Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jay M Richardson Life Story

Jay M Richardson
Sep 18, 1931 - May 30, 2011

    Jay M Richardson was born Sep 18, 1931 in Virden, New Mexico to Ray and Verna Richardson. He was the 7th of 9 children and would comment that he had 3 twin brothers, which would confuse people, but in truth he did. He was the youngest of the second set of twin boys in the family. His twin brother’s name is Jorth, and Jorth and Jay’s father said that at the time they were born, he believed that twins had to share genes and so they were really only half a person and must be with their twin to be a complete person. Jay’s father learned that this, of course wasn’t true, but Jay loved his twin brother Jorth, and always felt more complete, confident and whole when with him.
    Jay and Jorth were playmates and the best of friends growing up, and by all accounts had happy childhoods living on a farm in Western New Mexico.  Jay was described as an obedient, cheerful child. He was a hard worker and could be counted on to do what he was assigned to do on the farm. His brother Bernard said that Jay always hoed the cleanest row, built the strongest fence, and marked off the straightest row. As Jorth described it, on the Richardson farm, they worked, but they enjoyed the work and enjoyed accomplishing things. Jay developed his life-long strong work ethic from those days on the farm.
    Jay recounts being accident-prone as a boy. He had several instances of being run over by wagons and even almost trampled by runaway horses. Serious harm could have come in any of these instances, but he and his mother both had a strong testimony that he was protected and preserved to fulfill a greater calling.
    Jay and his brothers certainly played a lot, too, and he recounts stories of great fun, fishing and swimming in water holes. They played together in the Richardson home and enjoyed one another. The Richardson boys in particular had a lot of fun playing basketball, the main sport they had there in Virden. Jay recounted several times how much he enjoyed playing with his brothers, as well as the particular thrill of listening on the radio as his older brothers took their small high school team all the way to the state championship. Later, Jay also played on the high school team and helped the team win several tournaments. Later in life, Jay still had 3-point range and could, on a dime, sink several free throws in a row. He also liked to show off his amazing left hookshot.
    There was music in Jay’s home growing up. His mother brought music and refinement into the home and helped Jay develop his musical talents. He sang a strong baritone and harmonized beautifully with his brothers. He valued music throughout his life and sang in countless ward and stake choirs and encouraged his family to develop their musical talents.
    Jay graduated from high school, valedictorian of his class, and received a scholarship to attend New Mexico Western College in Silver City, New Mexico. While in college, he recounts an episode of severe illness. He was able to receive a blessing from Spencer W. Kimball, who had been his stake president growing up and was now an apostle. That blessing restored him to health and was an important event to him. His testimony was strengthened by an apostle’s loving act of service. Jay’s mother noticed that Jay was a natural teacher and encouraged him to become a high school science teacher. He graduated from college, ready to become a teacher but this was the time of the Korean War and he was obligated to serve a 2-year tour in the army. He spent his time in Texas, and by virtue of his college degree, was assigned to serve as a dental assistant. He found he had an interest and capacity for dentistry and desired to go to dental school someday.
    His army service complete and the government’s quota system satisfied, he was allowed to serve a mission. Jay was called to the Western States Mission, headquartered in Denver, Colorado. He had a special responsibility to work with and teach the Jewish people and also served as a Supervising Elder and Traveling Elder.
    After his mission, preparing to go to Dental School, Jay attended a dance at Mezona Dance Hall in Mesa. He noticed a pretty dark-haired girl wearing a maroon plaid dress. Jay was shy, but he mustered enough courage to ask Lavona to dance and they discovered they were both twins. They dated through the summer and he sorrowed when he left in the fall to attend Northwestern Dental School in Chicago. He soon called up Lavona on a pay phone to propose to her. The proposal was interrupted several times by the phone asking for more money, but the point was made. They were married December 22, 1959 in the Mesa Arizona Temple and started their married life in Chicago. As he attended dental school, they started a family with three daughters, Miriam, Marlene and Rauna.
    After finishing dental school, they moved to Lewisburg, PA for a year where Jay worked at the state penitentiary providing dental care for inmates there. They were glad to move back to Arizona and settled in Tempe, where Jay started a dental practice in Phoenix, moving it soon to a building he built on Southern Avenue in Tempe. The family continued to grow. Joann was born, making four girls in a row, followed by four boys in a row, Vernon, Ray, Kenneth and Donald. Donald, however, arrived earlier than expected and his lungs weren’t mature enough to survive. He died a few hours later. They were devastated and had a strong feeling that the family just wasn’t complete. They began to investigate adoption options and were thrilled to adopt a baby boy, Dale. Dale, however, was born with a diaphragmatic hernia and digestive problems. Despite round the clock feedings, he couldn’t eat, gain weight or grow and passed away only a few months old.
    The passing of these two baby boys was a pivotal event for Jay and Lavona and their family. Their sorrow was eased by the knowledge that if they all lived righteously and worthy, they could be with these two boys again someday. This solidified the family goal: Each one live to be worthy to be an eternal family, together again with their brothers someday.
    A few months after Dale’s death, they rejoiced when they soon had an opportunity to adopt a baby girl, Margie. Just 18 days later, Margie’s “almost twin,” Melvin, was born. The family was complete with the adoption of Dean and Amy.
