly that he died on January 16; mentions his world record, but off by 10 points.
- "W. A. Spinks, Oil Developer, Dies: Duarte Man Former Coast Billiard Champion". Los Angeles Times. January 16, 1933. p. 6. Retrieved August 19, 2009. (subscription required (. )) A substantial obituary, significantly different from the one published by Associated Press.
- Cf. the The New York Times pieces cited in more detail elsewhere in this article.
- Clark, Neil M. (May 1927). "The World's Most Tragic Man Is the One Who Never Starts". The American. Retrieved February 24, 2007.; republished in Hotwire: The Newsletter of the Toaster Museum Foundation, vol. 3, no. 3, online edition. The piece is largely an interview of Hoskins. (And there actually is a Toaster Museum, backed by a related foundation. They take the history of toast, and electrical heating in general, quite seriously.)
- U.S. Patent 0,578,514, March 9, 1897
- "Billiard Titles in New Contests: Clearance of Clouds and Quibbles Promised in Winter Series of Games – Championships Are Lure – Challenge Match Between Sutton and Slosson Will Open Tilts and Lead to Open Tournament". The New York Times. January 24, 1909. p. S3 ("Sporting News" section). Retrieved February 25, 2007. An in-depth piece that clearly shows the popularity of carom billiards in its heyday and the seriousness with which it was treated by the media. It is also notable that Spinks, Sutton, Slosson, Morningstar and Albert Cutler were simply given by name, while all others on the list were given by name and city (e.g. "Calvin Demarest of Chicago"), indicating that Spinks and a few others were well-known public figures at this time.
- "Demarest Beats Veterans". The New York Times. January 14, 1909. p. 7. Retrieved August 18, 2008. Short sports column.
- Shamos, Mike (1999). The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards. New York City, NY, US: Lyons Press. ISBN 1-55821-797-5.
- Stein, Victor; Rubino, Paul (2008). The Billiard Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). New York City, NY, US: Balkline Press. pp. p. 249. ISBN 978-0-615-17092-3. (First ed. pubd. 1994.) Reproduction of ca. 1930 Spinks chalk advertisement claiming savings in cloth lifetime. Also quotes world champion Jake Schaefer Jr.: "I believe that Spinks' chalk has done more to improve the game of billiards than any thing [sic] else in my time."
- "C.H.i.C. Timeline 1843–1880". A Guide to the Chemical History of Chicago. Chicago, Illinois: Chemical History in Chicago Project. Retrieved February 24, 2007. Date unspecified.
- "Substance Summary: Aluminum Oxide". PubChem Database. National Library of Medicine, US National Institutes of Health. 2008. "aloxite" and "corundum" search results. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
- "Aloxite". ChemIndustry.com. 1999–2008. "Chemical Info" database. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
- Russell, Michael (December 23, 2005). "Billiards – The Transformation Years: 1845–1897". Leisure and Sport Review. Retrieved August 19, 2008. (Also appears on several other sites.) This questionable article was obviously used as the source for the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation season 6 episode "Time of Your Death", in which pool chalk plays a small but crucial role; the show perpetuated the "axolite" for "aloxite" error in that article, to millions of viewers. For details, see: "Transcript of 'Time of Your Death'". CBS.com. CBS Broadcasting. Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2014 – via CrimeLab.nl. This is retained as a (red-flagged) source here specifically to document this fact, as the term "axolite" cannot be found anywhere else.
- U.S. Patent 1,524,132, January 27, 1925
- "Ten Years Ago". Evening Times (Cumberland, Maryland). January 15, 1943. p. 4 ("History" section). Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Confirms "fortune".
- "Saw Good Billiards: Union Leaguers Entertained by Four Star Cue-wielders". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York). December 20, 1893. p. 8. Retrieved August 19, 2008. The piece (as several others did) misspelled his surname as "Spink". Note: Each section of the newspaper page scans on this site can be clicked for a readable closeup.
- Two Chicago Daily Tribune articles in 1892 cover Spinks prominently: "Gallagher and Spinks Matched" (May 22), and "Tom Gallagher Beats Spinks" (May 27); no billiards-related coverage of Spinks has been discovered so far that pre-dates 1892.
- "Spinks Will Meet McLaughlin". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. January 6, 1894. p. 8. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- "Spinks's Billiard Challenge". The New York Times. November 5, 1894. p. 6. Retrieved February 25, 2007. A very short sports column note. NB: Though the article called the game "fourteen-inch balkline" it meant 14.2 balkline more specifically, because 14.1 was not introduced into tournaments until 1914.
- "Billiard Notes". The New York Times. November 18, 1894. p. 7. Retrieved August 18, 2008. Sports column entry.
- McGrew, Clarence Alan (1922). City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California; "Ora C. Morningstar" entry. Vol. 1. Chicago & New York: American Historical Society. p. 364.
- "Schaefer Is in the Lead – The "Wizard" 32 Points Ahead of Ives, the Young Expert: Both Men Played Good, Strong Billiards and Ives Led Up to the Last Inning – Pretty Nursing by the Youthful Aspirant for Championship Honors – Ives Had the Best Average and the Highest Run in the Opening Night's Play". The New York Times. February 25, 1894. p. 2. Retrieved February 25, 2007. An eyewitness summary of the first day of the match. The piece amply demonstrates the popularity of the sport at the time, as the long, illustrated and in-depth article made the second page of the newspaper as a whole.
