Martha Jane Coray

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Martha Jane Knowlton Coray was an pioneer Church member with two distinctions: she was the scribe for Lucy Mack Smith for History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith, and she was a member of the original Board of Trustees and dean of students at Brigham Young Academy.

Martha was born on June 3, 1821, in Covington, Kentucky. Her family had moved to Ohio then Illinois and was in Illinois at the time the Saints were driven from Missouri. Her father was kind to the Saints by employing some and providing housing for others. Martha heard sermons from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after being introduced to the Church by George Albert Smith. She was baptized in the Mississippi River in January 1840. After she married Howard Coray in February 1841, she taught school with him in Nauvoo until 1844 when Lucy Mack Smith asked her to act as scribe for her history of her son Joseph Smith. Her husband compiled and transcribed the book.

She helped with the history of the Church, keeping notes from the Prophet’s and other leaders’ sermons, which Wilford Woodruff used to compile a history of the Church.

Her family reached the Salt Lake Valley in 1850, living first in Salt Lake City. They homesteaded a piece of land in Mona, Utah, and then moved to Provo, Utah. By this time, Martha and Howard had thirteen children.

In 1875, Brigham Young asked her to serve as the first woman trustee on the Board of Directors of Brigham Young Academy. She filled this position until her death on December 14, 1881. She was the first dean of students at the academy as well. She was also the secretary of the first Relief Society organization in Salt Lake City. She wrote for the Women’s Exponent.