THE MANTI TEMPLE
(1947 brochure, first 4 pages)
Please note that the text of the brochure will be presented in this & following posts unedited, as an item of historical interest, in spite of phrasing and attitudes that may be found offensive to today’s readers.
NO TRAVELER along highway 89 through central Utah fails to notice the Mormon Temple at Manti. Towering above the road, its castellated walls standing in sharp outline against the sky and low hills, it forms a picture at once striking and beautiful, visible for many miles in either direction.
The most distinguished structure in this part of the state, it is also one of the renowned buildings of the west. By members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon organization is officially designated, it is regarded as a sacred and holy house. Among the hundreds of religious edifices maintained by the Church there are only eight such temples. Four of these are in Utah, all constructed during the pioneer era of the Church. Others, of more recent origin, have been built in Arizona; Idaho; Alberta, Canada; and the Hawaiian Islands.
Because of the sacredness of the work performed in these buildings, they are not open to the public, but visitors are cordially invited to the grounds where free guide service is provided during the tourist season.
Its underlying history and the purposes to which it is dedicated impart to the Manti Temple a unique interest for the traveler.
THE Mormon Pioneers arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in July, 1847. What is now the state of Utah was then Mexican territory occupied only by Indians. The Mormon colony was a wilderness outpost, a thousand miles from the nearest city to the east and seven hundred miles from the Pacific Coast settlements.
Under such conditions it would have been natural for these religious exiles to have remained together as a compact body for protection against the natives and for mutual aid in the rigorous task of pioneering the wilderness. But Brigham Young and other leaders determined that a vast area should be colonized to afford larger opportunity for the thousands of converts who would come into the Church.
Furthermore, the Mormons had comparatively little difficulty with the natives. Their sensible policy that it was better to feed than to fight them paid rich dividends. In fact, it was at the request of Chief Walker of the Ute tribe that settlers were first sent to the Sanpete valley through which highway 89 now runs. In 1855, Chief Arapeen, successor to Walker, deeded the Sanpete valley to Brigham Young as Trustee-in-Trust for the Church.
In November, 1849, a group of fifty colonists left Salt Lake City and drove their wagons and stock 125 miles to the area now occupied by the city of Manti. It was hoped that they could build temporary shelter before winter set in. But they had hardly made camp before a heavy storm arose leaving the valley blanketed with two feet of snow. Their wagons afforded scant protection against the wind and freezing temperatures which followed, and desperately in search of better shelter, they turned to the hill where the temple now stands.
Dugouts were cut in the side of the hill with smoke vents at the rear. And though the walls and floors were of dirt, these improvised rooms kept the colonists warm through a severe winter which took the lives of most of their cattle.
Beneath the topsoil of the hill was a solid mass of cream-colored oolitic limestone. When this was discovered, the hill became a quarry. The colonists utilized its stone to provide for themselves a substantial fort in case of any Indian troubles, and also used it in the construction of homes.
On April 25, 1877, four months before his death, Brigham Young visited Manti. Retiring to the hill on the outskirts of the village, he dedicated the site for the building of a house of God. Following this a call was sent out for workmen, and five days after the dedication a hundred men gathered at the quarry and knelt in prayer before commencing a task that was to continue for eleven years.
Two years of blasting and scraping were required to prepare the footings and foundation. On April 14, 1879, the cornerstones were laid, and work was begun on the walls, which were built of stone taken from the hill.
At the time of construction the people were relatively few in number. Moreover, their strength was taxed with the grim task of pioneering a harsh, strange land. Theirs was a constant struggle against drought, grasshoppers, sickness, poverty, and Indians who could not resist the temptation of their cattle. Yet the building went steadily forward.
In planning the undertaking Brigham Young said, “Now, Bishops, if any person should enquire what wages are to be paid for work on this temple, let the answer be, ‘Not one cent.'”
Contributions of eggs, cheese, meat, flour or what ever the people had were donated to the cause. The old day book shows such items as two steers credited for $38.50, 100 pounds of flour $2.00, a bed $1.00, $4.00 cash. All of these contributed materials were turned in to the Bishop’s storehouse, and then distributed to the workmen. When completed, the cost of the structure was estimated at a million dollars.
The dedicatory prayer, pronounced on May 21, 1888, began: “Almighty and Eternal Father, Creator of heaven and earth and all that they contain to Thee, Thy believing children here present bring our offering….” It was indeed an offering, this magnificent structure whose builders worked in the faith that they were raising a house to God, and not to man.