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Melissa Burton Coray Kimball 1828-1903

Melissa Burton Coray Kimball

Born: March 2, 1828 at Mersey, Essex, Ontario, Canada
Died: September 21, 1903 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

U.S. Mormon Battalion Mexican War 1846-1848

Compiled by Lucy Brown Archer

Melissa Burton Coray Kimball was born March 2, 1828, in Mersey, Essex, Ontario, Canada to Samuel Burton (1783-1852) and Hannah "Ann" Shipley Burton (1786-1847), both parents were from England.

When Melissa was ten her family was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a new church known as The Mormons.

With the rest of her family, she began the march westward, with the body of the Saints. At Mount Pisgah, she became the wife of William Coray on June 2, 1846. William was the son of Mary Stephens and Silas Coray. Silas Coray was the son of John Coray (1759-1796) and Phebe Howe Coray. Silas's stepfather was James Abbott, father of Stephen Joseph Abbott (1804-1843).

Three months after her marriage the call came for the Mormon Battalion. Melissa knew that her young husband would enlist and made up her mind to go along with him. He was a military man, having served with the Nauvoo Legion. "If he must go, I want to go," she said. "Why must women always stay behind and worry about their husbands, when they could just as well march beside them." Melissa's sister, Rebecca Maria Burton, had married Nathaniel Vary Jones March 14, 1845, Jones also enlisted and served as a Sergeant in the Mormon Battalion in Company D.

When William told her that there were to be four women with each company employed as cooks and laundresses, she saw a way whereby she might go with him. He was a Sergeant in Company B, and if she were in the same company, it would be entirely safe and proper.

One of the hardest parts of the journey was leaving her father and mother, but as it was a choice between them and her husband, she thought her duty was to her husband. As it turned out Melissa never saw her parents again. Her mother died on June 26, 1847 at Lynn, Atchison, Missouri. and her father died on January 21, 1852 at Suttersville, Sacramento California.

Melissa, like most of the women and soldiers, traveled on foot a large part of the 2,000 miles to San Diego, California, and most of the return journey to Salt Lake. Many times they had very little food and less water, but she and her husband got along very well. Many of the men in the Battalion ate until they were satisfied instead of rationing their allottment. The result was that they consumed their food at the start and did not have any later on when they most needed it. Melissa looked ahead and figured how many days the food would have to last until they met the next supply company, and then she used only so much each day. She tried to cook wisely, so that no food would be wasted.

Although they did not have all they wanted to eat, they were never in danger of starving. She went from campfire to campfire, urging more care in the use of food. She used to relate how, weary and footsore, they had to walk miles and miles without water, and often the men thought they would die. "Thirst only gets worse when you think of it. When I was thirsty, I tried not to think of it." It was at such a time that she learned to carry a pebble in her mouth. This caused the saliva to flow more freely and lessened her unquenchable thirst.

When the Battalion reached Santa Fe, Colonel Patrick St. John Cooke decided to send Captain James Brown of Company C to lead most of the women and children, along with the sick soldiers to Pueblo for the winter. At this, Melissa Coray almost lost courage. But it was not so with her husband. Along with Captain Daniel C. Davis, Captain Jesse D. Hunter and Sergeant Ebenezer Brown, he went to the Colonel to persuade him to let Lydia Hunter, Melissa Coray, Susan Davis, Nancy Brown Davis ("unnamed child of Captain James Brown" mentioned in MB Roster, and wife of Eleazer Davis, Company D) and Phebe Draper Palmer Brown to continue. Just what was said at this conference, the women never knew, but they were permitted to accompany their husbands.

The nausea of early pregnancy made traveling harder for her. Once, after marching two days without water, she saw a number of men crowded around a small spring from which trickled a little stream of water. As it seeped from the rocks they were sucking it through a quill. Small as it was it provided some relief.

