The House of Six Sallys

The Thibideau stone house north of Cobourg was one of our more ambitious projects. This classic five-bay Georgian house was resurrected from Forfar, a small village in eastern Ontario. It took me years of search and then negotiation to finally purchase the building that, although built solidly of the local sandstone, was not too far from dereliction. The magnificent interior certainly deserved saving. I was quite impressed with the quality of the woodwork, obviously produced by a professional cabinetmaker. Every care was taken to remove all of it as I intended to have every piece restored and put back just the way it was. The eventual plan

added a pair of log cabins to each end, clad in a lovely butter-colored yellow clapboard and trim to tie it all together aesthetically. 

The research discovered that the house came with a name, The David Nichols house, and quite a history at that, the narrative containing several interesting aspects. Prominent among these, and the cause of some confusion, is the fact there were four generations of David Nichols in the family, not to mention, the inordinate number of Sallys that became part of its history.

One of them, albeit briefly, became involved in the great Mormon trek westward. Together with a number of relatives and friends the Nichols joined the Mormon trek westward to the United States. Sarah (also known as Sally) had a brother, Arza Jr., born in Bastard Township in 1798, had first married Lucinda Adams, and later Jane Stoddard. Together, Arza and Jane traveled to North Dakota in a covered wagon, driven by oxen.

The story is told that Jane, on the long journey west, pointed to a large object in the field and asked her husband what it was. When he told her it was a stone, she replied, “I thought we were never to see those again.” The promised land was not to be found without its stones! But stones or not, The Azra Judds pressed on, eventually reaching their destination and remaining in the United States, but David and his wife Sally turned back, although we do not know how far they traveled. History confirms that they did return to Forfar from this escapade, but we do not know when exactly. 

David Nichols’s family arrived as emigrants from the United States in c1800, purchasing the present property somewhere between the 1820s and the 1830s. The first David Nichols, born in Rhode Island in 1730, with his wife Sally may also have been the first of the family to arrive in Canada. They were listed in an 1804 census of Bastard Township as living here with their children, Ruth, Sheldon, Phoebe, Sally, David the Third, Hiram, and an unnamed infant.

The present stone house, undoubtedly built by the third David, appeared on the Bastard Assessment Rolls for the first time in 1846. The family must have certainly been living in another building prior to this, most likely the customary log dwelling. David and Sally were listed as being here by the time of the 1851 census.

Interestingly, the adjoining property to the northwest belonged to Bernie and Sally. To the southwest belonged to Allen and Sally. It seems the house and environs, draw Sallys like bees to honey. The new mistress (the fourth owner) of the grand house and property is a Sally as well.