Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Story of Collinsgreen

(part three of three)

Of all the Collins family branches in the New World, none exceeds those of upstate New York in terms of obscurity.  Like the family of Cabot Cove, they were conflated by chroniclers with members of the family in Massachusetts.  More, their history was depicted as taking place in Maine.

But the Gold Key Comics, Marilyn Ross novels, the two motion pictures from the 1970s as well as the unfinished pilot for the WB in 2004 all give clues as to this branch of a most cursed family.

We know the estate of Collinwood stands in Collinsport, Massachusetts.  Collins House can still be seen in Cabot Cove, Maine.  The town where the Collins family of upstate New York made their home has yet to be identified, although it certain lies near a large lake.  The estate, however, we know was named Collinsgreen (Gold Key #14).

This branch seems to have been founded approximately the same time as that of Collinsport, almost certainly by one Eban Collins who was born in 1642 (Gold Key Comic Strip Storyline #1) and sentenced the witch Mathilda Primrose Bell to death as a witch in 1671.  Interestingly she made sure her son Lucas embarked on a campaign to wipe out the entire Collins family.  The lad, becoming a warlock, eventually did kill many Collines over the years--using as his source of power a cane with an animal head!  Given the garbled nature of this story, we cannot be sure of its full significance.  But such a staff or staffs seem to be entwined with this clan for centuries (as discussed in part two).

At any rate, the true patriarch of the New York Collins family was Thomas Collins I who lived from 1748-1801 (Gold Key #3) and who had quite a few sons, none of whom ended up happy.  Jebediah cheated some of the local tribes--a crime for which Thomas locked the lad into a shed until he died!  His sons Seth and Jeremiah I (not be confused with Jeremiah II, brother to Joshua of Collinsport) became merchants with very shady reputations, locating their own families to the town of Cabot Cove.  The fraternal twins Jacob and Esau later died the same night in a fire at Collinsgreen, an event that also cost Jacob his wife but not (fortunately) his son Thomas II.

Thomas had a brother, Benjamin, who died relatively young and left his three sons to be raised by Thomas I--George, Theodore I and Alexander.

The New York Branch

Theodore Collins I preferred to live in Manhattan, where he came into possession of the fabled Collins Pearl ("The Blood Pearl" Big Finish) as well as  having two children--Millicent and Daniel.  After Theodore's sudden death, these two went to live in Collinsport.  Millicent suffered a series of tragedies and went mad, but her much-younger brother ended up adopted by Joshua Collins, inheriting Collinwood.  The entire Massachusetts branch are therefore his descendants ("Dark Shadows" daytime series, 1795 storyline).

George Collins on the other hand married a woman named Martha and ultimately became master of Collinsgreen (the fate of Thomas II remains a mystery at this time).  They had two sons at least.:  Charles Collins I and Gabriel Collins I.

Charles married twice, both times unhappily.  His first bride Laura (almost certainly a phoenix) he seems to have murdered by drowning in the wake of his affair with Gabriel's wife, Antoinette ("Night of Dark Shadows" motion picture).  Antoinette was evidently a witch of considerable power, which ultimately led to a small lynch mob helped by Gabriel to hang her in the Collinsgreen grounds.  Charles was enraged, but eventually married again to a woman named Flora ("Dark Shadows" daytime series, 1840s storyline) and by her had two children--Desmond and Peter Collins.  Peter went to live in Cabot Cove, where he built a mansion called Stormcliff.  When his wife died he sold everything and vanished.  His uncle Gabriel went to live in Stormcliff until his own death.

Thomas II had two children, a son named Asa and a daughter named Polly.  Asa's son Giles proved to be a very dangerous man, in effect a mad scientist who encountered a time-traveling Constance Collins of Maine (The Phantom and Barnabas Collins).

Desmond on the other hand eventually married a young woman named Letitia Faye ("Dark Shadows" daytime series 1840s storyline) and they had three sons:  Michael, Stephan and Charles II.

Michael was master of Collinsgreen, married to a woman named Sally and close to his niece Paula.  Stephan, Paula's father was something of a ne'r do well, becoming seriously estranged from the family.  Paula married an equally dangerous man, a werewolf named Christopher, but in the end was saved by Jonathan Collins (The Foe of Barnabas Collins).

