Agnes Haley Flake (Love)
|Birthplace:||Richmond County, North Carolina, USA|
|Death:||Died in San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California, USA|
|Place of Burial:||San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California, USA|
Daughter of William Greenlee Love and Agnes Haley Love
|Managed by:||Private User|
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About Agnes Haley Flake
James Madison Flake and his wife, Agnes Hailey Love Flake, lived in northern Mississippi. In the winter of 1843-44, they opened their door to Elder Benjamin Clapp of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They learned his message was of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They learned and felt the Spirit testify of the truth. Their relatives turned against them. They became outcasts when they were baptized. They gave up their good land, their quite prosperous conditions, freed their slaves and joined the saints in Nauvoo.
They remained in Nauvoo less than two years before crossing the Mississippi, driven out by the mobs, beginning their trip west in February 1946. Three of their six children died before they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1848. Two years later, in 1850, James was called to leave his family and go with an exploratory party to ﬁnd locations where the Saints could settle in California. He was thrown from his mule in the San Joaquin Valley and died. He was wrapped in a blanket and buried at the side of the trail. He gave his life in the service of God having always remained faithful to the decision he had made to join the Church just six years earlier.
In 1851, Agnes and her three remaining children went to San Bernardino, California fullﬁlling the assignment she and her husband had received. It was a difficult time for them. With the Gold Rush, her brother came to California. He visited Agnes and told her if she would return back to North Carolina with him, she have a nice home, good land and education for her children. However, there was one condition, she had to give up Mormonism. She said to him, “You don’t think you are asking much do you?” “No,” he replied, ‘very little.” She replied, “I would rather wear my nails off on the wash tub to support my children than to take them away from the Church. I know it is true.” In 1854, ten years after joining the Church, Agnes passed away leaving three children under the age of ﬁfteen.
Her ﬁnal words to her eldest son, William (our direct descendent) was, “I will hold you responsible for your every act. You must set an example for your brother and sister, worthy of your standing.”
James and Agnes knew the Church was true and always stayed faithful despite the challenges. They gave their lives. William and Lucy kept the trust as did James and Martha following them then, in their turn, Bruce and Irene did the same. Will we pass the same legacy to the next generation? Are we worthy of our standing?
Our Legacy, by Garry Flake
Princess Agnes Story -- A Fairy Tale, based on the real life of Agnes Love Flake, Researched and Written by Marlene Richardson Ellingson:
Forward: I was given the assignment, for girls' camp last summer, to come up with a Bedtime Story for the girls. It was a Princess theme, and as I searched for a princess story, it occurred to me that a real-life story would be ideal. So I read all I could find about Agnes Haley Love Flake, and wrote a story. It is all based on fact, but of course I added details to make a historical fiction. I used the dates from the family records and other church history information to round out the story.
Part 1: Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess, and what’s more, this was not a fairy tale princess, but a real-live princess. Her name was Agnes Haley Love. She had everything she could want, luxury, food, friends, family. She had a servant to dress her in the mornings, and pull her corset strings tight, to give her a very tiny waist. She had a dressmaker, who would come and design the most beautiful dresses, worn usually with a large hoop skirt. And a servant to do her hair and to add the finishing touches of jewelry and perfume.
Agnes’ life consisted of her morning toilette, doing her studies with the best of tutors her family could employ, trying to make her four younger brothers to act like civilized gentlemen, and dressing for the delicious meals served each day on her family plantation. She loved making social calls with her mother Agnes and sisters Rosa and Mary, in her family’s handsome carriage, and attending dances and events expected of a southern belle in the North Carolina community where they lived. Agnes resisted the tendency that she observed in the other belles to become selfish and spoiled, however, as best a princess could. Her family attended church regularly, and although she attended dressed in the finest of gowns and hats, she thought often about God and wondered if he expected more of her than just this pampered life.
In time, Agnes met a fine young man, her older brother Charles’ friend James Madison Flake. He was tall and handsome (4 ½ years older than her), and she knew she had caught his eye. Soon he was walking her home from church and calling at the Love’s manor house. Agnes was delighted to be the envy of the other princesses—or belles—at church, being seen with this charming Prince. With time, James spoke with her father William, a respected tobacco plantation owner with a high standing in the community. He received her fathers’ permission to begin to court her. And Agnes was beginning to fall in love. When she could focus on more than her fluttering heart in his presence, Agnes began to notice some deep qualities of character in James, different from the shallow young men she had acquainted. He was a man of principal, one with integrity and honor. What’s more, she and James shared a tendency to ponder on spiritual things.
After months of courting, James asked her to be his bride! First came the elaborate party thrown in their honor, to announce the engagement. Then came the flurry of activity to order the gowns, the sumptuous refreshments, and the garlands and flowers to fill the church for James and Agnes’ lavish wedding! And so they were married, a month before Princess Agnes turned 19 (James was 23). It was the 2nd of October, 1838. The couple planned a honeymoon trip and James negotiated for them to settle in one of the homes on his parents’ manor, the Flake family plantation not too far from her parents. One of the wedding gifts she received from James’ mother, Faithy, was a young slave girl of her very own named Liz to wait on her. James was given a 20-year old slave as well. His name was Green. Agnes adjusted to life with the Flakes, and she and James were very happy.
