Holiness to the Lord, the story of John Rowe Moyle

Last night in the General Priesthood session of the October 2008 General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was discussing the need for Latter-day Saints to “Stand close together, and lift where you stand” (here), encouraging us not to aspire to callings, nor to shun them.

He recounted the story of John Rowe Moyle, a master of stonework who came west with the earliest handcart companies in 1846.  He settled in Alpine Utah, which was nearly 22 miles away from downtown Salt Lake City.  He was called to be a stone mason on the Salt Lake Temple.  In order to fulfill his calling, and to be to work by 8:00 in the morning, every Monday Brother Moyle would wake up at 2:00 a.m., and begin his long walk over the hill, and through the valley to the temple of the Lord.

He would spend the week in Salt Lake, working on the temple, and then on Friday, at 5:00 p.m., he would start the long walk home, where he would tend to the duties of his farm over the weekend.

One weekend, while tending to his farm, he was kicked as one of his cows bolted while milking, resulting in a compound fracture to his leg.  In the lack of any sophisticated medical help at the time, the only available solution for his injury was amputation.  His family and friends removed a door from its hinges, and strapped him onto it, and then removed his leg with a hacksaw.

As soon as he was able, once he could sit up in bed, he took a piece of wood, and using his carving skills, carved an artificial limb for himself so that such a little thing like the loss of a leg would not prevent him from walking each week to work on the temple.

As soon as he was able to stand the pain from walking on his stub leg, he again journeyed to the temple, and resumed his work, which he did for many years to come.

Amongst other stone work, Brother Moyle was responsible for carving the “Holiness to the Lord” stone upon the east side of the temple (images below).

Here is a map of how far he walked.  According to Google Maps, it says that drive (in a car, with a freeway) would take 55 minutes (click the map to view in Google Maps, with the ability to zoom, for better appreciation of scale).

(click image above for a larger view)

(Click image above for a larger view)

On Temple Square, there’s a sculptor of John Rowe Hoyle pushing a handcart with his wife (click for a larger view).

(Click image above for larger view)


13 Responses

  1. Rusty, thanks for taking the time to share this story and illustrate it in a manner that brings it to life. Well done!

  2. Rusty, even though I heard about these talks from my husband, it’s great to read about them with pictures. Brother Moyle’s story is so inspiring. Much of what we do pales in comparison to his dedication. Whenever I see “Holiness to the Lord” on any Temple now, I’ll think of him and his willingness to serve. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for sharing that story and the pictures. I’ve always loved it since Elder Holland told the story in the April 2000 conference. I’m a huge fan of your blog – I just discovered it last week through StumbleUpon. Keep up the good work.

  4. Absolutely my pleasure. I’m trying to figure out a way to use either Google Earth or Microsoft Earth to plot the path he would have most likely taken, and use it’s “fly” technology to actually move up and down the mountain, and then accross the valey and record it as some sort of “time-accelerated” travel, just to show how far that walk would be. That kind of visualization would really put things into perspective.

  5. My great grandfather was a stonemason from England and a pioneer of 1850 – it makes me curious to know if they knew each other. Great grandpa worked on the Nauvoo and the Salt Lake Temple, as well as constructing many of the homes and buildings in Salt Lake. I haven’t purchased the DVD of his story yet , however, I think it would be a neat thing to share with my sisters. That was truly an amazing thing for him to walk so far to work on the temple ! Our pioneers surely were dedidcated people , weren’t they?? Thanks for listening…..

  6. I just saw the movie at the St George visitors center his life story. The faith and belief of one man is something that just brought tears to my eyes,it certainly has made a real impact on my life. It shows that if you have faith in the Gospel no hard ship can defeat you.

  7. Please give me a rely on my previous comment

  8. It looks like the photos . . . but how do you know the hand cart man is John Moyle?

    Any insight on his wooden leg and articulating ankle?

    (I’m teaching a TFOT lesson next week.)

    Mark Bales
    Hauula, Hawaii

  9. I have the DVD distributed by Excell Entertainment. In the “The Making of” part they tell us that when the statue of the hand cart man was cast, it was made to be his (John Rowe Moyle’s) image to honor him. It also tells how he designed and created his wooden leg. An ingenius design for the times. If you lived closer, I’d let you borrow my copy.

  10. Where do you think I could order this DVD?

  11. It is available through Deseret Book.


  12. He is my fourth great grandpa.

  13. Ryan,

    That is so awesome! I’m so glad that you posted.

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