Fortune Bay mtDNA

A guest post by Devon Griffin

Mary Park Brooks

John G. Edgar provided me with details of Mary Park Brooks from his research.  She was born about 1758 in the Burin area, according to 1838 List of Inhabitants of the Bay of Islands. Her birth family name is unknown. She first married Robert Park. Their children included Mary, James Charles, Richard, Thomas, Robert and John. There are possibly other children, including Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Beverley. Mary Park’s second husband was John Brooks, a widower, and they had no children together.

Mary Ann Payne, great-grandchild of Mary Park Brooks

Descendants of Mary Park Brooks maintain she was of Mi’kmaq origin, and several records describe her descendants as being native. Recently an mtDNA test was conducted, with a family history verified by several local genealogists including Mr. Edgar. It shows that her maternal line matches that of Elizabeth (Joe) Blanchard, Elizabeth Saunders, and several known ancestral Mi’kmaq women. This indicates she is a close relative to these women, possibly a sister, aunt or other maternal relation.

Charlotte Jeddore Cox

Charlotte-Jeddore-Cox mtDNA testsCharlotte (Jeddore) Cox was born about 1825 in Conne River to Mi’kmaq parents. A young Frederick Cox was working in Bay d’Espoir in the logging industry and met Charlotte. Against her parents wishes, Charlotte moved away to the Burin area with Frederick and married him. She took the name of her neighbours, the Riggs, in Creston South, Burin to apparently hide from her family. She may have changed her first name also, to Charlotte.

It isn’t completely clear why her parents didn’t approve of her marriage to Frederick Cox. Some of their descendants say that some of her older brothers found her, in her new life, sometime in the late 1800s. However there are conflicting stories of what happened as a result of this skirmish.

Charlotte and Frederick had several children, and their descendants live on today along the Burin Peninsula and elsewhere. Charlotte’s mtDNA test has been completed. It shows that she shares the same maternal line as Elizabeth (Joe) Blanchard, Elizabeth Saunders and Mary Parks Brooks, all ancestral Mi’kmaq women.

Mary Josephine Brown Murphy

As stated in my first article on Fortune Bay, Mary Josephine was born 1854 and married John Murphy. Their children were known as Mi’kmaq. They grew up in wigwams or tilts around the Piper’s Hole area, before moving to St. Joseph’s and Parker’s Cove along the Burin Peninsula.

The results of a recent mtDNA test confirm Mary Josephine’s maternal line arises from northern Eurasia, which would be modern day Siberia and Scandinavia. This could point to the direct maternal line being Native American as Natives travelled from Siberia to North America. There are no matches to the mtDNA test. So until another full sequence mtDNA match from Newfoundland appears, it is not known who her relatives were due to an absence of records.


There may have been another Saunders sibling, child of John & Elizabeth Saunders. A few years ago, I found an adult baptism in the RC Church in Burin for a Mary Saunders in 1837. Her sponsors were people from Terrenceville (then Fortune Bay Bottom). Being that there was only one Saunders couple in the area at the time, this seemed peculiar.

I could not find what happened to Mary or who she was, however, until now. A great great granddaughter of a James and Mary Hare of Burgeo completed a DNA test. Her results matched several descendants of the Saunders family out of Fortune Bay, as cousins. Through further analysis, this was undoubtably a Saunders relation. The Hare family had come from Fortune Bay, Belleoram area specifically, prior to living in Burgeo. Mary, wife of James Hare, was born about 1821 and passed away on April 26 1908 in Burgeo. They had several children and have many descendants across Canada.

In 1925 Joseph Small completed his diary of Burgeo which detailed the families in the area. Joseph Small believed that Ann Saunders (daughter of John and Elizabeth) who married Esau Rhymes had come from Fortune Bay with the Hare family. This further displayed the probability that Mary Hare was a Saunders. It’s likely the two sisters, Ann and Mary, came to Burgeo together from Fortune Bay. An mtDNA test for a direct female descendant of Mary is being worked on to confirm this theory. So if anyone has any information on this Hare family, please comment below!