Soon, a baby was on the way! Agnes had grown up as the 7th of 11 children and she and James wanted a large family too. And so they were delighted when 9 months after their wedding, a new little prince was born, and they came up with the perfect name for their darling boy, William Jordan after her father William and James’ father Jordan! Agnes had Liz for a nursery maid to help care for the new baby.
A little over a year later, a second little son was born, another little gentlemen prince who they named Charles Love, after Agnes’ favorite brother. And the next year, a third son arrived, little Thomas. Agnes, with plenty of help from their trusted slaves, enjoyed her little men. The family was happy, yet James began to be restless. He longed for a plantation of their own, and heard reports of land available out West, so as soon as the family could, he secured a prairie schooner to take them out West. It was a huge adjustment for Lady Agnes, as she could only bring two slaves along, and only one trunk of her dresses. It would be rough in the West. Agnes had never worked before. In fact, Liz liked to boast that “Missus had never as much as washed a pocket handkerchief. I would have died before I would have let her work.” But Agnes was willing to sacrifice for James’ and her dream of a plantation of their own. And he tried to provide every convenience possible to make the move comfortable for his Lady and the young Gentlemen, the oldest of whom was just 3 years old.
She made it through the trying trip, and soon, she and James found a beautiful spot in Kemper County, Mississippi, with pine trees and gorgeous flowers. James procured land near a small stream with the Indian name, Ptictfaw, for a new plantation. Crops were planted, and a beautiful manor house and the other buildings of a large, prosperous plantation were built. Life was rich, sweet and peaceful. They focused on building their fine home on their new plantation, and raising their little men, giving them every opportunity money could buy. And soon, another baby boy arrived, little Richmond, their first child born in Mississippi. How the family rejoiced when kinfolk from North Carolina soon joined them in Mississippi, starting plantations nearby. A relative Henry Flake was the first to move close by and settle next to James, then his brother John Flake. Agnes was delighted when her family eventually moved there as well, and set up not far from the Flakes. She had had a hard time leaving her mother, for although she was the 5th daughter, she was the one who had received her mother’s name, and they had always been close.
As they became acquainted with the area and its people, Agnes and James were treated well, but gradually began to observe some narrow-mindedness of many of these Westerners. Word of mob violence occasionally in the area troubled them, and rumors about an evil religion Mormonism. So one day when a Mormon Elder knocked at their door, they were wary. Of course they let him in, as that was the expected Southern hospitality for all. If someone is traveling without purse or scrip, as this young man was, of course you offered him a meal and an overnight stay. Elder Benjamin Clapp was unexpectedly intelligent and refined, and he carried a bible and another volume of scripture that he claimed was delivered by an angel to a prophet. James and Agnes were skeptical of his claims, until Elder Clapp kindled their interest by explaining that he preached the very same gospel taught by Christ and his ancient apostles. Carefully and prayerfully, the Flakes began to investigate this new religion.
As soon as neighbors heard that the Flakes had opened their home to a missionary, they harassed and even threatened the Flakes. Still, after several weeks, James and Agnes became convinced that they had found the true Church of Jesus Christ. And they were baptized the Winter of 1843-44. William was 4 ½, Charles was going on 3, and the little ones were still babies. They and the few others baptized that night were ridiculed and defamed. A year before they had met Elder Clapp, a group of 80-90 Latter-day Saints had emigrated to Nauvoo because of persecution. Now, this new little group formed a tiny branch, called Running Water Branch. Though some of the teachings had been new and strange, the Word of Wisdom had particularly rung true to Agnes. She had watched her family—tobacco growers and users—die early, many of them, and she had always attributed it to their tobacco use. She had long felt that tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea usage were particularly bad for her people’s constitutions (only 3 of the 11 survived to adulthood). Much later in her life, right before her death, Agnes told her children, “If you want to live in this World, you must leave tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor alone. These are death to our people. Our constitutions can not stand them, and all who indulged, died young.”
Though Elder Clapp left for a time, he returned in early Spring and brought Elder Brown with him to ordain James Flake to the office of Elder. Agnes was so proud, and though it was dangerous, she encouraged her husband to go ahead and share the gospel with a few others who they felt might be open to it. Agnes grew close to the Lord as she knelt often in prayer to thank Him for the gospel, and to beg him to protect her husband from the violent threats. Agnes was grateful to a couple of faithful slaves that helped run their plantation. Green Flake and Allen Flake were dependable slaves, who were also interested in the missionary’s message, so James had arranged for them to be taught. They had joined the church shortly after she and James. Agnes felt safe when they were nearby.
When Elder Clapp and Elder Brown returned a couple of months later, Agnes was so proud that James had two converts ready for baptism, and the tears flowed when they asked him to perform their baptisms, there in the creek. They had to conduct the baptism in great secrecy, and the opposition seemed to make the occasion sweeter. James was asked at times to accompany the Elders on their journeys and once, he attended a Conference in Alabama representing their branch, which now consisted of “fifteen members, one Elder all in good standing.”
As James’ activity in the church increased, so did the condemnation and even wrath from their associates and their own families! Oh what sorrow this brought to the young couple. But the Spirit whispered that they had done the right thing. Still, realizing that there was no peace for his family, James and Agnes decided they would have to move to Nauvoo. During the conference in Alabama, James had been struck by the words of Elder Clapp about the gathering and the building of the Temple in Nauvoo. Still, their young boy Thomas was gravely ill, and the baby was so young. James wanted to ascertain the conditions in Nauvoo, out in the wilderness of Western Illinois, so like a courageous knight, he set out on mule back, the latter part of May, 1844, to ride the 700 miles to Nauvoo, leaving Agnes and the boys in the able care of Green and Allen and Liz, and the other slaves. Agnes again turned to prayer for the Lord to protect her husband, alone those many miles.
James found the city of Nauvoo and the surrounding farms beautiful. There near the river, the gleaming white limestone walls of the temple were rising, a true castle. Mingling with the Saints, he felt friendliness and peace. One that he met was Hyrum Smith, the Prophet’s brother and the Patriarch. James was privileged to receive a blessing from him, a choice experience. A copy was given him, and he was soon on his way back with the joyous plan to bring his young family here. But sadness hit him hard, when the news came that just 15 days after that blessing, Hyrum and the Prophet were both martyred. He recalled the words from his blessing, “You have been wrought upon by the Spirit of inspiration and have come up hither, For this cause you are blessed.” So he made immediate plans to move his family to Nauvoo.
When he ran up to embrace his Agnes, he noticed at once the sorrow etched in her face. Little Thomas had succumbed to death in his absence. Agnes was worn out, having cared for him day and night, until he had taken his last breath. To further their grief, the words of the local minister had come to their ears, the ranting and raving of what wicked parents they had been to leave their child unbaptized, and that their child was now burning in hell fire forever. What’s more, they had not been allowed to bury him in the church cemetery, but Green had just dug a tiny grave under a favorite tree on the grounds. She, her little boys, and the servants had been the only ones to mourn at a little service for Thomas.
James was filled with grief and sorrow, and he visited the grave of his young son, whom he had loved dearly, and used his Priesthood to dedicate the little grave. The family knew they had to leave for a better place.
The next thing James did was to follow the counsel of the Prophet Joseph, to “Break the shackles from the poor black man, and hire him to labor like other human beings, for an hour of virtuous liberty on earth is worth a whole eternity of human bondage.” This was undoubtedly tough for James and Agnes, as they had grown up with slaves to constantly serve them. But it felt right, with the help of the Spirit, so they immediately freed all their slaves. Many of them left, rejoicing. But Green Flake, the large, husky man, who had watched over the family, refused to leave the family. Liz, too, who had grown up in their household, would not leave, but both became members of the family. Also wishing to go North with them was Edie, a young black mother of four. The group was joined by three other convert families who upon hearing James’ enthusiastic report, wanted to go to Nauvoo as well.
While James readied the ox team and wagon, and the pair of white mules to lead the caravan, Agnes tried her best to be brave. She knew how hard was wilderness travel was, with three young sons. Further, though her family seemed to hate her now, she loved them and hated to leave them. She had hoped they would one day join the church too. Would she ever see them again? Agnes went to try to see her mother and father one last time, and several of her siblings who still lived at home. Her father and brothers only exhibited contempt, and outright derision that she would be going to the devil. Despite their rebuffs, she kept her composure as best she could, and expressed her love for them. And at last, her mother relented and gave her a tender embrace of farewell, which was a great comfort to Agnes. James’ family too was cold and hostile toward them, thus making it a sad farewell.
The journey was long and arduous. As the family pulled out away from their wonderful plantation, Agnes thought her heart would break, to leave her little son’s fresh grave under the tree. She knew she would likely never see her dear family again. As she jostled along day after day, still exhausted from her care of her sick boy night and day, and worn out with grief, there were two voices that vied for her attention: the one voice reminded her of her old days as princess, beloved and pampered by her parents, the servants that attended her, the parties and balls. Further, the voice whispered of all that she had given up for this church. She had enjoyed her nice home only a very short time. She had been forced to give up friends and family, security and peace, her husband gone so much, and even her young son. She would recall the words of the minister. Had she lost Thomas forever by becoming a Mormon?
But the second voice in her head, the one she had to fight to keep foremost in her thoughts helped her realize that the storybook princess life and the fine things that used to matter so much to her, mattered little now. She knew her James would build her another home. She remembered how pleased she had been as he became such a fine church leader in the new branch. As she continued her prayers, her mind was able to turn to the truths of her new religion, that told her son was not lost, but was with God in heaven. That her husband had the Holy Priesthood, and that the Temple that he would help finish, would hold great blessings for them. Through her sorrow and loss, her faith began to grow ever stronger.
