Mitt Romney’s Ancestry

I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” –Patrick Henry

The typical White-American is aware of his own particular ancestry, to some extent or another. Most people are, consciously or not, animated by such knowledge. It is thus worthwhile to analyze the ancestries of aspirant politicians.

For this purpose, I profile, below, each of Republican Mitt Romney’s great-grandparents, based originally on the excellent genealogical research of William Reitwiesner with many other available sources used to make “profiles of each ancestral line.” I previously examined Richard Nixon’s ancestry in a similar way, finding that Nixon was of 100%-Colonial-extraction, which may shed light on his politics. (Nixon’s ancestors’ stories are fascinating. Here from the earliest Colonial days, pushing the frontier right behind Daniel Boone in the late 1700s; he even had a direct ancestor die at Gettysburg in July 1863.)

  • Synopsis off Mitt Romney’s Ancestry
  • Most of Mitt Romney’s ancestral stock consists of early converts to Mormonism from Britain (most from Northwest-England and Scotland) who were impelled to the USA from the 1830s to the 1850s, settling directly in Mormon communities.
  • Colonial-Yankees account for 27% of Romney’s ancestral stock.
  • 12.5% (one-eighth) of his ancestral stock comes from Northern-Germany.
  • Many of Romney’s ancestors who were then-living participated in the dramatic 1846-7 Mormon Exodus from Illinois to Utah.
  • All of Romney’s ancestral lines end up in Utah by the 1880s.
  • Some went to Mexico at the end of the 1800s, but were expelled in 1912, and went back to Utah.

— — —

Mitt Romney: Ethnic Ancestry Summary
40.6% England — Mostly Northwest England, partly W.Midlands.
18.8% Scotland
26.6% Colonial-Yankee
12.5% North-German
1.5-3% French, Acadian and possible Huguenot (see entries for #5 and #7, below)

— — —

Mitt Romney’s Parents

(1) George Wilcken Romney. He was born in 1907 in a Mormon colony in Chihuahua, Mexico, where his parents had married in 1895. All such colonies were raided, harassed, and forced to close by Mexican bandits-cum-revolutionaries in the early 1910s, their residents fleeing back to the USA. In other words, Mitt Romney’s own father was expelled from his very birthplace, as a youth, by angry-Mexicans(!). G.W.Romney married in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1931, and went on to great deeds in business and politics.
(2) Lenore LaFount. She was born in 1908 in Utah.

Pictured, in 1947, from left:
— George W. Romney [37.5% Scottish, 25% English, 25% German, 12.5% Colonial-Yankee]
— Baby Mitt Romney
— Lenore LaFount Romney [56.2% English, 40.6% Colonial-Yankee, 3.1% Acadian (see entry #7), 0-3% Huguenot (see entry #5)]

The same people in 1962, the year George Romney was elected governor of Michigan and appeared on the cover of Time:

— — — —
Now, most people’s animating-ancestral-awareness extends back, in my opinion, three generations — to the persons of their great-grandparents, such that when one knows of specific ancestors very far beyond that, it becomes trivia, rather than significant for one’s worldview-formation and identity-formation — which is what we are interested in here. This being the case, let us examine in some depth the eight great-grandparents of Republican candidate Willard Mitt Romney (b.1947), their ethnic origins, their personal backgrounds, and their life experiences. Photos are included where available, from here or unless otherwise noted.
— — — —

Mitt Romney’s Great-Grandparents [w/ Summary of Each Individual’s Ethnic-Ancestry]

(1) Miles Park Romney. [100% English Ancestry]. He was born in 1843 in the Mormon settlement of Nauvoo, Illinois (the same birthplace as person #7 in this ancestry, below. The two were born just two two years apart). Not far away from Nauvoo, at the time, one Abraham Lincoln was practicing law and getting his start in politics.

“Great-Grandpa Romney’s” birthplace of Nauvoo has an interesting history, which as a non-Mormon, I was not aware of:

In the Summer of 1839, Nauvoo is naught but a small frontierish-town on the Mississippi River, something out of Mark Twain. Joseph Smith and his supporters, chased out of everywhere else, purchase the town in late 1839. Smith rules it as a quasi-theocracy, and invites all Mormons in North America and further afield to come on over. Rumors of polygamy (which were true), among other things, enraged local ‘traditional Christians’. Five years of uninterrupted antagonism between the Mormons and local (then-)frontier Protestants, culminated in the vigilante killing of Joseph Smith in 1844.

The Mormons decide to abandon Nauvoo, going west yet again, this time to the far west, Utah, which was then well-and-truly empty. Miles Park Romney would have thus participated in the Mormon exodus of 1846-7, but would have been too young to remember much of it. He married in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1862.

This is a well-documented line: Both of Miles Romney’s parents were born in rural Lancaster County, Northwest England, midway between Liverpool and the Scottish border, and all his ancestors going further back several generations are likewise from northwest England.

Lancashire, England, ancestral home of Miles P. Romney

Miles’ young parents were early converts to Mormonism in England.

From a biography of Miles Park Romney: “Miles and Elizabeth, on their way to market [in England], saw a group of people assembled on a street corner. They were curious as to what attracted the crowd. They discovered it was a religious gathering and that the preacher was a Mormon missionary from America. They learned later that it was Orson Hyde, an Apostle, to whom they listened. This was in 1837. In September, 1839, Miles Romney, his wife and son George were baptized. The family left England in 1841 to gather with the Saints in Nauvoo.” (Note that their conversion in England was ten years after the alleged revelation of the Book of Mormon to a then-twenty-three-year-old Joseph Smith in New York [1829]).

Miles P. Romney went on to found one of the Mormon colonies in Mexico, in which his grandson George W. Romney (father of Mitt Romney), was born in 1907.

