Cornelius breathed deep and wiped his dusty brow, the rich soil bringing forth its Illinois potatoes and grain on this hot summer day in 1844. All was well; or at least it should have been. Cornelius felt a foreboding as he heard horses and looked up from his work. It was Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum, and other familiar men approaching slowly. Cornelius ran the Smith farm and recalled many glorious conversations while working side by side with his friend, employer, and spiritual leader.
The horsemen stopped, but for a moment. Their solemn leader, as though knowing he would never see his farm again, looked out and said, “Who would want to leave a place like this?”(a) With love and encouragement, he looked down and said, “good-bye my friend.”
A month earlier in a similar scene, Cornelius mounted and accompanied Joseph to Carthage, but that trial was postponed.(b) This time, as the party continued along the dusty road, Cornelius may have remembered that dusty occasion in Nauvoo, picking up his supplies, then wrestling with the prophet in the clearing outside the Red Brick store. Many had gathered around and all challengers had been thrown by the prophet. In his mind Cornelius could still hear Joseph’s cheerful voice that day, “Here! I have thrown down pretty nearly everybody about the place except Brother Lott, and I believe I can throw him down, too!” More townsfolk had gathered from the store to watch the event. In the circle, Joseph and Cornelius, “ran together several times, but the best [Joseph] could do was to get [Cornelius] down to his knees.” Cornelius had exclaimed, “I told you, my boy, that you couldn’t throw old man Lott.”(c)
Back at the farm he looked again down Parley street, the dust nearly settled as the party had disappeared around the bend toward Carthage. Two days later the tragic news came; Joseph and Hyrum were dead.
In honor of what he knew to be true, Cornelius Peter Lott became a ‘captain of tens’ crossing the plains in charge of widow Mary Fielding Smith’s wagon. He was a high councilman at Winter Quarters, three times a church farm caretaker, a missionary, and faithful priesthood holder.(d)(e)
(by Kenneth R. Hardman – To my father-in-law, Ferril Andrew Losee, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Peter Lott. Thank you Joan Losee Hardman for your help preparing this story)
(a) Joseph Smith – History, Vol. 6. Chapter 29, p. 558.
(b) IBID, Vol. 6, Chapter 19, p. 412,
(c) Launius, Roger D., and McKiernan, F. Mark, Joseph Smith, Jr.’s Red Brick Store, 1993, p. 19-20. link
(d) Losee, Ferril A., Hardman, Jana K., Losee, Lyman A., The Losee Family History – Ancestors and Descendants of Lyman Peter Losee and Mary Ann Peterson, 2000, p. 20. link
(e) Ford, Gary S., Cornelius P. Lott and his Contribution to the Temporal Salvation of the Latter-day Saint Pioneers Through the Care of Livestock, a thesis, BYU, Dec. 2005. link
Inherited traits and patterns of goodness – (from Joan Losee Hardman) From Cornelius, we learn to faithfully go on in the face of pain or loss. I’m impressed with his hard work and admire his faith and support of his family. He never lost faith in the prophet of the restored Gospel.