William J. Flake

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William J. Flake
William J. Flake.jpg
Born William Jordan Flake
(1839-07-03)July 3, 1839
North Carolina
Died August 10, 1932(1932-08-10) (aged 93)
Snowflake, Arizona

William Jordan Flake (July 3, 1839 – August 10, 1932)[1][2][3] was a prominent member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who helped settle parts of Arizona, and was imprisoned for polygamy.[4]

Life and career[edit]

Flake was born in North Carolina.[5] He eventually moved to Mississippi with his family, and in the early 1840s they became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Flake moved to Utah with his parents in 1849 by wagon train. In 1850, his father was killed while examining a colony site in California. His widowed mother took the family and became one of the earliest residents of San Bernardino.

In 1858, William Flake married Lucy Hannah White and a year later started a cattle ranch in Beaver, Utah. Flake was called by Church leaders to enter into a plural marriage. He asked his wife to consider the decision, and after much prayer and consideration, she agreed. William Flake and Prudence Kartchner were married in 1868.

In 1877, he was called by LDS Church President Brigham Young to start a settlement in the northern area of what was then the Arizona Territory.[6] William left with a wagon train and herds of cattle for the Little Colorado River region of Arizona and arrived in January 1878. Despite much hardship after spending 13 months on the trail and a winter living in stables and wagons, the settlement survived. In the fall of 1878, Erastus Snow, an LDS Apostle, visited and joined with Flake naming the town Snowflake: "Snow for me and Flake for you." Flake became a rancher and prominent cattleman, noted for his generosity and assistance to his neighbors.[citation needed]

In 1883, Flake was imprisoned in the Yuma Territorial Prison for a short time for unlawful plural marriage, a common charge used to prosecute LDS men under the Edmunds Act. After his release, he was asked which of his wives he was going to give up. He replied, "Neither. I married both in good faith and intended to support both of them." He had served his sentence and could not be retried on the same charges.[dubious ]

In 1959, Flake was posthumously nominated and then inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in the Hall of Great Westerners for his contributions as a colonizer and cattleman.[7]

William Jordan Flake was the father of 11 sons and nine daughters and lived to the age of 93, passing away on August 10, 1932 in Snowflake, Arizona.


When he died, the flag at the Arizona State Capitol was flown at half staff in honor of his contribution to the settlement of the state.

United States Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is his great - great grandson. Former Speaker of the Arizona House and later State Senator Jake Flake, was his great grandson and Jeff's uncle.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crawford Genealogy ... Press of the J. W. Burke Company. 1936. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Arizona Cattlelog. Arizona Cattle Growers' Association. 1949. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Catherine H. Ellis (2008). Snowflake. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 107–. ISBN 978-0-7385-4838-8. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Active Interest Media, Inc. (1997-11 - 1997-12). American Cowboy. Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 89–. ISSN 1079-3690. Retrieved 12 August 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Crawford Genealogy ... Press of the J. W. Burke Company. 1936. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Mary Jo Churchwell (1 January 2007). Arizona: No Ordinary Journey. Ironwood Editions. pp. 166–. ISBN 978-0-9713016-1-0. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  7. ^ http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org/info/awards-hof/Great-Westerners.aspx

Further reading[edit]