|Age:||I am 23|
|I prefer to drink:||Lager|
Inwhen Mormons set out from Utah to form a new colony in southern California Unfortunately, chances are that you wouldn't know it from reading most of the history books written about that era. The involvement of blacks in the early settlement of the San Bernardino Valley gets little mention compared to such prominent white pioneers like Amasa LymanCharles Richand Jefferson Huntmen who have been justly honored for their roles in developing the Mormon colony.
However, there were countless unsung heroes One such person was taken from her parents at the age of four and given to a wealthy white couple, James and Agnes Flake, as a wedding present. Her name was Elizabeth Lizzy Flake Rowan. After the Flakes conversion to Mormonism, followed by the persecution of Mormons by Easterners, they set out from their Carolina plantation for the Great Salt Lake with their three sons and young Lizzy in Along the way, Lizzy and the boys were responsible for herding the Flake's oxen and cattle from the plantation all the way to Utah.
The rugged journey, which included a grueling harsh winter encampment in Illinois, took 3 long years. Finally, the Flakes arrived in Salt Lake in Unfortunately, because of the hardships incurred by the long journey, James Flake died in His widow then ed a company of Mormon pioneers who eventually would buy the San Bernardino Rancho from the Lugo family a year later.
Once again Lizzy set out on a long journey across mountains and deserts, driving a covered wagon pulled by two yoke of oxen. After the purchase of Lugo's ranch, Lizzy and the Flake boys helped make the first adobe brick for the first homes in the new community. Hearing news of an "Indian Uprising" from the Mojave Desert, she helped build the fortwhich encompassed land where the San Bernardino County Court House stands today.
On January 15,Agnes Flake, who Lizzy fondly recalled "like a member of my own family" died from a lengthy illness, leaving her children to the care of Lizzy. While it is possible that Lizzy was kept ignorant of the law which, clearly stated that all slaves would become free upon entering California, William Flake, one of the boys, returned to Utah and sent back the proper papers to Lizzy giving her the freedom she already technically had.
Lizzy, nevertheless, continued taking care of the younger Flake children until other arrangements were made later that year. According to contemporary s, ina "Mrs. Rowan" reportedly rode out to Los Angeles to inform the sheriff that a white man named Robert Smith, afraid that word would leak out to that California was a "free state", was planning to head for Texas with his 14 slaves.
One of them was Biddy Mason, a woman of enormous physical strength. Mason, who eventually would become the wealthiest woman in California, donated property for the first African Methodist Episcopal Church on the West Coast.
Although, evidence is not conclusive at this time, "Mrs. Rowan" may have been Lizzy, as she eventually married a man named Charles Rowan.
Elizabeth "Lizzy" Flake Rowan, ca In any event, the couple built a home for their three children and acquired some land on "D" Street near San Bernardino's downtown area where Lizzy worked as a laundress. A son, Byron, worked for a while as a teaming contractor on the desert, operated a feed store on "I" Street, and eventually followed in his fathers' footsteps by opening up a barbershop on 3rd Street.
Their daughter, Alice Rowan Johnsonwas one of the first Blacks to graduate from college in California. She became a teacher in Riverside--probably the first black teacher of white children in the state of California. As for Lizzy, she lived out her remaining years loved and respected by the whole community.
When she died infellow pioneers of all races and creeds attended her funeral and acted as pall bearers. Back to Pioneer Women. A Slave at the Age of Four However, there were countless unsung heroes On to California Once again Lizzy set out on a long journey across mountains and deserts, driving a covered wagon pulled by two yoke of oxen.
Lizzy Becomes Free at Last While it is possible that Lizzy was kept ignorant of the law which, clearly stated that all slaves would become free upon entering California, William Flake, one of the boys, returned to Utah and sent back the proper papers to Lizzy giving her the freedom she already technically had. Elizabeth "Lizzy" Flake Rowan, ca In any event, the couple built a home for their three children and acquired some land on "D" Street near San Bernardino's downtown area where Lizzy worked as a laundress.