    Jay would occasionally comment that he married a little late in life and that was the reason he never had much of a family. He did okay. Jay and Lavona had 13 children, and, at last count, 64 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Occasionally people would marvel at the size of the family, and Dad would just nod his head and with a twinkle in his eye, comment, “It’s a good start.” His family has been the primary focus of his life and he was a devoted husband and father through 51 years of marriage. 
    He loved Lavona and was completely dedicated and committed to her. He marveled at her abilities, her energy and her devotion. He made sure his children respected her, and he supported her and loved her. They enjoyed in particular spending time together serving missions together later in life and they truly loved being together.
    He also loved his children; he cherished them, spoiled them, and made one each feel important. He encouraged each one to excel in life, to set goals and work hard. Jay’s great legacy is his family. Jay particularly loved babies and rejoiced with each new baby and grandbaby born. He delighted to hold them and welcome them to the family. As his own children grew and they started having families of their own, Jay loved to go visit them. He logged countless miles making overnight drives up to Provo, Utah to see his children going to BYU there and to see his grandbabies. Later, Lavona worked for America West Airlines, giving them the ability to fly space available. They could fly just about anywhere around the world, but he really just used the privilege to visit his children and grandchildren scattered across the country, to see and play with his newest grandbaby and spend time with his family.
    Jay was an accomplished dentist and was in practice for 40 years. He was skilled at his profession and was able to provide for his family through his work, but he saw a higher purpose in dentistry. He truly wanted to help other people. He delighted in improving a patient’s smile and in effect helping them have better self-esteem. He took many courses over the years to train in orthodontics as a way to improve smiles and help people brighten up. He was able to help many people through dentistry and touch the lives of his patients and the office staff he worked with for those many years. He provided free or near-free care for literally hundreds of patients, especially missionaries and family members, and did great good through his dental service.
    Jay was soft-spoken and quiet. He did have a subtle and gentle sense of humor that would reveal itself at the perfect moment, but in general was soft-spoken. He was never heard to raise his voice in anger and never seen to lose control.
    But though he was quiet, he found his voice in some way through his poetry. He started writing poetry in sixth grade and continued throughout his life. He discovered that through poetry, he could teach lessons and express his life’s sermons. He was a high councilor for many years and wrote a new poem for most of his monthly talks to emphasize the theme of the talk. He also wrote new poems each year for Christmas cards to send to friends and wrote poems as well to mark family events and milestones, as well as poems written personally to his children. Some favorite poems include “Marry Well,” “Burning Desire,” and “Be Clean.” Several of these poems were set to music and recorded professionally, in particular “Mary, Sweet Mary.” Many of his poems set to music were collected together for an Easter Cantata that was performed on the grounds of the Arizona Temple.
    He was an educated man. He was well-read, and made himself into a polished speaker and writer. He edited several books, as well as countless high school essays and whatnot for his kids. He knew how to phrase things just right. There also seemed to be no math question beyond his ability, no science concept beyond his grasp, and he could explain them with clarity. He valued higher education and strongly encouraged his children to do well in school and go on to college and advanced degrees.
    Jay was active and faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout his life and had a strong testimony of the gospel. He had many church callings over the years including service as a branch president, as a counselor in several bishoprics, on the stake high council and as stake mission president. His favorite calling was as a gospel doctrine teacher in the Tempe Fourth Ward and he thoroughly enjoyed studying and preparing for his lessons each week. He gladly served wherever called, but loved to teach, just as his mother had noticed many years earlier.
    Just a few weeks after retiring from dentistry, Jay and Lavona went on a church mission to the Indonesia Jakarta Mission. They served a glorious mission. He taught at the dental school there and they were very active in the church’s Humanitarian activities such as distributing wheelchairs to young children who could not walk, sponsoring clean water projects for villages in rural Indonesia and serving in leadership callings in the small Mormon branch in Bogor. They did wonderful service there and changed people’s lives.
    They had been home only 2 or 3 months when he felt the need to serve another mission as soon as possible. He was asked why he didn’t stay home for a while and enjoy retirement and he said he just felt an urgent need to serve again, particularly because the need for senior missionaries was so great. He and Lavona soon left for the Nauvoo Illinois Mission and served another glorious mission, doing much good there. He particularly enjoyed serving, living at and giving tours at the Carthage Jail. He also enjoyed working at the Nauvoo Temple.
    Jay spent the last few years of his life struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and some other medical problems. Even as he lost his ability to talk and express himself, he remained gentle and kind, soft-mannered and loving. He was grateful to all those who came into his home to give him assistance and care. With his family gathered around him, he peacefully passed away at home on Memorial Day, May 30, 2011.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lessons from Irene Stratton Flake

