Westward Ho

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 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. And that went for the stonework too. Fortunately, we took the basement stones too, which came in handy when the Thibideau’s, the home’s new owners, decided they’d like it taken up to a two story. There was just enough stone in size and color to accomplish that. The eventual plan added a pair of log homes to each end, cladded in a lovely butter-colored yellow clapboard and trim to tie it all together aesthetically.

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 that there were four generations of David Nichols in the family. One of them, albeit briefly, became involved in the great Mormon trek westward. History confirms that he and his wife did return from this escapade, but we do not know when.

Neither is it certain when David Nichols purchased the present property. It could have been anywhere between the 1820s and the 1830s. At least, it seems clear that the Nichols family arrived as emigrants from the United States c1800. The first David Nichols, born in Rhode Island in 1730, may also have been the first of the family to arrive in Canada. However, it is also certain that his son, David Nichols the second, with his wife Susannah Sheldon, and their family also emigrated, settling near Delta (then known as Beverley).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.

As things turned out, no more is heard of the first David, but David numbered two died in 1812. Thus, it would seem most likely that David number three acquired title to the land on Lot 29, Concession 3. It had been granted by the crown to Isaac Lamb in1801, and sold eleven years later to Jonathan Stevens Jr.

David had been born in 1796 and married Sarah Judd, who had also come from the United States with her family at the end of the eighteenth century. The Bastard Township census of 1804 indicated that her father, Ezra Judd, his wife Lois, plus two children, Ezra Jr. and Sarah, were at that time residents of the township in the Plum Hollow area. (The Judd family eventually included fifteen children). By the 1830s Sarah was married to David the third and it is probable that they were already farming in the Forfar area.

And then the Mormons arrived! Together with a number of relatives and friends the Nichols joined the Mormon trek westward to the United States. Sarah’s brother Arza Jr., born in Bastard Township in 1798, had first married Lucinda Adams, and later Jane Stoddard. Together, arza and Jane travelled to North Dakota in a covered wagon, driven by a team of 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, as did Azra’s sister Lois, and her husband Arza Hinkle. But David and his wife turned back, although we do not know how far they travelled, or exactly when they returned to Forfar.

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. By the time of the 1851 census, David, his wife Sarah, also known as Sally, were listed as being here with their children Ruth, David the fourth, and Sally, as well as two children, David Dart, aged ten, and Anne Dart, aged seven.

By | 2018-08-01T20:08:24+00:00 August 1st, 2018|log homes, post & beam house, stone houses|Comments Off on Westward Ho

About the Author:

Since 1969 Mel Shakespeare has been designing award-winning homes in the tradition of early 19th century Ontario. The company name, Tradition Home, is now synonymous with period homes of distinction.