Lady Agnes Haley Love Flake loved it in Nauvoo. James had built them a beautiful brick home, right next to the new temple. The family could step out on the porch and watch it’s progress. The people were kind and friendly. The peace and the Spirit were strong. A new baby was on the way, due the next October. Agnes loved the sisters of Relief Society and the sewing circles, where the ladies gathered to sew shirts for the workers on the temple. She loved the new friends and the faith they all shared. James so enjoyed helping to finish building the temple. He gave every possible minute to that wonderful cause. And soon, December 23rd, he was ordained a member of the 8th Quorum of the Seventy by the same Brother Clapp that had baptized him in Mississippi.
One day, shortly after their arrival in Nauvoo, Green and young William Jordan returned from bringing a lunch to James at the temple together. Green had carried William, now 5 years old, up the winding staircase inside the uncompleted temple clear to the top, where he let William gaze upon the sights below in every direction. They saw hundreds of houses and buildings, with trees and gardens, and streets that stretched out to the surrounding farmlands and the curving Mississippi river bank. It was an awesome sight, one that William Jordan Flake was to remember his entire life.
The Winter of 1944 was bitter and cold. The Flake family had not been used to frost, snow and biting winds, in mild Mississippi. That winter, 5-year old William had taken a handful of gun powder from his Father’s powder horn and thrown it on the fire to see how it would burn. As a result, he saw nothing for weeks! Agnes helped fashion a black cloth mask with eye holes to go over her poor boys’ face for two or three months til he got a new one, the old face having burned off! She tried her best to help him through the pain. The winter also brought sickness, and young Richmond, just 2 ½, died in early 1945. It was sorrowful, yet easier to bear with the Saints beside them through the ordeal and then the burial. Words of truth and love were preached at the services, and their baby had a proper grave in the community cemetery.
For a time after the Prophet’s death, the community was left alone in peace. But when the enemies of the church found that his death had not stopped the growth and prosperity of the Mormons, they began anew with their persecutions. William, now 6, would later remember looking out of the window many times on awful scenes: mobs of angry men, their faces painted, shouting in throngs down the street, and robbing and looting the nearby homes. William would dash from the window and hide, shaking with terror until the noise finally stopped and the men had gone. Once again, Agnes had been grateful for Green and his faithful protection, while James was gone so much building the temple. She had been in frail health, mourning Richmond and then giving birth to little Samuel in October of 1845.
Brother Brigham and the other brethren rushed to finish the temple enough to give the Saints their temple blessings. Day and night they labored until finally the glorious day came that James and Agnes entered the beautiful temple, and each received their endowment, towards the end of 1845. Strength from heaven seemed to fill them, and they knew that with this extra endowment of power, they could face the uncertainties ahead. How they rejoiced to receive their temple blessings.
It became evident that the happy times in Nauvoo were soon to end. That Agnes would have to leave her new beautiful brick home. James was always ready to help with poorer of the Saints, both with his might and with his means. Edie and her family had not cared for the cold Northern winters they were not used to and were homesick for the South, so James took them back home. While he was in Mississippi, he sold his plantation at a loss and got many mules in partial payment, in order to help the Saints with their exodus. The first groups had had to leave in February, but James and Agnes’ assignment was to stay to help til the last ones were outfitted and ready.
Soon, they too loaded up their wagon and left behind their beautiful city and home and crossed the Mississippi, numb at the thought of leaving their temple. When they had journeyed from the South two years earlier, it had been summer. Now it was late Spring, and very cold. William, now almost 7, and Charles, going on 4, and teenaged Liz walked along behind the wagon, driving their loose cows and stock. Agnes rode in the wagon with the new baby Samuel, knowing that another was on the way to be born shortly after Samuel’s first birthday. She hoped and prayed that these babies would thrive despite the rude conditions.
It had been a rainy spring that year, and the trails were always muddy. Often when it rained hard, and there was so much mud, the kids crowded into the wagon with her, and she would wince at the mud their feet brought in, but try to occupy them with stories and songs. But if the mud got deep and the oxen could not pull they would have to wait for James and Green to pull them out, and sometimes, they had to lighten the wagon. One day when the hems of her dress was mud-stained, and her cheeks were sunburned despite her bonnet, James took the baby from her, handed him to Liz, and caught her up in his arms to tell her she was beautiful! It was his way of saying,“You are still my princess!” She would then have to laugh despite everything!
The sisters tried to lighten each others’ loads. Agnes herself held pans to catch rain water so it wouldn’t drip on the more than one woman giving birth in a wagon. “If mother could see me now!" Agnes would silently exclaim!
Finally the family made their way to Winter Quarters. The home they could procure there was a rude dugout: uncomfortable, cramped, and smoke-filled, this was like nothing they had ever lived in before, yet it was warm and safe. Once, after the Saints had barely made it across the Mississippi, the Lord had provided them with a whole flock of quail. Now, He made available to them a large field of corn and a huge herd of pigs. They were grateful for the cornbread and pork, and for the fish her expert fishermen James and William could catch for variety. These tasted as good as a Southern banquet!