By Lavona Flake Richardson

    My Mother had a strong testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In our home we were taught to say our prayers, to attend our church meetings, to pay our tithing, to obey our church leaders, etc.  We were taught the importance of temple and missionary work.  I remember Mother always giving service wherever she was called to help build up His kingdom here on the earth.  She was a support to Daddy while he served as Bishop of the Snowflake ward.  In those days the members came to our home to pay their tithing, receive counsel from the Bishop, etc.  Mother would hand write out the tithing receipts from the big Bishop’s roll top desk in our dining room.  We were taught that we were the Bishop’s family so we needed to set a good example to others.  We were taught the importance of living the teachings of Christ through example and family home nights.  We were taught that right was right and wrong was wrong as simple as black and white, there were no gray areas.  You either lived the gospel or you didn’t.
    My mother always taught us to be dependable.  If we told someone that we would do something we were taught to follow through with our commitments.  I never remember my mother not doing something that she told someone that she would do or be where she told them she would be.  No matter how busy mother was we could always depend on her writing to us a newsy family letter each week when we were away from home at college, missions, or wherever.
    We never had any doubt that Mother and Daddy loved each other.  Mother would make special effort to go on trips with Daddy, to fix special meals for him when he had stomach problems, to be his ears when he didn’t hear and to be his scribe, and to just be together.  As children we always knew that they needed time together in their room to pray together, make decisions and plan family events.  Daddy allays came first in her life.  Those many years that Mother was here without Daddy she kept his memories alive by continually talking about him.  She would encourage us to spend time with our eternal companions and to put them first in our lives.  Whenever I would go on a trip her first question would be if Jay was going too.  If we were doing it together it was okay.
    I don’t remember lots of family trips but I do remember time spent together working on the farm. I remember cookouts on the hill, or performing in the “family lodge”.  I remember Mother enjoying playing the encyclopedia game with us.  I remember family prayers every morning and family nights as we called them.  Mother was always very interested in our activities and I enjoyed coming home and reporting to hr what I had been doing.  Mother spent time making Book of Remembrances for each one of her children which made us feel special and know who we are.  I have so many fond memories of Mother coming to Chicago to help me when Miriam was born and then helping as each baby arrived. She was always there when I have needed her.  One of the things that I miss most now is the opportunity to report in and let us know of my activities.  This was a big motivation for me thought out my life to be able to do good things to report to my Mother. Mother was always interested in all of our activities sand this has continued through our children and grandchildren and their activities.  I remember the “Queen or King for the Day” programs that she and Daddy started that helped us learn how special we were to them and our Heavenly Father.  Christmas and Thanksgiving were big holidays in my growing up years.  I remember the races to the tree that have been carried down to our children and grandchildren.  I remember the big Thanksgiving dinners.  Mother was as good cook.  She made great rolls, pies, carrot pudding, cinnamon rolls, etc.  Mother was interested in each one of us.  Even with her huge posterity she made each one of us feel that we were important to her.  At age 95 when we spent time in her home our conversation was always about each one of her children and grandchildren and their activities.  She knew each one of them personally.  At the time of her death she could list by name all of her 59 grandchildren, 133 great and 6 great great grandchildren.
   My mother had the same love for everyone she met--relatives, neighbors, our missionary contacts, temple workers, book customers, etc.  Mother liked people and was interested in all of her many friends activities.  She seemed to know everyone and their special interests and while visiting with them would ask about their activities.  I could ask her about anyone and she could tell me how they were related, their special interests, etc.  For year, Mother would write the Snowflake News for the Holbrook Tribune.  She also would have people drop off and pick up their cleaning at our home. We all liked to be in her home and to feel of her love.  Mother helped give parties to lots of servicemen home on furlough during the World War II when Daddy was Bishop.  Mother also loved being a temple worker.  She enjoyed her association with the other temple workers.  She especially enjoyed working with the new brides and helping them feel special as they were married for eternity.  She enjoyed helping me with my temple marriage and then helping my children as they went to the temple to be married.