- "Billiards by the Experts". The New York Times. October 29, 1894. p. 12. Retrieved August 18, 2008. Sports column entry.
- "Crack Billiards Players in Tournament". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. February 22, 1895. p. 4. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- "Good Billiards Ahead: Maurice Daly Promises Great Things for This City". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 24, 1896. p. 12. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- "Spinks Leads at Billiards". The New York Times. December 9, 1896. p. 9. Retrieved August 15, 2008. A short sports column note.
- "To Play 14-inch Balk Line". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. November 24, 1896. p. 10. Retrieved August 19, 2008. The event was originally slated to begin December 7.
- "McLaughlin's Brilliant Run". The New York Times. December 10, 1896. p. 2. Retrieved August 15, 2008. A short sports column note.
- "Spinks Still Ahead". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. December 11, 1896. p. 10. Retrieved August 19, 2008. Sports column note.
- "Spinks Wins at Billiards". The New York Times. December 12, 1896. p. 3. Retrieved August 15, 2008. Another very short sports column note.
- "Spinks Wins the Match". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. December 12, 1896. p. 9. Retrieved August 19, 2008. Sports column note.
- Colby, Frank Moore (1899). "Billiards". In Peck, Harry Thurston; Engle, Edward Lathrop. The International Year Book: A Compendium of the World's Progress in Every Department of Human Knowledge During the Year 1898. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. p. 99. Retrieved August 19, 2008.
- "Chicago Billiards Tourney". The New York Times. January 15, 1898. p. 4. Retrieved August 15, 2008. Another short sports column piece.
- "Spinks Defeats Schaeffer [sic]". The New York Times. January 18, 1898. p. 5. Retrieved August 16, 2008. Another short sport column piece.
- "Chicago Billiard Tournament: Catton Defeats Spinks and Ives Defeats Sutton by 400 to 160". The New York Times. January 19, 1898. p. 5. Retrieved August 16, 2008. More summary sports coverage.
- "Chicago Billiard Tournament: Sutton Defeats Spinks, and Is Beaten by Schaefer". The New York Times. January 20, 1898. p. 4. Retrieved February 25, 2007. More summary sports coverage.
- "Chicago Billiard Tournament: Schaefer and Ives Win Games – The Former Breaks a Record" (pdf). The New York Times. January 21, 1898. p. 10. Retrieved August 17, 2008. More summary sports coverage.
- "Surprise in Billiards: Spinks Scores Well-earned Victory Over Demarest in Final Inning". The New York Times. January 12, 1909. p. 10. Retrieved August 18, 2008. A sports column piece.
- "Two Games for Demarest". The New York Times. January 13, 1909. p. 8. Retrieved August 18, 2008. A very short sports column piece.
- "Sutton to Practice at Daly's". The New York Times. January 14, 1909. p. 7. Retrieved August 18, 2008. Short sports column.
- "Sutton Wins and Loses". The New York Times. January 18, 1909. p. 9. Retrieved August 18, 2008. Short sports column.
- "Two Billiard Victories for Sutton". The New York Times. January 21, 1909. p. 7. Retrieved August 18, 2008. Short sports column.
- "Sutton Scores a Double: Billiard Champ Beats Morningstar and Spinks in His Practice". The New York Times. January 23, 1909. p. 7. Retrieved August 18, 2008. Short sports column.
- "Sutton Wins Two Balkline Games". The New York Times. January 24, 1909. p. S1 ("Sporting News" section). Retrieved August 18, 2008. Short sports page note.
- Loy, Jim (2000). "The Chuck Nurse". Jim Loy's Billiards/Pool Page. Retrieved February 24, 2007. The Shamos source is the more authoritative one, but this site provides an animated illustration of precisely how the chuck nurse works.
- "New Billiard Plan of Rating Players: Hoppe Will Lead the List–Handicaps for All of the Others[sic]". The New York Times. August 5, 1915. p. 9. Retrieved August 19, 2008. The article refers to him as "W.M. Spinks of Los Angeles", a typo for "W.A." or "Wm.", and could not plausibly refer to anyone else, as there was no other notable W. Spinks in the billiards world of the period (or since), only two amateurs, C.A. and John Spinks, meanwhile William was the only Californian among them.
- "Portraits of Chicago: The Billiard Ambassadors". Chicago: Chicago Billiard Museum. August 1, 2010. pp. scan of original Billiards Magazine page. Retrieved September 30, 2010.
- 1900 United States Federal Census. US Census Bureau. 1970. "William A. Spinks" and "Clara A. Spinks" entries (the only ones in California). Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides San Francisco residence, marital status, marriage year 1890–91, William's occupation as "oil company director"; confirms ages, birth places, no children; does not mention farm, or Clara's immigration year.
