Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Resilience in Economic Reversals #ResilientRoots

My Great Great Grandfather started over again and again in his lifetime.  He had unexpected things happen that changed his financial situation many times but every time he picked himself up and started over.  He is a great example of economic resilience that we can look to now in times of economic uncertainty.  In fact, I find some comfort in the fact that he survived much, much more than anything I will have to now.  Family ChartMasters is doing very well considering the challenges the world is having and we are feeling very blessed for that. All of our employees have easily transitioned to working from home and we are keeping in touch with the tech tools my Great Great Grandfather never could have imagined.  It is amazing to imagine what he would have thought of our company today, and I'm hopeful that I have his grit and strength for whatever comes.

When Gaskell Romney was married in 1895, he and his wife Anna Amelia Pratt lived in Northern Mexico, descendants of pioneers who had survived many challenges to eek out a living in the desert.  After they were married, they built a beautiful farm and became very prosperous with good livestock and a thriving door factory and lumber yard.  They had a two story brick home with lovely landscaping, bountiful fruit trees and Gaskell was a leader in the community.  All this came to an end when the family had to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs from the Mexican revolution led by Pancho Villa. 

Gaskell took his building skills to Los Angeles for a while, but after two years of work with little to show for it, he longed to raise his family in a more rural setting.  So he and his brother moved their families to Idaho and bought a small potato farm in 1913.  The families worked hard to maintain the farm but with the economic effects of WWI, they were unable to make a go of it.  After two years of hard work, they decided to move their family south to Salt Lake City.

Arriving in Salt Lake bankrupt and in debt, Gaskell again started over building houses.  He worked hard and it took him twelve years to pay off all of the Idaho debts.  They returned to Rexburg, Idaho for a few years and prospered building homes until everything changed again in 1921 when the price of farm goods collapsed and the housing market followed. Gaskell found himself bankrupt for the fourth time. 

The summer of 1921 saw the family move back to Salt Lake City. Once again Gaskell put his architectural and building skills to work with the help of his sons.  Within 7 years he would lose Anna and two of his sons to tragic, unexpected deaths. 

Gaskell's son George Romney wrote: Even though Father was driven out of Mexico penniless, with a large family to support, went broke in  Oakley, Idaho, and later Rexburg, Idaho, and then again in Salt Lake during the great Depression he never became bitter. Furthermore, he didn't make me feel poor. He never took out bankruptcy, which he could have done several times. He and his son, Maurice, eventually paid off all his creditors.

His daughter Meryl likewise said she “never felt we were hard up. Our breakfast table in the tiny kitchen was a card table. Our two other homes had had attractive breakfast rooms. Mealtime was always a happy time for there was given love and spiritual uplift for meeting the day's encounters. We never felt poor or deprived. Daddy's great love, humor and concern were in abundance."

According to all accounts, he maintained a calm and gentle personality throughout his life.  He lived with a great inner peace that he attributed to his daily conversations with God.  His great courage,  common sense and integrity are a great lesson of resilience in the face of economic reversals.

Post written by Janet Hovorka, Owner, Family Chartmasters LLC

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