    My mother was always a hard worker.  She would get up early and work hard to make a good life for her family.  She always kept a clean, well kept home.  I remember how hard Mother worked mopping floors, cleaning house, making bread and cinnamon rolls, making soap, churning butter, washing clothes she washed in a wringer washer and hung on the clothes lines to dry with all of the towels hung together, etc.  Mother was always busy.  She taught us that anything worth doing was worthy doing well and we were taught always to do our best.  We were also taught to be resourceful.  Mother would bottle beef that Daddy had butchered, fruit in season, and sweet corn or anything that through her work would add to our year’s supply.  We were taught to learn to sew, can, clean and keep a nice home.  We were taught to “Wear it Out, Make it do, or Do Without” and that there was no excuse for not having a clean home.
    My mother taught us through example to always be truthful and honest in our dealings with others.  She taught us not to gossip and we were never permitted to say anything bad about any of our leaders. We were taught to respect our teachers and all the adults that we were in contact with.  We were taught to respect our church buildings and were never allowed to cut across the lawn at church.
    Mother had a keen mind.  Just a month before she died at age 95 she was naming off the presidents of the church, saying the Articles of Faith, etc.  In our homes we always had lots of good books and music.  Mother taught us that a good education was important and encouraged us to learn all we could.  She taught us that education is a privilege and to thank our teachers and those they were helping us at school and church.  Mother liked the nice things I life.  She liked nice china, and nice things in her home.  She liked jewelry and liked to look nice even when she was at home.  Mother liked music.  She learned to play the organ and just weeks before her death played her favorite, “When It’s Spring Time in the Rockies” on the piano for us.  Mother liked to sell church books so that we would have good books available in our home. One of the first things I would do after returning home from college or wherever I had been to see what new books Mother was selling.  She also scheduled the movies for the “ward show house” where we saw movies on Wednesday and Saturday nights.  She wanted to be sure that we had uplifting movies to watch.
    We grew up listening to Daddy’s missionary experience in our Home Nights.  Mother and Daddy also helped instill in us t he desire to be missionaries.  They were always happy that every one of their children served an honorable mission and came to our mission field when each of the seven of us completed our church mission.  When Leona and I received our mission call I didn’t know how they could support three missionaries in the field because Nena was already serving her mission.  Mother and Daddy told us to accept the call and give it our best and the Lord would bless us.  When we returned home they bore testimony that they never lacked for money to send to their missionaries and that the Lord did provide. While we were serving there was plenty of money but upon returning home it was no longer there.  They also enjoyed a sort mission together in Mexico while Garry was on his mission.
    The list of lessons my mother taught me could go on and on.  I feel so blessed to have been taught by her and hope that my children and grandchildren will know the legacy that is theirs.  Most of all she taught me that Heavenly Father loves me and that she loved me.  She taught me that to be happy I needed to live the teachings of Jesus Christ.  She taught all of us, her children, to be obedient to church leaders, to love the Lord and always strive to give service.  One of the biggest motivations I have had throughout my life was to live in such a way that when I reported in to my Mother she would be proud of me.  My prayer is that I, and my posterity, can always give good reports to those that have passed on and wait our arrival in our Eternal Home.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What Kind Of A Man Am I?

                       WHAT KIND OF A MAN AM I?

What kind of a man am I when I am in Rome,
Gone away on business, many miles from home?

When I’m waiting for the plane, or wandering in the store,
With time to kill, nothing to do, what’s my mind used for?

When there is an evening free and no demands at all,
Am I one to behave, and go home standing tall?

When the family’s all in bed and the house is still,
What are my thoughts and wants and acts? Are they my Father’s will?

When temptations come along in myriads of ways,
What’s my answer, my response, to what the tempter says?

What kind of a man am I when I’m all alone—
Can I proudly tell my family everything I’ve done?

True, deeds and pious speeches in the public eye
Can make me seem a righteous man—but really what am I?