An mtDNA test is currently in process for a direct female descendant of Ellen (Unknown) Hollett. She married William Hollett (b.1786) and lived on Woody Island, Placentia Bay. Ellen is suspected to have been of Mi’kmaq origin. However, as of yet there is no proof. Autosomal DNA has pointed towards a relation to the Saunders family. An mtDNA test will be interesting to see for more of this story. I have been told that a Hollett descendant has a two page lexicon of words from an unknown aboriginal group. It’s possibly a connection to the Beothuk tribe.

The Smith (of Argentia) and Salmon (of Long Harbour) families are next to be tested. Their Mi’kmaq origins are likely to be discovered.


In 1680, a French report on the topography and hydrography of Placentia Bay and the South Coast of Newfoundland had noted a Mi’kmaq village near Placentia that was occupied by a group of about 240 Mi’kmaq… The report went on to identify another Mi’kmaq village of two hundred people that was situated on the south coast of Newfoundland, a little further west of Placentia.

The Placentia Area: A changing mosaic – Lee Everts 2016:47

Placentia Bay – New Voyages to North America, 1703, Louis Armand de Lom d’Arce, baron de Lahontan (tap to enlarge a bit)

Everts cites M. G. (Jerry) Wetzel’s 1995 LLM thesis for this 1680 reference to south coast Mi’kmaq villages. It may well be that the latter, west of Placentia, is Miawpukwek. The former, “near Placentia”, is not as readily identifiable but it could mean it’s in the Burin area or anywhere in Placentia Bay.

Could the Park, Saunders, Jeddore, Joe, and Brown ancestors have all originated out of this village? Mary Parks Brooks was only born 75-80 years after the date of this French report. So it wouldn’t be a stretch to connect her to this community. She was from the Burin area, after all. We also know that the Bernard, John and Barrington families as well as many others frequented the area of Pipers Hole and Upper Placentia Bay in the 1800s.

Also see 2nd part by Devon,  Terrenceville Mi’kmaq (June 8/18), a story about Esther Mary (Myles) Mitchell

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17 thoughts on “Fortune Bay mtDNA”

  1. With regard to the Mi’kmaw presence in Terrenceville, FB and Piper’s Hole, PB my only question for some dedicated ethnohistorians and family history researchers: once official federal government recognition is obtained for families emanating from Terrenceville with deep connections to PHR, PB and the Island Domain of Upper PB, where do FN representatives, lobbyists and concerned citizens go from there? Beside initiating a public awareness and funding campaign to stimulate more archaeological surveying in the Upper PB area to identity more high potential yield sites and follow up digs for previously identified sites, why not negotiate with provincial government departments such as Dept of Toursim, Culture and Recreation as well as Transportation and Works to get official recognition for ancient NL Mc living places…as but one salient example, we know from NL Mc elder testimonies that Black River was called Maqtewey Sipu kisna Maqtewapsk’ji’jk and North Harbour Walnape’k, and we also now know that there is a sizeable percentage of the local population from those regional districts that have federal government recognition through the Indian Act, as legally recognized NL Mc, so why isn’t there a a Dept of Transportation road sign designating the Mc heritage of the local area? In other words, why is there not a sign listing Black River in English with an attached NL Mc toponym Maqtewey Sipu?…and the list goes on not only for PB NL Mc place names such as Nukamkia’ji’jk for Baie Largent or Piper’s Hole, but many many more NL Mc toponyms throughout NL, with areal and distributional concentration on the South, SW and West Coasts? The same argument goes for Inuktitut and Innu-aimun place names in Lab…why English only, why not signage in Eng and all FN and Inuit languages reflecting its regional constituents? Why is it that in Wales one has Welsh and English road signage….but we don’t find the same level of mutual respect here in NL! Imho I sincerely think that Dept of Aboriginal Affairs needs to get with the times and pull up its boot straps and start honouring and respecting our provinces FN People not only here in NL but also Lab….and it starts by publicly recognizing ancient and contemporary FN living places….if there is a divide or chasm between Native and non-Native sectors of NL society it is because there is a lack of public awareness, transparency and visibility that comes from a breakdown in communication or lack thereof and a government sanctioned pubic education curriculum development policy that continues to minimize NL FN presence to a footnote or chapter…. why aren’t primary-elementary children in public schools taught introductory courses on basic conversational Mi’kmawi’simk to raise public awareness about this rare ethnic minority language? But then again other minority languages like French are only offered as options in Junior High School curriculum…but then again we’re not teaching children astronomy-cosmology, self help or self love enrichment courses to build self esteem or self confidence, etc, ……IMHO the provincial government here in NL is 10 years behind the mainland and 30 years behind Northern Europe in many areas not only in public awareness of ethnic minorities but also alternative renewable energies…I would have to give our government a failing grade for dragging its feet not only on NL Mc recognition which should have been cleaned up 30-40 years ago…but also the so called Beo genetics fiasco or problem…app 200 years after Demasduits death and a targeted array high throughout SNP atDNA testing programme that’s not even a whole genome sequencing…wow mind blowing lol…it’s time to get this dangling dragged out drama all cleaned up…and for future reference as a serious recommendation let’s get some legally recognized, university educated, political advocates and lobbyists who can trace ancestry back to a FN community running for office in Dept of Aboriginal Affairs who are sensitive and compassionate to FN issues and public education awareness initiatives….time to start overhauling and revamping the public school curriculum….transparency and visibility starts with awareness and awareness starts with honouring a recognizing the OTHER VOICE….so empowering more NATIVE PEOPLE to take leading roles in politics as diplomatic intermediaries and ambassadors….these are just some suggestions for future thought…namaste….

