James Madison Flake and Agnes Haily Love--from Anson County to Mormon territory

These parties were born June 22, 1815, and Nov. 6, 1819, the first in Anson County and the second in the adjoining county of Richmond, N.C. Agnes Haily (Hailey) Love was the daughter of William (Billie) Love, who was the son of John Love and Mollie (Mary) Crawford, his wife, and Mollie Crawford was a daughter of Thomas Crawford and a sister to Maston Crawford, William Crawford, Patsy Crawford, and Nancy Crawford.

In the year of 1838, they were united in matrimony and in 1842, before it was given, they started out to follow Horace Greeley’s advice: "Go West! Young man, go West." With an old time "Prairie Schooner" which carried all their earthly possessions of provision and household goods, with three small children, two slaves, a twenty year old negro man and a ten year old negro girl, given them by the parents of the wife, with two mares and a horse as a motive power, they set out on the journey with Kemper County, Mississippi, as the destination. There he became the owner of a good farm, salted his own private hunting ground for deer, fed the wild turkey and was thus enabled to go out any morning and quickly secure all the meat wanted. James Madison Flake loved the chase and kept on this plantation a fine pack of hounds and two well trained dogs. The hounds would chase the deer until he shot it, when they would stop and the large dog which always stayed at his side would then go after the deer, while the smaller was trained to follow behind and pick up anything that was left or dropped. His hogs ran in the woods, fed upon the acorn, and furnished him all of the pork and lard that was wanted. Thus the young married life of this pair was being spent in happiness and ideal pleasure.

At length there came into that community an Elder, sometimes termed a Missionary, preaching a new Gospel. This Elder accepted the Bible from Alpha to Omega but he had an additional message that was handed down to the Prophet Joseph Smith by Moroni of old. James Madison Flake and Agnes Haily (Hailey) Love, his wife, accepted the teachings of the Latter-Day Saints and notwithstanding its unpopularity, they became members of that denomination and were called "Mormons" because of their acceptance of the book of Moroni. The prejudice and persecution that ever raises its bigoted head when any intellect successfully advances any new religious thought contrary to the concepts that impregnate any community was unusually strong in this community, against this new religion, but their loyalty to their honest opinions in matters of this character overweighed the life of pleasure and ease they were dropping into, and they forsook all to live the Gospel as was taught by the Apostles of old. In 1844 James Madison Flake went to Nauvoo and there met the Prophet Joseph Smith fifteen days before he was murdered, and he received a Patriarchal Blessing under the hands of Hyrum Smith. He took his family and went to live at Nauvoo, Ill., in order to be with people who now believed as he did. There this family and others suffered a persecution such as had never been known before on the American Continent. They were robbed of most all they had and eventually were driven from their beloved city of Nauvoo, and in the dead of winter again began their journey westward, crossing the Mississippi river on ice. Through a united effort of all, they were able to make the way by slow stages, to where is now, Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they went into winter quarters. There they lived in a "dug-out" during the winter of 1846-47. When the first train of pioneers started there for the West and settled in Utah, their negro slave, Green, was sent with a team of mules and wagon to help others across the continent, while James Madison flake was left behind to help make preparations for the big companies to follow. In the spring of 1847, he planted a crop at Council Bluffs and built a log house to live in during the winter following. Green, having returned with his team and wagon, in the spring of 1848, James Madison Flake again bundled his family into a wagon and started on the long stretch across the plains with many others. They were all organized into different companies and James Madison Flake was made a captain of 100 wagons in Amsa Lyman’s company. It would make this article too long to attempt to describe the trip, tell of the trials and the hardships they passed through, but they buried three of their six children on the plains, which fact itself tells a long story in a few words, and reached the valley of Salt Lake in the fall of 1848, Green had preceded them and had built a log hut in which they then lived. In the summer of 1848, James Madison Flake was sent with an exploring party to California to find and fit out a place of settlement for the Saints who came by water to the West coast. His party passed through the valley that in later years gained the name of "Death Valley" because of the many emigrants that died of thirst when attempting to cross it. These came near meeting the same fate, as when they had gone as far as it seemed possible to go without water, they stopped and lay down on the dry parched ground. Like Washington at Valley Forge, the leader of the party went off to one side to pray, and when he returned he told them help was coming. They looked to see from where, but the only thing visible was a small cloud rising from the west, and this in a few minutes passed over them and fell into rain. This rain saved their lives and they went on their journey in rejoicing of their faith in the Deity. A few days later James Madison Flake took the "cinch" from his saddle to loan to a companion who was riding a fractious horse and he put a circingle around his saddle. A short time thereafter his mule became scared at a rope lying across the road, gave a jump which broke the circingle and threw saddle and rider to the ground, from which fall, this ancestor in his youth, passed on to the other world. There he was buried and the mules brought back to his young widow. Most of the Southern people with whom she had lived and traveled made preparations to go to California, and in 1851, with her three small children, she again faced a hard and long journey across the vast desert and went to California. She made her own living, helped to buy the San Bernardino Ranch and built the first house built by Americans in Southern California. The children made the adobe while a neighbor laid them up, having the boys work for him in return.

A wealthy brother, learning of her widowhood, asked that she return to North Carolina, promising that she nor her children should never want for anything, if she would only leave the "Mormon" people alone. She replied that she knew the Gospel was true and that she had rather wash for a living than to leave the people whom she knew were right in thought as to religion. She remained loyal to the teaching of the Latter-Day Saints and died in that faith. She was a delicate woman and the pioneer life was too much for her. She soon failed and when death was near, she refused to allow any one to sit up with her. Liz, her negro girl, slept by the side of her bed and kept watch over her, waking up with a word when anything was wanted. One night, realizing the end was near, she told Liz to bring to her all the children. This done, Liz was sent for a neighbor and while gone the children were given their last instruction. The friend was told what to do with the children and then turning to the eldest of her three children she said: "William! You are the oldest and I will hold you responsible for the example you set before the younger ones." She then kissed each one good-bye and lay back on her pillow. Her soul had gone to meet her life’s companion, leaving these three orphans, the oldest fifteen years, in a new country, and two thousand miles from the nearest kin, with no railroads intervening.

Osmer D. Flake

Source: Smith Family Tree Book by Osmer D. Flake 1922

Transcribed for this website by: Belinda Sellers Guerette

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