JOHN FLINT, JR.
1848 to 1930
Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England lies among its sister communities in a unique setting--in that it boasts more rolling hills than other parts of the island. It is picturesque with its hedge growth and winding roads. It was among this natural green and rural beauty, on the 19th of June 1848, that John Flint, Junior, first opened his eyes to a struggling world. He was the fifth child in what would have been had they all lived, a family of eleven children. His mother, Mary Spencer Flint, was of an aristocratic English family, who had disowned their lovely daughter for two reasons: first, and primarily, because she had chosen as a life companion "one of those Mormons", and secondly, because he was a common laborer who earned an honest living in the coal mines.
But Mary Spencer's love for John Flint, her love for the Gospel, as they had recently learned it, and her staunch determination to follow her convictions, brought her from the neighboring village of Middleton, perhaps sometime it the '30's of the nineteenth century, to Wirksworth as the wife of John Flint (known after the naming of his fifth child as John Flint, Sr.).
It must have been somewhat strange to a little fellow of about two years to be taken with his brother and sisters, and his grandfather, Robert Flint, to the docks, where ships lay at bay, and where the winds tossed the waves against the shores. And to be carried onto one of the sea-going conveyances for a ride on the ocean must have been quite an adventure. Perhaps, as the family journeyed on in that year, which marked the middle of the 19th century, John Jr. was too young to know why his father's eyes were sad and his cheeks were moist; to know the reason for his mother's grief and tears when his older brother's illness ended in a burial at sea.
It must have been a new game for him to watch the wagon wheels as they turned carrying their necessary loads and weary, but hopeful occupants over a rough and unfamiliar desert land--far-fetched from the surroundings he had known in staid, yet merry, Old England. And again, he might have sensed the atmosphere that death provokes, when a new baby brother was buried on the lone expanse of a seeming nowhere. However, John Jr.'s third year of life found him in Kays Ward, living with his beloved family in one of five dugout homes in the side of a sandy hill.
It was a new life, and for the most part, the pioneers lived on what they produced with their own efforts. But occasionally nature's gifts were utilized. When John Jr. was about six years of age his mother helped him tie gunny sacking on his feet--shoes were a luxury--then she instructed him to go to the sand ridge (where Hill Air Force Base is now located) and dig for sego lily roots. On his return the roots were cleaned and boiled to provide family meals.
Food was scarce in the days of the early pioneers, and choice morsels were long remembered. On one occasion, John Jr. had been on a long errand--hunting cattle on foot in the foothills near Kaysville. He may have been eight or nine years old, and hunger pangs were one of his biggest troubles. As a matter of fact, in his youth, he said his hunger never seemed to be appeased. One of the highlights in his early life was a square of corn bread--"about the size of my two fingers", he would describe it, as he told about the good woman who called him into her home as he trudged along after the cattle. "The greatest gift ever given to me," he would say.
Instinct, premonition, vision--call it what you will--played a large part in the lives of families, in their progress, and in the building of communities. One day in his early youth, John was working near what is now known as the Mountain Road, or Highway 89. A young girl, attractive under her starched sunbonnet, came into view carrying a small bucket. John's eyes followed her as she made her way to her father, Thomas Brough, who was busy making bricks nearby. She had brought her father's lunch. Something, or someone, said to John, "That girl to be your wife". John readily believed the voice, and perhaps 8 or 9 years later, on the 19th of February 1872, he married his sweetheart, Martha Jane, the daughter of Thomas and Jane Patterson Brough, in the old Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before his marriage, however, at the age of seventeen, John joined the ranks of those who rode horseback to the border to fight in the Black Hawk War. He provided his own horse, and fought with a musket shot gun--load, shoot, and reload. He was the youngest of his group, and being so, perhaps slept more heavily than the rest of the men when the opportunity presented itself. One day, when he awoke from a sleep, he found himself in the company of only his horse. The older men had deemed it a good joke to leave him there asleep. Despite their poor judgment, he instinctively followed in the right direction, and he was fortunate enough to meet no enemies.
Young John began his own home on a fifty acre homestead--the only piece of land near his father's home which had not been taken by other homesteaders. He bought, or traded for, brick from his father-in-law, Thomas Brough. He cut the majority of the lumber from the hills east of Kaysville, and he built a two room brick home. (These two rooms, in which he and Martha Jane, who was generally called Jane, began their life together, are incorporated in what is now the Chester Flint home.) As time passed, more rooms were added to the home; and to house his large family a final construction, adding an upstairs and other rooms and conveniences, was completed.. Barns and sheds and corrals also accumulated on the fifty acre homestead.
Jane gave birth to her first-born, Adria Elizabeth, on the 26th of November 1872. Another little sister, Laura May, made her appearance May 1st, 1874. The Christmas of 1875 held new promise for the Little family, and on December 26th of that year, John Frederick (known as Fred) was born. With the coming of a third baby, "Aunt Emily" (Emily Ellen Brough), sister of Jane, was on hand to take over household duties.