Lord, I can make a show of faith and righteousness at home,
But the kind of man I really am is when I’m free to roam.

If I can pass this certain test and hold my head up high,
What rewards there are in store both now and by and by—

Now, as sons can point with pride and say they’ll follow me;
And later when God calls me up with Him eternally.

Oh, may I be one who’d be proud if all my deeds were known—
A genuinely Christian man in public, and alone.

                                                   -- Jay M. Richardson

Three Short Family History Stories

by Miriam Beck

1.  Edmund and Mary Ann Richardson were asked by Brigham Young to settle in Manti.  Crops had been eaten by grasshoppers.  One day Walter Cox (friend) was so hungry and saw a new weed growing.  He tasted it and it tasted good!  He knew it must be an answer to their prayers to feed the people of Manti.  What did they call it?  "Manna Weed."  Everyone in town carefully picked this manna weed every day and by the next day there was just enough more that had grown.  In the spring the weed was gone.  It was no more needed.  It was the miracle of the manna weed.

2.  In the winter of 1859, there was a heavy snowstorm--18 inches!  William Jordan Flake couldn't find his oxen.  He'd been looking for 10 days and couldn't find them.  He saw a man who pointed toward a hill and said he'd find them in a clump of trees.  He thanked him and started along the back tracks from which the man had come, but to his surprise there were no tracks beyond where he first saw the man!  Also the man disappeared and he realized he had seen one of the three Nephites!   He walked on, soon found his oxen, and returned to camp. 

3. Green Flake was an African American and was a member of he advance pioneer company who first arrived in Salt Lake City.  He was given as a gift (as a slave) to James Madison and Agnes Flake when he was 10 years old. The James Flake family got baptized in North Carolina and moved to Nauvoo with the Flake family when they joined the Mormon church.  He was baptized in the Mississippi river in 1844.  From the memory of a grandson and from family diaries, it is believed that Green drove the carriage that Brigham Young rode in when he entered the Salt Lake Valley.  (see  He is one of 3 blacks immortalized on the back of the Brigham Young monument in Salt Lake City.

Marry Well

                             MARRY WELL

The time has come, in life’s short span, that it seems appropriate
For your old Dad, imperfect still, to tell you, “what is what.”

Now this I know, that much advice is cheap—and lightly taken,
But may I beg of you just once—let not this be forsaken.

For heeding this may mean for you a life like in heaven--not hell—
Both here, and in eternity!  So hear this:   “Marry Well”.

Now I don’t mean that “he” must be all handsome, rich, and smart—
But, please, just choose a man who loves the Lord with all his heart!

Be sure to know “him” long enough to see how he will be
When things don’t go just his way—will he act angrily?

How will he treat his mom and dad? And will he keep his word?
Will he honor his priesthood calls—his covenants with the Lord?

Dear girls, till now you’ve lived good lives—there’s lots of credit due!
Decisions you have made thus far have made us proud of you!

But hear this—of all the choices in this world that tongue can tell—
The greatest in eternity is this—to Marry Well.                           

