The Story of Artemus Millet, Canadian Master Builder of the Kirtland Temple

Consider also the example of Artemus Millet. In 1832 the Church faced a real dilemma. A stonemason was needed to direct the stonework on the Kirtland Temple. No one was qualified. Lorenzo Young suggested that they recruit Artemus Millet, who was a capable stonemason living in Canada. But there was one problem–Artemus was not a member of the Church. Joseph Smith paused and considered the suggestion. He then turned to Brigham Young and said, “I give you a mission to go to Canada and baptize Brother Artemus Millet and bring him here.” If that wasn’t enough, he then said, “And tell him to bring a thousand dollars with him” (Millet Family History, “A Brief History of Artemus Millet,” manuscript, LDS Archives, pp. 70­71). You prospective and returned missionaries, how would you like to receive such a mission assignment? With the help of the Lord, Brigham Young went to Canada and taught and baptized Brother Millet. When he was asked to leave Canada to supervise the work on the Kirtland Temple, Brother Millet responded that he had a business in Canada and if he left, not only would the business fail, but people who owed him money would never pay their debts to him. Being touched by the Spirit, Brother Millet left his business and moved to Kirtland, Ohio.

The stately Kirtland Temple is in a large part a monument to Artemus Millet. He lost his business. He lost his money. He lost his prestigious standing in Canada. Later his wife died. But look what he gained.

What Came from Kirtland


M. Russell Ballard was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this fireside address
was given at Brigham Young University on 6 November 1994.

© Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

When the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that Artemus Millet was not yet a member of the Church, he sent Brigham Young on a special mission to baptize him. Artemus Millet was a skilled mason in Canada who would be the right man to help build the Kirtland Temple. Brother Millet was baptized and accepted the call to be the master builder of the temple and to contribute a great deal of his own money to help pay for the sacred edifice. He went to Kirtland and selected the stone for the temple’s foundation. Later he sent workers to ask Saints in the area for precious china and glassware to grind into the plaster for the temple walls. Brother Millet would not reveal the formula for the plaster to anyone, explaining that it had been revealed to him by the Lord.

After the Kirtland Temple was completed, he received his endowment in the temple he had helped build. Brother Millet also contributed his time to the building of the Nauvoo Temple. He then went west with the Saints and helped build the St. George and Manti Temples in Utah. He died in the faith in Scipio, Utah, on 19 November 1874. 36

36. See Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989), pp. 15–16.

Kirtland Temple
Kirtland Temple

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