Following the Boise Basin gold discoveries, the Washington Territorial government and the United States created Idaho Territory on March 4, 1863. Owyhee County was created during the first session of the Idaho Territorial Legislature on December 31, 1864.1As exploration continued throughout Owyhee County's drainage areas, other mining camps sprouted quickly. One was at Silver City, a mile east of Ruby City at the base of War Eagle Mountain, and another at Fairview located on the upper northeast slope of the mountain.

Purdy John Flint quite possibly arrived at the new Owyhee mines prior to the spring of 1864, however, there is no record of him filing claims until he did so in May 1864. He and others explored the wooded and low, sloping hills ten miles south of Ruby City. They found substantial gold-bearing quartz. The deposits were so rich that there was a belief that this new mining ground would surpass the discoveries made around Ruby City. Flint filed on more than a dozen mining claims during 1864. His initial discovery led to the naming of the mining district and eventual town site to be called Flint. Although a population of more than one thousand people lived and worked in the mining community, little remains of the town. A couple of buildings and the stamp mill are all that remains of the now privately owned ground. Flint left Idaho Territory by the fall of 1864, likely following discoveries at Rocky Bar, Esmeralda, and Atlanta.2

Purdy John Flint was born on August 26, 1842 in Wisconsin, the second son of Isaac A. Flint and Sarah Bigelow Flint. Besides being a farmer, Flint's father was also a practicing preacher, educated in his birth state of New York. Flint was two years old when the family moved to Missouri where Isaac operated a lumber business for a time.3

In 1845, the family headed west with ox teams. Accompanying the Flint's was Sarah's twin sister, Nancy Coleman, and her husband. Interestingly, Isaac and Sarah left their eldest son, Eugene, with relatives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.4

The reason for this decision is unknown; however, the abandonment by his mother at this point in his life had subsequent detrimental effects upon Eugene's life. He never saw his mother again, nor did he attempt to visit her later as an adult.5

The family's ultimate destination probably had been Oregon, however, for reasons unknown, Isaac Flint took his family to California. Sarah's sister, Nancy, continued on to Oregon. The Flint family arrived at Sutter's Fort in the Mexican-ruled territory known as California, in the fall of 1845. They were part of the Grigsby-Ide party.6These emigrants had the distinction of being the fourth wagon train that year to cross the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains.7Though the territory was governed by Mexico that situation was changing rapidly as American setlers pushed for self-government.

At some point during the journey Sarah and Isaac apparently had a difference of opinion. Perhaps the problem lay with Isaac in that he continually wanted to be on the move. While wintering in California, Isaac Flint took his family to the homestead of Dr. Edward Bale, a man with a questionable reputation, where he assisted in building Bale's sawmill.8Isaac, without his family, departed the following spring and did not return until about 1850. Information is sketchy but Isaac Flint apparently traveled north into the Oregon Territory possibly to ascertain whether this new country would be a suitable place to settle. By January 20, 1846, Isaac Flint was headed east to Wisconsin on a small wagon train led by James Clyman.9In late March Flint acted as a courier to forward a letter to Captain Fremont. Fremont was exploring the region for not only scientific and geographic data but to locate a suitable overland route for emigrant travel to extend the western boundaries of the American contininent.10

Alone now in a land still under Mexican rule, Sarah Flint took her son, Purdy, and returned to Sonoma. During her initial time in California she became acquainted with another emigrant, James Cooper. In 1846 or 1847, Sarah filed for a divorce from Isaac because she was now pregnant with Cooper's child. The divorce was granted in 1847 and Sarah married Cooper. Sarah's son, Purdy, continued to live with her and Cooper until about 1850. While living with the Cooper's Purdy reportedly worked in the family business, the Blue Wing Inn and Saloon.11

