Vignettes of the West, by Don Morris (Apr. 11, 1992)
I was pleasantly surprised by the response to the two-part series on the story of the career, achievements and brief life history of Mattie Mitchell, the Micmac Indian, which appeared in The Western Star March 7 and 14. I got two phone calls from Corner Brook on the day the first column appeared; one from my good friend, Dr. Noel Murphy, who kindly gave me what information he had on Mr. Mitchell and family; the other from a granddaughter of the famed guide and prospector who expanded on Dr. Murphy’s data.
This particular caller said her grandfather had lots of descendants all over Newfoundland and elsewhere and on the very day the first column appeared many of them in the Corner Brook area, the caller informed me, were telephoning each other reporting that the Star “had an article on Mattie.”
Two other phone calls came during the days that followed, including one from John Mitchell who is a grandson of Mattie and whose father, also named John, was the person who travelled from Corner Brook to Curling to fetch a Roman Catholic priest to be at Mattie’s side at the time of death. This was one of Mattie’s last requests.
And letters came in also, including one from the United States. But probably the most informative of the phone calls and letters was a written communique from Ms. Irene Doucette… However, before dealing with Ms. Doucette’s letter, it is appropriate to state briefly here something about the man of whom I wrote.
Noted prospector and guide
Matthew Mitchell was undoubtedly the most noted of Newfoundland’s Micmac people. He was born either at Hall’s Bay or Norris Point about 1851. He was the son of a Micmac Chief whose ancestors came to Newfoundland in the mid-1700s from Cape Breton. He became widely known in the early part of this century as the prospector who, in 1905, discovered the rich ore bodies at Buchans River in the interior which was the beginning of the thriving town of Buchans.
While that made Mattie famous, (although not rich), his celebrity grew in 1908 when he was chosen by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company to act as guide in the most unusual wildlife venture in the island’s history. The company, builders of the Grand Falls pulp and paper mill, had ordered from the Grenfell Mission at St. Anthony 50 of the 300-reindeer herd which the mission had purchased in Scandinavia as a supplement to caribou as a big-game animal for the northern population.
Men from the AND Company went to St. Anthony, accompanied by Mattie, to escort the animals 400 miles southward to Millertown. It was intended to make this unique “reindeer drive” over the sea ice. However, vicious winds and heavy seas made this impossible and the only alternative was to herd the reindeer down The Great Northern Peninsula. This was accomplished in the very difficult month of March when the land was constantly swept by blizzards and the weather was most times below zero. However, the trek was completed without the loss of a single animal. Mitchell then went on about his usual business as a popular, eagerly-sought guide and prospector whose clients included some wealthy and influential American, Englishmen and Canadians.
Irene Doucette’s letter
Now to Ms. Doucette’s letter which, because of the apparent popularity of the Mitchell articles, I shall quote in full:
“Dear Mr. Morris: I just had to write to you and let you know how surprised I was when I read The Western Star today (March 7) about the amazing career of Mattie Mitchell. The reason for my surprise was that Mattie Mitchell was my grandfather and to me he was a Newfoundland legend and more should have been written about him. But thanks to you it is now coming to light.
“I didn’t know my grandfather. He died in 1922 before I was born. He was 72. But I have heard so many wonderful stories from my father, John Mitchell (evidently Ms. Doucette is the sister of the John Mitchell who telephoned me) and my mother, Agnes Mitchell, with whom he resided, that I just had to write and give you the additional information you requested.
Mattie Mitchell and Mary Ann Webb
“Mattie was married to a woman named Mary Webb. She was from Flat Bay, St. George’s Bay. She died when she was about 60. It was then that my grandfather went to live with my mother and father here in Corner Brook. My father told me that Mattie was a great fur trapper. He would cure all his own fur skins. He was a very big man, six foot four and he wore size 14 shoes. I guess back then they were called moccasins. I have in my possession a walking cane that he made and to me that is a priceless object. I also have a picture of Mattie, also priceless.
