Fonds MG 21.20 - Mitchell Business and Family fonds

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Mitchell Business and Family fonds

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  • Textual record

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Reference code

CA BI MG 21.20

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Physical description

1.4 meters of textual records

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Name of creator

(1826 -1917)

Biographical history

Henry was born on February 16, 1826, in Leeds, England. He was the seventh of a family of ten boys and one girl. His father James was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1779 to Robert and Mary (nee Goudry or Goudey). Henry’s father James and his uncle Robert were employed by the General Mining Association which began mining coal in Cape Breton in 1824. Both James and Robert were sent to the Old Bridgeport (now Dominion) area in 1831 when Henry was five years old. Henry began working in the coal mines when he was 12 years of age - in Bridgeport as well as Sydney Mines. However, he and the rest of the Mitchell family left Cape Breton when he was 16 and settled in Pennsylvania. Their reason for leaving is unknown - possibly a downturn in the coal market in Nova Scotia or maybe because of better opportunities in Pennsylvania.

Henry returned to Cape Breton and on October 17, 1846 married Mary Ann Boutilier in the Parish of St. George. Mary was born in Lingan, Cape Breton in 1828, the daughter of John Peter (born October 29, 1772) and Hannah Elizabeth (born July 22, 1784) . Henry's and Mary Ann's first child - James - was born on March 2, 1847, in Bridgeport but tragically died in a mining accident in 1864. The next three of their children were born while Henry and Mary Ann were living in Pennsylvania: Charles - November 19, 1849; Elizabeth - June 18, 1852; Grace - February 14, 1854. Sometime after Grace was born Henry and Mary Ann returned to Cape Breton. Their next child - Martha - was born there on April 8, 1856. Then followed Thomas (April 24, 1858), Mary Ann (aka Nan - May 7, 1860), Henry junior (February 7, 1863), James (September 1864), Fred (December 19,1865), Lucy Ellen, (aka Nellie - August 4, 1867) and Newton (December 27, 1873).

Between the years 1858 and 1883 Henry worked for E.P. Archibald as manager of the Glace Bay Mining Company (GBMC) at Little Glace Bay. During this time he was also appointed Harbour Master at Glace Bay in 1875 and also became involved in various labour disputes leading to his discharge from the company in 1883. After his tenure with the GBMC, Mitchell purchased rights to the Old Bridgeport Mine from the General Mining Association along with his business partner, Newton MacKay.

Custodial history

The papers originated with Henry Mitchell and have been retained by the family for almost two centuries. The fonds was donated by Henry Mitchell's great grandson, Newton Darroch in 2017.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of papers related to coal mining and other business activities of Henry Mitchell and sons as well as family records documenting life in Bridgeport (now Dominion) Nova Scotia and various locations in Pennsylvania. Correspondence between Henry and his children provide a detailed account of social, economic and political life in North America between the mid-19th and early 20th century.

Members of the Mitchell family were impacted by the American Civil War which is documented among the letters, along with various events of note in Canada including Confederation.

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Physical condition

Majority of the records appear to be in stable condition. Some re-housing required.

Immediate source of acquisition

Mr. Newton Darroch


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General note

Extensive notes from donor accompany this fonds. Please place a request for file from staff. Reference: Mitchell B&G

General note

See MG 14.28 - Cape Breton Coal Company, Bridgeport
See Notes: Mitchell Mine

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