William attempted to keep many of the trials of the trip from her, but she knew and shared most of them. One night in Arizona she had a scare that she didn't forget. Mexicans were in the vicinity, and the men were afraid they would be attacked, so they stayed up all night, but nothing happened. About this time, she was becoming extremely weary and footsore, and Col. Cooke seeing her fatigue, got down from his big white horse and offered it to her to ride on.

On January 29, 1847, the Battalion reached San Diego, and grandmother and Sergeant Coray, with others of the Battalion thought their journey ended. After two days there, they were ordered to the Mission San Luis Rey to do garrison duty and protect the place from the Indians. However, in six weeks or so Company B was ordered back to San Diego and grandmother said they camped at Old Town, near the site which is now known as Ramona's Marriage Place. Here she anxiously awaited the time when her husband would be mustered out and could make a home for her and the baby she was expecting. When the Battalion was discharged in early summer, her husband bought a wagon and some horses, and they started north. At Monterey, a baby boy, William Coray Jr. was born on February 2, 1847, but he only lived a few days and was buried in the little cemetery there.

As soon as she was able to travel, they started out again. She said the trip was hard, the country was new; and there were no roads. They had to pick their way as best they could. In one place they came to a gorge so narrow that they couldn't drive through it. They had to take their wagon apart and carry it through, a piece at a time. When they reached Sutter's Mill near Sacramento, they found that gold had been discovered, and some of the Battalion stopped there. Although the Corays were anxious to get to Salt Lake, they had to remain there long enough to get the means to continue. Mr. Coray sent two sacks of gold back east to bring his mother and sister to Utah.

Melissa and William left for Utah with the Browett-Holmes Company from Pleasant Valley, near present-day Placerville, California. The company consisted of 45 men, one woman (Melissa), two cannons, 17 wagons, 150 mules and horses and about the same number of cattle. They chose the Carson Pass route to avoid crossing the Truckee River numerous times.

It took them six weeks to build a wagon trail over Carson Pass. These were the first wagons to travel this route and the first to go from west to east. For Melissa Coray, this had been the second time she had watched the battalion build a road. The first was the last 700 miles to San Diego. Melissa witnessed a third building of a road, the Salt Lake cut-off just before arriving in the Great Salt Lake Valley from the west.

Melissa wrote the worst night she ever spent was in Nevada. An advance guard of five men had been sent ahead to find the best route and notify the others. But they weren't heard from. Although the rest of the party thought it strange, they kept on. One night, just at dusk, they came upon the bodies of the five men. They had been killed by the Indians with poisoned arrows, and their bodies had been thrown in a gulch and partly covered with underbrush. The bodies were buried, and the small company camped nearby for the night.

They had bought a small cannon before leaving San Diego. They were afraid of an attack that night so the cannon was fired off every little while to scare the Indians. "The firing of the cannon may have kept the Indians away, but it did us more harm than good, for it frightened the horses so that they stampeded, and they had a hard time getting them back, and some were lost.

The returning Battalion members saw their first view of Salt Lake City as they arrived in October, 1848.Melissa and her husband established their home in the first house built in the old Fifteenth Ward, and it was here that a baby girl was born to them, February 6, 1849. They named her Melissa Coray, born on December 31, 1873, she married Douglas Archibald Swan, and in later years, as a widow since 1907, made her home in Ocean Park and Venice, Los Angeles, California where she died on June 20, 1940.

Grief soon entered the Coray household. Sergeant Coray, weakened by the hardships and exposure of the trip, took seriously ill and passed away on March 7, 1849, less than three months after arriving in Salt Lake City.

Melissa Burton Coray Kimball c. 1855

Two and a half years later on December 24, 1851, Melissa married William Henry Kimball, eldest son of Heber C. Kimball and Vilate Murray. Melissa had seven more children, the last ones being born in Parley's Park (now Park City), Summit County, Utah.
1) Burton Shipley Kimball b. Oct. 6, 1852; md. Alena May Parker 1880
2) Ida Marie Kimball b. Oct 14, 1854; md. Patrick Henry Towey 1888
3) Robert Taylor Kimball b. Sep 15, 1857; md. Hannah Amanda Evans 1888
4) Charles Martin Kimball b. Nov 22, 1859: md.
5) Ranch Stanley Kimball b. Dec 25, 1861; md. Sarah Butterworth 1882
6) Lawrence Prosper Kimball b. July 14, 1863; md. Susan "Susie" Kearns 1887
7) Ernest Lynn Kimball b. March 8, 1866; md. Annie Sutton 1892

Melissa in front row with Mormon Battalion reunion group at 50 year reunion
Right Click mouse on image to view enlarged photo

Melissa's picture was in the Utah Building during the San Diego Exposition in 1915. Several years before she died, she made a trip to California, visiting the places where she had been so many years before. She stopped at San Luis Rey mission, which was really her first stopping place in California. She talked with the priests there and could hardly get away from them, they were so anxious to hear her story. She also visited Monterey and tried to locate the grave of her baby William Coray Jr., but the cemetery had changed so that she was unable to do so.

July 24, 1897 Jubilee photo by George Ed Andersen taken of original 1847 Utah Pioneers
at Temple Square, SLC, Utah

Number 6 is Martha Jane Sargent Sharp Mowrey; Number 7 Susannah Sneath Harker; Number 8 is Melissa Burton Coray Kimball;
Number 9 unidentified; Number 10 unidentified; Number 24 unidentifed; Number 25 unidentified; Number 26 unidentified.

After William Coray's death 7 March 1849, his wife Melissa Burton Coray married William Henry Kimball, son of Heber Chase Kimball and Vilate Murray Kimball, on December 24, 1851, they had seven children. Melissa ran the store, hotel and post office at Kimball Junction in Summit County, Utah for many years. William, "a really rough character", spent most of his time in Salt Lake City.

William H. Kimball was a missionary to England 1854-1857. Deputy U.S. marshal three years; sergeant-at-arms in legislature two terms; brigadier-general of Utah militia. Assisted in bringing immigrants to Utah, and went to meet the Edward Martin "frozen" handcart company. Received reward for discovering the first coal mine withn 40 miles of Salt Lake City, known as "Sprague" mine. Postmaster at Parley's Park. Captain of minutemen in early Indian troubles. Proprietor of Kimball hotel; drove mail and stage line between Salt Lake and Park City between 1870-1885. Second settler in Parley's Park. Died at Coalville, Utah on December 30, 1907.

Married Mary M. Davenport
Children include marriages to Hilton, Serine, Clayton, Haley, Jackman, Sprague, Pitts.

Married Melissa Burton Coray on December 24, 1851.  See children above.

Married Naomi Eliza Redd on March 27, 1891

Melissa spent the rest of her life in Utah and died in Salt Lake City, September 21, 1903 at the age of 75 years. Her funeral was held on Wednesday, September 23, 1903 in the Fifteenth Ward Chapel. Apostles Orson F. Whitney and Elder Nephi L. Morris spoke. Benediction by J. Golden Kimball. Melissa was buried beside her first husband William Coray in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

William and Melissa Coray Tombstone


"A mountain peak in eastern California now honors the memory of a Mormon pioneer woman and the "thousands of emigrant women who endured similar hardships in settling the West."

The United States Board of Geographic Names last October named the 9,763-foot peak in the Sierra Nevada mountains in honor of Melissa Coray, the wife of Mormon Battalion Sgt. William Coray. Sgt. Coray was among 45 battalion men who blazed the "highway" through Carson Pass, about 50 miles southwest of present-day Carson City, Nev.

To celebrate the naming of the peak and the memory of Melissa Coray and others, hundreds gathered July 30, 1994 for a two-part commemoration. The event was sponsored by the Sierra Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.

The first event was a roadside ceremony on U.S. Highway 88, five miles west of the peak, during which a plaque was unveiled commemorating the "Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail." Ben E. Lofgren, SUP Sierra Chapter president, said that the trail was designated a National Historic Trail in August 1992 by a Congressional Act, but this was the first service commemorating the trail.

