Willard Mitt Romney’s mom Lenore LaFount was the daughter of Alma Luella Robison who was the daughter of Rosetta Mary Berry. Rosetta’s half brother was Eugene Berry (1851-1923). Eugene was my great granduncle and after his wife died and her brother, my great grandfather, also died, Eugene married my great grandmother late in life (1915). So my step-great grandfather’s (and my great granduncle’s) half sister was Mitt’s great grandmother. There’s too many steps and halves in this to qualify as a real second cousin, but it explains why I found several ancestry trees claiming my great grandmother, who died a Methodist or maybe a Baptist (she married Mitt’s granduncle in a Baptist parsonage), became a Mormon after death(!) In fact, the Mormon story in my tree, thanks to Eugene’s dad Robert Berry (1823-1905) and his first wife Elnora Lucretia Warner (1822–1865) is one of the most amazing, almost Shakespearean epic in my family tree.
When their two kids were small (Rosetta and her brother Charles), the young Berry family decided, along with Elnora’s parents and siblings, to leave southern Michigan to relocate to the center of the Mormon universe at the time, Nauvoo, Illinois. This was around 1845, just after the murder of founder Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. Upon arriving they discovered little work, so Robert offered to return to Hillsdale County, MI to make some money and send it along to sustain the family. He did so for a period of time, but in Nauvoo things were becoming unraveled. The residents decided to make an orderly migration to Utah under threat from non-Mormon locals. Meanwhile, Robert was puzzled as to why he hadn’t heard from his wife. He decided to make the trip to Nauvoo and find out. When he arrived he found the city deserted and his family gone. He was told his wife married another man and joined the Great Migration. It is claimed that so great was his grief that his hair turned white overnight. Robert Berry returned to Michigan with a broken heart. He later married my great granduncle’s mother, Nancy Bailey, in 1847.
Years later, Mitt’s great grandmother Rosetta showed up at Robert’s doorstep. She was on a mission for the Mormon church and took the opportunity to visit her dad. She explained that Elnora married Nauvoo’s postmaster Simon Dalton, after he intercepted Robert’s mail (and his money) and Elnora’s letters back. He convinced her that her husband had abandoned her and that she should become his (plural) wife. He even married Elnora’s sister in the bargain! My guess is that Mitt may not have a fondness for Simon Dalton or for plural marriages.
I am not about to make the case that Mitt Romney is an evil dude. In fact, I admire his dad George for telling the truth about the Viet Nam war. He said we were being brainwashed. This killed his hopes of becoming the 1968 Republican presidential candidate, in fact, it ended his political career. That took guts and I hope that rubbed off on Mitt, although I have my doubts. Ironically, George was born in Mexico while his parents were on a mission, but he never had to face the “Birther” issue. A good question for Mitt! (Governor Romney: Your father was born in Mexico. Do you think he should have been disqualified as a presidential candidate in 1968?) Anyway, I think Mitt is the least wacky of all the Republican contenders this time around and if he wins I will probably not hide under the bed. But I won’t be voting for him. Remember, that’s coming from a family member. Sort of.