One evening, a few days after little Fred's birth, Aunt Emily was finishing some evening chores in the kitchen. She heard an odd noise at the kitchen door. A few minutes before, John had left the house on his usual trip to the shed. He was a lover of fine animals--especially horses; and despite his interest in a growing family, he made it a special point to say a best goodnight to his favorite horse, Prince. He had been gone longer than usual, thought "Aunt Emily," and she opened the outside kitchen door.
John couldn't speak. He mumbled painfully. He had dragged himself to the step, and by the stream of lamp light through the open door, "Aunt Emily" saw John lying there--his mouth and jaw bleeding and bruised. It was in the days when nice people considered it a breach of either propriety or common sense for a woman not to lie in bed for at least two weeks after the birth of a baby. Jane was confused and helpless. In some way it was learned that instead of his usual greeting to Prince, John had impulsively slapped the horse on its hips, and the frightened animal gave forth in natural defense with his hind foot. John was sent to a Salt Lake City hospital on the Union Pacific train. He returned in a few days, and for some weeks thereafter, he was fed through a tube while he nursed a broken jaw--devoid of its natural teeth.
John and Jane worked hard to provide for their fast growing family. Little Franklin Brough was born May 27th, 1877; Margaret Brough, March 20, 1879; George Brough, February 3, 1881; Emily Jane, October 30, 1882; and Jesse Brough, October 17, 1884. And on Christmas Eve of 1886, Thomas Walter joined the Flint family.
The union of John and Martha Jane had now been blessed with nine children-five boys and four girls. A farm, and any size family, are a tie for a mother, even in this day and age. But in pioneer days, she had little chance for a change of scenery. On the 18th of June, 1887, Jane, with her Christmas Eve baby on her lap, rode beside her husband on the spring seat of a farm wagon--their destination--Salt Lake City. If she had any misgivings about the eight children she had left in bed at three A.M., she prayed; for Jane was a woman of much faith, and she taught her children to trust in the Lord in all things.
In Salt Lake City, John had completed one piece of business, and they drove to another business house where John stopped the horses, climbed off the wagon, and left Jane and the baby to enjoy the summer sun. Maybe a fly or a mosquito annoyed the horses' ears, but as Jane watched one horse bob his head up and down a time or two, she probably thought nothing of it. Undoubtedly she was enjoying a good June day. But the horses head went up and down again, and this time the bridle caught below, the blinders were pulled off, and the horse saw Jane. The animal lunged forward, and the team and wagon went down the street. At a short distance, the horses turned into an alley--too short. The wagon caught against a brick wall, tipped and threw its occupants out. A much frightened John found his wife alive but unconscious and injured. His baby boy had been killed instantly.
The number of children Jane had did not lessen her sorrow for the one lost. But such grief was softened, even though never quenched, by the birth of four more children in the next ten years. Oscar Brough was born March 31, 1889; Cora Pear, August 17, 1891; Leonard Spencer, October 13, 1893; and Chester Calvin, December 28, 1896.
John and Jane seemed to take a special delight in their youngest son. Jane had always been very close to all her children and their troubles; but John had been forced to firmness by way of training and discipline and getting things done. Perhaps he was a little less pressed for time. He had older sons to help with some of the work and the responsibilities. The older sons stood in amazement and his older daughters smiled behind their sunbonnets at the comparative softness he had toward the baby of the family. John might have sensed, too, that Chester was the last of his immediate posterity. Often, the small boy would be left in the care of older children while John and Jane rode off to a meeting or short business venture. On their return their first query would be, "Where's our Chester?" And automatically everyone went in search of Chester.
John was alert to progress--especially related to farming. He bought the first steam engine thresher in the area, and he harvested grain for himself and for other farmers within a wide radius for many years. The machine provided work for other too--a water boy (the engine required many gallons a day); a man to operate the machine; and about three men to feed the grain. Men and boys came for miles to watch the big black engine purr billows of smoke into the air. John often had to caution the boys to keep their distance, because of the obvious danger.
John acquired by purchase several farms in the North Davis County area, and a lot of these were dependent on rainfall to mature a crop. more than once his sons watched him dance a jig on the front porch while he hummed a tune in appreciation for the much needed falling moisture.
John had a seemingly unbounded drive in his make-up, and he applied it to those about him as well as to himself. His sons had their assignments on the different farms to which he would send them--sometimes for several days at a time. "Ten rounds in the morning and ten in the afternoon," he would instruct a son in his early teens. It meant walking behind a plow from early morning 'til sundown. Wind and sun pressed on, and legs and backs ached, but the plowing must be done.