Miles Park Romney

(2) Hannah Hood Hill. [100% Scottish]. She was born in 1842 in Tosoronto Township, in what would become Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada. Born a year before the region of her birth was officially organized as a county by Canada, she therefore might be called ‘pioneer-stock,’ or, if this is a stretch, at least settler-stock (not an “immigrant”).

All four of Hannah’s grandparents were born in Scotland, and made the move to British-Canada in the 1810s and 1820s.

Her family converted to Mormonism and participated in the 1846-7 westward trek. Her mother died on the westward trail in 1847, one of several Mitt Romney relatives who is recorded as having died on the westward trek. She married in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1862.

Hannah Hood Hill Romney

(3) Helaman Pratt. [50% Colonial-Yankee, 50% Scottish.] This man was born, poetically, in a covered wagon while his family was ‘on the westward march’ (1846), i.e. the Mormon Exodus from the eastern-USA. His birthplace is recorded as “off the trail in Iowa”.

The mystique of these circumstances of birth loses some luster, to those of us who are not Mormons, when we learn that his mother was but one his father’s several wives. His father was an early Mormon leader named Parley Parker Pratt and polygamist.

Helaman Pratt was married in Utah in 1874. His father (the aforementioned Parley Parker Pratt) was of entirely Connecticut-Yankee stock, going deep back into the early Colonial era, while his mother was born in Scotland.

Helaman Pratt

(4) Anna Johanna Dorothy (“Dora”) Wilcken. [100% Northern-German]. She was born in 1854 in near the city of Luebeck, in Holstein, Northern-Germany. Her parents, married in that region of Northern-Germany in 1853, are both buried in Utah. Her father, Carl Heinrich Wilcken, was apparently something of an adventurer. Despite having a young wife and child, in early 1857 he went abroad, with vague ambitions to make it to Argentina.

In the Spring of 1857, a 25-year-old Carl found himself out of money in New York City, though, and joined the U.S. Army, as it was a reliable source of income. He was well used to army life, having served in the Prussian Army as a teenager. Carl was trained and sent west with the Army that summer to keep an eye on the Mormons. He thus took part in the ‘Mormon War’. He deserted the Federal Army for nebulous reasons that fall, ended up with the Mormon militia, and settled down, achieving a achieve a degree of prestige in Utah society and going on too serve as a bodyguard for two Mormon leaders.

Carl sent for his German wife and daughter (Dora) in 1860. The prestige Carl achieved is reflected in the fact that his daughter, Dora, married the son of Mormon leader Parley Parker Pratt (i.e., #3 above). (More information on Carl Wilcken, including an excerpt from a short memoir he wrote, is available here).

In terms of Dora’s ancestry: We know that all of her great-grandparents were in Northern Germany in year 1800, all living in rural areas, and there is no hint of anything exotic. She looks like a typical north German or perhaps Scandinavian (see photograph below). Some of her German ancestors were born near Luebeck, some near Schwerin, some near Kiel.

Recall that George W. Romney (Mitt’s father) has the middle name Wilcken, which is this woman’s maiden name, suggesting a particular affinity for this line on behalf of George’s mother, perhaps again reinforcing the notion that Carl was held in high esteem. [See the comments for a discussion of whether Dora Wilcken, born near the then-unclearly-defined Danish-German border, could have been Danish or part-Danish.]

Dora Wilcken, daughter of Carl Wilcken

Carl Heinrich (Carl Henry) Wilcken

(5) Robert Arthur LaFount. [100% English, possibly 1-12% French]. He was born in 1856 in Belbroughton, County Worcester (‘West Midlands’ region), England. He married Emily Hewitt (#6, below) in Birmingham, England, in 1879.

Information on this line is not as detailed as that for some others. As best as can be ascertained, all of Robert LaFount’s ancestors were born in England going back several generations. The Birmingham connection might have implied a possible Irish-origin for at least some of his ancestors, due to the heavy Irish immigration to the industrial cities of Northern-England at the time. His ancestors all have English surnames like Edwards, Brett, and Bateman, suggesting no or minimal Irish-Catholic ancestry.

The name ‘LaFount’ itself, of course, sounds French. The ultimate French origin for this paternal line was not particularly recent. The paternal line was definitely in England in the early 1800s. Information on when exactly this ‘LaFount’ line entered England is missing, but there are two possibilities:

(a) The original LaFount was a post-1789-Revolution political refugee from France, who married an Englishwoman, and all of his subsequent descendants did likewise. This speculative scenario would make Robert A. LaFount himself most likely 1/8th [12.5%] French, the rest English. The other possibility:
(b) The original LaFount was a French Huguenot-Protestant refugee who came earlier, perhaps in the Huguenot wave of around 1700, when 50,000 Huguenots expatriated to England. In this case, if all the subsequent marriages in this line were with English girls, Robert A. LaFount would be only marginally French by ethnic-ancestry, perhaps 3.1% [1/32nd] at most, and perhaps less.

I find (b) more compelling. Why? Because we find that the marriage between Robert’s parents was conducted in the rural hamlet of ‘Great Witley’, County Worcester, in 1855, not where one would expect the grandson of an exiled French aristocrat to marry.

Note on Huguenot Ancestry: Minor Huguenot ancestry is probably present in most English people by this point. The other lines in this Robert A. LaFount’s own deep-ancestry, other than the LaFount line (i.e. the father’s father’s father’s…), all of which have English surnames going back three generations — may very well have a Huguenot or two, five or six generations back, but the records are not complete so it is unclear. The same is true for any of the English lines in this genealogy. Minor-Huguenot ancestry has become part of the basic ancestral-stock of the native-English. For this reason, it is probably best to simply subsume such minor Huguenot ancestry within the category of ‘English’, as we tend to do for ‘American Colonial Stock’.

