Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Notable Relatives: Mitt Romney

This is a very occasional series about notable descendants of some of the people featured on this blog.

Willard Mitt Romney, currently slated to become the presidential nominee for the Republican Party in the 2012 general election, is a descendant of Archibald Newell Hill and his first wife, Isabella Hood Hill. Archibald and Isabella were Scots living in Canada when they met two missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Samuel Lake and James Standing. The Hill family joined the Church and set out for Nauvoo and then started west with the Saints. Isabella died at Winter Quarters. Archibald set off across the plains and his sisters took his three small children, Samuel, Hannah, and Rebecca, to the Salt Lake Valley. Archibald later remarried (several times) and had a large family.

Standing, left to right: Archibald Newell Hill, Samuel Hood Hill. Seated, left to right: Hannah Hood Hill Romney, Rebecca Hood Hill Pettit.

I have wondered a time or two if it could have ever crossed the mind of Archibald and Isabella as they left Scotland, and then as they left Canada for the United States that theirs would be an integral part of the American dream: immigrants leaving old Europe and establishing a home in America and having their descendants become doctors and lawyers and professors and governors and even a possible president of the United States.
Romney's descendancy is:
Archibald and Isabella Hill
Hannah Hood Hill Romney
Gaskell Romney
George Wilcken Romney
Willard Mitt Romney

Our line is:
Archibald and Isabella Hill
Rebecca Hood Hill Pettit
Mary Isabell Pettit Green
Lucile Green Glade
Beverly Glade Wessman
This means that Grandma Beverly was a third cousin to the current candidate.

I personally find this relation only mildly interesting since Romney, being descended as he is from Archibald Hill, Miles Romney, Parley P. Pratt, Charles Wilcken, and others (see my Brief Guide to Mitt Romney's Polygamous Heritage) probably has many tens of thousands of cousins in the Church today, and it's neither rare nor novel to be related to him.

Note: I have extensive materials about Archibald and Isabella Hill and their families. They lived fascinating and complicated lives, but for a variety of reasons I will probably not get around to blogging about them until next year.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Update to the Mormon Migration Site

The Mormon Migration database is a project of Brigham Young University professor Fred E. Woods, compiled with the help of many research assistants and colleagues. Mormon Migration is a very useful resource, similar in its scope to the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database. Here is a description of the project:
About the Mormon Migration Website
The website has just been updated. The new features I've noticed:
  • A new, clear, beautifully-designed format
  • The ability to submit additional information to be included in the database
  • Images of the passenger lists for each voyage
  • Social media tags
  • A more easily findable list of abbreviations
  • The bibliography is not new, but is also more easily found, and is worth mentioning due to its exhaustive nature
This is an amazing update to what was already an amazing database.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pioneer Day Memories

Pioneer Day has always meant a lot to me. For most of my childhood, we went to a family reunion with my paternal grandparents and our aunts, uncles, and cousins every summer at the old family home in St. Johns, Arizona. It was a four-hour drive up over the Mogollon Rim, through the desert, and over Grover's Hill into St. Johns. Many years we'd go up into the White Mountains and have a picnic at the ranch in the mountains above Nutrioso.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pioneer Day: Celebrations in Snowflake, Arizona


Celebrating the 24th of July in Snowflake started weeks in advance. The bishop notified the congregation that the time for nominating the general committee was in order. Soon, all preparations were under way. For the girls, a new dress was absolutely necessary. Money was scarce, but one year Clara Rogers and I ordered six yards of lawn cloth, lavender in hue, and twelve yards of lace and like number of insertion; and what gorgeous dresses we wore that day!

The celebration began with a grand ball on the evening of the 23rd At dawn on the 24th, serenaders [sic] came by our house. An organ had been lifted into a wagon and served as accompaniment to the singers. We had breakfast on the hill above town and made a colorful sight in our pioneer costumes. The food was cooked over the open fire. We always sampled our neighbor's breakfast and after eating sufficiently, we hurried home to bathe off the campfire smoke and prepare for the parade. Our rides in the early morning air were very exciting as the teamsters popped their black whips in rifle shot noise.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pioneer Day: Celebrations in Joseph City, Arizona

St. Joseph, Arizona

Salute of guns, serenades, parades and programs made our Pioneer Day complete. Orations were the order of the day. The comical side of life was enjoyed as Alex Walbeck responded to the demand that he perform. He bounded onto the stage with great gusto and wild gestures and loud exclamations. Suddenly, with modest embarrassment, he clutched his pants, and in a side line would say, "Oh! a suspender button." Then he renewed his "oration" only to interrupt himself at the opportune time with another outburst of "another suspender button." This usually brought down the house. 

A dear old Sister Neilson, very large in stature, dressed in a red flannel petticoat, beautifully embroidered in black mohair, and wearing a lovely shawl over her plump shoulders, walked on the stage and seated herself. Nearby was a gentleman who represented the U.S. Census Bureau. He opened his very large book and began asking questions. She answered the best she could, in her very broken English. "Husband?.... Nine." "Daughters?.... Nine." "Sons?': "Nine." "Nine sons, nine daughters, nine husbands! Incredible!" She sprang to her feet and in wild array screamed "no! no!" as she ran off stage. 

Samuel Greenleaf Ladd, called to Arizona in the first company of settlers, gave the most impressive prayers at our meetings and celebrations.

All the old favorite songs were burlesqued and thoroughly enjoyed. It didn't matter what kind of voice the performer had, the idea was the ability to act it out. Such songs as "The Cork Leg" could be fully enjoyed only if Brother Ladd gave them. Johann Westover was always called on to sing "Valley Tan." Susan Heward's favorite was "Tommy, Make Room for Your Uncle." No one could sing "Tap-Tap-Tapping at the Garden Gate" quite like Eliza Tanner.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pioneer Day: A Map of the Mormon Trail

With Pioneer Day approaching, here are a few resources. First, a map of the pioneer trail. This isn't exceedingly beautiful, but it is copyright free. (There is also a more modern copyright-free picture at Wikipedia (Mormon Trail)). This is from the Deseret Evening News, July 24, 1897, slightly retouched.

And here are a few random posts, one from each family line, with some connection to Pioneer Day to celebrate the occasion:

Tanner: The Tanner Family Crosses the Plains
Morgan: The Morgan Family
Wessman: The First House Built in Utah
Glade: The James Glade Video

Happy Pioneer Day!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kate B. Carter Wikipedia Article

I was recently shocked to see that Kate B. Carter, long-time president of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and prolific historian, did not have a Wikipedia page, so although I didn't have time for this project, I created a page and posted it today.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Saints of Alberta Project

Here's an ambitious new documentary project (h/t Juvenile Instructor). I'd love to be able to organize a similar website for the Little Colorado Colonies.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

More Information on Jean Wessman's Loss of United States Citzenship

Long ago I told the story of Jean Wessman's citizenship. ("The Curious Story of Jean Wessman's Citizenship.") When Jean Hayward married a Swedish national, Henry Wessman, she lost her citizenship under the laws of the United States at the time. 

I don't know what the Swedish naturalization laws were. Did she become a Swedish citizen when she married Henry? Was she a woman without a country?

I was recently contacted by someone writing an extensive article about natural-born and native-born citizens, interested in using the example of Jean Wessman to illustrate some of the quirks of immigration and naturalization law. During the ensuing discussion, I decided to follow up on the hint left by a reader on the "Curious Story" post (thanks, kuzzuns!) on how to locate the immigration records in the National Archives. I am in the process of ordering information for Henry and Jean Wessman, if any exists. Did Henry ever become a citizen? Did Jean go through the legal process to restore her citizenship?