“My mother told me that Mattie was a very gentle man. She told me she never heard the man say a bad word; he was a very religious man and had a Micmac Bible which he carried with him at all times.
“My grandfather had six children: three boys and three girls. My father, John, was the youngest. The other boys were Matthew and Laurence. The girls were Margaret Rumbolt, Bridget Sheppard and Lucy Duhart, and, of course, there are numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. My mother and father raised eleven of us. My father worked at the paper mill in Corner Brook for 40 years and he was very proud of his father. When my grandfather discovered Buchans’ mine he worked for the AND Co. and from what I understand he was given $2.50 (for the find). I also read somewhere that he was given a sack of flour for the discovery. I hope that the story about Mattie Mitchell hits the St. John’s papers as I have two sons and a daughter living out there. Thanks again for that long overdue story about my grandfather.”
More letters and calls
The other letters I received are similar to the one from Ms. Doucette, and all the writers are descendants of Mattie Mitchell. The one from the States came from John Alexander Atkins, a great grandson of Mattie. Apparently, the MItchell columns were sent to him by his mother, Helena Atkins of 29 Crescent Way, Corner Brook… This young correspondent said he worked as a logger and during his life had travelled to many places. He said he always wondered why he was so adventurous. May I suggest, John Alexander, the trait runs in the family…
Included in the phone calls I received was one from the west coast from a man who said he was a grandson of Mattie Mitchell. Although he gave me his name I shall not use it because he had some rather curious things to say which were not in keeping with all the other information I received on Mattie Mitchell. This particular caller said that Mattie Mitchell was of Beothuk extraction; was not at all friendly with the Micmac Indians; in fact detested them; and that he was not of the Catholic faith. I repeat, what this reader had to say goes against everything all other calls and letter writers have to say.
In any event, I wish to thank most sincerely all those who contacted me about the celebrated Mattie Mitchell. I agree with one writer who said that a monument should be erected to him and a definitive book written about his amazing career.
This story is about Terrenceville, Fortune Bay, about 140 years ago. It was told to the late Esther Mary Cox by her grandmother and namesake, Esther Mary (Myles) Mitchell. Mrs. Cox passed the story on to Calvin Hackett when he interviewed her many decades ago. Mr. Hackett and Sheila Parsons Cox told me the story, and it’s one of my favourites. I’ve changed nothing of what they told me, other than to add a bit of context.
Esther Myles (1861-1927) married Michael Mitchell, born Dec. 1845 in Burin. They had seven children.
Summer visits to Terrenceville
Years ago in the summer, during much simpler times, the entire Conne River Mi’kmaq band would travel from Bay d’Espoir down Fortune Bay to stay in Terrenceville. From there, they travelled across the Burin Peninsula to hunt in areas such as Swift Current and Sandy Harbour. In Terrenceville they camped at a place called “River Garden”. It was at the end of the “The Meadow,” close to a barachois called Koskaecodde by the Mi’kmaq ancients.
Some of these Mi’kmaq visitors eventually stayed in Terrenceville. They intermarried with European families and have many descendants in the area today.
Esther Mary Myles was the daughter of a European settler family in Terrenceville. She was born about 1861 to Elizabeth and Robert Myles (or Miles). When a young girl, she played with the visiting Mi’kmaq children. They developed strong friendships despite cultural differences and being apart much of each year. The years passed and they became young women, but they all remained close friends.
“Do up on them”
One summer in the late 1870s or early 1880s, the Mi’kmaq camped as usual at the “River Garden”, at the home of a Mi’kmaq man named Joseph Saunders.
Esther overheard the adult white people say that they had planned to attack the Mi’kmaq at the encampment. They wanted to drive them out of the area. Realizing the seriousness of this, Esther didn’t search out her female friends. Instead she went directly to the camp of their chief. She entered his tent, sat down and explained what she had heard. The men from the area were going to “do up on them,” she told him. Esther pleaded for him and his tribe to take up their camps and leave.