And he didn't allow any wasted time when weather hampered field work. If it was a rainy day, one might have found a group of seven sons--and perhaps some hired men--with leather and grease and hot water and soap--busy in a shed or shelter of some sort. Horses and carts and buggies and wagons were a necessary part of farm equipment, and they had to be kept in good condition.
The "Boss", as the boys called their father, had a faculty, seemingly mysterious, of appearing on the scene when they boys had relaxed their work and had started into a little playtime. "Something told me I should come here. I knew you wouldn't be doing right!" He had dark eyes and hair, and was stockily and sturdily built-probably not as tall as some of his sons--but he was firm and convincing at times. And the boys solemnly returned to their tasks.
The farm home held many a days work for the growing daughters of the family, but in John Flint's arrangements he often made plans for them outside the home. Hired help wouldn't think of bringing a lunch when they came to work on the farm. They looked forward to cooked meals at the farms away from the farm home. It often meant hauling water in cans for perhaps a mile or so in a horse and cart. Often they chopped or collected their own fire wood for the cooking. The food had to be hauled from home, and kept covered to keep out the road dust. And amidst it all, of course, was the everlasting battle with flies and insects.
One of the most highly respected virtues in John's Book of Living, was HONESTY. And he not only taught it to his children, but he made sure that they lived it in everyday life. On one occasion two of his sons attempted to reimburse the family economy by what they thought was a clever project. They were working on what the Flint family knew as the Fisher Farm--a farm owned by John, and which is now part of the Naval Supply Depot. The railroad ran adjacent to the property, and part of the line was a steep cut, where the train was obliged to run very slowly. It occurred to one of the boys to jump onto the coal cars, which were part of the train and throw off a few large lumps of coal. After a few such escapades, there were accrued quite a little pile of coal, which they tossed into a wagon and hauled home the following Saturday evening. Delighted with such an accomplishment, the older boy told how he had climbed on the cars and tossed off the coal. John's facial expression probably prepared the boys for their father's definite order. John was in a position to buy his own fuel, but if he hadn't been, the ultimatum would have been the same. "Don't unload that here! I don't want a thing to do with it!"
And the crestfallen sons were obliged to dispose of their booty. It was one of John Flintís lasting lessons.
One of the "Boss's" failings was not remembering that young lads are always hungry--despite his own early experiences in that directions. Livestock was a large part of his business. At 2:00 a.m. he would start two of his sons to market with a herd of 12 to 30 head of cattle. It was a long drive on horseback--from West Kaysville to the North Salt Lake stock yards. The horses and the cattle could nibble a little on the way; but the boys would be nigh unto famished before the "Boss" caught up to then in a horse-drawn buggy--maybe at the end of the drive--with the means of filling empty stomachs. but they could make up for their little fast when they reached home; John was a good provider, and Jane was an excellent manager. John's boys never knew the same type of hunger that he experienced himself.
The busy life that John lead--or which led him and all associated with him-provided Little or no time for holidays. However, he recognized, with the same vim and vigor that he put into his work, four special days--the Fourth of July, the 24th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Friends and relatives would be invited and special foods were prepared. Along with his wonderful wife, Jane, (and without whom he could not have managed his affairs or his family), he welcomed the many who loved to visit the Flint home. There was spaciousness in this two-story home; the "parlor" was opened on these special occasions and pretty frocks and "best bibs and tuckers" were in evidence.
The sound of fiddle strings added rhythm to John's energy, and he loved to step off a dance when the time and opportunity presented itself. In his younger days (even after hours of hard work) he told of often walking from West Kaysville to Mountain Road, and of dancing on a floor of a home where the carpet had been rolled back. Even in his later years he danced the old time dances in the old "Oprey House"--the waltz, the square dances, the polka, and the Varsovienne.
John didn't mind enlisting the services of the third generation. One morning, quite early, he sent a grandson, via horseback form Layton, Utah to a cattle sale in West Ogden--somewhere near a sugar factory. John followed in a horse and buggy, purchased the cattle, and the grandson began the journey home--driving a herd of cattle to Kaysville. The way was dusty and long, but the young lad was coming along fine toward early afternoon. He had reached the point along the highway near the Christopher Weaver farm when he heard the familiar stepping of horses feet and the grind of buggy wheels. Here was Grandpa; he had caught up to the cattle. We'll have to turn them back and take them to Peterson Yards in Ogden." Maybe the cattle browsed a little along the way, but Elmer didn't eat until he returned to his worried mother in his Layton home after dark--hungry, dirty, and weary.
John reached the point in his life where he could have some of the nicer things of life, and because he had toiled for them he appreciated them. At one time he purchased an up-to-date, handsome surrey, and he and Jane took their first trip in it to visit a son in the north part of the county. On their return, John spied several of his small pigs in one of his fields--the wrong field. He caught the pigs and placed them in a box which he fastened on the back of the surrey. When they reached their yard and alighted from the surrey, the box was removed, and Jane surveyed with dismay and disgust the large square in the back of the surrey which once boasted shiny black paint.
