Friday, June 27, 2014

Melissa Lott (Smith) Bernhisel Willes - wife #34

Melissa Lott (January 9, 1824 - July 13, 1898) moved with her family to Nauvoo in 1842. Her father, Cornelius, managed the Smith family farm a couple of miles south of town. Melissa soon moved in with the Smiths and helped out with Joseph and Emma's children. She moved back home as a single teen.

Then, towards the end of June, 1843, Joseph sent an entourage of secret wives to convince Melissa that she needed to marry him. Eliza Snow, Elvira Holmes, Elizabeth Durfee, and Elizabeth Whitney (mother of one of Joseph's teenage wives, Sarah Ann Whitney) dropped by the Lott farm for a chat.

Nineteen-year-old Melissa was secretly married to Joseph in September. Her parents were present as Melissa and Joseph vowed to keep themselves "wholly for each other" in the capacity of husband and wife. Melissa later confirmed that she was Joseph's wife "in very deed," which is to say they had sex. She even returned to the Smith home that winter. I wonder if Emma noticed anything.

Less than year after Joseph was murdered, Melissa married again, this time to a man named John Milton Bernhisel. Three years later, now in Utah, she married Ira Jones Willes, with whom she had six children: Achsa, Stephen, Lyman, Ira, Cornelius, and Polly.

Melissa lost her husband and son Cornelius in 1863. Achsa and Stephen also died before reaching adulthood.


  1. Malissa (how she spelled her name) Lott Willes testimony at the Temple Lot Trial,

    227 Q. Did you ever room with Joseph Smith as his wife? A. Yes sir.
    228 Q. At what place? A. At Nauvoo
    229 Q. What place in Nauvoo? A. The Nauvoo Mansion.
    230 Q. At what place in the Mansion? A. Do you want to know the number of the room, or what?
    231 Q. Well just what part of the house the room was in if you can give it? A. Well I can give it and the number of the room too. It was room number one.
    232 [sic] Q. Room number one? A. Yes sir.
    233 Q. Who else roomed there? A. I don’t know of any one.
    234 Q. Where was Emma Smith at that time? A. I don’t know I didn’t ask where she was.
    235 Q. Did you know where she was at that time? A. No sir I didn’t.
    236 Q. Did she know where you were at that time? A. I did not ask her whether she did or not.
    237 Q. So you roomed with him in the Nauvoo Mansion in room number one? A. Yes sir.
    238 Q. That was the house that Joseph Smith lived in was it not? A. Yes sir.
    239 Q. And you don’t know whether Emma Smith was in the house or not? A. No sir.
    240 Q. And you can’t say whether she knew where you were? A. No sir. I couldn’t say where she was, and I don’t know that she knew about me, for I did not speak to her.
    241 Q. Well she was at home? A. Yes sir.
    242 Q. How do you know? A. She was there when I see her last.
    243 Q. What time was that? A. That I saw her?
    244 Q. Yes madam? A. I can’t tell you the time, If I had thought I was to be asked all these questions I might have kept a note of all these things, but as I didn’t know anything about this examination I didn’t.
    245 Q. How often did you room there with Joseph Smith? A. Well that is something I can’t tell you.
    246 Q. Well was it more than once? A. Yes sir, and more than twice.
    247 Q. Well that is something I would like to know? A. Well there is something I would like to know. If I am to be asked these questions I would like to know if I am to answer them. I have told you all about this thing that I know, and I can’t see any reason in your worrying me with these questions, and I would like to know if I have to answer them?
    248 Q. Well if you decline to answer them say so, and that will do? A. I don’t decline to answer any question that I know anything about.
    249 Q. Well answer that question then? A. What is the question?
    250 Q. I asked how many times you had roomed there in the house with Joseph Smith? I do not expect you to answer positively the exact number of times, but I would like to have you tell us the number of times as nearly as you can remember it? A. Well I can’t tell you. I think I have acted the part of a lady in answering your questions as well as I have, and I don’t think you are acting the part of a gentleman in asking me these questions.
    251 Q. Well I will ask you the question over again in this form, --was it more than twice? A. Yes sir.
    252 Q. Well How many times? A. I could not say.
    253 Q. Did you ever at any other place room with him? A. In what way.
    254 Q. Of course I mean as his wife? A. Yes sir.
    255 Q. At what places? A. In my father’s house.

    1. It's hilarious how she tried to defend her propriety as a lady while testifying about sleeping with a man numerous times behind his wife's back. Fuck propriety, she had a prophet to satisfy.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. For any curious as to why this comment was deleted, it was a repeat comment of the transcript of the Temple Lot trial.