The Brethren tried to lift the Spirits of each other. They planned dancing parties and songfests to cheer them. Agnes loved to dress up as best she could, and venture out with James for a nice evening together. She was still his sweetheart, and, he insisted, the most beautiful lady there (even with her very large pregnant tummy!). Agnes also spent time during the long winter months teaching her boys to read using the bible.
It was there in Winter Quarters, in their smoky dugout with a fire for warmth, on November 3rd, 1846, that Frederick Flake was born, then died the same day. How it hurt to lay her baby in his tiny grave in the wilderness cemetery, covered with stones to protect it. And then, she had to leave it too, for the government required the whole settlement to move back across the Missouri river, since it turned out they were on Indian lands. So in the middle of winter, the family had to squeeze in with another family as best they could until they come up with a rude dwelling of their own, in Kanesville, later called Council Bluffs. Disease hit the encampment, due to conditions and lack of proper nutrition. Little 17-month old Samuel followed Frederick in death the next March and he was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery. Poor Agnes was shaken with grief and sorrow. She had lost four of her precious sons, and this one at a time when many were dying and not much attention could be given to each one. Still she endured, turning again to the Lord for help, and longing for Zion, the promised community where they could live in peace and prosperity.
Many years later, a sculptor Avard Fairbanks was asked to create a sculpture fitting for the front of the Winter Quarters Cemetery. He was acquainted with the Flake family of his generation and he graciously affirmed that his statue of a mother and father standing in the wind over the new grave of their baby could represent James and Agnes, and their sacrifice. Baby Fredrick’s name is engraved on the plaque as one of the first who died and were buried in this cemetery.
When the first group of wagons was to leave for the West, James knew that Agnes was in no condition to go. How he wanted to lighten her load and give her happiness and peace.
As plans progressed for the first trek out West, James approached Brigham Young one day, “Brother Brigham,” he began, “My family is not in a position to go with you this time. My wife is not well. We do not have the money left for more supplies. But I do have a fine sturdy wagon, Prairie Schooner, with my fine white American mules, that brought my family from North Carolina, then from Mississippi, and you know Green—he’d be willing to drive it and serve as your bodyguard, sir. I’d consider it an honor if you would take it on your journey, if it could be of help.” “I’d be much obliged,” replied Brother Brigham Young, “Thank you for your kind offer.” The plan was for Green to carry supplies on the trek, scout out the new settlement in the West, and then begin a homestead for the family, before sending the team and wagon back for them. This faithful Green did. In fact, as the Saints first entered the Salt Lake Valley, it was in Green Flake’s wagon that Brigham Young lay sick, before he raised up to exclaim, “This is the Right Place. Move on!” Years later, Brigham Young himself told this and more about his father James, to William who accompanied him as body guard on a trip to Southern Utah.
After a time, Agnes longed for one more baby. Of her six sons, she had lost four, and she felt that there was one more child to join their family. She begged James for a blessing of peace, comfort, and health. Then, when she had healed sufficiently, and felt her health return, another baby did join the family. And to her disbelief and great joy, it was a girl! Sarah James Flake, her darling little princess, who was hers to teach the womanly arts. And it was Sarah, along with Charles and William, who lived to adulthood.
The family did make the trek to Salt Lake in the summer of 1848, with James elected as a Captain of 100 wagons. The Saints depended on James for fresh meat—sometimes from the herds of buffalo along the route—and to take up the rear and watch over the slower of the pioneers. William’s job each day was to use a bull whip and throw the lash over the wagon covers to awaken everybody for the early start of the day’s journey. William turned 8 years old along the way and was baptized in the Elk Horn River by his father. When the family arrived, there was a log house Green had begun for them in the Cottonwood part of the valley. Here they were there among the Saints in peace, with the brethren at the head, and with the promise of another temple they would one day build.
One night, young Sarah had been sleeping in the wagon box on the ground, in camp outside the new house. She woke in the night and cried out that Liz had pinched her. Liz denied it and Sarah got settled down. Later it happened again, until Green told her he’d lay down close to the wagon box by her to make sure Liz didn’t pinch her. All went back to sleep until they awakened by another scream, this time from Green! He jumped up and chased away a coyote! In the morning, one shot from James’ gun and there was no more coyote!
James and Agnes’ family set up the household and life was good on the farm in Utah. It wasn’t the same as a tobacco plantation that had provided them such luxury before, but here they could worship as they wished, and grow with the Saints in their new faith. The hurts from the past had begun to heal and they settled down with their three children William, Charles, and Sarah, and of course Liz and Green, members of the family too.
It was a bright Sunday in May of 1849, and the Flakes were all dressed up in the best Sunday clothes they had, sitting in church. From the pulpit, Bishop announced new missionary assignments from the Brethren. Agnes held her breath, but yes, James was called. This time he was to go to California to scout out a place for the poor Saints who would come by water to the West Coast. Once again, James was to be a colonizer and a friend to the poor and needy, as his son William would also become.