      1. I feel more comfortable under anonymity….I don’t want my name or a pseudonym that indirectly links to my name openly disclosed in the public domain yet…although my true identity is known in closed inner circles among a handful of researchers…when the time is right in the near future I will step forward and reveal my identity but the time is not right yet…until then, yes I will honour and respect your request and no I will not ask to have the comments deleted…and yes I will continue to be an indefatigable and trusted silent supporter to your research portfolio…I support all NL efforts and interests in the protection of sacred lands and archaeological sites in the PB area..and by tangential extension the preservation and dissemination of NL Mc culture, identity, language and spirituality…respect and blessings fellow mentor and teacher…namaste

      2. Mr Griffin here is the real reason why I seek anonymity to protect my identity so as not to directly link it to the research and my family history…to make it clearer one has to back it up to 2013…I was a part of an extensive consultation process with PAO to initiate an archaeological survey at PHR, PB..I corresponded w/ Mr Reynolds on numerous occasions through email and in person interviews sharing ethnohistorical information…as per my prediction I knew that PAO was launching a survey of the area from mid May to early June….that’s why I stayed out of it and away from the area because I knew they would find Beo artifacts…..I also knew that disclosing such deeply guarded secrets would not come without consequences or at a heavy price…during the summer of 2013 I spent many nights down at a Stock Cove East w/ my now deceased paternal uncle and yes there were signs and yes we both witnessed paranormal phenomena… fast forwarding to Labour Day in Sept I was … at while trouting in a pond in the local TB South area…the …… missed me by 10 ft and split a rock behind me…the …. was taken app 300 yards and I was unable to get a clear image of the ……. I did not report the incident to authorities because I could not positively identify the accused….5 weeks after this incident my paternal uncle went missing in a boating accident…so why did this ENERGY or POWER lead up to this tragic event at Stock Cove and the ensuing DNA testing of some NL Mc family members the following year in Badger w/ a suspected Red Indian connection to PHR, PB…if you look at it from a karmic feedback loop and Akashic Field cause and effect or causality-determinism perspective all events and people enmeshed or quantum entangled in those events are linked and interconnected even residually over time…the burn event at Stock Cove in 2013 happened to bring out a burn event that was hidden from the general public and academic world…the paucity or lack thereof for an extended Beothuk presence in TB South did not preclude the fact that they stayed on in the area beyond 1612-1620 for which some archival records allude..the subsequent radiocarbon dating confirmed an app date of 1670 for the local Beo extended kin group residing there…suspiciously coincidental to the timing of Eastern Algonquian kin groups immigrating to Upper PB and the French takeover of Plaisance in 1666-1667…so essentially my paternal uncle was under the influence of uncontrollable transcendental or mystical forces to bring out a story..if and he was drawn or lured into the area by a Higher Power…if it didn’t happen the way it happened in all probability archaeologists would not have dug deeper to find the burn event strata..the mystery and mystique piqued their curiosity to go one step further….these interconnected and entangled events seen only through an Eye in the Sky or Higher Power, and oblivious to earth bound spirit beings or earthlings who lacked awareness or mindfulness of their inevitable unfolding circumstantial