Martha Belle Johnston Denny Ray

This home on Washington Boulevard in Indianapolis was built by Martha Ray. Photo courtesy: Amy Borland

Martha Belle Johnston Denny Ray
(13 Jul 1875 – 5 Apr 1960)

Martha Belle Johnston married Scott Denny in 1897. Scott’s father and brother had a very successful real estate company. In early 1913, after his father died and his own hardware store was struggling, Scott simply disappeared. He proceeded to send Martha a letter from Cincinnati saying he was leaving her everything and the family would be better without him. Newspaper articles from the time reveal extensive efforts were made to find him over the nine days he was missing. He eventually returned home and was unable to explain where he had been; he was “put under a doctor’s care.” The couple divorced in 1926. Martha built her first house in 1925 as a response to the pending breakdown of her marriage and to financially support herself.

Martha remarried in 1928 to Dillon Ray and the last known home she built was in 1929. Whether her new marriage or the Great Depression brought about the end of her building career is unknown. Martha died April 5, 1960.

Burial Location: Section 66, Lot 801 GPS (39.8232839, -86.1710880)

Tombstone of Martha Denny Ray