Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Mormon Tale: Ontario to Nauvoo

My wife and our children are cousins of Mitt Romney. This is the story of their common ancestor James Hood and his Mormon descendants.A Mormon Tale

Ontario to Nauvoo

When we ended the first installment there were two families from Scotland living in Tosorontio township and Nottawasaga Township in southern Ontario. The Hood family and the Hill family came over from Scotland and settled originally in Dalhousie, in eastern Ontario. They moved south in the 1830s.

On April 6, 1832, Alexander Hill (born in 1811 in Scotland) married Agnes Hood (born in 1811 in Scotland). On Feb. 21, 1840, Isabella Hood (born in 1821 in Ontario) married Archibald Newell Hill (born in Scotland). They were married in Tosorontio where the Hill family farms were lcoated. Two brothers married Hood sisters. We are interested in the children of Isabella and Archibald. Recall that Isabella is the sister of William Hood and my wife and children descend from William.

UPDATE: The person in the photo is NOT the Isabella Hood Hill who is the mother of Hannah and the ancestor of Mitt Romney. Instead, it's the daughter of Isabella's sister who married Alexander Hill (see comments).

Archibald Newell Hill and Isobel Hood had two children while living in Canada. Samuel Hood Hill was born in Tosorontio on Dec. 23, 1840. Hannah Hood Hill was born in Tosorontio on July 9, 1842. She died in Colonia Juarez, Mexico in 1929 but a lot of interesting things happened in her life between those dates.

Mormon missionaries were a common sight in Ontario during the 1830s and 1840s. Of the original Scottish settlers in Lanark, 17 families converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon). The Hill family came under the influence of missionaries Samuel Lake and James Standing in 1840 and on April 1, 1840 the entire Hill family, including the Hood sisters, was baptized.

Hundreds of Canadians had already left for the Mormon settlements in the United States. By 1840 the Mormons had established a large community at Nauvoo on the Mississippi river, in what is now the state of Illinois. They began building a large temple in the hope they could create a semi-autonomous "Kingdom on the Mississippi."

Archibald Newell Hood and his brother (John Hill) visited Nauvoo in 1841 and returned to Tosorontio convinced that the entire extended family had to emigrate. The Hill family prepared for the trip by purchasing wagons and supplies and disposing of their farms. They left Tosorontio on Sept. 30, 1842. Hannah Hood Hill was only 2 months old. The Hood sisters would never see their parents (James Hood and Jane Bisland) again.

We don’t know what route Hill family took to Nauvoo or whether they traveled with others. We do know that they arrived in Nauvoo at the beginning of winter. According to a Hill family history ....
Winter was coming on and the time for building houses being limited, Archibald and his family together with his father and his family, lived in a board shanty during the winter. He occupied his time during this winter in hauling bricks for the Nauvoo House, stones for the Nauvoo Temple, timber and firewood from the islands of the Mississippi River.
This was a rough time to be a Mormon. The Saints had already been driven out of Ohio and they had failed to establish themselves in Missouri.
In the settlement of Adam-ondi-Ahman, the mobs destroyed homes, and scattered most of the Saints' horses, sheep, cattle, hogs, etc. On October 27, 1838, Lillburn W. Boggs, Governor of the State of Missouri issued the now infamous "extermination order" which ordered the state militia to treat all the Saints as enemies stating they "must be exterminated or driven from the state..." On October 30, 1838 an armed mob of about 240 attacked the Saints at Haun's Mill. This mob brutally murdered all present who were unable to sufficiently hide from the mob. Eighteen Saints were killed or mortally wounded during this attack and 12-15 others were wounded during the massacre. One elderly man was hacked to death with a corn cutter and one young ten-year-old boy was shot to death with a gun to his head at close range. The mob did not stop after the killing was done. They stripped clothing off the dead, drove off livestock, and stole bedding and clothing which left the survivors destitute of life's necessities. According to accounts of some Case family descendants, Elizabeth's brother Francis C. Case assisted in the burial of the victims of Haun's Mill Massacre. During this same period, the Prophet Joseph and others were taken prisoner under false charges and cast into Liberty Jail where they remained for almost six months in the most deplorable conditions. They later escaped, ironically, through the aid of their captors.
Things weren’t much better in Nauvoo. The government of the new state of Illinois wasn’t very happy about an independent Mormon community with its own "Nauvoo Legion" of trained soldiers—not to mention the fact that they were practicing a strange cult religion that allowed polygamy.