It is likely that the English couple, Robert Arthur LaFount and wife Emily Ethel Hewitt (#6, below), converted to Mormonism around the time of their marriage in 1879 (which was conducted in England), and immigrated to Utah in the 1880s, in their mid to late 20s. Their son, Mitt Romney’s grandfather Harold LaFount, was born in Birmingham, England in 1880, and he married in Utah in 1903.

Both Robert Arthur LaFount and Emily Hewitt died in Utah.

(6) Emily Ethel Hewitt. [probably 100% English]. She was born in 1861 in Birmingham, England. See the entry above on Robert A. LaFount for more information on her life-trajectory.

Detailed ancestry information for this person is lacking, including the birthplaces of her parents. Her parents’ typically-English names (Thomas Samuel Hewitt, Elizabeth Booth) suggest that she was of unmixed English-ancestry, though this cannot be confirmed very far back but given what we know of English history in the early 1800s is a good bet.

What is confirmed is that Robert Arthur LaFount and wife Emily had a son named Harold Arundel LaFount (1880-1952). A photo of the couple’s son, who is Mitt Romney’s grandfather (source), is included below.

Harold Arundel LaFount,
Son of #5 and #6

(7) Charles Edward Robison. [87.5% Colonial-Yankee, 12.5% Acadian]. He was born in 1845 in the Mormon colony in Illinois, Nauvoo, two years after Miles Park Romney (#1 above) was born in the same place.

Charles Robinson’s parents were married at Nauvoo on Christmas Day 1839, making them among the very first Mormons to be married in the emerging world capital of Mormonism of the early to mid 1840s. (Nauvoo was only established as a Mormon settlement in the last months of 1839, after which is began to be flooded with Mormons fleeing from the east).

Both of Charles Robison’s parents were of Colonial-Yankee stock, though among his ancestors we do find, three generations back, one Huguenot Acadian (of the French-Colonial population that became the Louisiana Cajuns) [Thanks to commenter flieralls for this correction], making Charles Robinson one-eighth ‘French’.

In general, one subsumes partial-French-Huguenot-ancestry into the label ‘Colonial Stock’. (Would we call Paul Revere ‘French’?). Perhaps the same could be done with Acadians, but for the sake of precision, I have split it here.

The Mormon westward trek began in Spring 1846, following the vigilante killing of Joseph Smith by local frontier Protestants (1844), and a few months after Charles Edward Robison was born.

Charles was married in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1865, and died in 1883 on a mission to South Carolina.

Charles Edward Robison

(8) Rosetta Mary Berry. [75% Colonial-Yankee, 25% English]. She was born in 1843 in Albion, Michigan. According to an historical account by Frank Passic, an Albion, Michigan historian, Rosetta’s uncle converted to Mormonism in the 1840s, but remained in Michigan. In a religious fervor, Rosetta’s uncle took his family west, with a secondary wave of Mormons, in 1850, but the uncle died along the way. Rosetta’s parents must have been influenced by the zealous uncle, as they too end up going west while Rosetta is very young.

In 1865, while the U.S. Civil War is winding down in the east, Rosetta got married in Utah.

Ancestrally, three of her four ancestral branches are of Colonial-Yankee stock, while the fourth comes from Lancashire, Northwest England. (Photo courtesy of Frank Passic).

Rosetta Mary Berry

— — — — — — —
— — — — — — —

Q. What can Mitt Romney’s ancestral-stock tell us about his personal identity, his worldview, his animating sympathies, potential historical grievances? All of these would clearly influence what kind of leader he would be.

Some thoughts on Mitt Romney’s ancestry:
(1) Mitt Romney is of 100% Northwestern European ancestry, with not a trace of anything going back five generations or more.

(2) In Romney’s youth, a super-majority of Americans of all ages were likewise of NW-European ancestral stock (as they had been for centuries).

(3) In the 2010s, only a minority of babies being born in the USA are of Northwestern-European ancestry.

(3) Taking 1 to 3 together, this raises at least the possibility that Mitt Romney harbors Voelkisch sympathies. The man has witnessed a dramatic reversal of demographic fortunes of his people in a few decades. This possibility is heightened if we believe that people are politically motivated in part by their actual and perceived ancestry.

Q. The large question of ‘Americanism’ vs. ‘Mormonism’ is here raised. Are Mormons “core Americans”? It is tempting to say yes, considering how overlapping the Mormon ethnocultural group is in ancestral stock with the core American population. In fact, Mormons have a rather separate experience, actual and perceived…and examples of such are all over Romney’s ancestral tree…

(4) We see that only a minority of Mitt’s ancestral branches were in the USA in the late Colonial era (1760s-1770s) and in what we might call the New Nation era (1780s-1790s). Compare this with Richard Nixon, all of whose ancestors seem to have been in the USA by the war for Independence (1770s-1780s).

(5) None of Mitt’s ancestors participated in the U.S. Civil War in any way, for whatever that is worth. Seven of the eight branches of his family profiled above were in North America by 1861, but they were far off in Utah and sat the war out. Mitt Romney’s great-great grandfather is actually reported to have deserted from the U.S. Army in 1857 while stationed on the Mormon Frontier! (We ought not hold the “desertion” against this Carl Wilcken as such, given his circumstances [see above]; regardless, it does show, arguably, that he did not feel any strong “loyalty to the USA”).

(6) At what point did Utah become a ‘true’ part of the USA? Not until at least a generation after Appomattox, arguably two (or more). Utah statehood came in 1896, a few years after Mormon leaders formally decreed an end to polygamy.

(7) Considering all the above, one could ask the question “To what extent does Romney see himself as ‘deeply-American’…?” His ancestral stock is very close to the “American Core ethnic stock,” but the Mormons, an ethnoculture with an ethnogenesis in North America approaching two centuries ago, have their own identity narrative that is at least partly hostile to the wider American one. (They are not alone in this…)

[Updated: October 2016. Reason: Reposting all photographs after Imageshack deleted all hosted images. Secondary reason: A discussion on Mormonism and Americanism by Razib Khan and his commentariat at Mr. Khan suggests that Mormons are a product of the “Yankee Diaspora” and represent a “red state” manifestation of Yankeeism.]