- "Find Body in Canyon: Ranch Workers Discover Former Comrade Committed Suicide Near Duarte Two Months Ago". Los Angeles Times. March 17, 1909. p. II-10. Retrieved August 20, 2009. (subscription required (. ))
- 1910 United States Federal Census. US Census Bureau. 1980. "William A. Spinks" entry in Los Angeles (the only there one, and the only one in California for that matter). Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides Duarte residence/farm, marriage year 1891–92 (off by 1 compared to multiple other sources), Clara's immigration year, William's occupation as flower farmer (employer), land owned free and clear, neighbors engaged in flower farming; confirms marital status, no children, ages, birth places, parents' birth places. Copy is poor; data columns verified by comparison to PDF
- 1920 United States Federal Census. US Census Bureau. 1990. "William A. Spinks" entry in Los Angeles (the only one there, and the only one in California). Retrieved August 19, 2008. Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides Monrovia residence, William's occupation as avocado farmer, Clara's immigration date; confirms ages, marital status, birth places, no children, parents' birth places, free-owned home, Clara's immigration year. Copy is poor; data columns verified by comparison to PDF
- "History of City of Duarte Goes Back For 128 Years". Pasadena Star-News (Pasadena, California: San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group). April 28, 1969. Accessed through Ancestry.com database.
- "Avocado Growers Meet at Famous Mountain Estate". Los Angeles Times. February 12, 1922. p. IX-10. Retrieved August 20, 2009. (subscription required (. ))
- Overholser, E. L. (1924–25). "Cold Storage Behavior of Avocados". California Avocado Association Annual Report (San Diego, California: California Avocado Association) 10: 32–40. Archived from the original (pdf) on February 15, 2013. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
- "Avocados for Orient". Los Angeles Times. December 28, 1918. p. I-5. Retrieved August 20, 2009. (subscription required (. ))
- 1870 United States Federal Census. Washington, D.C.: US Census Bureau. 1940. "William A. Spinks" entries in California (there are only two, father and son). Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides age of 5, birthplace, parents' names and birthplaces, mother's middle initial, father's occupation, siblings, father's assets ($2,000 in total estate value, did not own the land he worked, in contrast to most neighbors). Note: The full details of the search results from the URL provided for this and various other public records here are only available with a paid subscription to the search service, but are extant in their original paper forms for verification.
- "List of United States Citizens: SS Golden State, Departing from Hong Kong May 2, 1922, Arriving at Port of San Francisco". Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Francisco, 1893–1953 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1410). Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85, National Archives, Washington, D.C.: US Immigration and Naturalization Service. 1954. Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides William's middle name, marriage date, Duarte residence overlapping with Monrovia (cf. 1920 Census); confirms Clara's middle name, William's birthplace, birth dates of both. Cf. 1922 passport applications. Another ship manifest shows them returning from a trip to Italy in 1909, amusingly listing William's occupation simply as "capitalist". Another shows Clara returning from a visit to her native country of Sweden in 1937 (necessarily alone). Neither provide additional details, so are not cited here in full. Another, with both returning from England in 1925, again confirms that they retained the property in Duarte after getting the Monrovia house. All of the above are available as scans from Ancestry.com.
- Braddock, Bruce. "Braddock Family Tree". Ancestry.com. Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides mother's maiden name. While a tertiary source, it agrees in every respect with vital records data. Note: The full details of the search results from the URL provided for this and various other public records here are only available with a paid subscription to the search service.
- Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1490). General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59, National Archives, Washington, D.C.: US Department of State. 1926. entries for "William A. Spinks" (1922), and "William A. Spinks" & "Clara A. Spinks" (1924). Accessed through Ancestry.com database. 1924: Provides full birth dates and places for both, photos of them, their height and appearance, William's occupation as "fruit grower", plans for whirlwind world tour including the British Isles, France, Italy, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Egypt, India, Palestine, the Holy Land, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, for the purpose of "travel" (and "visit relatives" in the case of Clara), summer of 1924; confirms residence in Duarte (overlapping Monrovia), William's father's name and birthplace. 1922: Same confirmations, for William; photo of the couple together, travel plans for Japan, China, Hong Kong.
- Exhaustive newspaper searches in March 2010, as well as billiards references, provide no information whatsoever regarding Spink's educational background.
- 1930 United States Federal Census. US Census Bureau. 2000. "William A. Spinks" entry in Los Angeles (the only one there, and the only one in California). Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides home value of $6,000 in Monrovia, non-veteran; confirms Monrovia residence, owned home, living on farm, William's occupation as avocado "rancher" (employer, active), marriage year 1880–81, ages, marital status, birth places, no children, parents' birth places. Copy is poor; data columns verified by comparison to PDF
- California Death Index, 1940–1997. Sacramento, California: Center for Health Statistics, Department of Health Services, State of California. 1998. "Clara Spinks" entry in Los Angeles. Accessed through Ancestry.com database. Provides Clara's maiden name, death date and place; confirms her birth date. Curiously, William does not appear in the index, despite have been reported to have died in Monrovia, L.A. County. It is therefore possible that he actually died in an out-of-state hospital.
- Beardshear, Laurie (December 13, 1973). "Area Street Names Traced to Pioneers". Star-News (Pasadena, California). p. C-3. Accessed through Ancestry.com database.