See, at that time, the European settlers were upset that the Mi’kmaq would come every year and take away ‘their’ hunt. The Europeans considered the Mi’kmaq to be stealing from them. This, despite the fact the Mi’kmaq had been hunting in the area for much longer than any Europeans had lived there.
Esther pleaded that their leaving would eliminate the pending danger to all. The chief’s first response to Esther was silence. But then he withdrew his large hunting knife. Still silent, the chief began to cut off portions of every different kinds of fresh meat that he had. Next, he placed the meat into a bag and passed it over to her, in appreciation.
Early next morning, Esther’s first thought was to check the meadow from her house window. She was overwhelmed to see that there was not a sign of a tent left on the meadow. Her Indian friends had moved on before the first hint of daylight. Not long after, it was reported that the Mi’kmaq were seen paddling up the bay.
No more visits
From that point on, they no longer visited the area. The ones who stayed had already intermarried with the Europeans, so today their descendants make up the new Mi’kmaq of the area. Those Europeans who had differences with the Mi’kmaq are long gone, and over 95% of Terrenceville now is of Mi’kmaq descent.
Mrs. Mitchell, her granddaughter Esther said, was very proud of this story. She always remembered with great affection her Mi’kmaq friends who departed all those years before.
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.
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 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.
SAUNDERS FAMILY UPDATE
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!
FUTURE mtDNA RESEARCH
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.
ANCIENT MI’KMAQ VILLAGE IN PLACENTIA BAY
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.
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
A lot of good stuff this week. Phelan, of course. And especially the reintroduction of Seb’s mother. David unravelling. But my favourite scene was Roy offering to diagram Connor kinship for Jenny. To show the relationship of those having relations, so to speak.
Monday, the nice dinner party at Michelle and Robert’s ended abruptly. Michelle saw Ali and Carla canoodling in the hallway. Her son and her best friend, sister-in-law and cousin. So she exploded at them. Everyone else scuttled off quickly.
In the safety of the Rovers, Jenny said “how are they related again?” Roy said the words so welcome to the ears of genealogy researchers. “I’ve got a paper and pencil, I can draw it out for you.” But Robert stopped him. “I don’t think it’s quite the time, Roy.” Oh Robert, of course it’s the time. Let’s see it so I don’t have to do it myself.
I was trying to remember how Carla and Ali are related when Jenny asked Roy the question. So, with Robert cutting him off, I got out my pencil and paper and drew the family tree. Michelle’s dad Barry and Carla’s dad Johnny are first cousins, according to ITV. So here is the chart that Roy would have made, given half a chance.
(Whether you call Carla and Ali second cousins once removed or third cousins is discussed on the Coronation Street Blog. Look in the comments.)
In short, Carla is both cousin and aunt to Ali. She is his 2nd cousin once removed through Johnny, her bio-dad. Through her late husband Paul, Michelle’s brother, Carla is Ali’s aunt by marriage.
There’s an ick factor there, but they didn’t grow up knowing they were family. Ali is Michelle’s bio-kid but she didn’t raise him. Carla is the child of a long-kept secret affair between her mother and Johnny. She grew up thinking of another man as her father. So maybe that’s the greatest ick factor – all these people carrying on with each other not knowing that they’re related. Having relations with my relations – could be a country and western song.