In June 1844 Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, went to Cartage, Illinois with his brother, Hyrum, to deal with charges of insurrection.1 They were imprisoned in the Carthage jail where, on June 27, 1844, they were murdered by a lynch mob that attacked the jail.2

By the time of Smith’s murder, the population of Nauvoo and its suburbs was over 20,000. Vigilante gangs from other parts of the state harassed the outlying settlements forcing the Mormon inhabitants to move into Nauvoo. The Illinois militia shelled the city in September 1846 ("Battle of Nauvoo").3 The Saints had already decided that they needed to move west. Once Brigham Young became leader (after considerable infighting), preparations began in earnest for the trek westward and the Hill family was very involved in that effort. The future Mormon "Kingdom" would be in Utah.

Rebecca Hood Hill was born in Nauvoo on April 2, 1845 and the following year the entire ill family left Nauvoo for Utah. Hannah Hood Hill was four years old. In her autobiography she remembers her stay in Nauvoo ...
When I was nine months old my parents moved to Nauvoo. I well remember the house we lived in. It was a rock house with two rooms above and a basement below. My grandparents lived with us. Father worked on the temple. He took me to the temple one day to meeting. I heard the Prophet Joseph Smith preach but was too young to remember what he said. I can remember how he looked. After meeting, father took me up on top of the temple and I saw the Mississippi River. It looked like an ocean to me then as I had never seen such a great body of water. We lived in Nauvoo until the prophet Joseph and Hyrum were killed. We were driven out with the rest of the Saints to wander in the wilderness.
Hannah’s grandfather was Alexander Perley Hill. He was born in Scotland in 1779, lived in eastern Ontario for twelve years, lived in southern Ontario for eleven years, lived in Nauvoo for four years, and at the age of 67 was about to trek across hundreds of miles of Indian territory to Utah.

Ron W. Shaw is writing a book on Lanark Society Settler families who had members convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrate to Utah; Borrowman, Brooks, Bulloch, Bryce, Caldwell, Climie, Donald, Duncan, Findley, Forsythe, Gardner, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Leckie, McIntosh, Park. Anyone with an interest in or relevant information on these families may contact Ron at scdhrcda@hughes.net or Tel: 613-267-9617
1. At the time (1844), Joseph Smith had announced that he was a candidate for President of the United States. He hoped to create a "theodemocracy."

2. The murderers were identified, tried, and acquitted. America was, after all, a Christian (=Protestant), nation and heresies had to be suppressed.

3. On April 1, 2004, the Illinois State Legislature unanimously passed a resolution expressing regret for forcing the Mormons out of Nauvoo.


History of the Church in Ontario, Canada

Church History c. 1831-1844, Ohio, Missouri, And Nauvoo Periods

Hannah Hood Hill (Romney)

Archibald Newell Hill

The Life and Times of Elizabeth Case Milam Wheeler


  1. I've seen that picture used for Isabell Hood Hill a number of times, but it isn't her. The picture isn't right for having been taken before 1847 (i.e. it doesn't look like a daguerreotype) and it doesn't look like the single existing picture we have of Isabell which is a copy of a copy of a copy -- hopefully the original will turn up someday. The picture in the post looks like Isabell's daughter, Hannah Hood Hill Romney. Every facial feature is identical, and the clothing looks c. 1860s-1870s.

    By the way, hello cousins! I'm a descendant of Rebecca Hood Hill Pettit, who was born in Nauvoo. You're doing some good work here! I haven't researched past the Nauvoo period on this family line, so I'm interested to find out more about the Hood and Bisland families and the Lanark Society Settlers.

  2. The picture shown is *an* Isabell Hood Hill (1849-1892), my great-grandmother. She was born on the Iowa plains, the daughter of Alexander Hill Jr. and Agnes Hood, who was the older sister of the Isabell Hood Hill who was born in 1821 and died crossing the plains. My great-grandmother was named for her late aunt, who was the baby of the Hood family and Agnes's favorite sister.