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57 Responses to Mitt Romney’s Ancestry

  1. Hail says:

    A couple of comments on Vanishing-American on this subject:

    As it appears, he has less colonial Yankee ancestry than I believed, or than most probably think he has.

    Q. How is it that [Romney’s ancestors] in England came to convert to Mormonism?
    A. Like today, they sent missionaries over to European countries. In England’s case, they had a newspaper and they achieved success with this method. I have a close friend who also has LDS ancestors, but in his case, the LDS church sent missionaries that converted them in the Channel Islands of all places.

  2. Pingback: Newt Gingrich’s Ancestors: Apple Falls Close to Tree Again | Hail To You

  3. not too late says:

    Not to be too much of a nitpicker but Schleswig Holstein wasn’t Germany until like the 1860’s. Before that, it was Denmark. I only know that because some of my ancestors were born there when it was Denmark, but were called German when they arrived in the US because by the time they left it was part of Germany. Interestingly all of their kids married Scandinavians not Germans, which further convinces me they were Danish, not German.

    That is not to say that Romney’s relation wasn’t German. She may well have been because tons of ethnic Germans lived in Schleswig before it officially became part of Germany.

    • Hail says:

      Incidentally, I also have ancestors from southern-Denmark, who became German subjects after the 1864 war. The demoralized southern-Danes stuck in Prussia (from 1864), and then the German Empire (from 1871) heavily emigrated to the USA, probably at levels as high as the Norwegians (who lost one-third of their population to emigration to the USA). That is why some of my ancestors came to the USA.

      Were Romney’s ancestors Danes or Germans? Let’s look at their names and birthplaces:

      Dora Wilcken herself was born in Rheinfeld, a rural halmet just west of Luebeck. Let’s look at her own ancestors, for more precision:

      Regional Map:
      Map of extent of Danish control (All areas in light blue were under varying degrees of Danish authority, but Holstein was almost-totally German while Schleswig mostly Danish)
      Grandparents of Dora Wilcken (1854-1929) [Mitt Romney’s great-grandmother]
      (1) Carl Heinrich Wilcken (1801-1866), born Heckaten, Holstein (inside the range of maximum nominal-Danish control, but not in the area settled by many Danes). Died in Oldenburg, a northwest German city. —- Most likely this is a German. If this person was of Danish origin, it was remote, probably partial, and as we can see from his life trajectory (dying in Oldenburg) was at very least a defacto assimilated-German.
      (2) Anna Margaretha Catherine Stoffer (1803-1890). Born in a rural area near Luebeck, which was never in political union with the Danish crown. Died Salt Lake City. — Unlikely a Dane.
      (3) Joachim Peter Friedrich Reiche (1800-1873). Born in Friederikenhof, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, an area never connected with the Danish crown. Died in Neustadt, Holstein — on the map, it is just northeast of Heckkaten. (This is another area that was tenuous union with the Danish crown till 1864, but never heavily populated by Danes). —- Very unlikely a Dane.
      (4) Dorothea Magdalena Margareta Weber (1801-1879). Born in Lujtenberg, Holstein. (On the map, it is midway between Neustadt and Kiel). Died in Neustadt. —- Unlikely a Dane.

      Was Dora Wilcken of partial Danish extraction? Possibly, but no more than the typical German from the present state of Schleswig-Holstein.

  4. Gail says:

    In an otherwise benign article about Mitt Romney’s ancestry (although no mention is made of the date the Mormon elders outlawed polygamy – the very late 1800’s – and both George and Mitt found it abhorrent), you write that because of his Northern-European/UK heritage, there’s the “possibility he harbors Voelkisch sympathies” regarding his worldview and the kind of leader he would be. In the context in which you use it, “Voelkisch sympathies” seems to have a negative connotation. You base this notion upon what you call the “dramatic reversal of fortune” that he’s seen from the time he was born when his European/UK heritage was a “supermajority” until now after it’s seen years of steady decline in this country. What exactly do you mean by this?

    • Hail says:

      Trying to gain an insight into Mitt Romney’s identity, and thus animating-motivation, is the purpose of this ancestry-investigation.

      I believe that to understand a person’s motivations, one must know something about the person’s ancestral-identification. (This is probably particularly true of Mormons, who are legendary for their passion for genealogy — in other words, it’s a safe bet that Mitt himself knows all about the people listed in the entry and much more.) A man’s ancestry’s or ancestries’ particular narratives, baggage(s), historical grievances, whatever, can tell us a lot about him.

      For example, take this particular notorious quotation:
      What could explain why an American white woman would say such a thing? Well, we look into, and we find that Susan Sontag [nee Rosenblatt] was of Jewish ancestry. Considering the Jews’ history of perceived (and often real) persecution by European Whites, suddenly her ‘inexplicable’ hysterical anti-white tirade makes sense, and can be understood in its proper place.

      On the Mitt Romney Question: As he is 100% NW-European by ancestry; As he is old enough to remember a time when NW-European ancestry was vaguely considered a prerequisite for ‘Americanism’ in most of the USA; As today persons of mostly- or all-NW-European descent may be only 40% of the next incoming kindergarten class; As Mitt Romney is not a particularly aggressive advocate of our Multicultacracy (as I have come to call it); I think it is fair to assume that Mitt Romney harbors at least some “Voelkisch” sympathies, by which I mean he has sympathy with the force in American politics that wants the USA to remain a nation with an, on balance, NW-Europena-descent character, and certainly a “white” majority. (I use the German term, ‘Voelkisch’, because any English terms to try to convey what I mean are too emotionally-loaded and have their own baggage, so are impresice).

      I certainly don’t think any possible Voelkisch sympathy should cast any aspersion on Romney’s character. It is anyone’s right to advocate on behalf of their own people.

