Help! Miles Romney's profile is a mess! [closed]

+10 votes

The first I ever heard about the LDS Mexican Colonias was in the political context regarding whether Mitt Romney's father George, born in Mexico @ an LDS Colonia, should have been eligible to run for US President. It came up again when I recently added & connected Cliven Bundy, the anti-government Nevada rancher, to the tree, and found that he, too, had links to the Colonias. So I decided to look into it more, even creating (with help) a Category which now has nearly 200 profiles listed.

And, I've gotten to the Romneys regarding that project. Enough of them went to Mexico that I figured I'd spend a little time reviewing the whole clan. Several of them have Wiki pages, so they're Notables, too. Miles Romney b. 1807 in England, emigrated to the US and was an LDS Pioneer & Notable. Miles' parents did not emigrate, and I do not know about his siblings. So, working from Miles, his WikiTree profile shows 14 wives. One "marriage" was a century before his UK birth - in Connecticut! One "wife" was born the year after he died. Both will become orphan profiles when/if disconnected. Another wedding came when he was 12 years old. The other 11 marriages are all listed in the bio abt. 1828-30 with the only location being England. One wife's profile has her LNAB as Romney, but it more likely was something else. Wife Elizabeth Gaskell, b. 1809, does not have an open privacy setting on her profile. The estimated birthdates & places for all the wives, in England, are probably wrong; I presume most of the marriages occurred in Utah, although I also don't presume that all of them occurred. (Did the GEDCOM make helpful guesses for us on those?) Only one of the wives has any chidlren listed. So, we've got plenty of room for profile improvement. These problems aside from the usual challenges in sorting out plural LDS families.

Miles' profile arrived in a GEDCOM whose only source is listed as: Miles Romney Family Organization c/o Ralph B. Romney, 3356 Monte Verde Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84109; Archive Record Nov 1971. The Profile Manager associated with the profiles in this GEDCOM made his last contribution to WikiTree over a year ago.

This one will take some work to sort out. I suppose I'll be on it for awhile. Anyone else wants to pitch in, please do!

WikiTree profile: Miles Romney
closed with the note: The problem is 100% resolved. (Well, 96% anyhow.)
in Genealogy Help by Living Winter G2G6 Mach 7 (72.2k points)
closed by Living Winter
If I recall correctly, profiles with a birth date over 200 years ago (she was born in 1809) are supposed to be open privacy. I have put in a request to have her profile opened up.
Yes, I did the same. Just one of many particulars in this case that are indubitably wrong.

1 Answer

+5 votes
Wow - it is messed up... here's what I posted to the profile:

According to Wikipedia - he married Elizabeth Gaskell on November 16, 1830. I see no other marriages from this batch that make sense.

Analyzing Gaskell family: Elizabeth Gaskell (b: 8 January 1809 in Dalton in Furness, Lancashire, England) - daughter of Joseph Gaskell and Elizabeth Slater. Siblings: Bridget (b: 1795), Abraham (b: 1798), Joseph (b: 1800), Hannah (b: 1801), Mary (b: 1803), Jane (b: 1804), Mary (b:1813), Eleanor (b: 1814), Joseph (b: 1819). It is rather peculiar that the Gaskill's mentioned on the profile as "wives" have exactly the same names as Elizabeth's sisters. The birth dates don't line up well, but I don't think this is a coincidence. If we agree that all the Gaskill's are in fact her siblings with slightly incorrect dates, then we can repurpose those profiles to clean those up.

This still leaves Bella Gaskell, Agnes King, Dorothy Atkinson, Bridget Fisher, Ann King, Margaret Romney, Ellen Slater, Bridget Atkinson, and Elizabeth Fisher to address.

We have 2 Atkinsons, 2 Kings, and 2 Fishers, plus an odd Gaskell. We also have a Romney, which could be a husband name or a relative of Miles. Ellen Slater is the odd woman out. I'll do a bit more digging and see what turns up.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Thanks for looking all that up, Scott. I don't want to detach them right away, especially since we don't know much about them. At least with this unusual non-connection connection, we know that much about them. If they'e to become unconnected profiles, it would be better if there were more information about them first. Don't you agree?

They are somewhat of a side interest to me, since my  primary interest here is the Mexican Colonias. If it weren't for the Mormon strong interest in genealogy, it'd be even harder to sort all these out.
I would agree that we shouldn't disconnect them too quickly, but I would consider removing them one-by-one, but adding links within the biography of each prior to disconnecting, as they do share a non-spousal relationship of sorts and it should be recorded somewhere.

