Louisa and Thomas in Halifax

Louisa and Thomas were married in Dartmouth—doubtless at Colin Grove—on 21 Sept. 1816. They lived in Halifax—where they had 11 children —residing first, it would appear, on the east side of Water St. just a couple of doors north of George Street and the Market and later, on Dresden Row near Morris St., to which address they moved perhaps as early as 1833. In that year, on 23 July, they sold for 1000 pounds their one-seventh share in the Market Wharf and, on 24 July, for 850 pounds, their one-seventh share in several properties in Halifax including:

all those two mefsuages adjoining each other situate in Water Street in the said Town of Halifax opposite the Exchange Coffee House measuring in front (together) on Water Street forty nine feet ten inches more or lefs, and in depth about Ninety Nine feet, comprising the Dwelling House & two Shops occupied by the said Thomas Ott Beamish and ____ Whytal, recently repaired, and the Shop & dwelling House lately rented by Benjamin Wier,—bounded Northerly by the property of John Stayner Senior, Esquire, Easterly by a Store in the pofsefsion of the Heirs or other representatives of John Peeples placed on a Spot reseved for a public Dock, Southerly by the Estate of the faid John Peeples ______ and by other Premises hereinafter described occupied by Thomas Brewer, and again by another part of the faid John Peeples Property, and Westerly by Upper Water Street aforesaid. (Halifax Co. Deeds, Bk. 58, p. 137. Deed for 23 July, on p. 136.)
It would appear that it was on the more westerly of these John Peeples' properties—at what might be called the northeast corner of George and Water Streets (though, more precisely, the corner formed by Water Street and the north side of the street leading to the Ferry Slip)—that there had stood the cottage which, prior to its removal to this corner, had been the first Government House (see Akins, p. 213). In 1832, the cottage was replaced by the building that came to be identified with Thomas Laidlaw. (For a view of the latter building shortly after its erection and perhaps within a year or two of the date of the above deed, see the reproduction of William Eagar's watercolour.

The sale by Thomas and Louisa of their one-seventh share in the Market Wharf and in the two Beamish premises on Water Street was made to various holders of the other six shares—which other six shareholders were Beamish Murdoch, Thomas Beamish Akins, Harriet Ott Beamish, Maria Ott Beamish, their older sister Sarah Catherine Ott Beamish, and the heirs of their deceased oldest brother Frederick Ott Beamish. For a number of years, this group formed a kind of unofficial business corporation which owed its existence to their status as heirs of Frederick Ott. He was the childless stepfather of Amelia (Mason) Bearnish, the mother of Thomas, Sarah, Harriet, and Maria, and of Elizabeth and Margaret—who were the mothers of Beamish Murdoch and of Thomas Beamish Akins respectively . When Frederick Ott died in 1783, he owned a number of properties in the Halifax area—including the valuable Market Wharf and other commercial premises in the immediate vicinity. In a document filed in the Court of Chancery in 1804, his heirs declared that at the time of his death his estate yielded rents of more than 750 pounds annually.

The Market Wharf and the Court of Chancery

The parents of Thomas Ott Beamish and of his siblings, Captain Thomas Beamish Sr. and wife Amelia, though not original trustees of the Ott estate, became sole trustees in 1785 after the original trustees were unable to fulfill their mandate. The trouble with this turn of events is that Thomas Sr. could not be a disinterested party; for at the time of the death of his wife's stepfather, Captain Beamish was already loaded dawn with debts incurred from reverses in trade . To meet some of these debts, he diverted much of the money that should have gone to the Ott heirs, money that he collected in rents expressly for their use and benefit. To secure other debts, he mortgaged properties of the Ott heirs, notably the Market Wharf. But with all this, he was unable to surmount his financial problems. In 1787, while he was serving time in debtor's prison at the complaint of one creditor, his mortgage on the Market Wharf was inopportunely called in by James, William, and Thomas Cochran, who forced a desperate man to surrender a piece of valuable property which he had no legal right to convey to them. The Cochrans took immediate possession of the wharf and enjoyed its profits while resolution of the question of its ownership, in true Dickensian fashion, was dragged out in the Court of Chancery for over 18 years—the wharf being in the hands of the Cochrans for over 33 years, as the case was not initiated till 1802. It was won, at least technically, by the defendants— the heirs of Frederick Ott —in 1816, but an appeal prolonged it to the fall of 1820 when the earlier judgment was upheld. By that time it couldn't have mattered to the plaintiffs, as they all were dead. Thomas Cochran had died in 1801; James and William, within a year before the final judgment.

