The purpose of creating the Matte Families of North America came about from a general curiosity of my ancestry. All I ever knew was that my ancestors were from Canada. One day, by chance, I decided to search on the Internet for the last name Matte. To my surprise, I discovered that there were hundreds of Mattes throughout North America. I had never thought about how long they had been in Canada and was quite surprised when I learned that the first Matte in North America arrived before 1666! He was the ONLY Matte to immigrate to North America in the 17th Century.
The Matte family history is a tribute to Nicolas Matte and his wife Madeleine Auvray. They were true pioneers. Try to imagine what life was like in the 1660s in Canada. They came to a wilderness where they had to defend their homes against Indian raids, bitter cold, and be self-sufficient. Their descendants should be proud of their heritage.
I originally intended to build a Matte Family Tree to learn about my ancestry, but also to pass down this information to any Matte descendant who might someday be "curious" about their ancestry. There have many, many hours of research work involved in this project, but it has been one of the most satisfying projects I have ever undertaken. I have met many Mattes all over the world that are related. I continue to communicate over the Internet with Mattes in California, Missouri, Ontario, Oregon, Louisiana, Saskatchewan, Germany and France. I even met several second cousins that generously shared stories and pictures and their own research with me.
I dedicate this work to the Mattes who came before me and to those who will come after me. My hope is that a future Matte will be just as curious as the Mattes of the past and pick up where I left off.
What does the name mean?
The family name Matte means, "curdled milk" in French "lait caille" and is also used as a term to indicate a metallic material. Was the name taken from their occupation? Could they have been Cheese Makers? Mining? Whatever the case, the name has been recorded in France since the 16th Century. There are more Mattes in North America than there are in France.
Matte is a name found in Northern France and Normandy.
Places named after Mattes
There is a boulevard in Montreal named Matte Boulevard. This was named after a Matte who designed the roads in Montreal.
In Neuville, Quebec there is a river called Riviere a Matte. This river was named after Nicolas as it ran through his land on its way to the St Lawrence River.
In Lowell, Massachusetts there is a Matte Brothers plaque dedicated to the Matte Brothers from Lowell who served in the US Military.
In Montana, there is a Matt Creek named after Alex Matt. Here is apicture of Alex taken in 1890.
Edmond-Arthur Matte was the Mayor of St-Constant, LaPrairie, Quebec and "Prefet de Comte." They even christened a street " Matte " in St-Constant to honor the Matte family.
Nicolas Matte (1636-1704) -The First Matte Adventurer
Why he came to North America remains a mystery. Many of his descendants were adventurers. Perhaps that was Nicolas' motivation? In France, he would not have been allowed to be a landowner. Maybe he yearned to have his own land? During that time period, the King of France was desperately trying to claim Canada for France. The King offered land to those willing to immigrate in exchange for three years of voluntary work. It is believed that Nicolas Matte was one of those volunteers.
Nicolas Matte was able to read and write which was unusual in the 17th Century. This leads me to suspect that he was from an upper-class family of shopkeepers or tradesmen as few in the peasant class were educated at that time.
All Mattes who claim Canadian ancestry are related. Some spell their name as Matt, Mattey, Mathe, Meattey, but one common thread in all of these names is that their ancestors were from Quebec - a sure sign that they too are descendants of Nicolas Matte and Madeleine Auvray - the original Mattes in North America. There are other Mattes who came to North America in the mid-1800s from Germany, Russia and Prussia. At this time, it is not known if they are any relation to the Mattes from France. Someday we might discover that we are all related.