Green Flake

Green Flake was born in January 1828 in Anson County, North Carolina. He was the Slave of James Madison Flake, a Southerner who converted to the Church. Green was given to James and Agnes Love Flake by James’s father, Jordan Flake as a wedding gift. He took the last name of his master and was known thereafter as Green Flake. He was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 16 in the Mississippi River by John Brown on April 7, 1844, but remained a slave. He accompanied the Flake family to Nauvoo, Illinois.

From family diaries and the memory of a grandson, it is believed that was Green who drove the carriage and team that brought President Brigham Young into the Salt Lake Valley.

Brigham Young had Flake freed in 1854. Flake died a faithful member. (Margaret Young was the source of much of the information on this page.)

Read a poem as tribute to Green Flake.

9 thoughts on “Green Flake”

  1. Sandra Barnhart

    AsI was researching this I read Green Flake was”lent” to Brigham Young by James Madison Flake and did drive BY to SLC in Flake’s carriage and JMF’s his span white of mules. After Jame’s Madison Flake’s death (from being kicked in the head by another mule while freighting) William Jordan Flake, his son Petitioned BY several times for Green’s return so the family would have Green’s help when they were commanded to move and settle San Bernardino, Calif. These requests fell on deaf ears and Brigham Young never returned Green to his family, the Flakes. Brigham Young sent Green to Southern Utah to another family to help on their dairy farm as free labor, but was never given his freedom. He was however, allowed to marry. He never left that location and was eventually returned to SLC after he died, to be buried.

  2. There have been several comments made regarding Bro. Flake’s freedom. One says that he was offered his freedom by James Flake but turned it down and another says that Brigham Young gave him his freedom in 1854. I would like to know which one was true.

  3. Sorry for not sending you a response earlier. There are 1854 letters exchanged between Amasa Lyman (on behalf of Agnes Flake, James’ widow) and Brigham Young where Brigham arranges for Green’s full freedom. I have heard stories of a prior offer of freedom from James Flake, but I do not know of any documentation or how effective or complete such an offer would be. He was a trusted servant who traveled far and worked hard. It seems he would view himself as freed in 1854.

  4. Please see the comment posted today about 1854 letters that document Brigham Young arranging for Green flake’s freedom. Even as a free man, he would have faced the discrimination of that time. What we have seen is he did so while remaining faithful to the church and community.

  5. Hello,

    I am writing a book on African Americans who came to the west via the overland trails to be published by the University of Oklahoma Press and I would like to include the photograph of Green Flake that is shown on your website (he’s standing beside the chair with his hand on the chair). Can you tell me how to obtain a copy and who I should credit for the photo? Please let me know at your earliest convenience.

  6. 1. When the Southern Saints came to Cottonwood which is SE of SLC, they were cliquish. They said they all lived close to each other so their servants could mingle. However, they were not popular with non-slave-holding Saints. Then Brigham Young sent them to California, which was a free state. By doing this, Brigham Young freed the Mormon slaves before the Civil War. When James’ wife Agnes died in San Bernadino, her slave was also freed in California.

    Some time after James fell off his mule because he had loaned his saddle cinch belt to another man, broke his neck and died, his slave Green Flake, who was probably his half brother and looks a lot like James, moved to Idaho, where he lived for years. When Green returned to Utah for a special honor, he spoke bluntly of abuse as a Slave.

    2. Brigham Young called the San Bernadino Saints back to Utah when Johnson’s Army marched on Utah. At this time, the Southern Saints integrated and intermarried because they no longer had slaves that made them separate, cliquish, undesireable company …….as they had been before California.
    Please contact me for my sources.

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