March, 26, 2012

Martha Cragun Cox: A Teacher and a Record Keeper

Martha Cragun Cox was a thorough record keeper, a driven and curious student who spent time at Brigham Young Academy, and a dedicated teacher, committed to her children and her God.

One reason Martha is known in history is because she wrote a handwritten autobiography of over three hundred pages. Her diligence in recording her own stories stands as a powerful example.

Martha was born March 3, 1852, southeast of Salt Lake City. She moved to St. George with her family when she was eleven. Martha grew up in poverty, yet she developed an impressive appetite for reading and learning. One day, when she was sixteen, she ran into a group of young boys who were skipping school. She chastised them and said, “If I were your teacher, I’d be sorry to have you out of school.” To which one boy responded, “If you were our teacher, we wouldn’t skip school.” She responded lamenting she didn’t know much, to which another boy responded, “I should think you’d teach us all that you do know” (116).

Martha explained, “I cannot refuse to go to the aid of the children” (209). With only a little over a year of schooling under her belt, she became an assistant teacher; then she opened her first school when she was eighteen. She continued teaching in various capacities until she died.

Martha James Cragun Cox, “Biographical Record of Martha Cox: Written for My Children and My Children’s Children, and All Who May Care to Read It.” Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lavina Fielding Anderson, “A ‘Salt of the Earth’ Lady: Martha Cragun Cox,” in Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons, ed. Donald Q. Cannon and David J. Whittaker (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 1985), 101–32.