Paula's brother Paul on the other hand went into the U.S. Navy, died in China while captain of the USS San Paulo ("The Sand Pebbles" motion picture).  He did however have two children--Justin and Ann.

Charles II married a woman named Rebecca and they had a daughter named Emily and a son named Frank as well as an adopted daughter named Ada (Barnabas, Quentin and Dr. Jeckyl's Son) all of whom encountered the vampire Jonathan Collins.  It is from Frank that the so-called Manhattan branch of the family came.

However, Paul's daughter Ann ran away and became a Broadway showgirl ("Gold Diggers of Broadway" motion picture).  Her brother Justin on the other hand became master of Collinsgreen and had a son named Louis and a daughter named Geraldine.  Louis married Michelle Collins of Cabot Cove, but the marriage did not last.  They separated, with their daughter Constance coming to live with her mother and their son Martin staying at Collinsgreen.  Geraldine married a man named Walter Curtis and had a daughter, Nancy.

Frank Collins had a son, an Egyptologist named Anthony (Barnabas Quentin and the Mummy's Curse) who visited Collins House in Maine about the time he discovered the tomb of Pharoah Rehotep.  Anthony in turn had two sons--Ernest, a musician whose wife Elaine died and then who himself died before he could marry Constance Collins, and Quentin Collins IV who married a young woman named Tracy.

This Quentin seems to have been a reincarnation of Charles I, and when he inherited Collinsgreen the spirit of his ancestor took control with the help of the ghost of Antoinette.  Tracy in this process died, tragically.

Alexander the Vampire

Now we come to the most important member of this branch, at least as far as this blog is concerned.  Alexander Collins was the son of Benjamin, nephew of Thomas I.  His story has ended up garbled but barely discernable.  He was (as far as we know) the first Collins in the New World to become a vampire.  Available evidence suggests this was the result of a curse put upon him, possibly by witches but maybe as revenge by someone enraged at the Collins family.  We're not sure.  However, what happened next seems relatively clear.  His uncle, who raised him, did not choose to destroy Alexander.  Instead, he had the young man sealed in a coffin and wrapped with chains.  Then buried that coffin deep in the earth.  Most likely Thomas I told this tale to Joshua Collins, who sought to emulate his older cousin in regards to Barnabas.

Sometime around 1970, construction workers found this coffin and broke the chains, paying for that piece of bad luck with their lives ("Dark Shadows" 2012 motion picture).  They were not the first.  Alexander soon presented himself as a long-lost cousin--hardly unusual in the Collins family history--but became increasingly unstable emotionally.  Quite simply, he had been driven insane by what happened to him, not least by the fact he had been engaged to marry when turned into one of the undead.  He victimized young Nancy Collins, ultimately transforming her into a vampire ("House of Dark Shadows" motion picture).  This might have gotten even worse save for the fact that two members of the Van Helsing family were nearby--Conrad and his son Adam (Vampirella).  In the 1970 motion picture, Conrad became Professor Stokes, just as Adam became Jeff Clark.  The film twisted many events but the essence was that Alexander was shot with a crossbow bolt in an abandoned monastery on nearby St. Eustace Island.  Exactly who "Maggie Evans" in this film was in real life remains unknown.  One possibility is that this was Michelle Collins, Louis' estranged wife.

Meanwhile, Louis Collins also died, victim of the vampire Alexander.  His son Martin, already a little unstable, went to Collins House in Maine to live with his mother Michelle--who in turn may have had an affair with Adam Van Helsing (if she is the person conflated into Maggie Evans for that film, this could be viewed as further evidence of same).  Certainly as he grew up, Martin tended to called Adam "Uncle."  When Geraldine Collins Curtis died, within the year, Quentin IV inherited the estate ushering in a time of horror ("Night of Dark Shadow" motion picture).  Many years later, Martin  and his Uncle came together again when the former's wife was bitten by a vampire, i.e. Irina Karnstein ("Nadja" motion picture) in New York City.  After dispatching her (or so they thought) the three of them joined forces with Martin's sister Constance (who by then manifested her latent lycanthropy, most likely inherited from her mother) to go and rid Collinsgreen of the evil spirit of Antoinette.  They succeeded, but at some horrible cost to Martin's wife.  They had a son, whom Martin strangely enough named Alexander (evidence he'd blocked out much of what happened in his childhood), just as Constance had a daughter, Jessica.  The latter's father remains unknown at this time.