Agnes encouraged James to go on this mission and do his duty, though it had been a shock for her. She felt like she should be used to James being away from her. But he had tenderly stayed back from the original treks West, to care for her and the babies. She had so loved his help and watchful care. How great it had been here in Utah at last to farm together. Agnes focused on enjoying every day that they spent together, working the farm. She knew there were poor Saints arriving on the West Coast that needed his expertise. She tried once again to put her trust in the Lord.
October came, and then, the day of her James’ departure. Just before he left for the barn, to saddle up Molasses, the mule he’d be taking (he’d left the best of the animals to help work the farm), James called over William. He was now almost 11. “William,” said his father, “I am counting on you, son. You are to be the man of the family for now. Watch over your mother and your brother and sister. You know how to farm, and the Lord will bless you while I am gone.” James said a tender good-bye to Charles and little Sarah, not quite 3. Then he pulled Agnes close. “Lady Agnes,” he whispered, “my lovely bride. How I love you. How good you are, and true.” Tears streamed down both of their faces. They had been through a lot together. He had had so many assignments to help the Saints with their trek. But this seemed different, so final. Their embrace was extra long, and extra sweet. At last, Agnes pulled away. She knew she must be strong, and send her darling on this mission.
Then, crickets came to Utah in the winter of 1849-50, hundreds and thousands of them in a big dark cloud. Agnes and her family along with everyone else, were out fighting the crickets, trying to save their little crop. If they lost it, they would starve. But James was gone, and 11-year old William in charge. He had everyone, Agnes, Charles, and Sarah, and Liz whacking at those crickets as hard as they could, while Green kept the awful smoky smudge pots burning. As she whacked at those crickets as hard as she could with her hoe, while more kept coming, some even crawling up her dress, she suddenly started to laugh! “Mother, are you all right?” asked Charles. She had thought back to how as a little girl, she had tried to pick up a hoe in the backyard. Father had been furious! No daughter of his would handle a hoe! And Agnes had been sent inside to sit with the ladies and learn needlework!
The saints fought and fought until the people were falling from exhaustion and yet the crickets seemed to be increasing. At this point, the Lord sent another miracle. “Although it was a bright day, a shadow fell over the fields, and a noise of wings came nearer; they wondered if it was a new calamity. They looked up and the sky was full of gulls. For a moment they stood in wonder. Then the birds lit right at their feet, paid no attention to the people, but began picking up the crickets. The people stood in awe, and witnessed the salvation of the Lord.” The tame seagulls “filled their craw, flew to the stream, drank and disgorged and went back to their work, and never quit until the fields were cleaned. Then they flew away.” Agnes and her kin dropped to her knees in gratitude for this wonderful miracle, and they knew the Lord was watching over them. Today there stands in Temple Square, a seagull monument, the only monument built to honor a bird.
During his trip out to California, James and his company had their own trials. When they passed through what would later be called Death Valley, both the men and the animals were without water for a long time. When they couldn’t go any further, they unsaddled the horses, and lay down on the sand, thinking they would soon die. One man, Brother Rich, knelt down and told the Lord of their desperate condition and how much they were depending on Him. After his prayer, he went back to the other men, aroused them, and told them help was in sight. “They looked up at the bright, clear sky. He told them to spread their canvas out prepared to catch water. They looked at him, and he pointed to the West. There they saw a small cloud, so small it could hardly be seen. It grew rapidly, and they had no more than made their preparation, than the rain fell, and they caught all the water they needed for themselves and their horses. They prepared a meal and went on their way rejoicing in the great blessing the Lord had showered down upon them. The cloud had quickly disappeared, and the sun beat down on them as before. Only a few rods from their camp, there was no evidence of the life-giving rain.” (Osmer, p. 14)
It was later on this trip that one of the men lost the cinch for his spirited horse. James gave the man his, as he thought this man needed it worse, and went without. But later, his own mule got spooked and James was thrown from it. He called out “Brethren, lay hands on me!” But these were his last words; he died of a broken neck. It was a terrible tragedy, and Agnes was left a widow at age 30, with her three remaining children to raise.
Word reached her three months later, as she lay sick with tuberculosis. Agnes was stunned and heartsick with this terrible blow. Yet the Spirit was once again there to comfort her. Agnes knew of the great reward to one who gave his life for his friend, and she took comfort in the greatness of her James. He had given his means and his whole life since joining the church to helping his fellow men. With time, she picked herself up and determined to endure.
