Fortune Bay NL

Devon Griffin wrote the following about Fortune Bay and the family of Elizabeth Saunders. He sent it as a comment on Newfoundland Mi’kmaq Family History. But with so much information that people are seeking, I asked if I could post it on its own. He kindly agreed and provided photos.

google map of Fortune bay
Fortune Bay: English Harbour East right of centre, Terrenceville far right. Click to enlarge

Martha Murphy Hynes

Martha Murphy’s parents were Walter Murphy & Bridget Ryan of Oderin and Little Harbour West, Placentia Bay. She had several siblings. (Martha married Joseph Hynes, son of Elizabeth Saunders and Thomas Hynes. After Martha’s death, Joseph married Mary Smith, daughter of John Smith and Elizabeth Vaters of Davis Island.)

Martha died on Feb 28 1884 in English Harbour East, and she’s buried in St. Bernard’s (The only RC cemetery on that side of Fortune Bay at the time) and her headstone still exists there.

Mary Bridget (Murphy) Barron, d/o John Murphy
Mary Bridget (Murphy) Barron, d/o John Murphy

I’m currently working on the Murphy family as it seems there was some Mi’kmaq blood in the family, but we are unsure how. They had some affiliation with native people in the Swift Current area in the early- to mid-1800s. If you look at Martha’s brother John Murphy’s daughters, they are very Mi’kmaq in appearance.

Smiths and Hacketts

Anastasia (Murphy) Smith, d/o John Murphy, with grandchild
Anastasia (Murphy) Smith, d/o John Murphy, with grandchild

Elizabeth (also known as Betsy) Smith Hackett’s parents were William Smith & Elizabeth Whittle. She married William Hackett. He died on May 17 1884 in English Harbour East according to Gertrude Crosbie’s transcription of NL Newspapers. Betsy’s sister Martha Smith married William Hackett’s brother, Thomas Hackett.

There also is some speculation about an early connection between the Hacketts and the Saunders. A Joseph Hackett was in Fortune Bay in 1818 according to the Keith Matthews collection at the Maritime History Archive. Dorothy, I’m not sure if you have seen it before but there was a Joseph Hackett in Labrador in the 1820s recorded as a half-Indian. Interesting the name shows up in both places.

Elizabeth Saunders Family

Also, more information on the Saunders. Elizabeth (Saunders) Hynes was indeed of Mi’kmaq origin. Her parents were John and Elizabeth Saunders, and were noted in court records for 1810/1811 as having saved a young servant girl Margaret Doyle from her master Michael Gorman. He was abusing her at Terrenceville (then known as Fortune Bay Bottom). They took her into their home and protected her from him.

Elizabeth Saunders and Thomas Hynes family D Stewart
Click to enlarge. Circled names are people in photos here.

DNA connection with Elizabeth Joe

We recently conducted a mtDNA test, which is your direct maternal line (your mother’s mother’s mother etc.), on John Saunders’ wife Elizabeth. We do not have a maiden name for her yet. The test came back and she shares a direct maternal line with Elizabeth (Joe) Blanchard of the Bay of Islands [wife of William Blanchard].

As many know, Elizabeth Joe was Mi’kmaq and has been speculated to be Thomas Joe’s daughter or some relation to him. It’s also believed Mary Park Brooks was Elizabeth (Joe) Blanchard’s sister and was Mi’kmaq. We’re working on getting an mtDNA test for a descendant of hers to prove that.

The mtDNA test showed that Elizabeth Saunders and Elizabeth (Joe) Blanchard share a direct maternal line with a genetic distance of 0. That means it’s very recent (within the last 200-250 years), so the most likely scenarios are that they were sisters, aunt and niece or first cousins on the maternal side.

It’s pretty interesting to be able to connect two women who were known to be Mi’kmaq. If Mary Park Brooks mtDNA test comes back as sharing a direct maternal line also, it provides a little proof to their connection as I believe in the 1838/1839 list of inhabitants it says she was from Burin originally and is also where Elizabeth Saunders frequented.

John and Elizabeth Saunders, Terrenceville

Albert Saunders s/o George Saunders and Ann Baker
Albert Saunders s/o George Saunders and Ann Baker (click to enlarge)

John & Elizabeth Saunders had the following children: Elizabeth Saunders (m. Thomas Hynes), Richard (Dickie) Saunders (m. Joanna Clarke), Catherine Saunders (m. James Picco), Ann Saunders (m. Esau Rhymes), George Saunders (m. (1) Ann Unknown (2) Ann Baker), Jane Saunders (m. Timothy McCarthy), & Joseph Saunders (m. Mary Jane Myles). There could possibly be more, but that’s what has been confirmed over the years.

The area of Terrenceville in Fortune Bay was highly frequented by the Mi’kmaq up until the mid-1870s (the story of why they stopped travelling there is a whole few paragraphs of its own). The Saunders and their descendants ended up staying there and settling.

Lavhey family, Terrenceville

Another prominent Mi’kmaq woman who stayed in Terrenceville was Elizabeth, married to Lewis Lavhey. Apparently she was a Bernard originally. Their descendants, especially through their daughter Grace (m. Samuel Coombs), live on in the area.

Picco family and ships

The Piccos were also a very frequent Mi’kmaq family in the area and as you can see one of them (James Picco) married Catherine Saunders. They have been in the area of Fortune Bay for hundreds of years. Apparently the matriarch of that family died in 1844 (according to a family history story published in the 1960s) over a hundred years old and was a great great great grandmother. By that point, she lived in St. Joseph’s, Placentia Bay (then known as Gallow’s Harbour).

Mary Jane (Picco) Hanrahan, daughter-in-law and granddaughter
Mary Jane (Picco) Hanrahan, daughter-in-law and granddaughter

I have heard rumours and old family history that the Mi’kmaq Picco (often spelled Peaco or Pico) originally came from Nova Scotia. Dr. Leslie Harris, former president of MUN, stated in his book ‘Growing up with Verse’ that James Picco & Catherine Saunders’ son John Picco had Mi’kmaq blood, and that it was often talked about. The Piccos are a large family, but there haven’t been a lot of records concerning them. Seems James & Catherine lived in Fortune Bay at one point before moving to St. Joseph’s, and their son John was born there in 1841 according to his death record & Leslie Harris’ book.

James Hackett s/o Elizabeth Hynes and Michael Hackett
James Hackett, s/o Elizabeth Hynes and Michael Hackett, lost on the Donald Silver Jan. 1924

There are lots of ships registered for the Piccos from Fortune Bay. Behind English Harbour East (home of Elizabeth Saunders Hynes) there is also a place called Piccos Woods. I have recorded a Phillip Picco, Joseph Picco etc. trading with Newman and Co. in the 1790s out of Little Bay & Harbour Breton. As it’s known, natives typically moved around a lot for different reasons. The Piccos were no different, going between Bay d’Espoir, Fortune Bay and Placentia Bay.

John Family

Louis John and family also frequented the Long Harbour, Fortune Bay and Terrenceville areas, Peter John (his son) was born in Belleoram around the 1810s and one of the John men was a telegraph operator in Terrenceville.

Lots of more information if anyone is interested. I could go on forever. Still lots to figure out but we’ve definitely made some progress over the past few years putting things together. Hopefully someday we’ll map out all the Mi’kmaq of Fortune and Placentia Bays. DNA is a welcome assistant to our research and we encourage everyone to get a DNA test to find your cousins!