IIJUNIUS ROMNEY 1878-1971
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Orson Pratt Brown's Brother-in-Law, Half-Brother of Mattie Romney
Junius Romney was born in St. George, Washington County, Utah on the 12th of March, 1878. He is the son of Miles P. Romney by a third wife, Catherine Jane Cottam Romney. He is the second son of his mother and the third child of a family of ten.
Young Romney had succeeded to the presidency of the Juarez Stake in 1908 when Anthony W. Ivins, who had presided over the Colonies for thirteen years had been advanced to the Apostleship. At the time of his appointment to this position Romney had not yet reached his thirtieth year but he was far beyond his years in the rich experiences which had come to him in the various responsibilities under which he had labored. By nature he was fundamentally spiritual and this natural bent was reinforced by a splendid training in the doctrines of his church. His training in the business world was thorough and his knowledge of men was unusual. Added to these qualifications was a fluent speaking and writing knowledge of the Spanish tongue, intensely important in a land where Spanish is the dominant language.
When but a child of about four his parents left Saint George to make their home in St. John, Apache County, Arizona. The father had been called by the President of the Church to assist in the building of Mormon settlements in that region, but persecution of polygamists became so severe that the family was advised by Church authorities to flee to Mexico. The mother of Junius and her family of children were taken to St. George to remain with the maternal grandparents of young Romney until his father and other branches of the family could establish homes in Mexico. After a sojourn of two years in St. George the last branch of the family in Utah entrained at Milford for the Republic of Mexico. Romney was at this time eight years of age.
The conditions which confronted the new arrivals in their adopted home were anything but inviting, but the inconvenience and even distress occasioned by the absence of even the bare necessities were in large measure balanced by the joy which resulted from a reunion of the entire family in a land free from persecution.
Without means and in a land where wages were but a pittance it required the help of every available member of the family to insure against want. In this struggle, Junius nobly did his part in herding the milch cows, working on the farm and in other menial labor required of him. Early in life he showed signs of business ability and at the age of fourteen he was given a position in the Juarez Cooperative mercantile establishment as a clerk. Fortunate, indeed, was it for the lad that thus early he was started on a business career under the supervision of an efficient and painstaking business manager such as was Henry Eyring, at the head of the largest business house in Colonia Juarez.
The climb of young Romney from clerk to chief bookkeeper and finally to the position of assistant manager was little short of phenomenal. Since then, however, his business career furnishes other notable examples of similar achievements.
Following the exodus from Mexico he found himself penniless with a family to support. He sought and obtained a position with the Beneficial Life Insurance Company of Salt Lake City as a sales agent. His ability as a salesman was soon manifest and before long he was known as the leading producer of the company. As a gesture of appreciation for his services, the position of "Superintendent of Agents" was created for him. With distinction he filled this new appointment until he decided to go into business for himself. At the present time he is secretary and manager of the "State Building and Loan," one of the strong real estate companies of Salt Lake City to weather successfully the economic storm of the past few years. Ecclesiastically he has always been active and at present is a member of the High Council in the Liberty Stake.
His success in the marital relations has been just as pronounced as in other capacities. He was fortunate in his selection of a life companion. In his early twenties he married Gertrude Stowell, a daughter of Brigham Stowell and Olive Bybee Stowell, by whom he has had six children, three boys and three girls, all of whom reflect the splendid training of the ideal home in which they were nurtured.
"When Villa was hiding from Carranza, whom the Americans backed, he traveled over the Sierra Madres, taking with him several Mormon men as aides. Villa did not harm the Mormons and allowed them to return home.
As they pursued Villa, the American forces set up base in Colonia Dublán. Historian Raymond J. Reed notes, "The Mormons, having already proven themselves capable of getting along with and commanding respect of the Mexican army under Villa, now undertook the task of playing host to the American army." The Army even recruited a few Mormon soldiers as scouts.
But soon, the colonists found their efforts to remain neutral increasingly difficult. President Taft ordered all Americans living in Mexico to leave. Junius Romney, President of the Juárez Stake of the Mormon Church, followed suit in July 1912, directing the nearly 5,000 Saints to return to the United States.
The colonies were evacuated, with only two, Colonias Juárez and Dublán, surviving to be reestablished in 1916. These two colonias, about 18 miles apart, still exist. Both remain beautiful. Colonia Juárez stands by itself, while Dublán has merged with Nuevas Casas Grandes."
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"Once back in the U.S., the colonists did not find life easy. It is painful for men who have owned their own farms and businesses to work as hired hands. Three weeks after the male refugees had arrived in New Mexico on their way to E1 Paso, a band of 35-including both sexes and all ages-decided to return to Colonia Juarez. Others drifted after them, and by 1917 the Mormon colonias were again populated. There were still requisitioning raids, but the Mormons found they could live with them. Not a single case of rape was ever recorded, by the way.
Then, in 1916, came Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, N. Mex., in which 20 Americans were killed. Brig. Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing was ordered to enter Mexico and get Villa dead or alive. But Villa was too elusive to be caught. Pershing, because he paid in good American dollars for supplies, found the Saints so receptive to his troops that when the U.S. finally gave up and called him back across the Border, the Mormons might well have predicted Mexican reprisal. This did occur when General Salazar rode into Colonia Juarez and told the Saints that all their able-bodied men would either join his Mexican army or be shot. He added that they would not only have to fight against the Mexican Federalistas, but also against the U.S. troops in reprisal for Pershing's interference in Mexican can matters.
Bishop Bentley, who had succeeded Junius Romney as stake president, thought over General Salazar's demands and then he made a short speech. Mormons, he said, were peaceful men, who devoted their lives to working and to educating their children. They did not wage war. If Salazar wanted to shoot them for that, let him do so. Bentley was a small man, and quite possibly his spunk tickled Salazar's Mexican sense of humor. At any rate, the last great threat against the colonistas had been avoided.
There were further minor troubles-the windup of the revolution, the depression in the U.S., which deprived the Mexican Mormon polygamists of their markets, and so on-but the colonias have persisted. Today both Mormon boys and girls are usually sent back to the States for college. Brigham Young University and the University of Utah are, of course, favored. But now some of the youngsters complete their education in other States, or even in Mexico City. All are bilingual.
Several of the descendants of the hegira to Mexico have made international names for themselves in the arts and sciences. One, George Romney, [Helaman Pratt and Miles Park Romney's grandson] was governor of Michigan, and he was considered as a possible Republican candidate for President, despite the fact that he was born in Mexico." Now his son, Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts, is being considered a possible candidate for the 2006 Presidency.
PAF - Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown + (1) Martha Diana Romney < Miles Park Romney + (2) Caroline Lambourne : Miles Park Romney + (3) Catherine Jane Cottam = Junius Romney
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