by Rev. Canon J. T. Richards, O.B.E, to The Newfoundland Historical Society
(The Newfoundland Quarterly, Sept. and Dec. 1953)
The march of the peoples of the world westward from the cradle of the human race was irresistible. For a while it was held up by the Atlantic Ocean… Although there are indications that Newfoundland was visited by daring adventurers – Basques and Jerseymen – as early as 1450, its real and undoubted discovery is attributed to John Cabot in 1497. West Country merchantmen found in its waters, alive with fish, a source of great profit, and naturally wished to reserve the Newfound Isle as a fishing post only… The French, too, were strong competitors for ownership… Those rights became recognized to such an extent, that the coast line from Cape Bonavista to Point Rich, was known as the French Shore. Afterwards the limits were changed and the French Shore included all the coast from Cape John to Cape Ray,- nearly half of Newfoundland… There was a tendency, however, to favour the French fishermen to the detriment of the struggling English settlers, and we can safely say that, except for the Red Indians and the few Esquimaux who crossed the Strait of Belle Isle, not a single settler was to be found on that long dreary coast from Cape John to Cape Ray for about two hundred and forty years after Cabot’s discovery…
The First Settlers
The history of a country is the history of its people. So we ask, who were the first English settlers on the French Shore? I am convinced that one named Robert Bartlett was the very first, and that Anchor Point in St. Barbe’s Bay, was the first place permanently settled. Thomas Genge, born at Anchor Point in 1827, died in 1914, gave me the story. As Bartlett was his father’s great-uncle, if we allow only twenty-five years for each of the three generations, we can be safe in assuming that he settled at Anchor Point, St. Barbe’s Bay, not later than 1850. As a matter of fact he placed the date at 1740. Here is Thomas Genge’s story.
Robert Bartlett, on board a fishing schooner on the north side of White Bay, went ashore with a companion to get wood. They rambled a distance from the shore and were captured by a company of Red Indians, who compelled them to carry their loads all day. At night they formed a ring around a camp-fire with Bartlett and his companion in the ring, and fell into a deep sleep. The two prisoners, who were not tied, crept out of the ring and escaped. They travelled as fast as they could until the sun arose, and, hearing the Indians in pursuit, they hid in the thick underwood all day. When night came they went on again. After a few days they came to the salt water in what proved to be St. Barbe’s Bay, and saw the spars of a schooner over the low land to the north west. On travelling out around the shore, they came to an ideal little harbour about one hundred yards deep and twenty yards wide, sheltered from the wind and sea by a long low point extending a half mile to the westward.
Here, snugly moored, was an American fishing vessel, the crew of which were making their fish. In the fall Bartlett’s companion sailed away in this ship, but Bartlett, himself, having obtained provisions from the American vessel, decided to stay all alone. By his companion, he sent a letter to a nephew of his in England… Next year the nephew, Robert Genge, arrived, and there they were, a pair of Englishmen, first settlers on that historic portion of Newfoundland known as the French Shore. How long they lived there alone is unknown, but it must have been several years… Bartlett, and his nephew, hunted along the shore as far west as St. John’s Bay, where Bartlett’s Harbour is named after him…
Bartlett sent to Yeovil in Somerset for another nephew, Abram Genge. He was young and enterprising and soon saw possibilities of the coast. Gradually English youngsters coming out to Labrador were attracted to the long low strand across the Strait, and employed by Abram Genge, who was now the leader of the little band…
Robert Bartlett, an old man with plenty of means, returned to England where he died. Robert Genge was a great furrier, and stayed on as head man on Anchor Point room, until he died of old age. Bartlett never married, nor did his nephews. In fact there was no woman on the coast for anyone to marry. At this point there appeared on the scene one family, by name, Watts, having two sons and two daughters. The father seems to have been employed by Abram Genge in a section of the coast near Boat Harbour, four miles west of Cape Norman, and gave his name to a river in the vicinity now called Watt’s River. About this time William Buckle with his son William came to Anchor Point, and Abram Genge sent them to St. Margaret’s Bay. The following winter the father died, and the son William went back to Labrador where Slade and Co. asked him if he would go on to Belle Isle to see if there were any furs there…
Buckle had not forgotten St. Margaret’s Bay where his father had died, and went back to Anchor Point to see his old friends and his employer Abram Genge. Here too, he met one of the two beautiful daughters of the Watts family,- the only marriageable girls on the coast, and married her. They were the ancestors of all the Buckles on the coast of Labrador…
About the time that Buckle married one of the Watts sisters, a Scotchman lieutenant on board the British warship patrolling the coast happened to land at Anchor Point, and saw the other sister… Embracing every opportunity of seeing her, he became so enamoured that he resolved upon the dangerous step of deserting his ship and settling on the coast. For many years, Duncan was a hunted man, and when the time came around for the warship to come back, he had to exercise the utmost vigilance to escape…
The marriage of Alexander Duncan and Mary Watts about 1795 or 1800 resulted in the birth of three sons and no less than fourteen children, who grew into beautiful girls. This seems to have been ordered by providence, for by now, more and more English and Scottish youngsters were trickling into the coast, and these girls, half Scotch and half English, became their wives.
