What's In A Name

As we have seen earlier Mattie was widely known as Matthew Mitchell but actually his name was Matthieu Michel. However at least two other Mi'kmaq researchers believe that neither Mitchell nor Michel was the original family name, and I am inclined to agree with them. One, Mr. Alan Stride now living in Ottawa but a former resident of Newfoundland believes the family name was originally Michel Agathe and that the Agathe was dropped around 1850. Another researcher, Mrs. Betty Campbell of Corner Brook told me in 1998 of a conversation with a Mrs. Spicer in Stephenville NF who believes the Mitchells were originally LeBlancs.

Below are listed in chronological order all the references I have been able to find with the name Mitchell or names which sounded similar to it. As you will read the name Mitchell and Michel Agathe or Michel Aga seem to occur at about the same time in the same place. As the west coast Mi'kmaq community was a small one never numbering more than 150 people I find it very unlikely that that there were two chiefs, one named Mitchell and the other named Michel Agathe. Based on this I am inclined to agree with Alan Stride rather than Mrs. Spicer. I will return to this speculation later when we explore the Michel Agathe name in more detail.

About 1824; The trek of "Old John Mitchell, a Micmac Indian" from Conne River to Piper's Hole nearly a century ago (1914). [I estimated about 1824 based on nearly a century ago from 1914 - fgp]
Ref: The Indian Scrape by R.S. Dahl in 1914 issue of Newfoundland Quarterly. On The Country, D. Jackspn, 1993 ch.3 ref 51 ISBN 0-921191-80-4

1827 Methodist missionary, Noall, reported meeting a "Captain Mitchell" at a place called Gaultois,.."the Chief of the gang of [Micmac] Indians from White-Bear-Bay....He was a tall man, and looked very savage if provoked. He addressed me in the most vociferating language, and gave me to understand that he considered himself a Catholic. ..would open up a religious intercourse between much greater numbers at White-Bear.." Noall deduced he had been to London England, St. John's and Halifax.
Ref: Newfoundland, As It Was, And Is In 1877 by Philip Toque 1878: John B. Magurr, Toronto. p.200. in a letter C.A. Martijn to F.G. Powell May 1, 1995

1835: "Here I met with an interesting Indian, from Conne River, five miles hence; his ascetic acts, and acts of real humanity, had acquired for him a character of holiness, and a great influence over his tribe. ...Jean Michael, the ascetic Indian mentioned above, this day assembled the Indians for their worship, of which singing, formed a very considerable part."
Ref: Archdeacon Wix Journal, Church of England Archives, St. John's Newfoundland Mar - Aug. 1835 (made earlier visit 1830)

Dec. 12 1842: The commandant, Alphonse-Joseph Desrousseaux, ..advised the Department that the chief of a band from the west of Newfoundland, ..King Michel Agathe who came with more than 100..of his tribe,annual devotions...was lost ..in a squall...while returning home. [See item for 1848, either the report of his death by drowning was premature or he had a son of the same name who succeeded him - fgp]
Ref: Emile Sasco and Joseph Lehuenen, Ephemerides des Iles St. Pierre et Miquelon. 1970:12. from Ruth Holmes Whitehead Mar. 17 1995 letter

1844: "..have a chief or king, whose power they respect......the illustrious Michel Aga, residing at St. George Bay,.." [translation from the French by C. Martijn. CM not sure of date but he feels it was 1844 or earlier - fgp]
Ref: Dr. Carpon; a French doctor who made several trips to Newfoundland and had a number of encounters with native people there.., letter from C. Martijn May 5, 1995.

1845 ..to call in at Bay St. George where 60 [Micmacs] reside... I found two old men pretending to considerable influence over all the Indians in NF. One calling himself "King Mitchell" the other "Noel Gougond"...
Ref: Where the Sand Blows, p.69. ref: 1845 letter from J. Pott to Sir John Harvey, 26 October. Provincial Archives of NF & Labrador, GN2/2 ff 470-77.

1848: sauve (sic) Agathe Pierre [4 juillet 1848] Le quatre ]uillet mil huit cent quarante huit, le corps de pierre agathe, age de treize ans, fils de Michel Agathe, le roi des sauvages et de Louise, a ete solenellement inhume dans le cimetiere de cette ville en presence de ses pere et mere et de plusieurs autres sauvages qul ne savent signer. [Amateur-Jean] CHARLOT prefet ap.

1849: "Friday, Auqust 3 d. ---- We went on shore directy after breakfast to visit a family who had returned from the fishery yesterday evening. The man is a Brake, brother to the Brakes mentioned before. The mother is a Micmac Indian From St. George's Bay. She appeared a notable, sensible woman, and she assured me she could repeat the Lord's Prayer and Creed in her own language, with other prayers. Her father, she said, was Captain Jock. Four of their children were baptized with the conditional form. The mother assured me the baptism among her people was precisely the same."
Ref: p.49, Bishop Feild's Visit to the West Coast of Newfoundland 1849. [Brake is brother of Edward Brake and J. Brake, the latter also married an Indian from St. Georges according to Feild]

1862: Christopher Michel Agathe (Micmac) married Jan. 22 1862 to Marie Webb b. abt 1830-35. Ref: from Camus family tree by Alan Stride done for George Cammie [who copied me Sept. 1998 at Corner Brook.]

1874: Mitchell: "a surname ..of the Micmacs of Newfoundland, from the baptismal name Michael... Early instances: .....John Mitchell, Indian engaged in salmon fishery at Grandy's Brook,1874 (MUN Hist.)
Ref: Family Names of Island of Newfoundland, 1976 by E.R. Seary

1875+: "In his younger days there lived in the same neighbourhood an old Indian woman named Mitchel, whose parents were Mountagnais from Labrador. Joe Young claimed she, her parents and younger brother spent several days with Beothuk family." [Joe was from Bank Head, Bay St. George but the time is uncertain; Howley collected his notes over a period from 1875 - 1915. When he heard the story from Joe and what his age was at the time is not indicated - fgp]
"Mathy grandson confirmed story but denied families mingled."
Ref: The Beothucks or Red Indians, by J.P. Howley originally pub. 1915. p 278, p279

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