My wife and our children are cousins of Mitt Romney. This is the story of their common ancestor James Hood and his Mormon descendants.A Mormon Tale
James Hood was born on April 6, 1776 in Kelso, a small town south of Edinburgh near the border with England. His parent were William Robert Hood (1744-1799)1 and Hannah Clarke (1752-1832). James had six sisters (Agnes, Isabella, Margaret, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Mary) and one brother Dr. William Hood.
James Hood married Elizabeth Jones (1776-1803) in Barony on May 28, 1798. James and Elizabeth were both 22 years old. They had five children: William (1799-1894) (the direct ancestor of my wife and children), Jane (1800-1862), Elizabeth (1801-1875), Hannah (1802-1830), and Jean (1803-1803). Baby Jean dies shortly after birth and her mother, Elizabeth Jones, did not survive birth complications.
James Hood next married Jane Margaret Bisland on Nov. 14, 1808. They eventually had eleven children. We'll hear more about some of them later on.
The economy around Glasgow was booming during the Napoleonic Wars but with the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815 there was a severe economic depression, especially in Glasgow. The British government tried to lower the unemployment rate by encouraging migration to the colonies, chiefly Canada and Australia. The incentive was "free" passage, free land, and enough supplies to start farming. Many of the unemployed Glasgow weavers took up the offer in the years between 1815 and 1822.
After the termination of the French and American wars the government of Great Britain in order to colonize what was then called Upper Canada, entered into a plan of sending out emigrants to Canada, giving them 100 acres of land and rations for a year but that plan did not work well. However, a few thinking individuals conceived the idea of emigration to Canada, met and discussed the matter and after a little societies were formed in the city of Glasgow and neighboring towns in the County of Lanark, Scotland. After being organized by electing one of themselves president to do the business of the society it was resolved to petition the government to see what they would do in the matter. Accordingly, a petition was drawn up and after being well recommended by members of Parliament and others as to the respectability of the petitioners it was then duly laid before the government. In reply the government made the following proposal: they agreed to take them from the Clyde to their destination in Upper Canada, give each male emigrant 21 years or older 100 acres of land, a little store of implements to begin with and ten pounds per head, children half that amount to be paid in two installments as soon as the parties were located on the land. The money was to be paid back after ten years the government retaining the deed as security for the same. It was likewise stipulated that each passenger pay into a fund three pounds per head for the purpose of provisioning the ships, children one half that amount and that each passenger be allowed a certain weight of luggage per head. This last clause caused many to abandon the society altogether and to go out by other ships where they could get their goods and effects taken along with them but the majority agreed to the government’s proposals and the presiding officer was authorized to notify the government to that effect. The British government then had the townships of Ramsay, Dalhousie, Lanark and North Sherbrooke surveyed and laid out for the immigrants. The village of Lanark was to be the grand stopping place for immigrants when they arrived. So early in the year of 1820 a ship was sent up called the Prompt and set sail from the Clyde in the month of April and after a journey of about three months they were landed at Lanark Village or rather where Lanark Village was supposed to be as it was then an unbroken wilderness. They suffered much and I have been told that the snow was on the ground before some of them got into their shanties. [Ancestors of Shelley Lee Purdon]
The settlers were known as the Lesmahago Society. There were 33 families and 370 settlers on board the Prompt. About 30 of the settlers were related to James Hood.
The settlers arrived at Quebec City (Quebec, Canada) on August 31, 1820. From there they took a steamboat to Montreal where they transferred to small boats for the journey up the St. Lawrence to the town of Brockville. Then it was a three-day trek along the road leading to Perth and on to the land they were assigned. The earliest settlers had already established the site of the village (and county) of Lanark, named after Lanarkshire in Scotland. (Glasgow is in Lanarkshire.) These earlier settlers had also settled the town of Perth and taken the best land. Many of them were veterans of the War of 1812.
The Prompt party reached the area on Sept. 15, 1820.2. Most of the families, including that of James Hood. settled on lots near Watson’s Corners in Dalhousie Township (named after Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of Canada). Within a few years the area around the Hood's farm became known as Hood Corners.