      • Gail says:


        Thank you for the erudite reply to my question. I’m of Central European heritage, Slovak, one that has been particularly peaceful but terribly oppressed over the centuries. The Slovaks were under the Hungarian boot during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for hundreds of years. After WW I, Czechoslovakia enjoyed a time of great freedoms under President Tomas Masaryk, and the country was called the “Golden Republic” of Europe.

        Enter WW II, and the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia. Thirty thousand Slovaks were massacred in retaliation for the assassination of Heydrich – shot by a Slovak – and, lastly, the people suffered under Communist rule for decades until it came crashing down. We never knew what happened to some of our relatives during the time of the Iron Curtain, but others that I’ve met are alive and prospering in what became on New Year’s Day, 1993, the Republic of Slovakia.

        Given what happened to the Slovaks during the Nazi occupation, the word “Voelkisch,” did jump way out at me in an extremely reflexive way – which is actually illustrative of the historical grievances point you make.

      • I find your explanation regarding Mr. Mitt Romney’s sympathy for some remote ancestors ethnic origins to be insignifient. It is not in the genes – it is in associations and he has been an “American , born an reared in the United States. Your supposition does not have logical roots. I am of Scotch-Irish, Irish and American Indian in my direct lines – So to which ethnic group would I have more sympathy? Mr. Romney, also has several ethnic groups in his background. I think you are delibertly trying to cast aspersions on his loyalty to his nation of birth. Can you prove that Obama was born in this country? Which ethnic group do you suppose he would be most sympathetic? Even if Obama actually was born here, he wasn’t raised here. His influnces came from other cultures. You give the impression of being a “closet Liberal” trying to undermine a decent, moral man. And your information about none of hs ancestors participating in the wars – Mormans might be conscientious objectors – I do nt know for sure – maybe you do..
        I do compliment our research as to blood lines – good job. Thank you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Can’t wait to see the post on Obama’s ancestry (including unbiased commentary)…

    • Hail says:

      Obama’s ancestry is of paramount importance in understanding his character. I don’t even think that’s particularly controversial, as Obama himself has openly spoken and written at length about it.

      Specifically, Obama has written of how his conflicting ancestries created a…let’s say…cognitive dissonance in his mind which resolved itself in favor of the patrilineal.

      Or in somewhat more blunter wording:

      • Karen Fox says:

        Obama’s book was an autobiography about his life experiences and the evolution of his thinking as he grew up. Taking one statement about his early life as a description of his current and enduring attitudes is a misuse of the autobiographical record.

  6. Pingback: The Ancestry of Ron Paul: “The German Candidate” | Hail To You

  7. Hail says:

    The entry on Dora Wilcken (#4) has been updated with information on her father, Carl Heinrich Wilcken.

  8. Hail says:

    Pictures have been added for each person.

  9. Martin says:

    In speaking of Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, you have a particular sentence in italics. It states: “In other words, Mitt Romney’s own father was expelled from his very birthplace, as a youth, by angry-Mexicans(!).” This is not actually true, or at least, you make it sound unnatural because you give no context.

    In reality, the Mexican Revolution was raging in Chihuahua during the 1910-1915 era, and the Mormon Colonies were constantly harassed by the revolutionary forces of Salazar and others to give them all their weapons and ammunition. Yet they were strongly encouraged at the same time by the US Government to not take sides in the revolution. With so many lawless bands roaming the countryside, and with extreme jealousy of the American Mormons for the superiority of their crops, of their fruit and of their lifestyle in general, without arms the Mormons feared for their lives. On July 28, 1912 it was decided by the Mormon leader for the area, young Junius Romney, great uncle of Mitt, that the women and children must be immediately evacuated to El Paso for their safety. Additional factors also weighed heavily into the decision. The men stayed behind to try to protect their property and possessions in Mexico, but these men also left Mexico on horseback a couple weeks later.

    The point is, the angry Mexicans were lawless “Red-Flaggers” participating in a revolution, and the Mormons left at their own decision. Some Mormons returned to Mexico months later, but the family of Mitt Romney’s grandparents remained in the US.

    • Hail says:

      Thank you for this useful clarification, Martin. Perhaps a better phrasing than “expelled” would be “chased out”.

      • Hi Hail – chased also is not correct – that implies them running and a force behind them – they made a logical decision to abandon their property and return for safety reasons. The danger was the start of the Mexican revolution. Why do you keep using words that imply
        irregularity in this man’s life. I am not a Mormon (I personally think it is a cult and not a sect) My ancestors Huegenots – living off the coast of Normany (France) who fled their origins for the west coast of Ireland for religious reasons – they fled for safety reasons –
        ..they were not chased. The same as Mr. Romney’s ancestors.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Mitt Romney’s father and grandfather received in 1938 a little under $10,000 from the Mexican government in settlement of their longstanding lawsuit over the loss of their property in Mexico in 1912.

  10. says:

    Hold on a minute here. Doesn’t Mitt Romney have actual traceable French ancestry? According to this tree, Charles Edward Robison’s great-grandfather, Philemon Duzette, was born in France. Other records have him being a Canadian of French-Canadian (French) ancestry. Isn’t this right?

    This would make Mitt Romney %1.5625 French.

    • Hail says:

      Technically, you are right.

      See the following in the entry on Charles Robison, above, though:

      Both of Charles Robison’s parents were of Colonial-Yankee stock, though among his ancestors we do find one Huguenot, three generations back, making Charles Robinson one-eighth ‘French’. In general, one subsumes partial-French-Huguenot-ancestry into the label ‘Colonial Stock’. (After all, who would ever call Paul Revere ‘French’?).

      For purposes of this analysis, everyone in (what became the) USA in 1775 counts as “Colonial Stock”. A minor French-Huguenot component is certainly a part of Colonial Stock.