And I would also agree - I would hope that there's more to tell about these 11 other than they were mysteriously "adopted" into this relationship at some point in what it appears (facts are still a bit lacking) late in his life, with little information as to why this was done, or whether they had previous lives. I believe there are a few biographies of him around, but from what I've seen, they're very pricey (only one available on Amazon that I could find, and it was $150) - I might try to order a copy from the local library.

Well - at least one answer.

  • One real wife, Elizabeth Gaskell, married 1830 in Dalton-in-Furness
  • Nine proxy wives (all dead) married 6 May 1872 in Endowment House, Salt Lake City - Ellen Slater, Bridget Gaskill, Hannah Gaskill, Mary Gaskill, Dorothy Athinson, Bridget Athinson, Elizabeth Fisher, Bridget Fisher, Bella Fisher
  • Two more proxy wives (also dead) married two days later - Ann King, Margaret Romney

So all these women were deceased at the time of their "marriage" as proxy wives. Interesting.

And more from that article that explains why they did these proxy wives:

Miles Romney is listed as having nine children with Elizabeth, and a total of 12 wives.

But the 11 wives after Elizabeth are not wives in the usual sense of the word - all were dead by the time of the marriages, in 1872, five years before Miles died.

Most, if not all, appear to be dead relatives of Miles and Elizabeth from Dalton-in-Furness.

Jan Shipps, one of the leading experts on the early Mormon Church, says these were most likely "proxy marriages" - the "proxy" referring to the fact that one party to the marriage was not physically present, and would have been represented by a stand-in.

"For a Mormon man, the more wives he had, the higher he stood in the hierarchy. This would have given Miles Romney more standing in heaven," says Shipps.

No-one says I'm English-American - it's the great hidden identity in America

Tim Stanley, Oxford University

Such unions were "fairly common practice at the time," adds Todd Compton, Mormon historian and authority on polygamy within the church.

In day-to-day life it would have meant "almost nothing", he says, but Miles had nevertheless made "a very serious commitment that he would be a polygamist in the afterlife".

Craig Foster, a genealogist and historian in Salt Lake City, and co-author of The Mormon Quest for the Presidency, interprets it as "an act of love" on Miles' part.

"I firmly believe that what was in his head was an act of love - he was concerned for his departed ancestors who did not have the chance of marriage. I seriously doubt he ever considered them full wives."

Proxy marriages and baptism of the dead are still part of Mormon practice - a way, Mormons believe, of ensuring that families can meet and be reunited to live together in the afterlife. But proxy marriages, where one is dead and the other is alive, are now "absolutely uncommon" says Foster.

Well, I guess I can dispense with at least a few of them. His "wife" Bridget Gaskill is arguably Elizabeth's sister, Miles' SIL. So I can unconnect as wife, and merge with the sister. One down, a dozen or so more to go! This might be related to the general policy of "baptizing" dead people into the LDS Church, like there was a kerfuffle about that happening to Anne Frank some years back.

It's a start. And a note in the merged profile might be in order, too, so some well-meaning person won't go and attach her again.
Thanks so much for finding this, Scott. It hasn't cleared all of it up, but you have identified the heart of the problem. Progress!!
Looking around on WikiTree, before I start looking elsewhere, I have found that Elizabeth Gaskell has two aunts perhaps of relevance here:

Mary (Slater) Atkinson - no dates
Jane (Slater) Fisher - again, no dates

Also, Miles Romney's maternal grandmother was called Agnes King, so I disconnected and merged there. Those relations are an obvious place to start looking for Ann King. As to Caroline Cottam, there's hints that she was born later. It's possible she might not be an English relation like all the others are. But there's some sense of where to look on the rest.

Again: Thanks so much Scott. Your assistance has made a difference.

But this, at least, puts us amongst some Atkinsons and Fishers who were fairly close relations. Will probably have to look beyond WikiTree for answers.
A couple of possibilities:

She's born around the right time,and in Utah, but not in Salt Lake.

There's also this one:

But no clues on this one, and it's possible it's a duplicate of the other

And if she was from England, maybe this one:
Oh, heck. I have to sign up for an account to see those links. (Maybe later?) Anyhow, there's only two left. I've got the rest covered.

Only Ann King & Caroline Cottam remain.
OK, then. Found new homes for all of them. On to the next puzzle!

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