A Decade of Sorrow

The decade that began so well for Louisa and Thomas turned out to be a decade of sorrow at Colin Grove—caused by a series of deaths and a family disaster. The 1820's happened also to be the decade in which the weddings of all but one of Louisa's sisters who married took place. Given the times, the celebrating at many of these weddings must have been rather subdued.

On 10 Nov. 1821 Louisa's sister Charlotte, aged 22, was married . Exactly one year later, on 10 Nov. 1822, their younger sister Phebe died . Within two years of this, on 20 Sept. 1824, their mother Phebe (Coffin) Collins died . Just two and a half months later, on 4 Dec. 1824, Jane, aged ca. 16, was married . She was widowed only two years later when, on 8 Nov. 1826, her husband Stephen died . On 3 March 1827 Mary Ann was married , aged ca. 25. Then, a month and a half later, on 20 May 1827, the Collins' home at Colin Grove was destroyed by fire . Jane, now aged ca. 21, was married for the second time on 30 May 1829, this time at Brook House, to which place the Collins family appears to have removed after the fire at Colin Grove.

Georgiana, at age 19, was married on 10 Feb. 1831, likely at the same place. Her husband Hood Clifford—who was also her cousin, the son of her father's older sister Elizabeth—had purchased the southern portion of Colin Grove (containing 160 acres) on 18 June 1828, a year after the fire . No doubt the Clifford house—which stood just a few hundred feet north of the Cole Harbour Road halfway up Breakheart Hill, had been built in time for the groom to carry his bride over the threshold.

After selling the southern portion of Colin Grove, Stephen Collins was left with 128 acres (on which was the site of the recently destroyed Collins' homestead plus the barns and outbuildings—presumably still standing after the fire). It is likely that Stephen continued to farm this northern portion of Colin Grove though he and his family now, evidently, were living at nearby Brook House, the use of which he would have been granted, out of love or for money, by the Rev. Charles Ingles, who, despite having been transferred to Sydney in 1825, retained ownership of Brook House till he sold it to Thomas Grassie in 1846.

Seven months after the wedding of his daughter Georgiana, Stephen Collins died at Brook House on 1 Sept. 1831.

Colin Grove Becomes Clifford's Farm

It is possible that the two daughters of Stephen and Phebe who never married—Betsy, the eldest; and Joanna, the youngest—were still living at home when their father died. If so, after their father's remaining 128 acres were sold at auction in 1834, they may have moved in with their sister Georgiana and her husband, their cousin Hood Clifford. As it turned out, he was the highest bidder at the auction, so when the deed to the northern portion was signed on 29 Sept. 1834, the two parts of Colin Grove were reunited—and retained within the family.

The estate remained in the hands of the Cliffords until a few years after Hood Clifford's death in 1866 when, on 23 Dec. 1873, it was sold to Robert Settle Jr. and John Kuhn, farmers. In 1885, after a small portion containing 14 acres was sold, the remainder was divided into two 137 acre lots, the northern half going to Kuhn and the southern half to Settle. The lots remained in the Kuhn and Settle families and continued to be farmed until recently, when they were sold to residential developers—the Kuhn lot in 1955, most of the Settle lot in 1968.

It seems that after the fire neither the Collins family nor the Cliffords ever rebuilt at the site of the original Colin Grove house, the house in which Louisa and her sisters were raised and in which—in her upstairs bedroom Louisa kept her diary.

Deaths of Thomas and Louisa

Louisa's husband Thomas Ott Beamish died on 18 Aug. 1860 and was buried in Camp Hill cemetery.10 Louisa died nine years later , on 1 April 1869.

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On the same page of the Acadian Recorder that contains Louisa's death notice is the notice of a Halifax City bylaw regarding the killing of robins and small birds. Part of the advertisement goes like this :

The killing of Robins, Swallows, Sparrows, and other small Birds, and Birds of Song, which frequent the fields, and gardens, and the selling and offering for sale, and the having in possession of such birds, when killed, shall hereafter be unlawful.
No doubt Louisa's sister the young Phebe would have been pleased with such a law—she who, one September day, had been heartbroken at the loss of a favourite chick. And it should have pleased the older sister who recorded that event, the young diarist for whom the beauties of Nature could be almost as intoxicating as the hours she was able to spend with a close friend.