With the memory of the struggle with crickets still fresh in her mind, and recovering slowly from her TB, Agnes decided to leave farming. A group of her friends—converts from Mississippi—were leaving to go settle in San Bernardino Valley, California. The weather was mild and the ocean air would be good for her lungs. So in 1851, Agnes and her children sold their farm and took yet another journey to California. It was another long, hard journey, this one across the desert. The family suffered greatly many times without water. Once when she stopped to have the wagon repaired, the family who had also stopped, who she had planned to travel with, gave up and turned back. But Agnes would not quit, and rushed to catch up with a group. Once when William was going for the hobbled mule, he was chased and nearly killed by a large pack of wolves. At first, he threw rocks at them, but soon there were so many that he couldn’t turn his back on them and had to back up to the mule, jump on it unhobbled, and race for camp. The other mule followed and would grab a wolf and throw it, then stomp or kick another.
Arriving near San Bernardino, going in on the purchase of lands took most of their means, but Agnes kept the wagon and mules to help make a living. At first the family lived in a fort with the other families. School for her kids was held under a sycamore tree. But her boys William and Charles set to making adobe bricks—in fact, their small adobe brick home was among the very first in the new community. Agnes was proud of her boys, and she made her kids a dried apple pie to celebrate! The house was great--except for the sand that blew in the cracks and drifted inches deep on the floor.
The Gold Rush brought many adventurous young men to the West Coast. Among them was one of Agnes’ brothers, Augustus. From Los Angeles, he heard of his sister being in San Bernardino, and came out to see her. He knew nothing of her since she had left Mississippi. At first, it had been a joyous reunion. “Gus!” she had exclaimed, so happy to see family again, and hear all the news. When he found that she was a widow and living in poverty, Gus begged her to return with him to the old home. They all had plantations of their own, and now that their parents had died, she could have all the land of their plantation, the home and all the slaves she needed to work it with. They would all be glad to welcome her back. She could live as a lady, raise her children as gentlemen and lady, give them all good educations, and never again know want or hunger or trouble. ‘All I ask of you,” he said, “is to give up Mormonism, and have nothing more to do with it.” For a small second Agnes remembered her old life, but then she looked Gus in the eye, ‘You don’t think you are asking much, do you?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘very little.’ She replied, ‘It’s more than my life’s blood. I would rather wear my nails off over my washtub to support my children, than to take them away from the Church, for I know it is true.’ He asked, ‘Agnes, is that your answer?’ ‘Yes’ she replied, and he turned and walked away a few steps then turned and said, ‘Agnes, if you ever change your mind, write me and I will come for you at once.’ She answered ‘Brother, you will never get that letter.’ She never saw nor heard from any of her kin people again.
Agnes rejoiced as faith and testimony grew in her children. She knew her own health was bad, however, and didn’t know how long she could live. So she found a good family, the Lyman’s, who promised to take in her kids if she were to die. And she wrote as much in her will. She felt at peace knowing they would be in good hands with this family, strong in the gospel.
If I had to live with sand blowing in my home, or scrub filthy clothes all day in scalding water, I am afraid that my thoughts may have wandered to all I had given up for the gospel. Think of it: she gave up her life of luxury, her beautiful clothes, her jewels, her servants. She had left her family, had lost four sons and her husband. She had lost her beauty and her health. But not Agnes—according to William’s account, she refused to complain. She did not murmur, but remained faithful and true to her convictions.
What had she gained instead? Agnes did not get her Happily Ever After in this life, but her riches were of the heavenly, eternal kind. When she died a year or so later, just 35 years old, her dying words to her children told them of her strong, treasured testimony of the restored Gospel. She would be a Queen forever, with her beloved James. She gave her all, so that her children would also have those lasting blessings. D & C 132:19 tells of thrones, kingdoms, principalities and powers, and dominions promised to those who receive their temple blessings, and a “continuation… forever”. Generations honor her, as they would a queen. And look what she has given them--Us, who now number in the thousands and 10’s of thousands. The same eternal blessings, world without end, of being Kings and Queens forever, are also ours if we are loyal to the royal within us.
Family Group Record of James Madison Flake and Agnes Haley Love.
Osmer D. Flake, William Jordan Flake: Pioneer, Colonizer. 1933.
Roberta Flake Clayton, To the Last Frontier: Autobiography of Lucy Hanna White Flake. 1923.
Illustrated Stories from Church History stories. Promised Land Publications. 1973.
The following information is from Find A Grave.com:
Agnes Haley Love Flake was the daughter of William "Billy" Love (1785-1838) and Agnes Haley Love (1795-1838). She married James Madison Flake (1815-1850) October 2, 1838, Anson County, North Carolina. She was the mother of:
William Jordan Flake (1839-1932)
Thomas Flake (1841-1844)
Charles Love Flake (1842-1864)
Richmond Flake (1842-1845)
Samuel Flake (1845-1847)
Frederick Flake (1846-1846)
Sarah James Flake Levie (1847-1910)
She arrived in San Bernardino, California, with the 1851 Mormon pioneers. Her husband had died on the way to California. Agnes arrived with her last three children, William, Charles and Sarah, and a black slave they named Elizabeth Flake. Agnes died in 1855 leaving the three children to "Lizzie" the oldest 16 to raise.
