By Richard D. Kirkham – Great Grandson
Miracles of grace are well portrayed in the pioneer life of Lott Russon, born in Dudley, England, a place called “The Black Country” because coal was mined there.
Lott grew up in a very poor coal mining family. He was the only boy in a family of 6 children. His life was miraculously spared multiple times throughout his 88 years of life. Some of his survival stories have been passed down to his posterity to strengthen their faith as they face their trials in life.
When Lott turned 7 he was obliged to go to work as a rivet carrier to earn additional money for the family. By grace he was saved when at work a spike got loose from a machine, flew across the room and entered his skull like a bullet. He nearly died from the injury.
At age 13 his father was disabled in a coal mine accident so Lott took his place and became a collier. When Lott’s father was well enough to walk, he came to the mine to check on Lott. Tragically he fell down the shaft and was killed leaving young Lott fatherless.
From age 13 on Lott became the provider for his family. Sometime later, after the death of his father, part of the mine collapsed where Lott was working, but by grace he and one other man somehow crawled two miles in darkness underground on hands and knees till they found the surface and returned back to the coal yard and to safety. Both men had been given up for dead.
By grace Lott survived a dozen other perils; a sudden flare of coal gas on the surface, burial under tons of rock when a mine roof collapsed, a freefall in an elevator car which dove some 470 feet when a cable jumped a pulley. He survived an underground methane explosion. He was buried in ice catastrophe. He lost his hearing when his skull was crushed by a steel bar. By grace and and by priesthood power his hearing was restored. “In all his ordeals it was by grace that he remained whole. He lost only a part of one of his fingers.
He joined the church when he was 24 but he could never earn enough money for his wife and 8 children to immigrate to Utah, so they stayed in Dudley and Lott continued working in the coal mines.
Eighteen years passed. Lott was 42 years old. Elder Nebeker, the missionary who baptized him, sent $535.36 to him so his family could immigrate to Utah. Lott was working in the mine the day the money arrived. The mine was under threat of flooding and the pumps were working at full capacity to evacuate the water that was rushing into the shafts. Lott was fitting pipes down in the mine when his wife arrived with the news. What happened next was again the grace of God working in Lott’s life.
In his own words he records, “On Oct. 14,1871, my wife came to the pit and had me called up. At that time I was with the other men laying down pipe and we were up to our waists in water. When she saw me she said, “Take off the wet clothes, Lott, and never put them on again. The money has come to take us to Utah.” I said, “Let me go down and finish the job.” She said, “No, Lott, you might get hurt.” Reluctantly I complied. As I was taking off my clothes the alarm whistle sounded. Another accident happened and buried all the men in the mine. I alone was saved once again.”
The ordeals in Lott’s life didn’t end with the arrival of the money from Elder Nebeker. Many more trials and tribulations followed, but by the grace of God he and his family were able to come to Utah and join the saints where they could build Zion.
They settled in Lehi, Utah where Lott, now in his mid 40s, started life all over again. But this time they were in Zion. Building a home and a foundation for their posterity who would have the blessing of growing up in the valleys near the Temples of God. Lott and his wife received their endowments and were sealed in the endowment house in 1872. Lott Russon lived 46 more years in Lehi, Utah. He died faithful in the faith at age of 88.
Lott’s life gives new meaning to the verse we read in 2 Nephi 25:22 where it says, “We are saved by grace after all we can do.” Surely it was by grace that Lott lived to see old age, bless his grandchildren, witness the gathering of Israel, and testify to the fulfillment of prophecy as Zion became established in the tops of the mountains of Utah.