Unveiling the plaque, which also makes reference to the peak, was 8-year-old Melissa Richmond, a fourth-great-granddaughter of Melissa Coray. She is the daughter of Rick and Lind Ann Richmond of the Vienna Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake.

The second part of the commemoration was also on Highway 88, about 12 miles northeast of the plaque. Here several addresses were given in honor of Melissa Coray and others who blazed the Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail. Joining this event as a culmination of their youth conference were young men and young women of the Fair Oaks California Stake. They had hiked and pulled handcarts along 10 miles of the trail.

Among the hundreds attending both services were descendants of not only Melissa Coray, but also of battalion members and other LDS and non-LDS immigrants. Organizations participating in the two ceremonies included the SUP Sierra Chapter, the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon-California Trail Association and the International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

The naming of the peak was the result of a three-year effort. With the cooperation of the Oregon-California Trail Association and the U.S. Forest Service, the Sierra Chapter began working with the California Board of Geographic Names in 1991 to name a peak after Melissa Coray. The California board requested and received approval from the U.S. board in October 1993.

Melissa Coray Peak will appear on future official state and federal maps, said Brother Lofgren. See map location at: http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=38.6518&lon=-120.0396&s=200&layer=DRG100&size=m&u=1

Melissa Coray Peak (left) and, I think, Mt. Reba (middle) way off in the distance.

Melissa's brother, see American Civil War


PAF - Archer files = Phebe Howe Coray Abbott + (2) James Abbott : Phebe Howe + (1) John Coray > Silas Coray + Mary Stephens > William Coray + Melissa Burton < Samuel Burton + Hannah Shipley. James Abbott is the great grandfather of Orson Pratt Brown.

Orson Pratt Brown's granddaughter Shirley Brown Hadley's daughter, Kathleen Hadley, married Paul G. Neff, son of John Edward Neff and Lorele Burt Neff. Neff's are Coray and Garff relatives.

"Melissa's Journey With the Mormon Battalion: The Western Odyssey of Melissa Burton Coray: 1846-1848" by Norma B. Ricketts.. D.U.P. 1994

Pioneers of 1847 - Early photo of Utah Pioneers taken on Temple Square at their 50th Jubilee, July 24, 1897, by Springville, Utah, photographer, George Ed Andersen. Published in the Deseret News, Church News section, on ending July 24th, 1971.

Information from Norma B. Ricketts is that Kathy Bagley Garff found a relative of the Coray's in San Diego who was in possession of a typewritten manuscript of William Coray's Journal. The name of this relative or whether or not the relative had the original journal is unknown. Kathy told me that her relationship to William and Melissa Coray is through their daughter Melissa Coray Swan and her son, George Swan. George Swan married Agnes MacDonald, two of their children did not marry but they were in possession of the family genealogy.  Perhaps they have the William Coray journal.

http://www.coryfamsoc.com/resources/articles/coray.htm (2007)

Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org



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... Easter 1986 through October 2005


... Published December 2007:
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... Published March 2009:
(unfortunately the publisher incorrectly changed the photo
and spelling of Phebe Abbott Brown Fife's name
after it was proofed by this author)
Researched and Compiled by
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... Published 2012:
"Finding Refuge in El Paso"
By Fred E. Woods [ISBN: 978-1-4621-1153-4]
Includes O.P Brown's activities as Special Church Agent in El Paso
and the Juarez Stake Relief Committee Minutes of 1912.

...Published 2012:
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Includes O.P. Brown's works as Bishop of Morelos. Written in Spanish.

...Published 2014:
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By Elizabeth Oberdick Anderson [ISBN: 978-156085-226-1]
Mentions O.P. Brown more than 30 times as Ivins' companion.

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... Lily Gonzalez Brown 80th Birthday Party-Reunion
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...... Biographical Sketch of the Life Orson Pratt Brown
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