      • says:

        According to many records I can find, Philemon Duzette was a Canadian of French-Canadian ancestry. Which would probably make him a Catholic rather than a Huguenot.

      • Hail says:

        What records do you have saying he is from Canada? That may actually make more ssense. Philemon Duzette Sr.’s arrival, sometime between 1755 and 1778, was a little late, if he were a Huguenot. (Paul Revere’s father came in 1715).

        Here is the information from wargs:

        Philemon Duzette. Born: ???, France, 1755. Died: Ellington, Conn., 1782. Married: Enfield, Conn., 31 Jan. 1779

      • Hail says:

        According to this, persecution-induced Huguenot emigration declined after 1725. By 1765, the persecutions were over.

  11. Hail says:

    Commenter Flieralls seems to be correct, above. It is looking very likely that Philemon Luzette Sr., Charles Edward Robison’s great-grandfather, was a French-Acadian Catholic.

    More reliable information is that Philemon Luzette Sr. was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada. (Not France, as Wargs wrongly lists — I had assumed that a man born in 1700s-France who winds up in New England before the Revolution would have been a Huguenot). Philemon Luzette Senior was born around the time of the Acadian Expulsions, many of which happened from this island. (See here). There was a major British push to expel the Acadians in Fall 1758, according to this.

    Phil Luzette Sr. would have been only three years old that Fall. The family ends up in New England, as other Acadian refugees did, and Phil Sr. grows up to marry a New England girl. (Many more Acadians ended up in Louisiana, becoming our Cajuns).

    The entry above on Charles Edward Robison (#7) has been amended.

  12. Anonymous says:

    More to the point: Mitt Romney is a quintessential American Plutocrat. I suspect that this shapes his worldview far more than either his mormonism or norwest euro. ancestry.

  13. Diane Joss says:

    I am reading this information in an attempt to discover why Romney’s ancestors initially left Utah for Mexico – did I miss this part or does anyone know? Was it because of laws passed against polygamy? Enlighten me please.

    • Mitt’s paternal great-grandfathers left Utah with their multiple wives for Northern Mexico when Utah outlawed polygamy in order to join the union. They preferred polygamy to being US citizens. Now, their great-grandson wants to be president.

      • marjee123 says:

        And we must remember, George Romney’s ancestors were STRIPPED of any claim to US citizenship when they went to Mexico. And actually they were not even citizens because the territory of Utah was not a state until almost 5-10 years later. So when they returned they would be considered illegal immigrants and so was George Romney. What the article did not mention is…there is not one record that any of these people ever applied for or received US citizenship. So most definitely you could say Mitt is an anchor baby. Something he and Rubio share and most republicans want to make illegal.

      • I would rather have this man for President than the one in office right now – what do we know about him – all of his personal records are sealed except fo rall of the “volunteer” work that he did. …and the probably bogus birth cert. that took them 2 years to produce. His cultural background is not of this country – does his allegience lean toward Islam?
        In the question of plural wives – it was part of their religion at that time – as is a lot of questionable practices in other religions – I am told that the practice assured that every woman had the opportunity to have a husband and have children – since traditionally there were more females than males – (>)

  14. Michele Nxion Hay says:

    Yeeeesh! I for the life of me am alarmed at the ‘acceptable target’ that American’s of European extract are now. My ancestors were from many of these strains and others…who also came ‘yearning to be free’ …ringing liberty bells…and risking all at times to find the freedoms their descendents and others have enjoyed. .We live in a time when Academia has made being ‘white’ and of ‘European’ extract something to be ashamed of. In their ivory towers they know not of what they speak…and fill young minds with dangerous drivel that justifies a self righteous attitude toward people today whose ancestors happen to have light skin as they ran from, were sold to, or reached for a place to raise their children in peace, faith and freedom. I would think a simple ‘thank you’ might be more in order.

    • I don’t think anyone targeted European Americans. I think your relative’s story is great and SHOULD be taught at Harvard and Columbia. Have you been to either institution? I haven’t, but I do teach at a college. I am also of European and Native American descent. I would like you to reconsider your attitude about what students learn in school today. I always try to be truthful with my students. European Americans have a lot to be proud of, but there are also things they should apologize for. One thing is how European Americans take credit for all that is good in America and blame everyone else for what is bad. America is a great country. It got that way at least partially due to the exploitation of generations of Africans and the annihilation of millions of Native Americans. Before you become offended, I challenge you to visit our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and find one plot of land that was legally bought and paid for at a reasonable rate by the first European Americans to ever inhabit it. Then, when you’ve given up on that, you can look for a building that was constructed without slave labor before 1860. This country would not be what it is without your (and my) European ancestors. It also would not be what it is without the non-Europeans who contributed, willfully or not. We should not hide from the past but celebrate the good and learn from the bad.

      • Hooray Yula – I too am a trained school teacher – and I am appalled at how some histoians slant he truth and it is never corrected. I had the pleasure of teaching where the ethnic backgrounds of the chldren were about 1/3 each, black, white and Mexican.
        Each race has things for which to apologize as well as to be proud. It was amazing, all the little black kids thought the slave traders went into the jungles and captured these tribal members to sell them as slaves mostly in the Western Hemisphere. The traders would have been killed should they have gone into the tribal villages. The subjects were brought to the slave markets at the ports and sold. However, I never found a school book that related this. So for generations, a distorted picture has been handed down, and thereby causing a lot of built up annimosity toward only one faction of the slave trade. When some of these kids became aware of this – they were amazed and would say out loud that they were happy to be HERE and not where their ancestors were.The history of the Native American Indians is not correctly and fully reported in our history books. It is a shameful hing.

