Temple centennial: Stonecutter's faith

Thousands of men toiled to erect the stone walls of the Salt Lake Temple during the 40 years of its construction.

Representative of them was James Moyle, "boss" stonecutter from 1871 until his death in 1890. James Moyle had the reputation as a man who prized commitment and integrity.Moyle was converted in England in 1851, then crossed the ocean and plains through the aid of the Perpetual Emigration Fund. After his arrival in Utah in September 1854, he repaid the fund by earning $3 a day as a stonecutter.

Once while doing some of the hardest labor of his life for a Bountiful, Utah, farmer, he was sorely tempted. He was offered employment to drive a herd of cattle to the coast - and California's lucrative gold fields.

Walking along a trail from Salt Lake to his work in Bountiful, he mulled his decision. He'd prayed to make the right choice. He decided to flip a stone to help him see things more clearly. He chose which side of the stone would be the "stay" side, and flipped it. The stone landed "stay" side up, so he stayed, accepting that as the answer to his prayer.

He later married Elizabeth Wood, daughter of his employer, Daniel Wood. In 1871, while employed with Union Pacific Railroad, he was called to work on Temple Square. He accepted the call despite Union Pacific's offer of higher wages if he were to remain with them.

"I had always made it a rule of my life to try and do whatever was required of me by those in authority for I know that was the path of safety and salvation," he wrote in his journal.

In 1875 he became general superintendent of 100 to 150 men working on Temple Square.

Although James Moyle had a strong back, he was tender toward his family. He noted with pride on April 22, 1889, that, "My little Grand son was born this afternoon. . . . We named him Henry Dinwoody Moyle."

The hard-working stonecutter died less than two years later on Dec. 8, 1890, at age 55. He did not see the temple completed. However, his grandson carried on the family tradition of commitment and integrity. "President Moyle," as this grandson was known, frequently entered the Salt Lake Temple as he served on the Council of the Twelve and in First Presidency for more than 16 years.

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