Feb. 2019 History Question of the Month

Feb. 2019 History Question of the Month
Posted on 02/01/2019

QUESTION:

What early Cottonwood Heights resident was a member of the “Vanguard” company of pioneers led by Brigham Young that entered the Salt Lake Valley in July of 1847?

 

ANSWER

 

As a 6-year old slave, Green Flake lived with the Flake family as they converted to the LDS Church during the winter of 1843-44. Green Flake was also baptized and when the LDS pioneers moved west, he was part of the “Vanguard” mule company that carried Brigham Young on the westward trek. 

Flake was part of the first advance team wagons to enter the Salt Lake Valley on July 22, 1847.  He helped to settle the valley and bring more church members to the area over the next few years.

When his owners moved to California, Green Flake was “left” to Brigham Young as payment for back tithing. He worked for both Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball until 1854, when Young negotiated Green’s freedom. All of the other slaves owned by church members were also freed shortly after.

Green settled in Union and purchased 20 acres of land located on what is now the southeast corner of 1300 East and Fort Union Boulevard.

Green Flake was a faithful active member of the LDS Church, working as a farmer and miner. He was well liked by everyone and was considered the de facto leader of the local black community. He had a beautiful singing voice and was also a popular speaker at Pioneer Day celebrations. 

Green’s wife, Martha, died on Jan. 20, 1885, and he remained in Union until about 1896 when he went to Idaho to live with his son.  In 1897, he received a special invitation to the 50-Year Pioneer Celebration. He returned to Salt Lake City for the celebration, one of just a handful of the Vanguard Company still alive.  He received a special certificate, which he proudly displayed in his home. Green Flake died on Oct. 20, 1903.  His body was returned to Utah where it was buried in the Union Pioneer Cemetery.