                                                                        --Jay M. Richardson

James Madison Flake Life Story

by Lavona Flake Richardson

      James Madison Flake and his wife, Agnes Haley Love, great great grandparents of Lavona Flake Richardson, came to Nauvoo from Kemper County, Mississippi, where they heard the Gospel from a Mormon missionary. Elder Benjamin L. Clapp called at their home carrying a Bible and another volume of scripture, which he said had been translated from an angel. Although skeptical of his claims and wary because of evil rumors that had preceded him in the community, their interest was kindled when he explained that he preached the very same gospel taught by Christ and his apostles. Carefully and prayerfully, the Flakes investigated.
      Proselyting had been going forward in the eastern section of Mississippi since 1839, with several small branches of the Church in neighboring counties. As membership increased, so did opposition. Just the year before, a company of between eighty and ninety Latter-day Saints had emigrated to Nauvoo because of persecution. The mere fact that the Flakes had opened their door to a missionary brought threats from relatives and neighbors. But this did not dissuade James and Agnes from continuing their investigation of Mormonism.
     After several weeks they became convinced that they had found the true Church of Jesus Christ. They were baptized during that winter of 1843-44, along with a few others. All were ridiculed and defamed because of it. A branch was organized, having the picturesque name, Running Water Branch.
     Elder Clapp returned to Kemper County in the early spring, bringing with him another missionary, John Brown, of Tennessee. In a meeting of the Running Water Branch on April 7th, James Flake was ordained to the office of elder, the certificate stating that he had been ordained “according to the rules and regulations of said Church, and is duly authorized to preach the Gospel, agreeable to the authority of that office.” He therefore became the first of hundreds of “Elder Flakes” who have carried the gospel message to the world.
      James did not take his duty lightly. When the missionaries returned the following month to hold meetings and a baptismal service, Elder Flake had two converts ready for baptism, which ordinance he performed. He afterward accompanied the missionaries on some of their travels, representing his branch at a conference held in Cispy, Alabama. John Brown was clerk of the conference and recorded in the minutes that Elder Flake’s branch consisted of “fifteen members, one elder, all in good standing.”
     James’ constant activity in the Church brought condemnation and wrath from his associates in Kemper County until he at last sadly realized that he and his family could no longer live there in peace and happiness. They were relative newcomers to that frontier region, having emigrated from North Carolina three years earlier. James’ grandfather, Samuel Flake, believed to be of Scottish-Irish descent, arrived in America sometime before 1720. He and a brother Henry landed in New York, where Henry settled. Samuel went on south to the Carolina country, as that English territory was called before its division about 1729 into separate royal provinces of North and South Carolina.
     Samuel located in Anson County, North Carolina, in a town that carried the name of one of its inhabitants, Lilesville. County records show that Samuel Flake purchased several large tracts of land, with deeds dated in 1763 and 1769. These tracts he developed into productive plantations with an ample number of Negro slaves to work them. His brother, Henry, visited him there on one occasion.
     Samuel and his wife, Sallie Alcy (Harris), had a large family, the third child being Jordan, father of James Madison. When James was twenty-six, he decided he wanted to leave the old family plantation and make a place for himself on the frontier. Taking his wife, Agnes, their young son, William Jordan, and two slaves, he left North Carolina in a prairie schooner with a team of horses and two mules. They passed through the borders of Georgia and Tennessee, crossed Alabama and entered the beautiful pine covered state of Mississippi, where they traveled along the eastern border until they came to Kemper County. It was a land of undulating wooded hills and ridges that overlooked vast valleys of evergreen forests. The Flakes liked what they saw. Everywhere was thick grass, red soil and a profuse array of flowering shrubs—white-blossomed persimmon, delicate pink and white dogwood, and waxy leafed magnolia, fragrant and colorful.
     They followed the meandering Sauchaarnooche Creek westward until they came upon a smaller stream which the Indians had names Ptictfaw. There, amid towering pines and red oaks, James secured land for a plantation. Crops were planted, buildings constructed, a drove of wild hogs was put to run in the surrounding woods where acorn was plentiful. The forests abounded in deer and wild turkey, which James found pleasure in hunting with the aid of a pack of hounds. Life was sweet, peaceful and rich, and the Flake family was happy in Mississippi. Their joy and contentment was further enhanced when friends and kinfolk from North Carolina came to make their homes nearby.
     But with the coming of the Mormon elders to the community, congeniality ended. In spite of their comfortable situation of ease and affluence, the Flakes determined to do what other Latter-day Saints before them had done—to gather with the main body of the Church in Nauvoo. They felt drawn in spirit to another people and to another place—Zion.
     James had been much impressed with something Elder Class talked about in the Alabama conference. Elder Brown recorded in the minutes that Benjamin Clapp spoke “on the subject of the gathering, and building the Temple and Nauvoo House, showing the Southern brethren the pains and labors of the brethren in Nauvoo to build those houses when many of them had been robbed two or three times. He urged the necessity of the whole body being equally engaged in keeping the commandments of the Lord in fulfillment of the prophets who have spoken of the great work of God in the last days.”