In 1850, according to family lore, when Purdy was about nine years old, his father allegedly kidnapped him from Sarah.12The story continues that Isaac Flint returned to Wisconsin possibly by way of sailing to Panama, crossing the Isthmus, taking a boat to New Orleans, and traveling on up to Milwaukee. Soon after his arrival in Wisconsin, Isaac filed for a divorce from Sarah perhaps not realizing that she had already done so. He picked up Eugene, his older son, and married Miss Emeline Phinney. Soon after marrying, Flint took his new family west to Oregon.13

In 1858, Purdy now 16 years old returned to California to visit his mother. He found her in a state of despair having recently become abandoned by her third husband, Harrison Swift. Sarah had become a widow in 1856 when David Graham, the local schoolteacher, had killed Cooper. Cooper had gone to the school to find out why one of his sons had been severly disiplined by the teacher. Cooper allegedly had a bad temper, and his tall and stocky stature intimidated the smaller built Graham, who apparently acted in self defense and stabbed Cooper in the chest, killing him. Graham was tried and acquitted for the crime.14

Sarah Cooper thought that her husband had been murdered for monetary gain. She discovered that her husband's partners benefited handsomely from his death. Cooper's attorney was to have filed on his properties but he had not. Though she filed complaints with the court, Sarah received only the family's home and nothing more.15Family lore suggests that David Graham had been hired to kill Cooper. After Cooper's death many of the deeds to his property were discovered to have never been properly recorded, and the property went back to the previous owners.

Nothing further is known of Flint's life until he arrived in Idaho Territory in 1864.

When he left Idaho Territory, he apparently returned to his home in Oregon. On February 12, 1867, he married Miss Lucy Ann Burch in Independence, Polk County, Oregon. And in 1868, he and his father, Isaac, worked in the gold fields in Douglas County.16

Besides gold mining, the Flint's cattle ranched in Eastern Oregon for a short time on their 7-6 Ranch. Some time after 1868, they joined other ranchers and moved into Central Washington Territory when superior grazing opportunities were discovered in the Yakima Valley.17 As the valley swelled with new settlers and the local Native Americans became subdued, Purdy Flint prospered as both a cattle rancher and a fruit grower.

As a respected and valued member of the Yakima community, Flint participated on a city committee that convened to fight a Northern Pacific railroad decision to create a new city, rather than build the tracks to Yakima City. The Northern Pacific, a land grant railroad, was bringing the railroad into the Yakima Valley. A decision by railroad executives was made to stop the tracks just north of Yakima City and create a new town. Flint and others fought the railroad, but in the end, the railroad executives won. The citizens were not against the railroad. They looked forward to the opportunities that faster transportation would afford them. Thus, the new town site was called North Yakima and Yakima City became Union Gap.18

In 1880, Flint caught the gold fever again when gold and other precious metals were discovered at Cle Elum, north of present-day Ellensburg, Washington. He located several gold, silver, and copper claims. Flint continued mining until at least 1895 when he finally sold out to the larger mining companies that eventually bought up the small claims.19

Family members describe Purdy as a kind and generous man, and these traits were reflected in his commitment to his religious beliefs and community. Soon after Flint moved to the Yakima Valley, his father moved his family there as well. Isaac farmed for a time until he became the Christian minister for Yakima City. After the new town of North Yakima was established, Purdy was instrumental in organizing the building of the First Christian Church which is still standing today in downtown Yakima.

Purdy Flint died on November 28, 1929 at the age of 87, and his wife, Lucy, died the following year. They are buried side by side in the Tahoma Cemetery Mausoleum. At the end of their lives, Purdy and Lucy had no children of their own. From their estate, $20,000.00 each was given to the Yakima First Christian Church and to the Eugene, Oregon Bible University now known as the Northwest Christian College. This endowment continues to be used to assist men and women who intend to obtain a ministry education in the Christian Church.20 The Flint Endowment at the Northwest Christian College is now worth $40,000.00. 21In this manner, Purdy Flint's legacy of good will and charity for his fellow man will endure.