Question: Who is Wandle Mace and what part did he play in the building of the Nauvoo Temple?
Answer: Wandle Mace was born February 19, 1809 in Johnstown, Montgomery County, New York to John Henry Parcels Mace and Dinah Campbell. His father was a blacksmith and farmer, and he records that “though his parents were not connected with any church, they were honest and industrious people who were Bible readers and taught their children to observe its teachings.” (Journal of Wandle Mace, p. 1).
His family moved to New York City when he was seven years old, and in 1822 at age 14, his father apprenticed him to a wheelwright where he was put in the blacksmith shop. He learned to make wheels and then all the other parts of the coach and carriage building business.
On November 9, 1828 Wandle married Margaret Merklee. Her parents were Conrad Merklee and Anna Margareta Meerkard, who were of German heritage. Margaret was born in New York City October 23, 1811.
Wandle’s religious beliefs were very strong, but he found there were no churches that were organized after the primitive church he had learned about from reading the New Testament, nor could they answer his questions. He joined a Bible study group that read together from the Bible and then expressed their opinions on what the various passages meant. One evening after the meeting, Mr. Elijah Fordham, and acquaintance of his, came forward and introduced him to a Mr. Pratt from Ohio. Mr. Pratt expressed pleasure on hearing Wandle’s remarks and made an appointment to visit Wandle’s home the next day.
Upon this visit, Mr. Pratt discussed many doctrines from the New Testament. He then taught Wandle about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel and about a book that had come forth, and the restoration of the priesthood power and authority that had been brought back to the earth. He left by saying: “Brother Mace, if you are an honest man, and I believe that you are, the Lord will make known to you that we hold this authority.”
About a month later on the occasion of Wandle’s one-year-old son, Charles, becoming extremely ill, and at his wife’s suggestions, he called on Mr. Pratt and requested that he give the boy a blessing, which he did, and Charles was healed. A short time after this event, Margaret Mace was baptized by Brother Elijah Fordham in the East River. Wandle was baptized a few days later by Elder Parley P. Pratt. He states in his journal that this was in the winter of 1837-38.
In April of 1838, Elder Parley P. Pratt left with a small group of Saints for Missouri, and Wandle was ordained an Elder by Elder Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt’s brother, who arrived from the west to take charge of the Mission. There were many manifestations of the spirit during the ordination.
On September 11, 1838, shortly after Wandle and Margaret joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wandle and Margaret and their two children left New York to “assist in building up Zion.” Wandle mentions in his journal account that two of his children, Edgar and William had died and been buried in New York. Another child, Wandle, is also listed as having died as an infant in New York City.
Of this trip, he says; “We arrived in Quincy, Illinois on the eleventh day of November, 1838…We then moved into a house and soon learned that the mobs had come against the Saints in Missouri, and they were fleeing before them” He then records the terrible hardships suffered by the Saints at that time, and since he was living in Quincy, where the Saints were fleeing to, Wandle and Margaret helped many of the Saints, providing food and lodging as much as they could.
Wandle and Margaret moved to Montrose and then to Nauvoo in 1842. They experienced many spiritual events as well as many trials and tribulations. Their difficulties included the death of three more of their children. They lost six of their little children over the years. Only John and Emily, who were born in New York in 1830 and 1832, respectively, were still living. A daughter, Jane, was born in 1842, and George was born in 1844. Both of these children would grow to adulthood.
Wandle had been fortunate to find employment because of his mechanical abilities which he used in repairing and building various kinds of mills, and at a foundry in Nauvoo. He was also called by the temple committee to help with the building of the Nauvoo Temple and was able to build three masts and cranes used to hoist the stones up on the temple walls, as well as supervising the timber work and various other jobs that were needed. He enjoyed this work immensely.
The Nauvoo Temple was designed in the Greek Revival style by architect William Weeks, under the direction of Joseph Smith, and Wandle became the foreman for the framework for the Temple. He explained in his history that the design of the temple was meant to be “a representation of the Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.” In this regard Wandle references John’s statement in Revelation 12:1 concerning the “woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” This explains why the Starstones are at the top of the temple (“crown of twelve stars”), the Sunstones in the middle (“clothed with the sun”) and the Moonstones at the bottom (“moon under her feet”). Wandle stayed and worked on the temple right up to the final dedication.
Wandle moved to Keosaugua and then to Keokuk, Iowa, wherever he could find work. In 1853, Jane and George were seriously ill from complications of measles. Wandle’s journal says, “The angel of death still hovered near and took from us our eldest daughter Emily (age 21); she was sick with Typhoid Fever and died April 20, 1853.” In his journal, Wandle speaks of Margaret’s faithfulness and unwavering testimony through all their trials, but of this last affliction he says: “My wife almost sank under it. She had given birth to twelve children, eight sons and four daughters–two more children were born and died in Keosaugua.” Margaret had lost all but three of her twelve children.
Margaret had to hire help to take care of Jane and George. She was too weak to make the trip to Zion and on her deathbed requested that Wandle marry the hired girl from England, Rebecca Howell. He resisted at first, but after Margaret died on June 13, 1854, he then married Rebecca Howell. (Rebecca never had any children.) Margaret is buried in the Oakland Cemetery next to her daughter Emily in Keokuk, Iowa.
Jane was seventeen and George fourteen when the family left Florence, Nebraska, on June 28, 1859 with a wagon, two yoke of oxen and a cow. They traveled with Captain Edward Stevenson’s Company and reached the Salt Lake Valley on September 16. Captain Stevenson had entered the city the day before, and when he returned the next day to join the company, he reported to Wandle that Brigham Young had inquired about who was in the company, and when Wandle’s name was mentioned, Brigham Young shouted, “Hurrah, where shall I throw my hat! Wandle Mace! He’s a good old fellow…’
Wandle died on August 10, 1890, in Kanab, Kane, Utah, at age 81, and was buried in the Kanab City Cemetery. His wife, Rebecca, died on June 30, 1917 and is buried in the Kanab City Cemetery.
Source: Excerpts from Wandle Mace, 1809-1890, Autobiography (1809-1846), Journal of Wandle Mace, typescript, HBLL; Story on the Life of Wandle Mace, FamilySearch.org; FindaGrave.com; *The Gate of Heaven*, by Matthew B. Brown, pp 119-120.