     James felt a sincere obligation to join his efforts to the task of construction and to strengthening Zion. Before moving his family, however, he felt it wisdom to ascertain just what conditions were in that place. It was a journey of almost 700 miles to Nauvoo, but he set out alone, on mule back, the latter part of May 1844, riding north through Tennessee to the Mississippi River. He followed the river to St. Louis, then on 200 miles to Nauvoo.
     He found the young city an impressive and inspiriting sight, neatly laid out within the broad curve of the Mississippi. Rolling green farmland surrounded the handsome brick dwellings and business establishments, all of it embroidered with the leafy, flowering foliage of springtime. Rising majestically above it all, on a hilltop that sloped gently to the river, were the gleaming white limestone walls of the uncompleted temple. James knew his help was needed here. Mingling with the inhabitants of the city, he felt the warm spirit of unity and strength, for the Saints were a friendly, industrious people.
     Among those he met was the brother of the Prophet, Hyrum Smith, counselor in the First Presidency and Patriarch to the Church. From him he sought a blessing. With head bowed beneath the Patriarch’s hands, James listened in reverence: “Brother James, I lay my hands on your head in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to place and seal a blessing on you in the order of my calling, Patriarchal and Prophetic, to come to pass according to your faith which is in Jesus Christ . . . . ”
     A copy of the blessing was given to James. It bore the superscription, “Patriarchal Blessing on the head of James Madison Flake, son of Jordan and Faithy Elizabeth Flake, born in Anson County, North Carolina, June 22, 1815. Blessing given June 12, 1844, in the City of Joseph, by Hyrum Smith, Patriarch.”
     Just fifteen days from that date, Patriarch Hyrum Smith and his brother, the Prophet, lay dead in the little village of Carthage, twenty-six miles away. James, who had left Illinois by then, was overcome with sadness when advised of the shocking news. He recalled Hyrum Smith, tall and vibrant with life, his hands pressed warmly upon his head as he uttered solemn words of counsel and promise: “You have been wrought upon by the Spirit of inspiration, and have come up hither, For this cause you are blessed.”
     James made immediate preparations for the removal of his family to Nauvoo. One of the first acts after returning home was to comply with the published admonition of the martyred Prophet: “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.
     Three other convert families, hearing James’ enthusiastic report, wished to accompany the Flakes. With their ox team and pair of white mules, the Flakes led the little caravan northward. The family consisted of four little sons, William Jordan (grandfather of Lavona Flake Richardson), Charles Love, Thomas and Richmond. Thomas passed away sometime during the year of 1844, whether before or after their journey, is not known.
     In Nauvoo, James constructed a large brick home for his family with the usual bricked-up well and cistern in the rear. The Flakes very soon became a part of the bustling, busy community. The Saints, although bereft of their Prophet, were determined to carry on, under the leadership of the Quorum of the Twelve, not only the completion of the temple, but the development of new industry for the rapidly growing city. Converts from the States and immigrants from abroad continued to arrive in increasing numbers.
     Active hostility was held in abeyance for a time as the people of Illinois reflected upon the enormity of the crime at Carthage. There was even some favorable sentiment expressed occasionally regarding the Mormons. Such millennial conditions were of short duration, however, when it became apparent that even without their leader the Mormons continued to grow and prosper.
     The winter of 1844 was long and cold. The Flake family found frost and snow and biting winds a new experience. On December 23rd, James was ordained a member in the Eighth Quorum of Seventy. Benjamin L. Clapp, the man who had baptized him, signed the certificate of ordination.
     Young William Jordan, age five, retained life-long memories of their sojourn in Nauvoo. A second little brother, Richmond, died there, and another brother, Samuel, was born. Two other experiences remained vividly alive in his mind, one pleasant, the other terrifying.
     Shortly after their arrival in the city, Green Flake carried William up the stairway of the uncompleted temple, to the very top, and there held the little boy up so he could gaze out in every direction upon the hundreds of houses and buildings and streets and trees that stretched out to the surrounding farmland and the curving river bank. It was an awesome picture he never forgot.
     Permanently etched in his memory was another scene, portrayed the following year. It, too, was awesome, but in a frightening way, for it was the sight of mobs of angry, shouting men thronging the street outside their home, robbing, looting. Seeing them, young William would dash from the window and hide, shaking with terror until the noise ceased and the men had gone.
     William’s father was away most of the time, occupied with other brethren in building wagons and gathering supplies for their expedition West. His mother was in frail health, mourning the death of her two sons, Thomas and Richmond, and expecting the birth of their fifth child. For the second time, the family faced the necessity of leaving their home and lands because of the persecutions of those who hated them.
