Melissa <I>Lott</I> Willes

Photo added by Judie Latshaw Huff

Melissa Lott Willes

  • Birth 9 Jan 1824 Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Death 13 Jul 1898 Lehi, Utah County, Utah, USA
  • Burial Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
  • Plot C-1-7-
  • Memorial ID 19417741

Cenotaph Memorial

Utah Historical Society lists burial as Lehi, Utah, Utah and a memorial marker is found at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, C-1-7, where her husband, Ira Willes, is buried. Lehi's first cemetery no longer exists, but a large marker has been erected in memory of the dead who lie there. It is located on Highway 91 at 8th North in Lehi.

Daughter of Cornelius Peter Lott and Permelia Darrow

Married Prophet Joseph Smith, 20 Sep 1843, Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois

Married John Milton Bernhisel, 8 Feb 1846, Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois

Married Ira Jones Willes, 13 May 1849, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Children - Achsa Permelia Willes, Stephen Eleazer Willes, Lyman Benjamin Willes, Ira Pratt Willes, Cornelius John Willes, Polly Malissa Willes

History - Malissa, along with her parents and brothers and sisters joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its infancy, and they moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio, then to Missouri and finally to Nauvoo, Illinois to be with the Saints. She knew the hardships and persecutions of the members of this newly organized church, but her faith was strong and she was true to the teachings of those in authority.

While living in Nauvoo, her father was put in charge of the Joseph Smith farm. They became very friendly with the Smith family and Malissa spent much time in the home of the Prophet helping his wife Emma. She had been taught well by her mother to work, learning to sew, cook, wash, iron, mend, make soap and candles and everything necessary for keeping a pioneer home. She was taught to study and learn all she could and not waste precious time. She was a very quiet, refined person, whom everyone loved and respected. During the time she spent with the Joseph Smith family she went to school in the so-called brick store. The Prophet's children, Joseph, Fredrick and Alexander, went to the same school under the watchful care of Malissa.

Malissa lived in the home with Emma Smith and her family until the spring of 1844, then she went back to the farm and lived with her parents until after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. She lived a short time with Emma Smith until the exodus in 1846, when she left Nauvoo with the Saints. After spending two winters at Mt. Pisgah, she accompanied her father's family to the Great Salt Lake Valley, arriving September 24, 1848, in the Heber C. Kimball Company.

On May 13, 1849, she married Ira Jones Willes. Ira had been a volunteer in the Mormon Battalion and was successful in making the long, perilous journey to California. They lived in Salt Lake for one year, then moved to Lehi where they purchased a farm. They were the parents of seven children, four sons and three daughters. Ira met death December 15, 1863. He was accidently killed while crossing a creek near Lehi, being thrown from a load of wood into the water, together with his son Cornelius John, nine years of age. Both were drowned. Malissa had had much sorrow in her life, as well as much happiness. Ira was a good husband to her and a good father to her children. Ira Pratt Willes her eldest son died at age nineteen years and her oldest daughter died at the age of four years.

When her husband was killed she was left with four small children to care for, the youngest a baby girl of four months. She kept her children close to her and taught them to be honest upright citizens, and to live the Gospel.

Gravesite Details Name has been spelled as Malissa





  • Created by: SMSmith
  • Added: 17 May 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19417741
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Melissa Lott Willes (9 Jan 1824–13 Jul 1898), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19417741, citing Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .