Arizona history: Mormon pioneers in Snowflake

Some remembered the wicked wind, some the brackish water, others the hardships of the trail. Winters were cold, the spring air filled with sand, wagon covers flapped relentlessly and floodwaters blew out one dam after another as Mormon settlers struggled to raise crops along the Little Colorado River in eastern Arizona Territory.

Among the early settlers was William Jordan Flake. In 1878, he rode out to explore the region on horseback. He traveled hundreds of miles into New Mexico Territory and back to an area north of present-day Show Low, where he found a little valley along Silver Creek, a tributary of the Little Colorado. The stream ran through hills of piñon, juniper, sage, saltbush and blue grama. A rancher, James Stinson, already had settled there. Flake bought Stinson's ranch for $11,000 worth of Utah-grade cattle.

As Flake rode to Utah to get the cattle, he encountered Erastus Snow, an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and told him of his plans. Flake wondered whether he had done the right thing, and Snow assured him that he had. They selected a new bishop for the town, and a name: Snowflake.

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