The Conversion of Artemus Millet and His Call to Kirtland

A frequently told story in Church history concerns the call of Artemus Millet to work on the Kirtland Temple. With variations here and there, historians have related the story as follows: Joseph Smith, in the company of other brethren, is walking where the Kirtland Temple will be built. He wonders aloud who could superintend its construction, and Joseph Young (or Brigham Young or Lorenzo Young) recommends an acquaintance named Artemus Millet, who lives in Canada. The Prophet then sends Brigham Young to Canada to baptize Millet and bring him to Kirtland with one thousand dollars. Historians then relate that Brigham Young fulfilled his mission with exactness, baptizing Millet in January 1832 (or 1833). Millet sells the family farm, takes his family to Kirtland, and labors on the temple from the laying of the cornerstone to the project’s completion, having full charge of the work. The differing details within the story depend upon the source cited by the historian—Millet’s diary, autobiography, biography, or family records and histories. Our purpose in this article is to examine the existing sources on Millet’s conversion and his call to Kirtland in order to identify the elements of the story that can be historically corroborated and to demonstrate that Artemus Millet’s greatest legacies of faith are his conversion and his lifelong commitment to establishing Zion.

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