Friday, May 28, 2010

Timothy Flint Author, Pioneer, 1780

Timothy Flint was born in North Reading in July 11, 1780. He was the fifth of nine children of William and Martha Kimball Flint. Although born into a farming family, Flint apparently did little work on the farm, probably because of ill health that plagued him all his life. His early lack of experience as a farmworker might account in part for Flint's failure when he attempted later in his life to support his own family by farming in Missouri.

He was a graduate of Harvard in 1800 and entered the ministry. He was an American author. Timothy Flint became one of the more important men of letters in the American West during the first half of the nineteenth century. Demonstrating a remarkable range of interest and knowledge, he wrote books that classified geographical, historical, and biological features of the West.

As a missionary he traveled up and down the Mississippi valley from 1815 until 1825 and recorded in Recollections of the Last Ten Years (1826) the frontier life he experienced.

He also wrote several romantic novels of frontier life, notably Francis Berrian (1826) and George Mason, the Young Backwoodsman (1829).

His vivid Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone (1833) did much to develop the Boone legend. Flint interviewed Boone and embellished his adventures, making the book one of the most popular and best selling biographies of the 19th century.

Recollections of the Last Ten Years details his travels from Pittsburg and the Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico and from Florida to the Spanish frontier in a series of letters to the Reverend James Flint of Salem, Massachusetts.

Recollections of the Last Ten Years is perhaps the most interesting of Flint's works to the modern reader because of its fresh description of emerging society in the western states and territories. An autobiographical account of his western experiences, the book is written ten years after Flint and his family emigrated down the Ohio River and is organized as a series of letters to his cousin in Salem, Massachusetts; the account of the difficulties they encounter and the places they visit is detailed and firsthand. With some regrets and homesickness for the order and neatness of his native New England, he gradually finds more to admire than condemn in the westerner, putting to rest the "horror inspired by the term backwoodsman" on the East Coast.”
Dictionary of Literary Biography on Timothy Flint (page 5)

Recollections is in the Flint Memorial Library’s History Room in North Reading center. (LH 917.7 Fli reference book)

It can be found online at Google Books:

During his most prolific writing period he also founded and edited the Western Monthly, a literary magazine in Cincinnati, from 1827 to 1830. He served as coeditor of the Knickerbocker: or New-York Monthly Magazine for several months in 1833-1834 until chronic ill health forced him to resign.

Timothy Flint died on August 16, 1840 in Salem, Massachusetts. His burial site and monument are in Harmony Grove Cemetery, Salem, Massachusetts.

For Timothy Flint, pioneer, missionary, author, editor, 1780-1840; the story of his life among the pioneers and frontiersmen in the Ohio and Mississippi Valley and in New England and the South (1911) by John Kirkpatrick, visit: