In pursuit of excellence: Cache Valley ox was model for baptismal font oxen

As construction of the Salt Lake Temple progressed, resources of the Church in every area were utilized in achieving the desired level of excellence. Even the Church farm in Logan, Utah, made a contribution.

Nephi Martineau had been hired in 1883 by Presiding Bishop William B. Preston to oversee the farm, located just west of Logan. He arrived there with his bride, Emmeline Knowles Martineau, in the summer of 1883, and the couple remained on the farm for seven years.On the farm were animals, including cattle, donated as tithing to the Church. The cattle were sent on the forest range in Idaho to fatten during the summer, and rounded up in the fall and returned to the farm.

The farm had been laid out by Brigham Young and contained about 3,000 acres of land. Twenty-two men worked on the farm. Using horse-drawn mowers and rakes, they put up about 100 tons of hay a year. Other hay was donated as tithing.

One summer day, Nephi received an order from Salt Lake City. He was asked to select a large, well-formed steer and bring it to Salt Lake City. There it would be used as the model for the oxen under the baptismal font in the Salt Lake Temple, then under construction. He chose a choice animal, and then feed and supplies were loaded on a wagon, and he and the ox made the three-day trip to Salt Lake City.

It is not known what year the ox was ordered and delivered to Salt Lake City, but the event was recorded in Nephi Martineau's personal journal and preserved by the family.

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