Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Amazing New Find: The Hannah Hill Romney Photo Album

Several days ago, a distant cousin emailed with the news of an amazing find. Hannah Hood Hill Romney's photo album had been kept by her daughter-in-law, Ethel Call Romney, and she left this note with the album, which was found recently by one of her descendants.

In 1969 when Ethel Romney wrote this note, it would have been difficult to identify the photographs, but due to technological advances, we may be able to tell the identities of some or all of the people in the pictures.

A Few Notes About Hannah Hood Hill Romney and Her Family

Hannah Hood Hill (1842-1929) was the daughter of Archibald Newell Hill (1816-1900) and Isabella Hood Hill (1821-1847). Archibald and Isabella were Scottish immigrants to Canada. Two children were born, Hannah and her brother Samuel Hood Hill (1840-1903), before the family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Nauvoo where Rebecca Hood Hill [Pettit] (1845-1922) was born. Hannah's mother Isabell died at Winter Quarters as the Saints were headed west.

In 1862, Hannah married Miles Park Romney (1843-1904) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Miles left almost immediately after their marriage for a three-year mission to England. After he returned, the Romney family moved several times, first to help build the town of St. George in southern Utah, then to help establish St. Johns in eastern Arizona, then to help found the Mormon Colonies in Mexico.

Hannah had eleven children. She told about her life in a touching and detailed autobiography which unfortunately is not available online.

After Miles Park Romney died in 1904, Hannah and his other wives, Catharine Cottam Romney (1855-1918) and Annie Woodbury Romney (1858-1930), sold the family ranch in Mexico. Hannah spent much of the rest of her life living with her children and her sister, Rebecca Hill Pettit.

Hannah was visiting family in the Colonies in Mexico when she died in 1929.

Some Pictures from the Photo Album

Please leave comments or send an email (see my email address on the sidebar) if you know the subject of any of the pictures posted today or subsequently or if you can tell us anything about  the details of the pictures or photographers.

Here is the first picture.

This picture was taken by Charles Outon in Landport, which is in England. The identification on the back of the picture says, "A. N. Hill & Son." It is written in Spencerian script, which means that the person who identified the picture was probably educated in the Nineteenth Century, so it may be an accurate identification. Here are known pictures of Archibald and Samuel to compare, and the identification looks correct.

Archibald Hill as a missionary. This picture is courtesy of Sharon Wilbur, and is not from the Hannah Hill Romney Album.
Back (left to right): Archibald Hill, Samuel Hill. Front: Hannah Hill Romney, Rebecca Hill Pettit. This picture is courtesy of Sharon Wilbur, and is not from the Hannah Hill Romney Album.

When was Archibald Hill in England? An anonymously-written family history notes:
Archibald served a mission in 1865 (2 years and 4 months) to Birmingham and Southampton and traveled 3,657 miles by foot; 7,631 miles by railroad; 8,786 miles by water; attended 318 public meetings; preached 253 sermons; and baptized 10 persons. He visited his place of birth and met with an uncle. On his way home was appointed charge over a steamship of Saints going to America. [Here is the record of the journey of the Manhattan, with Archibald Hill presiding over the Saints.]
Samuel Hood Hill was in England about the same time and he headed another company of Saints traveling to America on the ship Caroline a year before his father returned home. [Account of the journey.] The picture of Archibald and Samuel Hill may have been taken before Samuel left England on May 5, 1866.

Here is another picture from Hannah Romney's photo album.

The photographers, Charles R. Savage and George M. Ottinger, operated in Salt Lake City from December 1863 to 1872.

I think this is a picture of Miles Park and Hannah Romney's oldest daughter, Isabell Hill Romney Platt; first, because it looks like her, and second, because she is shown alone without any siblings.

Isabell's father left on a mission to England before she was born in 1863 and returned when she was three years old. Perhaps Hannah had this picture taken to send to Miles in England, since Isabell appears to be one or two years old.

Here is a later picture of Isabell to compare to the subject of this photograph, as well as a picture of Miles Park Romney since Isabell has a very strong resemblance to her father.

From Findagrave. This is a copy of a picture from Life Story of Miles Park Romney (Thomas C. Romney, Independence, Missouri, 1948), f310.
A close-up of the child in the picture in the Hannah Hill Romney photo album.
Miles Park Romney. From Findagrave. This may be a copy of a picture from Life Story of Miles Park Romney (Thomas C. Romney, Independence, Missouri, 1948), frontispiece.

The picture of Archibald and Samuel Hill and the picture of Isabell Romney Platt were the first photographs in the collection. We will be posting many more and hopefully with the help of online resources and descendants who see this blog, we will be able to identify many of the people in the photographs.


  1. Those photos are great! Your post led me to look into the photographer, Charles Savage, since I have some old photos that also were taken by him. I found a digital collection of many of his photos online at the BYU Harold B. Lee library. I then was able to find some photos of other ancestors I hadn't seen before. I didn't realize he was such a renowned photographer. Thanks for your interesting post!

  2. Amy, I read the autobiography of Hannah Hood Hill. Beverly had a copy that I think she borrowed from someone. I recall that it was a little red bound book. I remember reading that she drove a wagon by herself with children down to Mexico through Geronimo land. Aunt Judy

  3. Oh, thanks, Judy! I didn't realize that was ambiguous. I have a copy from Grandma.

  4. I am looking for a diary of Annie Marie woodburyromney. Any ideas?

  5. "Letters of Catharine Cottam Romney, Plural Wife" lists some letters in private hands in 1992, but doesn't mention a diary. Have you checked all the applicable university libraries and the Church History Library?

  6. My name is Hannah hill Romney Whitney and I am proud to carry my great grandmother's name. I am also the proud owner of her teapot, creamer, and a book of hers.