There is record that she is buried there but there is no record of a headstone. She was probably buried next to her freed slave and friend Lizzie. From the cemetery records "do not show anything for Agnes Haley Love Flake". Elizabeth Rowan is buried in block 3, lot 4, aisle 8, space 9N. Elizabeth appears to be in a family plot as all graves around her are Rowan's. There are what appear to be two empty graves at the beginning of this aisle"
Agnes and her husband James Madison Flake were born in North Carolina and grew up the wealthy Southern Plantation way and were wealthy plantation owners. They moved to Mississippi soon after 1840 where they stayed until about 1844 on a plantation. In 1844 Mormon missionaries came to their plantation and after some soul searching they joined the Mormon church and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois where the church headquarters were.
They immediately freed their slaves and gave them the option to continue to live with them. Nearly all the slaves chose to stay with James and Agnes and to continue to help them of their own free will and choice. One of them was a man named Green Flake who is identified as one of the first Black freed slaves in the Mormon church. According to history James was commanded by Joseph Smith to "'Break the shackles from the poor black man, and hire him to labor like other human beings, for an hour of virtuous liberty on earth is worth a whole eternity of human bondage."' All of his slaves he freed. Two of them had accepted the Gospel and been baptized into the Church by Elder Clapp—Allen and Green. Green Flake was a large, husky Negro who had been born on the old Carolina plantation. He refused to leave the family, as did Liz, who had been given when a child as a wedding present to Agnes by James' mother. Also wishing to go north with them was Edie, a young Negro mother of four."
In June 1844, Mormon founder and prophet Joseph Smith was murdered by mobs. The mobs continued to harass the Mormons and threaten them with death until they decided to move West under the direction of the new Prophet Brigham Young starting in 1846. They first moved to Winter Quarters, Nebraska where they stayed until ready to continue their journey West. Green Flake, the former slave, was the first Black man to enter the Salt Lake City, Utah Valley when he arrived there with Brigham Young acting as a servant. The Flakes eventually journeyed to Utah with the rest of the Mormons in 1848 by wagon train as exiles. James Madison Flake was appointed a captain and leader of one of the wagon trains that headed to the Salt Lake Valley and consisted of over 500 people.
They lived in the Salt Lake City Valley for two years. In 1850, Brigham Young asked James Madison Flake to be a part of colonizers of southern California. Along with Charles Coulsen Rich and George Q. Cannon, a noted leading early citizen of San Bernardino, he headed West in search of a suitable spot to colonize. According to historical accounts a miracle followed and I quote:
"On this trip they got into the country now known as Death Valley. When they had gone without water until neither man nor beast could go further, they unsaddled and lay down on the hot sand facing death. C. C. Rich went out behind a sand knoll and like George Washington at Valley Forge, knelt down and told the Lord of their condition and of their dependence on Him. His pleadings were not unheeded. He returned, roused the men and told them help was in sight. They looked up at a bright clear sky. He told them to spread their canvas out prepared to catch water. They looked at him, and he pointed to the West. There, they saw a small cloud, so small it could hardly be seen. It grew rapidly, and they had no more than made their preparation than the rain fell, and they caught all the water they needed for themselves and horses. They prepared a meal and went on their way rejoicing in the great blessing the lord had showered down upon them. The cloud had quickly disappeared, and the sun beat down on them as before. Only a few rods from their camp, there was no evidence of the life giving rain."
Not too long after that in 1850, while passing through the San Joaquin Valley, James Madison Flake was thrown from his mule and broke his neck. He soon passed away and was buried in a blanket beside the trail. When his wife Agnes learned what happened to James she took to her bed and did not recover for a long time.
Soon after San Bernardino was founded in 1850, Agnes moved to San Bernardino in 1851 with her three surviving children to the place her husband would have gone on to help settle and colonize had he survived. She lived as a widow in San Bernardino until her death on January 25, 1855.
As for her orphaned children, William Jordan Flake (1839-1932), moved back to Utah in the late 1850's as an orphan and was watched over by the Governor of Utah and Mormon President Brigham Young. In return William acted as Young's bodyguard for a time. He married in the 1858 in Utah and lived there for nearly 20 years before he went on to settle Arizona in the 1870s under the instruction of Brigham Young. William founded the town of Snowflake, Arizona (partially named after him and partially after a member of his church named Erastus Snow) in 1878. It is now a town of about 5,000 people. So just like his father, James Madison Flake, who was asked to settle San Bernardino (though he died before he completed that task due to a mule kick) and a broken neck, William was a pioneer.
James Madison Flake (1815 - 1850)
William Jordan Flake (1839 - 1932)
Samuel B. Flake (1845 - 1847)
Frederick Flake (1846 - 1846)
Inscription: No headstone
Burial: Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, San Bernardino, San Bernardino County, California, USA
Created by: Barbara LeClaire
Record added: Feb 19, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 105499870
Agnes Haley Flake's Timeline
November 6, 1819
Richmond County, North Carolina, USA
October 2, 1838
July 3, 1839
Smith Creek, Anson, North Carolina, USA
January 25, 1855
San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California, USA
San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California, USA