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Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Mormon Tale: The Romney Connection

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

The Romney Connection

Hannah Hood Hill arrived in Salt Lake City when she was eight years old. She lived there with her father Archibald Newell Hill and his four wives. (Hannah’s mother, Isabella Hood, died at Winters Quarters in 1847.)

On May 10, 1862 Hannah Hood Hill married Miles Park Romney. Miles was born on August 18, 1843 in Nauvoo. His parents had been converted to the Church of the Latter Day Saints while living in England

Miles Romney (1806-1877) and his wife Elizabeth Gaskell (1809-1884) lived in the Liverpool area. Following their baptism, they sailed for New Orleans and made their way up the Mississippi by steamboat arriving at Nauvoo in 1841. This was a year before the Hill family arrived with Hannah Hood Hill.

The Hill family moved directly to Utah when Nauvoo was evacuated but the Romney family went to Missouri where they moved around from town to town until finally settling in St. Louis. In 1850, they were able to afford the move to Salt Lake City, Utah where they became reacquainted with the Hill family. Miles Park Romney was seven years old and Hannah Hood Hill was eight or nine.

Miles and Hannah had eleven children including Gaskell Romney (1871-1955). Miles Park Romney was sent on a mission to England Before their first child (Isabell 1863-1919) was born. While in England he preached for several years in the area around Liverpool (former home of his parents). He came back to Salt Lake City with a boatload of new English converts.

In 1867 the Romney family moved from Salt Lake City to Saint George, Utah. St. George is in the southwest corner of the state not far from Las Vegas on the Arizona border. The 1980 United States census lists Miles Park Romney, his two wives Hannah Hood Hill and Catherine Jane Cottam, and six of Hannah’s children, including her son Gaskell who was eight years old at the time.

The federal government in Washington passed the Morrell Act outlawing polygamy in 1862. (The bill was signed by Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the civil war.) This law was not enforced as you can see from the 1880 census where multiple wives are listed. The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 was enforced. Archibald Newell Hood (Hannah’s father) and her brother (Samuel) were arrested, fined, and imprisoned for several months in Salt Lake City for practicing polygamy. About 1,300 Mormon men were imprisoned in the late 1880s.

Miles Park Romney was one the men sent to Arizona to establish new colonies. He and his wives lived for a time in St. Johns, Arizona. Miles was then asked to set up colonies in Mexico where the Mormons would be beyond the reach of US federal marshals. The family eventually ended up in Jaurez, Mexico, near the border with New Mexico.

Here’s an excerpt from Hannah’s autobiography.
I sold what household furniture I had for very little, got another team and wagon and in March, 1886 I started for Mexico. It had been snowing in the mountains for about three weeks before I left St. Johns. I expected company to go with me from there to Mexico, but when I went to see Brother Skousen he was not ready to go so I had to start out alone. When I got as far as Nutrioso Brother and Sister Pace lived there. They were dear friends of mine and insisted on my staying over for several days. Brother Pace said, "Sister Romney, aren't you crazy, starting out on this journey with your small children? Did you know that Geronimo, the renegade Apache chief, is on the warpath?" I told him I guessed I wasn't afraid of crazy people so I would have to start on this journey and trust in our Heavenly Father to see us to the end.

Will took a job herding stock for some of the ranches so he did not go with me. Brother and Sister Pace were very kind to us. She had me bake bread, make cookies and gave me butter and meat, etc., to use on the journey.

The first night after we left Nutrioso we camped in a beautiful grove. It snowed all night and in the morning the boys built a fire and we dried our bedding. We had some terrible roads to travel over, snow and mud often up to the hubs of our wagon. One day a blizzard started and it got so cold I wrapped the smaller children in their bedding and made them as comfortable as I could. Then I got out to walk to keep warm. We saw a ranch house in the distance so we made for that point. The boys went in and built a fire while I took the children in and got supper. I made the boys' beds in the house and then took the larger children and slept in the wagon. I got up several times during the night to see that the children were all right. When I got up in the morning there were icicles on the water barrels a foot long.

After breakfast we hitched up our team. We did not know a mile of the road. That night we got to Apache Hill, about sundown. One of the boys went ahead and returned saying it would be almost impossible to get down the mountain that night, so I carried all the bedding I could and loaded the children with enough provisions to last us. Miles [age 17, and my great-grandfather] thought he could get down with one team so the boys cut down a tree and chained it to the back of the wagon to keep it from tipping over. I took a lantern and went ahead to light the road. When we got to a level spot on the mountain it was about 10 o'clock and I thought we had better camp. I got the children supper and put them to bed.

I sat there considering our condition -- way off in the mountains camping right on an Indian trail. I assure you I did not do much sleeping, but the Lord protected us and in the morning the boys went on the top of the mountain to get the other wagon we had left there. When I saw them coming I held my breath but they got down all right without breaking even a singletree. That day we traveled on and struck the Frisco River. It ran through the canyon for miles and miles. We crossed that river forty-one times.
Miles Park Romney had five wives and 31 children (11 of them with Hannah Hood Hill). He married his last wife in Mexico in 1897, well past the time when polygamy had been outlawed in the United States.

Gaskell Romney, son of Hannah Hood Hill, was born in St. George on Sept. 22, 1871. He married Anna Amelia Pratt in Mexico in 1985. Gaskell never took another wife while Ann was alive but he married Anna’s widowed sister Amy in 1927 after Anna died.

Gaskell's son, George Wilcken Romney was born in Mexico on July 8, 1907. The family was forced to leave Mexico in 1910 because of the revolution. They settled in Detroit, Michigan where George became President of American Motors and Governor of Michigan. Their son Willard Mitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947 in Detroit. He became Governor of Massachusetts and a candidate for the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

My wife is a 4th cousin, once removed, of Mitt Romney. My children are 4th cousins twice removed. I am not related to Mitt Romney.1

1. I think this means I can’t have any more wives. I’m not sure if my wife is allowed to have more husbands.


George Wilcken Romney’s Ancestry
Archibald Newell Hill
Hannah Hood Hill
Mitt Romney has Canadian roots
Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies
Ancestors of Mitt Romney


Raul A. Félix de Sousa said...

Did you see this, Larry?

Schenck said...

So Mitt's dad was born in Mexico to parents that had basically fled the US because their marriage was illegal.
If Obama's citizenship is questionable, then perhaps Mitt's is too. (of course, neither one of their citizenship's is questionable)

Shawn said...

I haven't read these articles as I am not too interested in the matter. But here is a link to a Washington Post article that you may or may not be aware of. I actually found the link on a conservative website called Free Republic, which I read often to get my fill of crazy for god, crazy for guns, crazy for crazy conservatism in the US. They are by the way vehemently opposed to Mitt Romney as he is not nearly conservative enough for them. Heh.

Amy T said...

"So Mitt's dad was born in Mexico to parents that had basically fled the US because their marriage was illegal."

That's not true. Mitt's grandfather, Gaskell Romney, was born in Utah to Miles Park Romney and Hannah Hood Hill Romney. Miles had several wives, but Hannah was his first and legal wife, so Gaskell was legitimate in every sense of the law.

Gaskell was not polygamous. His children, including George W. Romney (Mitt's father born in 1907), were raised in a monogamous household by parents who were American citizens. They left Mexico when George was a young boy and did not return.