Abram Genge, now an old man, sent to Yeovil, England, for a brother’s son, and William Genge came and settled at Anchor Point. A sister’s son, Absalom Robbins, also came out. He was a great favourite with the settlers, and was called Rabby. He never married. William Genge met a daughter of William Buckle, whose family came to Buckle’s Point in St. Margaret’s Bay every winter. They were married and became the ancestors of all the Genges in the Strait of Belle Isle. When Bishop Feild made his first episcopal voyage to Labrador in 1848, he visited Anchor Point, and was loud in his praise of Mrs. Genge…
She was the mother of Thomas Genge, who gave me the history of the first settlers on the French Shore. On this visit Bishop Feild consecrated at Anchor Point the first cemetery to be used in northern Newfoundland.
The first settler in St. John’s Bay was a giant of a Highland Scotchman named William Griffis. He was always called Big William. In the employ of the North West Company, he fell out with another big Scotchman. A challenge was given and nothing could induce those two men of kindred blood, away from home in the wilds of Labrador, to shake hands and forget their quarrel…
It was found that the knockout blow had been fatal, and Big William, really a kind-hearted man, was stricken with grief over what he had done. That night he disappeared, and was never seen in those parts afterwards. He made his way south, crossed the Strait of Belle Isle, and visited Anchor Point. From there he went to the bottom of St. John ‘s Bay and settled at Castor River, where he lived alone for many years…
Big William was succeeded in Castor River by an Englishman, Jesse Humber, two of whose sons, William and Andrew, were living there when I first visited it in 1905. The other son, called after the father, Jesse, went up the coast, and there are descendants of his at Boone Bay today.
William Dredge and George Coombs
William Dredge and George Coombs were the first settlers at Black-duck Cove on the west side of St. Barbe’s Bay. They married two sisters, daughters of Lieutenant Alexander Duncan, who deserted from his ship to marry Mary Watts. He had adopted his mother’s surname “Gould” on his desertion, so that all his descendants were called Gould.
All the Dredges at Black-duck Cove are descendants of William Dredge, and are of a very kindly disposition. George Coombs moved a little further west to St. Manuel’s Bay, where he was joined by a nephew from England, whose descendants were among the first settlers of Shoal Cove West, New Ferolle.
The first settler on Current Island was William Toop, followed shortly after by James Williams and his brother William. Then, John Gibbons, a sturdy Englishman, most sterling and capable qualities. As an illustration of their mettle, the eldest son, John, went to Hamilton, Ontario, about 1900. He could neither read nor write, but secured work as a common hand in the Hamilton Steel Works. In about ten years after entering the mill he had attained the highest post, and became the manager with a secretary to do his writing. He retained this position until his death. (To be continued)
The First Settlers On The French Shore – Part 2
The first settler on Forrester’s Point was Bill Williams, a desperate character, one of the brothers mentioned above. He married a full-blooded Esquimaux, and many are the stories told of the vicissitudes of this union. On one occasion Bill decided to get rid of his wife Hannah. He took her out in a boat, and was putting her overboard to drown her, when another boat came to the rescue. The occupants of the other boat, before intervening to save Hannah, called out, “What are you doing with your wife, Bill?” “Be gobs, Jack, I’m goin’ to get rid of her, boy. She’s got me druv crazy.” “But who’s goin’ to cook for you, and mend your socks, and wash your clothes?” “Be gobs, Jack, I did not think of that!” said Bill, and forthwith pulled her into the boat again. Both the old Williams had died before I went to the Straits in 1903. Old Hannah still survived, and was regarded by the next generation with a certain amount of awe. Uncanny powers of witchcraft were attributed to her, and the younger folk dared not incur her displeasure…
James Chambers was a splendid type of Scotsman. He married Jane Buckle, daughter of old William Buckle, and settled in Bear Cove, three miles west of Flower’s Cove. In summer he moved out to Seal Island, which was also called French Island, because it had been a favourite resort of the French fishermen. What is now called Flower’s Cove, was first called French Island Harbour…
George Gaulton, first settler in Savage Cove, married one of Duncan’s daughters. White and Coles, English youngsters, each married one of the same sisters, and were the first permanent settlers of Sandy Cove. Thomas Mitchelmore’s first wife was a Duncan. She died young, and he married a daughter of the first settler of French Island Harbour – Whalen – by whom he had five sons. He was the first settler of Green Island Cove. Philip Coates, first settler of Eddy’s Cove East, married Sarah Duncan – Aunt Sally Coates – and had many children and grandchildren. Joseph Woodward, English youngster, married a Whalen, and was the first permanent settler of Boat Harbour, six miles west of Cape Norman.
