July 4, 2010

Finding not what your looking for

It has always been maintained that our family had Canadian Indian ancestory, however, a cursory look at the tree shed no light but rumors surround two members; Jean Cote and Anne Martin.


Mathieu de/da COSTE' was the first African known to have lived and worked in what is now known as "Canada" (Acadia, Mi'kmaki[2]) in the early 1600s. He may have been Jean Cotes father, but most likely he wasn't.  Below is some speculation.

Jean/Jehan COTE' dit COSTE's date and place of birth and baptism are unknown but believed to be ca 1604. The names of his biological parents are not recorded, which would not be surprising if he were of Mi'kmaq and African heritage, the only interest the European recorders had was in recording their own children (e.g. the first European child born in "Canada" who survived to adulthood is believed to have been born in 1648). 

Jean/Jehan COTE' dit COSTE', who may have been sent to France for an education and to learn the French language and culture, perhaps with a foster family or godparents named LOISEL, arrived ca 1634 with the fleet "Le Saint Jean".

Jean/Jehan COTE' dit COSTE' worked for the second Governor of New France, possibly also as "un grumete" or interpreter, Charles Jacques Huault de Montmagny, who also was the first Onontiio, the head of the Franco-Indigene alliance.

Jean/Jehan COTE' dit COSTE' seems to have had a marriage arranged for him by the Jesuits soon after he arrived in New France. He was married 11 Nov 1635, Anne MARTIN/MATCHONON, and the couple were among the first families established in the colony set up by the Jesuits for their Huron-Wendat converts on the Ile d'Orleans. Being married to a Huron-Wendat woman would have given him the opportunity to learn the language and culture, which he would have needed in his work for the Onontiio. The French appear to have had great difficulty in learning Indigenous languages, which is why there was a great need for skilled interpreters.

Descendants of Anne MARTIN/MATCHONON and Jean/Jehan COTE' dit COSTE' were recorded. Noteworthy is that one of the children (a son b. 1642) was named Mathieu. There also was a child named Jean COTE' dit LEFRISE' (a son b. 25 Feb 1644). Le frise' in French means "frizzy-haired person", perhaps this name was given to the child because he was the only one who had "frizzy" (i.e. African) hair, while the other children of Anne and Jean had straight hair like their Indigenous ancestors. Also, a signature of Jean circulating on several websites has the name as "jeancoste' ", perhaps the name was translated later on to the French from the Portuguese "COSTE' ", the "O" with a circumflex accent denotes a lost "S". All the children of the second generation have their names recorded as "COSTE' " and not "COTE".

Anne Martin is another story. Some believe she is half Metis and half French and was the daughter of Abraham MARTIN dit L'ECOSSAIS (1589-1664) and an unknown Huron-Wendat woman; the sister of MATCHONON "a Savage" (according to the Jesuits), but it is doubtful that she is Abraham's daughter. There is, however, a different Anne Martin daughter of Abraham and Marguerite Langlois both in our tree as parents of Marie Martin dit L'Ecossais who married Jean Cloutier. This is probably where the confusion lies.

So who is Anne Martin born 1603? Who is Jean Cote? Questions still remain but little proof exists that either were of Indian or African decent while all records that do exist show that they were born in France and came to Canada sometime around 1634.   This Anne Martin could in no way be Abraham Martin's daughter as he would have been all of 14 when she was born in 1603.   Jean Cote was not an interpreter as the stories claim, he was a farmer and Anne was not the daughter of Abraham.

Children of Jean/Jehan COTE' dit COSTE' and Anne MARTIN



  1. Louis COSTE' b. 25 Oct 1635 m. Kebek 6 Nov 1662 Elizabeth LANGLOIS
  2. Simone COSTE' b. 9 Dec 1637 m. Kebek 16 Nov 1649 Pierre SOUMANDE
  3. Martin COSTE' b. 12 Jul 1638 m. Chateau Richer 25 July 1667 Suzanne PAGE
  4. Mathieu COSTE' b. Kebek 16 Jul 1642 m. 1669 Elizabeth GRAVELLE
  5. Jean COSTE' dit LEFRISE' b. 25 Feb 1644 m. (1) Kebek 11 Nov 1669 Anne COUTURE (2) Kebek 25 Feb 1686 Genevieve VERDON
  6. Noel dit COSTE' b. 4 May 1646 m. Helene GRATON
  7. Marie dit COSTE' b. 12 Jan 1648 d. 25 Jan 1648
  8. Louise dit COSTE' b. 18 Apr 1650


Searching for who Jean Cote and Anne Martin were led to discover that Abraham Martin dit L'Escossais, while not the father of this Anne, was not a nice man. He was accused of raping a 15 year old girl who was later accused and hung for theft.

"On 15 Feb 1649, Abraham Martin was imprisoned for bad conduct towards a young girl, this may or may not have discredited him with his fellow-citizens.

About the imprisonment of Martin the Jesuits recorded this: the Journal des Jésuites for 1649. Little is recorded for January outside of the usual list of New-year's gifts; but " on the pith, occurred the first execution by the hand of the hangman, in the case of a Creature of 15 or 16 years, a thief." At the same time, Abraham Martin is imprisoned on a scandalous charge connected with this poor girl; but "his trial is postponed till the arrival of the vessels".
Sometimes you find what you weren't looking for and it's not pleasant.  And still...no Indian blood to be found in our tree.

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