Missouri Bicentennial Minutes: Reverend Timothy Flint, Chronicler of Early Missouri Life
An advertisement in the Independent Patriot on August 18, 1821 features property sale by Timothy Flint of Jackson. Rev. Timothy Flint may be the most overlooked chronicler of Missouri during territorial and early statehood days. Born in 1780 in Massachusetts, he graduated from Harvard and became pastor of the Congregational Church in Lunenburg, Massachusetts in 1802.
He became interested in missionary work, and in 1815 was agent for the Connecticut Missionary Society for Kentucky and Ohio. Hearing of possibilities in Missouri, he moved at the encouragement of prominent Presbyterian Stephen Hempstead. His time in Missouri informed his best writing, including his book Recollections of the Last Ten Years in the Valley of the Mississippi. He also came with goods for resale and engaged in building enterprises and land speculation.
Flint hated the “wickedness” of St. Louis, found St. Charles to be little better, and briefly worked as principal of a Presbyterian academy in Louisiana. He then located in Jackson. Flint observed life in New Madrid and Cape Girardeau counties and preached to various groups in the area. His observations of the North Carolina settlers of German ancestry on Whitewater River provide the best surviving profile of this community. He returned to St. Charles in 1821 after the sale, and established a school. While he was successful, his health suffered, and the family returned to New England.
He relocated to Cincinnati in 1827, and published his best-known books in 1826 to 1833. By 1833 he returned to his principal’s job in Louisiana for the remainder of his life. His Recollections illuminate people and lifeways in early Missouri, viewed through the eyes of a New Englander.