Springville Museum of Art

11:29 PM

Holding OnLetting Go: Melissa Burton Coray (Kimball)
 “Melissa Coray, [was] the 18-year-old bride of Sergeant William Coray. Melissa was one of four women who marched to San Diego with the [Mormon] battalion. Her odyssey continued as she and William migrated to Monterey, California, after William’s discharge, where she gave birth to a son, William Jr (1847.) William Jr. died within a few months after his birth and was buried in Monterey. The couple then went to San Francisco and eventually on to the Salt Lake Valley, traveling more then 4,000 miles in all. When they arrived in Salt Lake City, Melissa was expecting their second child. William was ill with tuberculosis he had contracted in California but hoped to live long enough to see their child born. Happily, he did. Baby Melissa was born on February 6, 1849, about one month before William’s death.” (Lance B. Wickman, “From Iowa to Immortality: A Tribute to the Mormon Battalion,” Ensign, Jul 2007, 22.)                                                                                                                                                This painting depicts Melissa—a pioneer mother, clinging to her child—fully embracing and holding on to life, holding on to her faith, her hope, her joys . . . her own life and the things that shape it, but most importantly, also holding the tender new life that she gives constant care and love to. To take on the journey of the pioneer trail—through the vast, unknown wilderness—required thousands of pioneers to leave their homes, their businesses, their farms, their lifestyle, and, in some cases, their beloved family members or friends, lettinggo of almost everything while holding on to faith. They took the challenge by wagon, ship, handcart, and some, like Melissa, even by foot alone. To be a pioneer mother, especially one that marched with the battalion, was to be fervent! Holding on to what matters most, and letting go of the frivolities in life. The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said, “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.” The sacrifices a pioneer mother made are truly incomparable. What an example to us all!

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  1. I love the painting and both stories about it - the story of the painting, as well as the decision to take it to Springville! BTW, your mom and I are cousins. Your Grandma Bangerter (my Aunt Connie) loves to brag about you - with just cause.


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