Famous Fam Names

The Snow And Flake Families: Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake: Pioneers and Early Arizona Settlers

You might already know how the town of Snowflake, AZ was named. As with any true story, though, there’s always more to learn.

Framed photos of Erastus Snow and William J. Flake in The Stinson Pioneer Museum. Photo by Robin Finlinson.

Framed photos of Erastus Snow and William J. Flake in The Stinson Pioneer Museum. Photo by Robin Finlinson.

Erastus Snow’s life was extraordinary, even from his youth. He was an eager student of the Bible from age 9, and learned of the Church from two young missionaries at age 13. At 14, he was allowed to be baptized and felt his own compelling call to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. By 19, he’d brought over 100 people into the fold.

One of the missionaries who had taught him was Orson Pratt. Years later, Erastus and Orson would cross the plains together in Brigham Young’s first company of pioneers. When Brother Brigham became ill shortly before reaching the Salt Lake Valley, he sent those two men, along with some others, ahead as trail scouts. Erastus and Orson were the first members of the restored Church to enter that valley. They would eventually serve a mission together to the eastern states and usher more Church members toward Utah.

Erastus Snow was called to be an apostle in 1849. Soon afterward, he established the Scandinavian mission, then was assigned to oversee the Church’s settlements in southern Utah and Arizona.

In 1877, William Jordan Flake, his wife Lucy White Flake, and their family were living happily in Utah when asked by Brigham Young to help establish a settlement in Arizona. They willingly did so. For months they battled the flash floods of one desert area that they tried to colonize before moving on a little further south. Seeing that land, Lucy declared in the charming Southern drawl of her childhood home, “The hills was all covered with green grass. Everything looked like we was welcome here.”

Home of James M. Flake, son of William and Lucy Flake. Having served a mission in England, James patterned his Snowflake home after the English style that he loved. Photo by Robin Finlinson.

Home of James M. Flake, son of William and Lucy Flake. Having served a mission in England, James patterned his Snowflake home after the English style that he loved. Photo by Robin Finlinson.

William purchased the land in 1878 from cattle rancher James Stinson. He would become one of the settlers’ kind-hearted neighbors not of their faith who saw them working diligently to create a comfortable place to live and helped them acquire food.

Elder Snow visited the brand new townsite, organized its layout and suggested the name Snow Flake. It was changed to one word in 1906.

Trivia Questions:

*Which prophet was ordained an apostle the same day as Erastus Snow on February 12, 1849? (Lorenzo Snow, a distant cousin. They didn’t know each other before joining the Church, but became great friends. Snow College in Ephraim, UT, was named to honor them both.)

*The former home of James Stinson is the oldest in Snowflake. What did it become? (The Stinson Pioneer Museum.)

*The names of numerous towns around the U.S. ring of Christmastime, including others in Arizona: Silver Bell, Santa Claus, Christmas, and which town in Yavapai County? (Humbug.)

*How much snowfall does Snowflake, AZ, receive on average? (Thirteen inches per year, with one to four inches each month between November and March.)

*The Snowflake Temple opened in which year? (2002. It currently serves 12 stakes in northeastern Arizona, including the three local stakes.)

*Which graduate of Snowflake High School sang with the a cappella singing group BYU Vocal Point for three years? (Devin Flake.)

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