IIELIZABETH GASKELL ROMNEY 1809-1884
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Grandmother of Orson Pratt Brown's wife, Diana Romney Brown
Elizabeth Gaskell Romney
By Leona Brown Olsen
Elizabeth Gaskell Romney, the wife of Miles Romney, entered this life on the 8th day of January 1808, her birthplace being Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire, England. She was the daughter of Joseph Gaskell and Elizabeth Slater Gaskell. Little is known of her ancestry or of the early life but as a relatively young woman she became a wife at age twenty-one and then a mother.
[Elizabeth Gaskell Romney and her husband, Miles Romney, had the following children:
[In 1837, they heard the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Orson Hyde.] Elizabeth joined the church in [September]1839 in Preston, England, at the same time her husband and eldest son, George, entered the waters of baptism, being among the early converts in England. [After their baptisms, meetings were held every Sunday morning in their home.]
She shared with her husband the many hardships and other experiences incident to giving up all of their earthy possessions in their native land to make their home in a foreign country that they might be with the people of their choice. They set sail from Liverpool in [February 7,] 1841, on the ship “Sheffield” leaving for the new world and arrived at New Orleans after being at sea about seven weeks. From this point they went by boat up the Mississippi River to Nauvoo, Illinois. The family located four blocks north of the lot on which the temple of the Most High was soon to be built and whose construction her husband was to play such an important part.
They had been in Nauvoo scarcely five years when they were forced, with the rest of the saints, to abandon their home and flee for safety. [They could not afford to go across the Plains, so they moved} to Burlington, Iowa where they resided for a short time and later moved to [St. Joseph, Missouri] and finally to St. Louis to procure work toward the support of themselves and little ones. They were most anxious to join the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. In March 1850, the family began the long arduous journey toward the setting sun with ox teams and lumber wagons, trusting in the Lord to lead them to a place of safety.
When they arrived at Council Bluffs on the Missouri River, they were placed with the company of Captain Edward Hunter, in which there were a total of 261 persons, 100 yoke of oxen, 67 wagons, 113 cows, 10 horses, 19 sheep 19 dogs, 6 cats and 6 doves. The items comprising this company are given that the reader may have some notion of the requirements for a journey of that sort in pioneer days.
Upon arriving in Salt Lake on the 13th of October 1850, the family found a degree of shelter in an improvised abode consisting chiefly of a wagon box. Such inconveniences were sufficient to try the faith and courage of Miles but how much more galling would they be for the Elizabeth who must spend her time caring for her brood of nine little ones amid such primitive surroundings. Yet Elizabeth proved to be pure gold and met the situation bravely as was true of the majority of the pioneer women who played such an important role in the building of the west. And six years later when her husband was called to fill a two-year mission [1856 to 1858] to England, how she must have toiled and struggled to make ends meet but she battled on heroically, even rejoicing in the knowledge that she was assisting in the building of the Kingdom of God.
The following excerpt appears in a letter written by her son George to his father while the latter was on his mission and shows the feeling of deep gratitude the wife and mother experiences in the knowledge that her husband is engaged in the work of the Lord.”
"Mother offers up prayers to God morning and evening for your welfare and success on your mission. Her heart is inexpressibly full of joy and gratitude to God for His goodness.”
After Miles returned from England he built their first home. But just after it was finished a call came [in October 1860] for the family to leave their home and migrate [south. They settled in Grafton until it was flooded away. Then they settled in] St. George to assist in the building of that settlement. Perhaps no place in Mormon expansion through the Great Basin area required greater courage, faith and persistence to subdue and make habitable than the stretch of territory along the Virgin River, with it’s patches of alkali and quicksand and infested as it was with poisonous rattlesnakes and destructive rodents. None but the stoutest hearts could endure these untoward conditions without complaining and still thanking the Lord that they had been called to endure these adversities that the waste places of Zion might be redeemed. Only the strong could endure and Elizabeth Romney was of that number. [In St. George they built a comfortable home and had a hotel and grocery store] .
[The role Elizabeth took was typical of what all women of that time were called upon to bear. She was the keeper of the household and of the children while her husband was attending to his church and community obligations. Elizabeth raised a garden and dried or bottled her fruites and vegetables. She would spin thread from cotton or wool in order to make clothings for her family.] Elizabeth Romney was blessed with the power of healing yet by nature a retiring woman who sought not public position, but was content to remain in the home and be an efficient wife and mother.
After the death of her husband[3 May 1877 in St. George, Washington, Utah] she absented herself more than ever from the public, indeed, she could almost be considered a recluse. Her death occurred at the age of 75, on the 13th of October 1884. An account of it appeared in the Deseret News under date of October 14, 1884, together with the following tribute:
“Last evening Brother George Romney of this city received a telegram from St. George notifying him of the death, at that place, on the 13th, of his mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Romney, wife of Miles Romney who died there in 1877. The deceased lady was one of the old members of the church, having embraced the Gospel in Preston, England in July 1837 (1839), and arrived from that country in Nauvoo in April 1841. She endured, in common with the saints, all the persecutions to which the church was subjected in the earlier stages of its history, and remained true and faithful to the end. At the time of her death she was in her 76th year, and was universally esteemed by all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance. She leaves a large number of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, many of who are conspicuous members of the community and much respected. The funeral was to take place at 2:00 p.m. today.”
PAF-Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown + (1) Martha Diana Romney < Miles Park Romney < Miles Romney + Elizabeth Gaskell < Joseph Gaskell + Elizabeth Slater..
Leona Brown Olsen
Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude, Vol. III, International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Publishers Press, 1998, page 2650.
[Bracketed], bold, corrections, additions, photos, by Lucy Brown Archer
Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org