James Dempster came out from England as clerk on Bird’s room, Labrador. He came of a well-to-do family, and was engaged to an English girl who left him to marry another. He… came to Labrador in a Jersey vessel.., married an Esquimaux widow and had one son named John. He died comparatively young and was buried in Doury’s Cove near Hawke’s Harbour.
John Dempster came across the Strait of Belle Isle, and was the first settler at Flower’s Cove, one mile east of French Island Harbour, which became the port of call for the mail boat. Flower’s Cove now includes both harbours.
Other English settlers were George Caines, first settler at Shoal Cove East; Charles Godfrey, who settled at Bear Cove, and was the maternal grandfather of the merchant brothers Angus, Charles and Isaac Genge; John Pittman, first settler at Seal Cove, and great grandfather of the Pittmans now living at Blue Cove, Darby’s Tickle. Blue Cove was originally called “Blue Guts Cove,” but when Dr. W. W. Blackall first visited it, he advised that “Guts” be omitted from the name, and it has been called “Blue Cove” ever since.
After the Englishmen, a few settlers from the south of Newfoundland came along. The first of these was from Brigus, named Henry Whalen in the year 1850. He was the first settler in French Island Harbour – now Flower’s Cove.
Henry Whalen was a brother of the great seal killer, Captain William Whalen, who never missed the seals. Skipper Henry was a great codfish man, but could make no hand of seal fishing. On the sealing voyages he noticed the land on the Newfoundland side of the Strait of Belle Isle, and heard that its waters abounded in cod. So he made up his mind to leave Brigus and take his family in his vessel, and make a new home near the fishing grounds. He persuaded John Carnell of Catalina to follow him in his schooner…
Elizabeth Whalen, a little girl of twelve, accompanied her father and could read. Her father could neither read nor write. Before she died in 1928, at the age of ninety, she related to me as follows:
“…We crossed Pistolet Bay to Cape Norman… until we came to Savage Cove, and I was reading the Pilot Book. So I said to father ‘There is an island off Savage Cove’… After we anchored and went ashore, father said, ‘This seems like a fine harbour. I think we will settle here.’ Shortly after this old George Gaulton came around the harbour where we were. He was the first and only settler in Savage Cove at that time, and lived in the extreme south west corner. Father said to him, ‘I think we will settle down here, Mr. Gaulton.’ The old man got very angry, and said ‘No you won’t settle here. There is no room, no room.’ Savage Cove is a good mile around, and he was not in the real harbour at all. Then father walked to Flower’s Cove, and went on a mile further to French Island Harbour. When he got back, he said, ‘We will go to French Island Harbour.’ Although Mr. Gaulton would not give consent for us to settle in Savage Cove, he was very glad to avail of the services of a mid-wife – Mrs. Noseworthy – who formed one of my party. That night a twin of boys was born to Mrs. Gaulton.”