The feelings of our forefathers on coming to this, their destination, can be well imagined. The embryo Lanark Village was only known by a placard on a tree which stood as nearly as can now be determined on the middle of the present main street between Caldwell's store and the Clyde Hotel, bearing the words, "This is Lanark." On every side was a forest of pine; the little "burn" gleaming among the trees was an unimportant waterway compared with the Clyde of Bonnie Scotland. This however was where our stout-hearted pioneers had to begin their new life and they entered into the work with spirit and zeal. [History of Lanark Village]The first task of the settlers was to build a house to shelter their family for the winter. The next task was to prepare the ground and plant crops. Let’s not forget that these men were factory workers from Glasgow. It’s not surprising that many of the buildings and fields were inadequate.
The school teacher, George Richmond, was killed by a falling tree during the first winter so there was an immediate problem of staffing the new schoolhouse. Eventually the job fell to William Hood, son of James Hood by his first wife. William was 21 years old and he had attended Glasgow University before emigrating. (School teachers received a salary from the government.)
The early history of Lanark is described in HISTORY OF LANARK VILLAGE. The description of the "library" in 1822 is particularly interesting since it reveals the interests of the Scottish settlers. You can see that religion was important and there were two books by William Paley.
The enquiring mind of our average present day Lanarkite might perhaps be attributed to that fondness for literature which was part of the make up of our pioneer fathers. They liked books and were satisfied only with the most profound. In this way, then, we see Major Donald Fraser, president, and Mr. Robert Drysdale, treasurer, in conjunction with Mr. Robert Mason, librarian, arranging books on the library shelves in 1822. These books were : "Confession of Faith", "Dick on Inspiration", Paley's Evidences", "Protestant", 4 vols, "Walker's Sermons", "Wardlaw's Sermons", "Butler's Analogy", "Edwards on Original Sin", "Evans' Sermons", "Vincent's Explanatory Catechism", "Dodderidge's Sermons", "Dodderidge's Rise and Progress", "Stevenson on the Atonement", "Beddow's Sermons", "Erskine's Evidences", "Paley's Natural Philosophy", and many others of like character. This was the sole public reading in the settlement, excepting newspapers sent by friends across the sea, and mails being at that time both uncertain and expensive, the reading matter received from that source would not now be thought of much importance.
The farmland around Lanark is not very good. It’s part of the Canadian Shield and the shallow soil overlays solid granite. By 1830, James Hood and most of his family had decided to move to southern Ontario where the land was much better. Some people say that the move was prompted by a tragic incident when his son, James, then 25 years old, was shot to death on a hunting trip.3
Later on there were other families that joined them in Southern Ontario. The most important family, as far as our story is concerned, is the family of Alexander Perley Hill (1779-1867). The Hills had come over to Lanark in 1821 and settled near the Hood families. They moved to Tosorontio, a township adjacent to Nottawasaga. Two of the Hill brothers marry two of the Hood sisters and end up in Utah.
James Hood and Jane Bisland do not go to Utah. They are buried in the Creemore Cemetery near the western edge of Nottasawaga Township.4 James Hood was very active in the Disciple of Christ Church in Simcoe county. He and his siblings remained loyal to their Protestant upbringing in Scotland. Today there are hundreds of descendants of James Hood and his sisters in Eastern Ontario (Lanark, Perth, Ottawa) and in Southern Ontario (Simcoe, Toronto).
1. The Hood family in Kelso, Roxburgh, can be traced back to William Hood 1690-1730.
2. There’s a good description of the trip from Glasgow to Lanark written by a settler who arrived the following year. [Perth Courier, Dec. 23, 1892]
3. Years later a neighbour confessed, on his deathbed, to the accidental shooting.
4. The village of Creemore and the Township of Nottawasaga were merged into the township of Clearview in 1894.
5. Elizabeth Jones is buried in the Calton Cemetery, a cemetery reserved for weavers and their families. It's almost certain that James Hood was one of the famous "Calton Weavers" [Nancy Whiskey and my ancestors].
Early Settlement of Dalhousie
Archibald Newell Hill
Ancestors of Shelley Lee Purdon
The Hood Family History in Canada
Biography for James Hood
Perth Courier, Jan. 27, 1893