Judith Freeman is calling out for public support to get Mitt Romney to settle a 130-year-old family debt. Freeman's great-grandfather, William Jordan Flake, and Mitt Romney's great-grandfather, Miles P. Romney, settled by the 1880s in their Mormon communities in the northern Arizona wilderness. Both took several wives as directed by the church. The Mormon plan to create a corridor of communities from Utah to Mexico was resisted by the Arizona territory. Polygamists law was used against Romney and Flake.
"The marshals began rounding up the Arizona polygamists and arresting them," Freeman writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books. "Both Flake and Romney were arrested, Flake for polygamy and Romney for polygamyÂ—which he ducked by sending two of three wives into hidingÂ—and a dispute over his land claim stuck. Flake had resources that Romney did not, and he posted bail for both of them: $1,000 each."
"Miles P. Romney skipped out on his bail, fleeing across the border into Mexico with his three wives, Hannah, Annie, and Catharine, and their children. He landed in Colonia Juarez where he helped establish a new sanctuary for Mormon polygamists. He left my great-grandfather Flake holding the bag," Freeman writes.
The biography, titled "The Real Romney," states the elder Romney had five wives, more than 30 children, and ordered to flee to Mexico by church officials.
Freeman estimates the debt to be worth about $25,000. (She's willing to let the interest on the bill slide.) If paid, she will share it with the estimated 15,000 descendants.
What is the point of bringing this up now? Is Freeman seriously expecting Romney to pay this old family debt? That works out to $1.66 per person, not to mention the nearly $7,000 it will cost in postage to mail 15,000 checks. It seems this author needed some publicity.
Photo credits: William Flake courtesy of the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park. Miles Park Romney courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library.