Question: Was Green Flake one of the slaves of African descent who went to Utah in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?
Answer: Green Flake was born into slavery on the Jordan Flake plantation in Anson County, North Carolina, on January 6, 1828. Ten years later, Jordan Flake gave Green to his son James Madison Flake and his bride, Agnes Love, as a wedding gift. James moved his family and their slaves to Mississippi, where the Flake family met Benjamin Clapp, a Mormon missionary who taught them the gospel. The Flake family were converted and baptized. On April 7, 1844, Green Flake and another slave of the Flakes were baptized by Elder John Brown, in the Mississippi River.
Shortly after being baptized, the Flake family left Mississippi to join other Church members in Nauvoo. After being driven out of Nauvoo, the Saints moved to Winter Quarters. Green traveled with the Flake family as they left Nauvoo and settled at Winter Quarters.
James Flake then send Green with a carriage and a team of white mules west with Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in April 1847. Green was in the 14th Ten in the Company. His carriage is believed to be the one that carried an ill Brigham Young into the Valley. He had assigned Green Flake to be his driver for the trip. Green Flake and two other slaves, Oscar Crosby and Hark Lay Wales, were part of the Company.
Once in Utah, Green built a log cabin and planted crops in the area known now as Cottonwood in preparation for the arrival of his owners, the Flake family, who arrived in October 1848. Around 1848, Green married another slave, Martha Crosby, and together they had two children. Martha was a slave of John Brown and Elizabeth Crosby Brown, newly arrived in the Cottonwood area.
Agnes Flake moved to California after her husband, James, passed away. Some accounts state that before she moved, she gave Green Flake to the Church as a form of tithing, while others claim that she merely allowed him to remain behind. All accounts say that Green Flake was later freed by Church leaders, which is reflected in the 1860 U.S. census.
In his later years, members of the Church celebrated Green for his contributions to the Church. At the Utah Semicentennial Pioneer Jubilee in 1897, Green was given a commemorative pin in recognition for his pioneering efforts.
Green remained in the area as a devout Latter-day Saint for many years. He moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, in 1888, and lived there until his death on October 20, 1903, at age 75. His body was sent to Salt Lake City, where he was buried next to his wife in the Union Cemetery in Cottonwood Heights, Salt Lake, Utah. Green helped carve his gravestone and had the words, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,’ put on the stone. He said he intended for the words to inspire his children as they had inspired him.