In his later years, John purchased an automobile, but his first experience with some of the new inventions brought out the "Irish" in his make-up. He was riding one day with two or three grandchildren in a buggy drawn by his favorite horse, and what should be coming in the opposite direction but one of those gasoline buggies. The horse was unaccustomed to the sight and the sound of the contraption, and it shied, jostling Grandpa and the children almost off their seats. Muddy water splashed generously over Grandpa and his outfit. People who knew John said that he was not in the habit of swearing; but when his ire was aroused, one could count on some very definite action of some kind. This time was no exception. Grandpa picked up a hammer from the floor of the buggy and threw it with all his energy at the offending vehicle, of course, he missed it by many feet, and the children were dispatched to retrieve the hammer.
John had experience with the weather. One day he was transacting some business in the old Farmer's Union Store in Layton, and in passing comment he said, "I've seen hundreds of Januarys, but never one without a thaw." To this day those who knew him get a chuckle out of remembering the incident. The word "hundreds" seemed to be his standby. "I've had a wagon wheel come off here hundreds of times!" he would say, speaking of a certain rough highway.
Ability such as John displayed throughout his life is rare. Had such ability been coupled with a liberal education--even as was known in his day--one wonders if he would have followed the some business, the same type of life. Would he have been the staunch community builder that he was. But because he had known only three days of school in his life, and because his life had been so full, he probably did not press the subject of education on his family. He did not read and he learned only to sign his name. Jane was a wonderful reader. She chose the best of reading available. She read to her children daily, even after they learned to read for themselves. And she read to John a good hour almost every evening.
During the time of his many business relations, he became a director of the First National Bank of Layton, a director also in the Layton Sugar Company, in the Kaysville Milling Company, in the Kaysville Canning Corporation, in the Kaysville-Layton Irrigation Company, in the Knight Sugar Company of Canada, and in the Ellison Ranching Company in Nevada.
"Never judge livestock when they stand between you and the setting or rising sun!", warned the "Boss". Upon one occasion he purchased a herd of cattle, and paid for them by the head. He had looked over them with Old Sol as a background. Any object appears larger in such a setting.
John had worked hard all of his life. And when in his middle and later years, if someone presented to him a plan whereby he would receive a favorable return for what seemed a sound investment--and a little less backache--he was willing to take a chance. At one time, five or six prominent business men and farmers of the community, including John Flint, was approached by some white-collared, briefcase toters concerning a thriving banana and rubber plantation in Mexico, which was for sale. One of the group, after much discussion, was selected to go to Mexico and look over the land. He was taken, of course, to a very prosperous part of the country; and the plantation, of course, seemed to be in tip-top shape. A very favorable report was made to the other men of the group when the investigator returned, and each of the group made a purchase. John bought $12,000.00 worth of the land. But the clickers who made the deal had no connection with the banana rubber plantation. The land the group purchased was atop a rocky mountain where neither man nor beast would waste his time.
Another expensive venture was an investment of $30,000.00 in an out-of-state cattle and sheep ranch. A hard winter caring deep snow caused a heavy loss in the animals. There were no air-lifts in those days, and the company went broke.
But John seemed undaunted, and a similar amount was invested in a Canadian stock company. He loaded two hundred head of choice cattle at his farm in Kaysville and shipped them to Canada. However, through some apparent mismanagement, which was hard to understand at such a remote point, the ranch failed.
The seemingly "last straw" was a $12,000.00 investment in an Ogden livestock company which proved to be already in the hands of the receivers at the time of the investment.
John Flint was not a sanctimonious type of person, and he did not command a front seat in church. But he knew the worth of the Gospel, and he appreciated the basic needs of the Church. During the building of the Kaysville Tabernacle, now known as Kaysville 1st and 6th ward meeting house, he donated $3,000 for its construction. And before his death he set aside the sum of $1,000 for genealogical work on the Flint line.
It would seem that some people are hooked for hardships in life. If such be the case, John must have been high on the list; for despite his many successes, even after his years of heavy work were past, John was to suffer a very painful facial cancer for a period of perhaps 15 years. Medical science had not made the strides that we know today, and John, like many other such sufferers, was the victim of considerable experimentation, even though it was meant in a kind way. But despite his difficulties and reverses his mind was active to the last of his days. He had an exceptional memory, and in his late years, he often related many of his boyhood experiences.
Age had its final way, and on the 24th of April 1930, after a few days of gradual weakening of the body, John Flint left a world, troubled on the whole, but bettered for his having been a part of it. He followed his wonderful wife who had led the way almost thirteen years earlier. He was laid to rest the 27th of April, 1930, below the hills he had known and roamed, and above the land he had tilled by the sweat of his brow.
by Rose P. Flint January 28, 1960.
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