consequences, all culminated to push the geneticists to look deeper into the genomes of certain NL Mc families….the suspicious and shocking nature of the burn event at Stock Cove in 2013 combined with the death of a spouse for a prominent and noted Beo researcher and ethnographer forced the research team to dig deeper for answers…and from what I know the research team of geneticists found some interesting results from the NL Mc participants tracing ancestry back to PHR, PB…..long story short fellow mentor there are still a small minority of people here in NL who trace distant ancestry back to the Labrador Oqwatnukewaq aqq Pi’tawkewaq for which there are no records to prove descent who have no legitimate legal claim to recognition and correspondingly no protection from other FN people….our family falls in this category…we have no one watching our backs or reprieve to strength in numbers through a collective shared ethnopolitical organization…we have no amnesty, immunity or protection..

        1. I just want to finish the last comment off by saying that I finally found peace and closure with the research….I can finally walk away knowing that I gave it my all years ago and have nothing to give to the research topic anymore…our family is not interested anymore in participating in any future comparative genetic genealogy or archaeogenetic paleogenomic study to determine any degree of NA/Siberian uniparental ancestry, whether that be through whole genome sequencing (3,000,000,000 bp or 10,000,000 SNP) or high throughput targeted array sequencing….we now know that the estimated BGEO percentage is app. 1.0-1.5% NA/Sib….which is statistically insignificant and laughable…and future DNA testing will never answer the question beyond a reasonable doubt as to the true identities or ethnic origins of the uniparental ancestors in question…so DNA testing will not prove anything for our family so it’s a waste of time…as such we do not consent to giving a DNA sample for analysis…we truly don’t want anything to do with it anymore trust me and we don’t want anymore trouble with it…we opted for peace and we have decided to close the chapter on this once and for all…likewise I have zero interest in ever going back to university to finish any graduate studies or to initiate writing a book or conducting a movie-documentary….I contributed to the field with previous article submissions to NFHS and Gen Web in 2009-11…my only interests now are working, making money, settling down and starting a family… building a vintage log cabin, consolidating my debts and traveling to Western Europe…the only books in my collection are those on Theoretical & Mathematical Physics, Cosmology-Astronomy, Western European Historical-Comparative Linguistics, ….I have nothing on NA research…long story short we don’t want to be bothered anymore w/ NL FN Ethnohistory and Genetics…furthermore we are not interested in ever revisiting PHR…perhaps someday 10 plus years down the road there might be an interpretation centre at PHR…if I’m still around by then I can silently concede to myself that I somehow played an indirect foundational role in initiating that process…but I don’t want any credit or recognition for that trust me…our family is moving forward and turning a blind eye to the emerging developments in commemoration, ethnopolitics and paleogenomics…and we are not looking back on it again…we paid our dues and debts in full through karmic payback and the time had finally come to surrender it back to the universe where it belongs in a safe place…we take a nonparticipatory, nonbiased or neutral silent supporter stance…on behalf of my family and I we sincerely wish all the NL Mc and others conducting future research on PHR Ethnohistory the best in their research programme and portfolio….there is absolutely nothing more to say….sincerely…..