     The Flakes did not leave Nauvoo with the first group in February; it was probably mid-April. James stayed back to assist, with both his means and energy, those less fortunate families as they endeavored to prepare for the journey. An official receipt issued by William Clayton, recorder, City of Joseph, was dated April 7th, 1846. “This may certify that James M. Flake is entitled to the privilege of the Baptismal Font, having paid his property tithing to April 12, 1846, and one hundred forty dollars consecration to assist the poor to go to the West.”
     At last the time came for James to load up their wagons with what belongings they could take, and with his wife and three sons, drive out of Nauvoo with the same teams that had brought them up from Mississippi two years earlier. Then it had been warm summer time. Now it was spring, a late spring and very cold. Young William, going on seven, tramped along in the rear with little brother Charlie and Liz, driving their loose stock, mostly cows. Agnes rode in the wagon with the new baby, Samuel, in her arms, knowing that soon after his first birthday there would be another child, her sixth in seven years.
     The Flakes journeyed from one encampment to another until finally, near the end of summer; they reached the site that was to become Winter Quarters. Their home there was a rude dugout; uncomfortable, cramped and smoke-filled, like nothing they had ever lived in before. It was there on November 3, that little Frederick Flake was born—and died, the same day. They sorrowed, but endured.
     During most of the winter Lavona’s great grandfather, William, who then was age seven, herded cattle on the river bottoms.  When Brigham Young commenced fitting out a train to take the first of the pioneers across the great plains, he needed the very best teams and outfits to be had.  James M. Flake, who had put his all upon the altar, sent his freed slave, Green, with the mules and mountain carriage to help the company to their destination.  He told Green to send the outfit back by some of the brethren, who would be returning, and for him to stay and build them as house.  Green Flake faithfully carried out his instructions.  We have always believed that Brigham Young used this outfit for his own conveyance and it was from that carriage, that he got his first view of the Valley.
     The following spring when they were ready to leave to make the trip into the Salt Lake Valley they were divided into three companies.  Amasa Lyman and Willard Richards led the company James ZM. Traveled with.  Some started on June 29th, the others July 2nd, 1848.  They soon joined together, elected James M. Flake Captain of one hundred wagons.  The company consisted of 502 white people, 24 negroes, 169 wagons, 50 horse, 20 mules, 515 oxen, 426 loose cattle, 369 sheep, 63 pigs, 5 cats, 44 dogs, 170 chickens, 4 turkeys, 7 ducks, 5 doves and 3 goats.  Grandfather William Jordan walked and drove the cattle all the way to Utah.  William Jordan became eight years old on the trail and was baptized in the Elk Horn River, by his father.
     They reached the Salt Lake Valley in October 1848.  When they reached the valley, there was a log house awaiting them that Green had built in Cottonwood.  James M. Flake was a counselor to the first bishop in the Salt Lake Valley.  James M. was a colonizer, a friend of the poor and needy.  He was no doubt, planting the seed in the breast of his son William, that later bore fruit in the colonizing of Arizona.
     In 1850 James M. Flake was called to go with a company led by George Q. Cannon and C. C. Rich to look up a place in California to settle poor Saints who would come by water to the West Coast.  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.
     While passing through the San Joaquin Valley, James Madison Flake  was thrown from his mule.  His only words were “Brethren lay hands on me.”  He passed away from a broken neck.  His whole life since joining the Church had been given to help his fellow men.  He spent a fortune helping them to cross the great American desert to get away from the mobs.  Wrapped in a blanket he was buried by the side of the trail.  He truly gave his life for his brother.  At camp that morning, a man was to ride a fractious horse and had no cinch.  He took the cinch from his saddle and gave to the man who, he thought needed it worse.  As he was riding on the trail the mule got scared, jumped to one side and the saddle and all, fell to the ground.  When my great great grandmother, Agnes Love Flake hear the sad new she took to her bed and did not recover for a long time.
     Agnes had been raised in the lap of luxury, never knowing a care. Then to start out in the life of the frontier, with a persecuted people, who were reduced to poverty, not because of their indolence, but because of their desire to worship God in the way, they knew to be right.  Three of their six children died and were buried at Winter Quarters.
     Grandmother Flake moved with her three small children from the Salt Lake Valley to San Bernardino to be with other Latter-day Saints. The finding of gold had caused so much excitement in the East, that thousands of men had moved to the West Coast. Among them was one of her brothers. At Los Angeles, he learned of his sister being in San Bernardino and came out to see her. He knew nothing of her since she had left Mississippi.  When he found that she was a widow and living in poverty, that the trip had cost all they had, he begged her to return with him to the old home. He told his sister that they all had plantations of their own, and she could have the land, the home and all the negroes 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 they would as of her, was to give up Mormonism, and have nothing more to do with that.
     She looked him in the eye and asked, “You don’t think you are asking much, do you?’ No, he said, ‘very little.’ She replied ‘It is more than my life’s blood.  I would rather wear my nails off over the wash tub to support my children, that 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 or heard from any of her people again and died soon after.