They were still living when I was there in 1904, and were called Billy and Dickey Gaulton. Neither of them ever married…
Betty Whalen’s narrative continued:
“We left Savage Cove, followed by Carnell, and entered French Island Harbour. We were in first, and father and Richard Percy and my small brother John, landed right where Whalen’s wharf is now. There was a skeleton of a whale there, and they stuck up a rib to mark their place.
“Carnell followed and stuck up another rib where his wharf is now. My mother could not come in the spring as she was about to be confined. During the summer Sarah was born. She was the youngest child of our family, and when she grew up married Matthew Coles. In the fall father went back to Brigus for mother and the baby. The Carnells left Flower’s Cove again and went further west. After a few years wandering about, they returned and settled down…”
Canon Richards lived in Flower’s Cove from 1904 to 1945. I chose only the parts of his speech that spoke of specific people. He talked at greater length about the geography and economy of the area. The complete article is in Memorial University’s digital files. In the September 1953 issue, it is pages 17-19, 44 and in December 1953, pages 15-16 and 23. You can read about Canon Richards in a 2013 Labradorian article about Irving Letto’s book Sealskin Boots and a Printing Press (Amazon link below).
I first saw DNA tests at London Ont’s Pawlooza dog festival, in 2010 I think. They were tests to find out what breeds were in the genetic structure of any given dog. The process was explained by a contest. Guess the genetic make-up of a dog in a photo, then compare your guess to the actual test results.
DNA my dog
The dog was medium sized with short brown and white hair and floppy ears. I guessed some kind of terrier, hound and maybe Corgi. The results? Everything from Mastiff to Chihuahua with no single breed group predominant.
“Want to test your dogs?” the lady at the booth asked. I looked at them, and thought why? One clearly was a Standard Poodle. The other one? I had studied his personality and his looks. My guess was some kind of terrier and Shih Tzu. A DNA test might show everything from Mastiff to Chihuahua. Useful? Not really.
That’s my thoughts on human DNA testing as well. What does finding out that you’re 5% something and 10% something else actually tell you? It’s fun to know, sure. It lets you wonder who travelled across continents to wind up in your genetic map.
DNA tests were among the most popular gifts this past holiday season, Forbes reported last December. Quick, cheap and well-advertised, they address something fundamental: Who are we?
They answer that, to some extent. There’s a percentage breakdown of your geographical make-up. So you can see all the peoples and regions that went into making you. It can be a surprise.
Kiss me, I’m Irish
It was for my family. Our largest grouping? Irish. No German, nor anything we expected from documentary and family history. Does this matter? Yes, because it shows that our ancestors’ migration path was different than what we’ve thought. No, because documents and family history show another traceable geography. And, more significantly, tell the stories we grew up with.
DNA – ‘blood’ if you will – on its own does not define us. There have been systems of classification of people based on “blood”. But, before DNA tests, these could only rely on appearance and/or association. Guessing based on culture and history, not genetics.
But what do scientific DNA results actually do for us? Possibly give important medical information. Other than that, not much. New hobbies, new histories to learn. But do they make you someone else?
Am I now Irish? I could consider myself to be, I suppose. Stake a front row spot for myself in the Paddy’s Day parade. But would waving the DNA results help get me, say, a work permit in Ireland? “Oh, Ancestry says 41% of you is from the old sod! Well, come right in!” About as much chance as that dog in the photo convincing a Mastiff that they are brothers separated at birth.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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!
See more of Devon’s writing at Fortune Bay mtDNA (June 1/18), an update on research on families discussed here, and Terrenceville Mi’kmaq (June 8/18), a story told long ago by Mrs. Esther Mary (Myles) Mitchell.
Below is the lineage of the Earls of Grantham. The family name is Crawley, and their home is Downton Abbey in Yorkshire.
It is a fictional family in a television series I have never watched. I found family trees online, read summaries of the show and characters, and mapped out connections. Could I use only the internet to figure out a family history, I wondered. I think I did, and it made me want to get to know them better.
I will meet the Crawleys on DVD. Those watching on television will end their acquaintance with them in 2016. The sixth, and final, season on PBS begins January 3rd. The series is set between April 1912 and December 1925.
