Luman Andrus Shurtliff, who worked on the Mississippi River transporting materials for the construction of the original Nauvoo Temple, wrote for his children this account of building the temple. The account, which maintains his grammar, punctuation and spelling, summarizes conditions endured by many temple workers:
"My cloths was worn out and my family was so destitute I thought best to stay at home and labor to get some things before hand that I could leave my family comfortable in the fall. I had helped lay the foundation of our temple and now wished to do something more towards the building of it. Accordingly I went to the temple committee and hired to them to work on the boat and boat [transport] rock, timber, wood etc. [for the temple]. I here got provision to keep my family alive and that was all I expected. The committee did the best they could but they had nothing better in their hands to give us. We labored 10 hours in a day, day after day, on and in the water and at night go to the temple office to get something to take our families for supper and breakfast. Many times we got nothing at other times 1/2 pound of butter or three pounds of fresh beef and nothing to cook it with. Sometimes a peck of corn meal or a few pounds of flour and before any more provisions came into the office the hands that worked steady would sometimes be entirely out of provisions and have to live on herbs boiled with any seasoning except salt or on parch corn. . . .
"I had some milk from my cows and by putting it half water and then we could get corn or corn meal we could live well for them times that is we could hull or boil corn and put that with milk and water and ate it sweetly and work ten hours on the temple or if we had meal make a cake wet up with water or a mush in a cup for dinner go onto the boat at six and at noon eat my dinner of the above mentioned food and thank God that I and my family was thus blessed. . . .
"The reader may think that the above mentioned scarcity of provision was confined to my family. Not so my family was as well off as the majority of my neighbors. I had seen those that cut stone by the year eat nothing but parched or browned corn for breakfast and take some in their pocket for dinner and go to work singing the songs of Zion. I mention this not to find fault or complain but to let my children know how the temple in Nauvoo was built and how their parents as well as hundreds of others suffered to lay a foundation on which they could build." (Nauvoo Temple, A story of Faith, Don F. Colvin, Covenant Communications, Inc., 2002, pp. 59-60.)