  2. This comment relates to the ancient Mi’kmaw village referenced above…to date researchers have been unable to reliably date early contact and precontact Mi’kmaw settlement in PB…we now know according to written archival records that Mc were in PB as early as 1602 and if NL Mc oral traditions are correct the Sa’qewejkik were here in NL before the arrival of the Pi’tawkewaq…to date researchers have not employed comparative ethnobotanical palaeogenomics in their investigate research portfolios to assist in estimating NL Mc immigration…Cartwright stated that there grew an abundance of poplars (populus balsamifera) at Tac(c)amahacca Point…given the rarity of this naturally occurring species in NL he speculated that it was imported from the mainland by Canadian Indians (Mi’kmaq) essentially Cartwright either conjectured this or received information from his guide notably Cousens Indian…Howley (1915) stated in a endnote that Populus Balsamifera also grows at Bay St George…note also that poplar also grows wild at Piper’s Hole, PB as per published ethnohistoric reports, so the question remains why would an imported invasive tree be transplanted at a supposed Red Indian village or campsite by so called immigrating Eastern Algonquian groups….the question remains why is PBals….found at Bay St George (Noqwamkisk-Nujioqon’k) and Piper’s Hole (Nukamkia’ji’jk)…Cartwright and Howley seem to imply human transplantation as a vector of transmission for this invasive species….the question remains why would ancient Mc immigrants intentionally transplant such a tree….as a tribal territorial marker, for medicinal herbal healing pharmacopeia, or spiritual shamanic mediation….,it is possible that what Cartwright observed at Taccamahacca (Snowshoe Wood) Point was not populus balsamifera but in fact populus tremuloides or quaking-trembling aspen….Cartwright probably confused or conflated both species given their taxonomic and phylogenetic similarities…if we take Pipers Hole River near Salmon Hole as but one example the first thing that stands out is the aspen grove (mitiya’qamikt) that extends ESE from PHR Park and WNW from there up Mile Hill, app 1/4-1/2 mile in both directions…the concentration and distribution suggests a possible human transplantational factor….note that aspen trees do grow wild only at sporadic isolated patches or stand alone trees on the sides of Sandy Harbour River and Dunnes Brook but not in superclusters…if we look at Beothuk campsites throughout NL one never sees aspens at or nearby their ancient habitation sites…the trend is obvious from Russell’s Point, Blaketown, Collier’s Bay Cove, TB South, Stock Cove West, TB South and Frenchmans Island, Truce Sound…..the sane argument holds for Boyd’s Cove, NDB…..a commmon overlapping feature of all these Beothuk campsites is that aspens are conspicuously absent….so it’s highly improbable that this species was ever a part of the Beothuk utilitarian or spiritual ethos..IMHO aspen is a tell tale signature of NL Mc occupation and not Beo….I have personally transplanted aspen trees from Salmon Hole, PHR, PB and can assure the reader that this subspecies is markedly different in form than the TB aspen subspecies that were recently transplanted by homesteaders to TB South from elsewhere in NL in the last 20-30 years …aspen does not grow wild as an indigenous species in the Isthmus of Avalon…I have measured the rate of growth for all clonal offshoots growing from the suckers of this one transplanted tree and can assure the reader that the rage of growth for clonal suckers is app 1.0 ft pet 1.0 year…so looking at the aspen grove at Salmon Hole, PHR, disregarding catkin seed propagation by wind as a source of sexual reproduction, we know that the grove extends app 1320-2640 ft in three directions…west to Mile Hill, North to Belle Chute and Mothers Brook and East to Cape Pine….so even if we take 0.5-1.0 ft per year as a rate of growth for this regional subspecies then we have an estimated lifespan of this supercluster of app 1300-1320 BP years old or transplanted ca 700-720 years ago…the technology is here now to accurately date the age of aspen grove clusters and superclusters abs the whole genome sequencing technology is here now, and have been used in other comparative ethnobotanical studies, to phylogenetically and taxonomically classify regional subspecies of aspens….paleogeneticists specializing in plant and tree genomics with emphasis on aspen phylogenetics are realizing that aspen clones are not exact copy clones but have minor SNP mutations which differentiate them as unique….so essentially to make a long story short it is possible now to take core samples of sucker roots from aspen and poplar groves from Pipers Hole, PB and Bay St George’s and compare their whole genome sequences….in addition to estimated growth rates of suckers SNP mutation rates can be used to calculate backwards in time the approximate date of clonal life span and initial supercluster colonization…to date, ethnohistorians, archaeologists, bioarchaeologists or archaeogeneticists have been focusing on the lithic and human skeletal remain residue while overlooking the ethnobotanical evidence as informative markers to assist researchers in establishing a comparative timeline for FN immigration…it would be interesting to see what WGS has to say about aspen paleogenomics in PHR, PB…time will tell…