The Crawley family was given the Earldom of Grantham around 1772 for deeds unspecified. A subsidiary title is Viscount Downton. The earl’s heir may use this as a courtesy title. The title and estate are entailed, meaning inheritance can be passed only through the legitimate male line.
Grantham Family Tree
The house and lands of Downton Abbey came into possession of the Crawley family through the unnamed daughter-in-law of the 3rd Earl, great-grandmother of the ‘present’ earl, Robert Crawley. Presumably, she inherited her family home or received it through the will of a previous husband.
Jessica Fellowes, author of companion books to the series, refers to Robert Crawley as the 7th Earl of Grantham. Other sources call him the 6th. Observant viewers noted a publicity shot of the gravestone of Sybil, Robert’s daughter. Carved on it is “daughter of the 5th Earl of Grantham”. The series does not fully explain the line of inheritance.
Robert had no son and no brother so after he inherited the title, his heir presumptive became his first cousin James, the son of his father’s unnamed brother. James had a son Patrick, who would inherit in turn. However, both men died on the Titanic in 1912. The male next closest in the family line was Matthew Crawley, Robert’s 3rd cousin once removed. The presumably deceased Reginald was Matthew’s father.
While daughters could not inherit, strategic marriage could keep it in the immediate family. Robert and his mother Violet had sought marriage between Robert’s daughter Mary and Patrick, son of then heir presumptive 1st cousin James Crawley. After their deaths, Mary wed the new heir Matthew and they had a son, George. Matthew soon after died, making George heir.
Through the marriage of his daughter to the heir, Robert’s grandson will be earl after him. Mary, daughter of one earl and mother of the next, will never be countess. She would have held that title only through her husband had he lived to become the next earl.
The telling of a place often is told through the people who make up the place. Conversely, the telling of a family can be told through the place they lived. Here are books about places or families in Newfoundland that may be of interest to those researching their origins.
Many prolific writers and storytellers have told Newfoundland’s past and present. There are also historical sources and contemporary analyses of Newfoundland Mi’kmaq. I have not included those here.
These books are about specific family or community history. They have real names and details of family history as well as the history of areas in which Mi’kmaq people lived. The exceptions are those by Kevin Major, Horwood and Butts, Erin Sharpe, Percy Janes, and Barbara Rieti. You may not think of Kevin Major’s book when you think “history”, but it’s well worth reading. Horwood and Butts’ book tells about the pirate Peter Easton in Newfoundland. Erin Sharpe’s article, through the eyes of one young woman, gives the reasons why people track their Mi’kmaq ancestry. Percy Janes’ novel beautifully presents place; Corner Brook in the first half of the 20th century. Barbara Rieti studies witchcraft beliefs in all of Newfoundland, but includes Mi’kmaq people and areas.
Please let me know if you know of a book that should be here. The titles below are links to find them. If you buy from Amazon, doing so through my links (or ‘Search Amazon’ box in right sidebar) means a fraction of every sale goes to me. For that, I am most appreciative.
Relevant, but included elsewhere in this site, are Earl Pilgrim’s Drifting Into Doom, my own Nogwa’mkisk: (Where the sand blows): Vignettes of Bay St. George Micmacs (out of print) and Lark Szick’s Young/LeJeune Family.
Click book titles (in green) for info and purchase
Rogers, John Davidson Newfoundland Vol. V, Pt. IV of A Historical Geography of the British Colonies Clarendon, Oxford 1911 Forgotten Books Classic Reprint Series 2012 Esp. ch. 8 for Mi'kmaq history (Amazon sometimes, or libraries)
Speck, Frank Beothuk and Micmac New York: Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation 1922 (online - see top left for formats, also on Amazon hard copy and Kindle)
Styles, Cindy 3 or 4 Years an Indian Friesen Press 2015 ("A little story about one girl's attempt to claim her heritage, and the maneuvering by the Canadian government to discredit that heritage." - Amazon blurb. Kindle, paper, hardback eds.