WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
ARTEMUS MILLET SR.
(early resident of Shunesburg)
BIOGRAPHYArtemus Millett was born September 11, 1790 in Westmoreland, Cheshire, New Hampshire, the youngest child of Ebenezer Millett and Catherine Dryden Millet. His father died when he was 17, leaving him in charge of the family. He went to Vermont to learn masonry, and later became a huckster for the army and lost his savings. In 1815 he married Ruth Grannis, then moved to Canada to work for the British government building stone works. They had eight children when Ruth died of consumption. A servant girl, Susannah Peters, was exceptionally kind to her in her final illness, and Ruth asked Artemus to marry her.
In January 1833, Artemus was baptized and in October was asked by Hyrum Smith to go and work on the Kirtland Temple. Artemus wrote in his journal: “So I closed my business and moved to Kirtland and worked on the temple from the laying of the cornerstone until its completion and I did have full superintending of the building and had charge of the plastering and cementing of the building both inside and out.”
(The legend of Artemus being identified by Lorenzo Young while talking with Brigham Young on the temple grounds, and his subsequent baptism and mission call to Kirtland and the donation of $1000 is not supported by primary documents and likely was a legend perpetuated by his son Joseph Millet. See The Conversion of Artemus Millet and His Call to Kirtland, by Keith A Erekson and Lloyd D Newell, for more information).
Artemus was known for his new plaster recipe, which he kept secret since it was received by revelation. The plaster was smooth-looking and had bits of glass and crockery in it that caused it to shine in the sun. His son recalled, “Artemus sent men and boys to the different towns and places to gather old crockery and glass to put in the cement.” The legend of women donating their fine china did not start until 1940, over a hundred years after the dedication of the temple. Millet’s original plaster was replaced in 1955. Artemus was also instrumental in the building of the Nauvoo, St George and Manti temples.
Artemus was well known for his charity to shoeless workers and other needs. At one point the prophet asked him for money to purchase a tract of land to give lots to the poor that were homeless. While working on the Kirtland temple, Artemus broke several ribs, an arm and leg, and mashed one foot. He also suffered from a bout of cholera. The Prophet Joseph Smith healed him and told him that “generations on down would be blessed by the deeds performed by me”.
In 1836 he served a mission in Highland County, Ohio. When the Saints left Kirtland Artemus took his family back to Canada, where he discovered all his land had been confiscated by the British government. When his wife died in 1841, leaving him with four more sons, he soon moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. There he married widow Catherine Almira Prichard in 1843 and worked on the Nauvoo Temple. The family left with the Saints in 1846 for Iowa, where Almira died, and he married widow Mary Hamlet in 1849.
In 1850 the family crossed the plains (a son named Liberty was born on the trail just short of Fort Bridger, Wyoming) and settled Manti, Utah at the counsel of President Brigham Young. In 1858 he married Anna Stout, sister of Hosea Stout. In October 1861, Artemus volunteered for the Dixie Cotton Mission, where he settled in Shonesburg, Washington County, near the north entrance of today’s Zion National Park. In 1866 the Indian troubles sent the whole community to Rockville for safety. Two years later he moved his family to Spring Valley, Nevada, where his son Alma was in charge of the Church’s cooperative cattle herd. Artemus continued doing masonry work, helping to build chimneys, walled up wells, etc.
When his son was released from superintending the cattle herd, he moved his father to Scipio, Millard County, Utah. His two sons, Joseph and Hyrum, visited him there and a photographer took Artemus’ picture not long before his death.
Artemus died after an illness of three months in Scipio on November 19, 1874. He was 84 years of age. He was buried in the Scipio Cemetery.
REFERENCESThe Conversion of Artemus Millet and His Call to Kirtland
by Keith A. Erekson and Lloyd D. Newell
BYU Studies 41(2), 2002, pp. 77-115.
Artemus Millet: Builder of the Kingdom
by Josh E. Probert and Craig K. Manscill
Mormon Historical Studies, Spring 2005, pp. 53-86.
History of Alma and Artemus Millett
Biography of Artemus Millett and Geneology [sic]
Recorded by grandson Joseph Millet Jr.
February 16, 1872.
A Story about Artemus Millett Sr.
by his third great granddaughter Virginia "Ginny" Beverly Millett Arnett Stroud
The Temple Builder
Church News, August 1975.
Ancestors and Descendants of Thomas Millett of America
by George Francis Millett, 1959, pp. 107-118.
Find-A-Grave entry for Artimus Millet