[Hannah Hood Hill (my great-great grandmother) was born in Canada, in 1842. She was the daughter of Archibald N. and Isabelle Hood Hill. A few months later, Parley P. Pratt preached the gospel to their family. They joined the Church and arrived in Nauvoo in November of that year. Hannah's mother died in Winter Quarters in 1847, and her father left his three small children with relatives while he went to the valley to prepare a new home for his family. In 1849, Hannah arrived in the valley with her aunt. In 1862, Hannah married Miles Park Romney in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. In 1867 the family moved to St. George, Utah. Miles Park Romney married other wives. In 1885, President John Taylor advised Brother Romney to go to Mexico, to help establish settlements there. He was to first take with him only one of his families, the one with the fewest children. Hannah stayed in St. Johns, Arizona. In 1886, Brother Romney sent his eighteen-year-old son, Will, back from Mexico to bring Hannah to the colonies. The following excerpts are from her autobiography.]
I sold what household furniture I had for very little, got another team and wagon and in March, 1886 I started for Mexico. It had been snowing in the mountains for about three weeks before I left St. Johns. I expected company to go with me from there to Mexico, but when I went to see Brother Skousen he was not ready to go so I had to start out alone. When I got as far as Nutrioso Brother and Sister Pace lived there. They were dear friends of mine and insisted on my staying over for several days. Brother Pace said, "Sister Romney, aren't you crazy, starting out on this journey with your small children? Did you know that Geronimo, the renegade Apache chief, is on the warpath?" I told him I guessed I wasn't afraid of crazy people so I would have to start on this journey and trust in our Heavenly Father to see us to the end.
Will took a job herding stock for some of the ranches so he did not go with me. Brother and Sister Pace were very kind to us. She had me bake bread, make cookies and gave me butter and meat, etc., to use on the journey.
The first night after we left Nutrioso we camped in a beautiful grove. It snowed all night and in the morning the boys built a fire and we dried our bedding. We had some terrible roads to travel over, snow and mud often up to the hubs of our wagon. One day a blizzard started and it got so cold I wrapped the smaller children in their bedding and made them as comfortable as I could. Then I got out to walk to keep warm. We saw a ranch house in the distance so we made for that point. The boys went in and built a fire while I took the children in and got supper. I made the boys' beds in the house and then took the larger children and slept in the wagon. I got up several times during the night to see that the children were all right. When I got up in the morning there were icicles on the water barrels a foot long.
After breakfast we hitched up our team. We did not know a mile of the road. That night we got to Apache Hill, about sundown. One of the boys went ahead and returned saying it would be almost impossible to get down the mountain that night, so I carried all the bedding I could and loaded the children with enough provisions to last us. Miles [age 17, and my great-grandfather] thought he could get down with one team so the boys cut down a tree and chained it to the back of the wagon to keep it from tipping over. I took a lantern and went ahead to light the road. When we got to a level spot on the mountain it was about 10 o'clock and I thought we had better camp. I got the children supper and put them to bed.
I sat there considering our condition -- way off in the mountains camping right on an Indian trail. I assure you I did not do much sleeping, but the Lord protected us and in the morning the boys went on the top of the mountain to get the other wagon we had left there. When I saw them coming I held my breath but they got down all right without breaking even a singletree. That day we traveled on and struck the Frisco River. It ran through the canyon for miles and miles. We crossed that river forty-one times.
[Hannah Romney and her family continued their journey. They met others along the way who warned them that it was too dangerous to travel alone. But Hannah continued to put her trust in Heavenly Father.]
Just before we got to the border of Mexico we passed through Deming, New Mexico. One of the children was barefooted. As I only had $5.00 in cash I bought him a pair of shoes and a pound of sugar. When we got within a few miles of Ascension [a Mexican town near Colonia Diaz] several Mexicans rode up to our camp. Neither I nor the boys could talk Spanish but they made us understand that they were officers and had come to escort us into Ascension. We drove up to the Custom House.
[The Mexican officials said that Hannah had to pay $25.00 duty for her cook stove. She explained that she had nothing and offered to leave the stove. The officials did not want the stove, but made her promise to pay the duty within thirty days. Hannah traveled on to Colonia Juarez and finally was reunited with her husband, Miles Park Romney.]
My husband was delighted to see us all safe in Mexico. When I told him that they had charged me $25.00 duty on the stove, and had given me thirty days to pay it, he said that was more money than he had had since he came to Mexico. That was a worry to me thinking that I had brought more worry and trouble to him. In a few days a Mr. Galvin came to the camp inquiring for a carpenter. He was going to fix up a ranch a few miles down country and wanted some building done. My husband took the contract and got the money to pay the duty.
Brother Romney had built me a stockhouse with a dirt roof. When it rained we had mud and water coming down. He put some posts in the ground, wove willows in one side, put a carpet on the other side with willows on top, and made me a kitchen for our stove. I had brought some flour sacks with me. I sewed them together and lined part of our room where my bed was so that the dirt wall didn't look so bad. We had two boxes put together for a table and some round logs sawed for chairs and a dirt floor. That was a very crude home, different from what I had been used to, but I was thankful for it as my dear children and I would be with their father and we could live in peace, with no marshals to molest us or separate us again; but I did not like Mexico even though I tried to be satisfied and make the best of my surroundings.
(From Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 5, p.273-77)