A few Romneys have fled to the United States in recent years, joining the hundreds of other Romneys who are also descended from Miles Park. But most of the Mexican Romneys are still here in Colonia Juarez.
“We’re not going anywhere,” said Michael Romney, a cousin of Mitt’s, whose son serves in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan — and is a former national high-jump champion in Mexico. “There’s too much history,” he said.
The Romney family traces its ancestry to 17th-century England. William Romney was lord mayor of London in the 1600s, and another ancestor, George Romney, was a famous 18th-century portrait artist, according to the family’s genealogical records.
“Important and distinctive characteristics of the male members of the family are a large square head with a massive under-jaw, with blue eyes and light hair predominating,” wrote Thomas C. Romney in his 1948 biography “Life Story of Miles Park Romney.”
“Mental and emotional characteristics peculiarly noticeable in the family are an indomitable will and a bull-dogged determination, which is reinforced by a courage and honesty of purpose, admired even by those who disagree with them in matters of judgment,” he wrote.
According to family lore, Mitt’s great-great-grandfather Miles Romney was walking to the market with his wife in 1837 when he stopped at a street corner to listen to Mormon preachers who were some of the first missionary “elders” sent abroad by church founder Joseph Smith.
Four years later, Miles Romney and his family arrived in New Orleans, then traveled up the Mississippi River to join Smith’s fast-growing Mormon colony at Nauvoo, Ill. Miles Park Romney, Mitt’s great-grandfather, was born there in 1843, but the Romneys and their fellow “Saints” fled Nauvoo the following year after Smith was killed by a raging mob. They followed Brigham Young across the Great Plains and crossed the Rockies to help settle the Salt Lake Valley, then part of Mexico.
Like his immigrant father, Miles Park Romney was a skilled carpenter and architect. He was later sent by Young to establish Mormon settlements in St. George, Utah, and St. Johns, Ariz.