Lucy Jane "Jennie" Brimhall

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Lucy Jane “Jennie” Brimhall and her friend Amanda Inez Knight served as the first young, single female proselyting missionaries to officially serve in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the time, more than 200 women had previously served missions; however, none of these sisters was called in a strictly proselyting capacity, and none is listed on the official missionary records of the Church.

In 1898, informed by the contributions other women missionaries had made, President George Q. Cannon announced: “‘It has been decided to call some of our wise and prudent women into the missionary field.’[1]

Jennie and her friend Inez had been planning a two-to-three-month trip to Europe, but set aside those plans to serve. They were set apart as missionaries on April 1, 1898, and left on April 2 for Liverpool, England, with a group of other missionaries. They traveled by train for seven days to Philadelphia, where they boarded ship, arriving in Liverpool April 22. They traveled to three mission conferences then settled in Bristol to start handing out missionary tracts and teaching.

Due to concern for her health, Jennie was honorably released from her mission in November 1898. About thirty years after her release as a missionary, a Relief Society Magazine article praised the effectiveness of Jennie Brimhall’s mission. “So effective was her testimony that after twenty years an unbeliever who listened to her speak wrote, saying he could never forget her sincere, guileless expression and was led further to investigate and receive the blessings of membership.”[2]

Brimhall was born on December 13, 1875, in Spanish Fork, Utah, to George H. Brimhall and Alsina Elizabeth Wilkins Knight. She was educated at Brigham Young Academy (now Brigham Young University) and taught school in San Juan County until her health required her to quit.

She married J. William Knight (the brother of Inez Knight) in the Salt Lake Temple in January 1899. She moved with him to Canada where his father, Jesse Knight had settled, and they helped found the town of Raymond, Alberta. While in Canada, she presided over the Taylor Stake Young Ladies MIA for five years. She and her husband returned to Provo, Utah, where she served as the Utah Stake Young Ladies MIA president for eight years.

From 1921 to 1928, she served as first counselor to the Clarissa S. Williams, Relief Society general president. Jennie was also active in the Red Cross and the Utah Women’s Council of Defense. In 1925 she attended the International Council of Women Conference in Washington, D.C.

Knight and her husband were the parents of two sons. She died on March 31, 1957, in Provo, Utah. The Knight-Mangum building, formerly part of the BYU campus, was named in her honor, along with her sister in law, Jennie Knight Mangum.