  15. Michele Nxion Hay says:

    note: A member of one of my family lines (though he was probably a brother not a direct ancestor) was abducted and raised as an Indian as a child. He served the colonial Army and was friends with Lafayette! He was a ‘Hawkeye’ like guide… his ability to speak several languages including native tongues and French due to being from one of the early French speaking families in the 1600’s Dutch colonies was no doubt useful. He went to Paris with Lafayette! and when he died in Philadelphia about the time the Constitution was being written…10,000 people walked behind his funeral! Are they teaching that at Harvard and Columbia? History has nothing to do with the color of your skin…it has everything to do with the character of a person. May God have mercy on us for what is being taught to the youth of this nation…

    • Mr. Hay, I give you an A plus. What a lovely story. The fabric of our country is made of this kind of history; However, I do resent immigrants coming here and dragging their culture with them . We are United States of America with a distinctive language and culture.. Your religion I understad and you can do that in private. We now have illegal aiiens in Calif. parading the Mexicn flag, we have Muslins wanting paid holidays for some of their beliefs. This is wrong. if all of that is so important, you should remain in your own country. Now, you can choose English or Spanish on most business calls. This is wrong, it allows these people never to learn the language. It costs us millions in taxpayers money to run two languages because it affects every aspect of our country.
      Sometimes I feel that Mexico is getting Texas back without firing a shot. We should remember that for every right there is also an obligation.

  16. Karen Fox says:

    For a more-or-less complete list of Mitt’s ancestry back as far as the 16th century, see –this can trace origins back to the Mayflower, the Salem witchcraft trials, and more.

    I am a direct descendant of Charles Henry Wilcken (born Karl Heinrich Wilcken), and thus one of hundreds of MItt’s cousins (third cousin once removed–my grandmother was George Wilcken Romney’s first cousin.)

    I have read widely in the published literature about him, including on-line family sources, and have even written about him on occasion, including editing his Wikipedia entry and a newsletter column I write entitled “Ask Mitt’s Cousin” for the Peninsula Democratic Coalition in Silicon Valley at , go to the third page.

    I have also made two trips (most recently in February 2012)to the ancestral village of Eckhorst, which is now a tiny bedroom community of Lubeck, a fascinating post-World War II reconstruction of the illustrious Hansa city. Satellite view in Googlemaps of Eckhorst will give a very good idea of how tiny it is today–I suspect part of it is under the highway to the south of the remaining main street. Most of the family marriages took place between people who lived within walking distance of Eckhorst, common for centuries.

    Some small corrections:

    Karl Henry Wilcken was born and raised in Eckhorst and he served as a jaeger in the Prussian Army for seven years, with distinction, and was awarded the Iron Cross by the Kaiser. He completed his service and his father, also named Karl Heinrich, set him up as a miller in Dahme, 30 km NE of Lubeck, toward the contested area with Denmark. Soon after the King of Denmark wanted to draft him into his own House Guards and that is what spurred CHW to emigrate. His brother August (my great-grandfather) was in Argentina and Charles Henry’s first idea was to join him in Argentina.

    By the way, that area was disputed territory for decades, and the boundary between Germany and Denmark was only formally settled in 1920 by plebiscite. All Wilcken family accounts about his life and family for over 150 describe his place of origin as Germany. Of course it was variously a duchy, part of Prussia, and controlled by Denmark, but regardless of political history the family always spoke German and considered themselves to be German (or Prussian), not Danish.

    Charles Henry and his father by the same name were definitely Karl Heinrich Wilcken, never Carl Heinrich. My father, born in 1917, was explicitly named Karl with a K, for his great-uncle Karl Heinrich (aka Charles Henry) Wilcken who died two years earlier. This was considered bold at the time when the US was at war with Germany.

    Charles Henry did not sail to Argentina from London, because he spent all his money hanging out with his buddies in London. He had just enough money to get a ticket to New York and so, on arrival, he needed work. Logically, since he knew no English but he was a top-notch soldier, he joined the US Army–and ended up part of Johnston’s Army sent to pacify the Mormons in Utah Territory. He switched sides.

    When Charles Henry (his name in the New World) sent for his family, it consisted of his wife and two children (not one).

    Charles Henry was far more than just a helper to the top LDS leadership–he helped hide their polygamous families and seemed to know how to head off arrests, presumably through well targeted (and timed) bribes to the Federal officials.. See my newsletter piece.

    A colorful article about Charles Henry Wilcken can be found at

    • Karen Fox says:

      Update to my own post, in the interest of accuracy:

      Various sources say that in 1857 Charles Henry Wilcken intended to travel to Argentina to meet up with his brothers. It turns out that August Wilcken probably was not in Argentina at that time–he went somewhat later. One brother, Adolf, was apparently in Argentina at that time and in the 1870s become part of a colony in a remote frontier region of that country.

      About the spelling of his name, I may need to backtrack. His birth name may in fact have been “Carl”, not “Karl”. Eckhorst, close to Lubeck, was in the sphere of both Denmark and Prussia, which suggest that he may have been given the Danish form “Carl’. My reason for presuming his name was Karl is that in 1918 my father was named for him, the choice of the German form of the name being quite a statement at that time in the wake of anti-German feeling.

  17. Michele Nixon Hay says:

    Please forgive me if I let off a bit of steam in my prior posts…but lots of American’s are thinking this today…they are thinking…why are people being grouped as ‘the terrible white people’ basically? Really, truly…so very few people are born with the proverbial silver spoon…and though to check into our ancestry for most of us is interesting…of course we are not our ancestors…nor are they we. Every generation must begin anew to leave it’s own legacy.

    There was a terrible row as the English would say in the Constitutional convention if I am correct over abolishing slavery…that had been brought in by merchants and larger landholders…not the ordinary starting with nothing folk…some of whom came as indentured servants themselves. But in order to not have the whole thing fall apart before it began…a compromise was the effect that slavery would end over the next 20 years (may have number of years wrong but I believe that is it.) Of course those who had no scruples about slavery…used that time to break their promise and entrench it further. Many people would pay a terrible price to unentrench it finally later.