  3. I believe his group of people are:
    -the Indians that were recorded to have attacked the English at Trinity Bay abt.1703.
    -the Indians that helped take the Fort at Louisburg in 1758.
    -the Indians that were on the losing side at the Battle of Quebec in 1759.
    -the Indians that returned to NL after they left Cape Breton and were returning to St.Pierre and Micq. each spring to celebrate Easter and baptisms etc…afer 1780.

    1. Note: it’s hard if not impossible to distinguish Abenaki from Mi’kmaq in the early Colonial Office reports…as per Alan F. Williams research notably Father Baudoin’s War, French employed Abenaki as well as Mi’kmaq as mercenaries in the colonial wars from 1696-1713…ps circimstantial evidence suggests that NL Mc may have already been established in PB as early as 1540 being associated with a Basque presence at Plaisance….I can assure you that Mc were here in NL before 1703, and in all prob even before WE discovery of Terra Nova in 1497….

  4. The photo you posted of Charlotte Jeddore Cox is a photo of of her daughter Eliza Cox Wiscombe, (the daughter of Charlotte Jeddore Cox) and my gg grandmother.

      1. Hi Les,
        I have a pic of her daughter Eliza and it doesn’t look like this is her. I will have to do some digging. Got it from a Hodder descendant.

        1. Like to see that photo Devon,i’m Les’ brother. That had to be Eliza Cox Wiscombe at Left in photo my g grandmother. because it was taken Approx 1923 and Charlotte Jeddore Cox wasn’t alive then 1825-1891.

        2. I also have a photo of her Eliza Cox Wiscombe standing next to my grand mother who is her daughter, Charlotte Wiscombe Clarke my father Stephen Clarke his brother John Samuel Clarke and his sister Dinah Clarke Hodder. This is the only photo I have seen of Eliza Cox Wiscombe.

    1. Eliza Cox Wiscombe is our Great Grandmother Les not GG…..Charlotte Jeddore Cox is our GG Grandmother. We are related to her on both sides of our family as our Grandfather Henry Hodder is son of Charlotte Cox…also Charlotte Jeddore Cox’s daughter.

  5. Very Interesting article, I have heard all my life that there is Micmac blood in our family, from our Mitchell line. The coloring in the family seem to prove that. Now that I have had my MTDNA done, a Hermel Duguay from the Chegau M’kmaq family group is showing up as being related. I have not heard from him yet to see what his line is. In my Autosome DNA a lot of relatives from PLacentia Bay and Fortune Bay showed up and I haven’t yet proved how we are related.

    1. My husband and I both are descendents of George Robert Mitchell and Rebecca Wiley. Their daughter Ruth married Uriah Brown of Burin Bay. Ruth is my husband’s ancestor. George Robert and Rebecca’s son Joseph Wiley Mitchell is my ancestor. We believe there is native blood in my husband’s family, but we are not sure if it is on the Mitchell side or the Brown side. Another fact is Uriah and Ruth’s grandson Angus Uriah Brown married Miriam Child’s of Grand Bruit. Miriam was the daughter of James and Miriam (Billard) Childs.

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