By June of
1842, the Lott family, including daughter Melissa, were living and working
on the Joseph Smith farm just a few miles southeast of Nauvoo. Melissa’s
father, Cornelius, managed the farm for the Prophet Joseph. This same
year, eighteen-year-old Melissa moved to Nauvoo and lived in the Joseph Smith
home, most likely helping with the children and household chores. Joseph
III, was one of the Smith children Melissa would have cared for. He
remembers Melissa was, “a tall, fine-looking woman with dark complexion,
dark hair and eyes. She was a good singer, quite celebrated in a local way.
I have heard her sing at parties and receptions in private home [and] on
the stage where theatrical performances were given...”
In June of
1843 Melissa was back at home living on the farm with her parents.
Near the end of the month, Eliza R. Snow, Elvira Holmes, Elizabeth Durfee
and Elizabeth Whitney visited the Lott farm. Eliza, Elvira and Elizabeth
D. had married Joseph Smith a year earlier. Elizabeth W. was the mother
of another one of Joseph’s wives, Sarah Ann Whitney. As a “Mother
in Israel”, Elizabeth Durfee previously had an influential role in preparing
the Partridge sisters to accept a plural marriage proposal from Joseph.
Perhaps these women now helped prepare Melissa in the same way.
By Fall of
that year, Melissa had agreed to wed Joseph and they were married on September
20, 1843. Melissa’s parents stood witness at the ceremony. Melissa
later recalled the wedding vows, “You both mutually agree to be each other’s
companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this
condition, that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all
others during your lives." Joseph’s wife, Sarah Ann Whitney, remembered
similar vows, with an exception for Joseph who, of course, had many other
wives: "...reserving only those rights which have been given to my servant
Joseph by revelation."
On the same
day that Melissa married Joseph, her parents, Cornelius and Permelia, were
sealed together for eternity. As with the parents Sarah Ann Whitney,
and Helen Mar Kimball, perhaps this was a reward for giving their daughter
to Joseph in marriage.
the contrasting elements to her and Joseph’s relationship, “I did not
go to church with Joseph Smith, was never seen on the streets or in public
places with him as his wife during his lifetime”. However, Melissa
said they did share intimate moments, and that she was Joseph’s wife, “in
very deed”. The following winter, Melissa returned to the Smith
home to live. She continued to help with the Smith children.
Joseph III, Fredrick and Alexander, attended the same school as Melissa,
and she would escort them to school and back. In the Summer of 1844
Melissa was widowed when Joseph was killed in Carthage.