The Romney Money: A Mormon Family’s Legacy - February 16, 2012

"Like many other Americans and refugees, our family lost everything because of our faith, time and time again"

I am both a Romney and a Democrat.  Because of the latter, I do not agree with cousin Mitt on many of his positions.  He has been criticized for many things, not least of all money. Therefore, I’d like to clarify our family history for those of you who don’t know what a dramatic effect this loss has had on us as well as those who have gone through a similar crisis.  

Like many other Americans and refugees, our family lost everything because of our faith, time and time again. Even though part of my family fought in the Revolutionary War in the mid-1800s, our Mormon families were run out of Illinois and Missouri, leaving homes and businesses on a day’s notice. Our ancestors sacrificed everything for their religion. They briefly found peace in Utah, which was then Mexican territory. 

In 1880, our great grandfather, Miles Romney, left Utah to establish a colony in Mexico for the Mormons, who by the way, are Christians, to escape the U.S. Government and the U.S. marshals who were jailing polygamists, second, third wives, etc. and threatening to take over their lands among other atrocities. Only first wives were free.

For years, the Mormons almost starved in northern Mexico, then after 30 years of hard work, they became successful farmers and ranchers.  In 1910, as a result of the Mormons' new-found affluence, the Mexican Revolutionaries threatened to kill them. They barely escaped in cattle cars over the American-Mexican border to the first American refugee camp in El Paso, Texas.

As a result, the Revolutionaries stole their lands, cattle and security.  Once again, we lost everything.  Returning to Salt Lake City, our family was penniless. My grandfather went back to Mexico to recoup his lands and never returned, leaving my grandmother alone to raise her 12 children.

In our family, all the children worked. My own father, the youngest of his mother’s children, sold newspapers on the Salt Lake streets from the time he was eight years old. Both he and Mitt’s father, George Romney, didn’t have time for an education, but they worked hard and became successful.

In short, the entire family has heard these stories of hardship and loss throughout our lives. Many of your families have probably gone through similar experiences.

The gift that has lingered from this difficult history is that it has spurred our generation on to success.