    My ancestors along the Delaware had one of the greatest peace treaties with native Americans in our Colonial History. So…my problem is with teaching our youth that somehow all of our European ancestors were terrible…all native Americans were good….and we all came with axes and robbed them. There was plenty of difficult survival and sadness on both sides in those times…and certainly they were fewer…and would indeed suffer from the less scrupulous who came among them. The culture collision of early America was hard on many native tribes…especially because of less resistance to illnesses that were hard on anyone…but harder on them. But not everyone treated the native peoples badly. There were many groups, many people, many families, many languages in early America. Some people treated native Americans badly…I would venture that most did not.

    As for academia today…there is a terrible lie present in it…it is that somehow white christians in America are racist. It is a fallacy so oft repeated by those who believe it that it has become their truth…though untrue. I am white and christian in America…I don’t even know any racists…I am sure there are a few nuts around…but they are a very small minority that saw their teeth with a file I guess…but this terrible lie that half or more of us are racist…is destroying our country…because it is told to our youth daily…you can hear it in the self righteous tones of news persons educated in our esteemed institutions of higher learning. It needs to be called out…this lie…it is destroying us as a nation…and how noone is willing to say that it is just as racist to say that ‘all of THOSE people are racist’ ….when you have never heard them utter a word to convince you of such…is reverse racism.

    I hope I am more clear. Don’t answer quickly…but think about what I am saying a bit. It is in my opinion a very important issue of our day…and something of a grief upon this nation.

    • I agree with many of your points. I think the one thing I wish EVERYONE would remember is that no one group of people is all good or all bad. Prejudice has existed as long as people have been people. One thing I teach is that whenever people use extreme language they are wrong. Not all Christians are good. Not all Muslims are bad. The same goes for Indians and Cowboys. Some of the worst atrocities committed during westward expansion were committed by Christian groups led by ministers. Some Native American tribes practiced cannibalism. I hope that this is what is taught in schools today. To bring this discussion back to the topic of Mitt Romney and his ancestry: anyone who claims to “appreciate” our “Anglo-Saxon Heritage” better than someone else had better have some serious support other than the color of his skin. Besides, Mitt spent his Mission in France, so his understanding is more Gallic than Anglo-Saxon. Witness his recent remarks that have annoyed the British, while Michelle has had nothing but success!

      • Yula – only one tribe of American Indians practiced canniblism and they consumed certain vital organs thinking that it gave them courage, etc. or whatever. It was the Caranquahua who inhabited part of the SW part of the Texas coast. The practice did not include white race candidates since there were not any in that area at that time. Later however, it is thought that it perhaps did include some invaders..

    • Basically, I do agree with your view. But in my experiences with multi-cultures, I find the fiercist racists not to be of the white race. They are just not as organized and do not receive the negative publicity. I resent the terms: “African-American”, Mexican-American, Chinese-American etc. Why do we continue to cause divisionary thinking. We are all Americans of the United States – I clarify this term for this hemisphere is The Americas. I am sick of some of our new citizens continue to ride that “race” horse and they do it for leverage.

  18. Diane Joss says:

    I have spent a lot of time during the past 15 years or so tracing my own family tree and have respect for the Mormon’s genealogical searches on a world-wide basis and their wonderful libraries in Salt Lake City where I have spent some research time. However, while I think genealogy is an extremely interesting pursuit, I believe, as the over-used expression goes, “we are what we are” and probably the society we’re raised in, our education and the influences of family and friends throughout our lives impacts us as much as our DNA (the old environment vs. origins argument). I personally don’t care if a presidential candidate is an “anchor baby” or was born in Hawaii, or not. I’m looking for a president who can get us out of the financial problems and wars that have plagued us for too long. Who I vote for in November, 2012 will not be based on the origins of their ancestors.

  19. lonegraranger says:

    If a person does any significant amount of genological research, one finds that they have saints, sinners, and psycopaths among their forebears.

  20. Out of here says:

    I thought this was a website to share information, not mis/disinformation, including birther junk.

  21. Pingback: So... nor Romney has EVER served in the US Armed Forces? - City-Data Forum

  22. Pingback: Danish ancestory | Selimcivelek

  23. Both ansestries of Romney and Ryan are very American.
    Both publicly are a bit shy of German roots, but assertive
    For smaller circle of frends. I do not mind, specially Dane,
    Or Avarian, unless Bechtel “vet’s” of Second War effective,
    Collecting again their “Bohemian Groove’s” American men.

  24. Lenore laFlount’s mother is billed as being born in Idaho as well… I don’t believe this. Can you shed any light on this?

    George was born to English immigrants so I don’t consider him an American citizen.

    Lenore’s father was born in England. The only thing about Lenore’s mother’s side of her family I could find on wikipedia was that her maternal grandmother, Rosetta Berry, had been one of the Mormon handcart pioneers… so was Lenore’s mother a natural born citizen?

    BTW, Most of the handcart expeditions were Dane… well documented in the case of the Martin Willie expedition which was a tragedy.

    • alexbeall says:

      You are confused. George Romney’s parents Gaskell Romney and Amelia Pratt were both born in the US. They were citizen of the United States. They never became citizens of Mexico even though they lived in Mexico for a time. George Romney’s grandfather — Miles Park Romney — was born in Illinois. If being the son of “English immigrants” disqualifies one for US citizenship, then this opprobrium would attach to Miles Park Romney, not to his grandson George Romney. Is it your view that Patrick Joseph Kennedy (grandfather of JFK, and father Joe Kennedy who was ambassador to the UK under Roosevelt) was not a legitimate citizen of the United States? Patrick Joseph Kennedy was the son of immigrants from Ireland.

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  28. Coral says:

    Thanks for posting this.. It’s been a pleasure to read 🙂

  29. Pingback: Ancestry of Hillary Clinton | Hail To You

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