Here the story takes a new turn.  Fortune hunters (or perhaps just vagrants) at St. Eustace Island accidentally revived the vampire Alexander Collins ("Dark Shadows" WB pilot).  Professor Norse of MONSTAAH theorizes (persuasively in my opinion) that the non-physical remnant of a vampire put nto torpor but not destroyed seeks to attract humans to it and make them spill blood.  This happened circa 2004, and Alexander found the passing of over three decades enough to try again to re-integrate into the world via his descendants. 

Yet something more interesting happened than one might expect.  First, the new governess to young Alexander Collins II (a traumatized child) seemed to remember this earlier man--indeed she would seem to have been the reincarnation of his long-dead fiancee.  More, this all coincided with the return of the ghost-witch Antoinette, freed by young Alexander.  She and the elder Alexander soon became (im)mortal enemies.  One reason for this was Alexander's feeling more human.  Perhaps it was seeing a child with his name.  Maybe finding his one true love again after all those years of despair.  Whatever the cause, he became instrumental in destroying this creature's spirit even though the manor of Collinsgreen itself was destroyed in a fire ("Dark Shadow" 2012 motion picture).  And the governess in question, tricked to her death by the vengeful spirit on Antoinette, was saved by becoming undead at Alexander's fangs.

At this point, this is all we know.  Precisely what became of sibling Martin and Constance Collins has yet to be revealed.  Jessica's parentage also remains unclear.

A final note--the vampires Barnabas and Jonathan were both apparently Varneans (indeed independent research indicates the former to be have been indirectly sired by Dracula Prime himself!).  It remains a little unclear what kind of vampire Alexander was and (presumably) still is.  Accounts indicate he was more tolerant of sunlight than one might expect and there is no evidence he ever transformed into a bat or other animal.  Given his great hunger--his victims lost an enormous amount of blood with each feeding--this might well indicate he was Dacian.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Maine Branch

(part two of three)

As stated in Part One, I believe evidence abounds which points to three branches of the Collins family in New England.  Initially, the creators of the television series Dark Shadows attempted to fuse details from all three into one narrative but this failed.  Ultimately, they focused almost exclusively upon the Massachusetts branch whose magnificent mansions of the Old House and Collinwood were built on or near Plum Island.

The Gold Key Comics as well as the Marilyn Ross novels however took a much more haphazard approach, pulling what stories they wished from all three.  This section deals primarily with the one in what is today the state of Maine.  As inadvertently revealed in the novels, the name of the estate here was simply Collins House rather than Collinwood.  Evidence suggests the mansion, while impressive and clearly a sign of wealth, didn't really approach in size the Massachusetts or New York homes.

The full history of the Collins family in England remains as yet untold.  However, we can state with some certainty their relations included the Bennets of (appropriately enough) Netherfield Park.  More disturbingly, it would appear the name "Collins" came to be seen as accursed as far back as the Middle Ages.  At least sometime in the 1300s a man named Mordecei Collins (Gold Key #11) decided to make it his quest to wipe out the evil of his house, even to the point of arranging his ashes to be mixed with clay after death by an alchemist.  This clay then became the material from which a Golem was made, to become active once each century and attack the evil of the Collins family.

His efforts over the ensuing centuries remain mixed, or so it might seem given what happened to others of the Collins name.  On the other hand, perhaps that indicates how terrible the horrors he did prevent!  That all we know of consists of the lesser evils of the clan!

Circumstantial evidence does suggest at least one source of the so-called Collins Curse.  As those who've studied the infamous history of the mighty vampire Dracula Prime know, a powerful demon or magic user pretending to be a demon (even Satan) gave to the then-newly undead Impaler several mystical items.  One of these was a cane with a silver wolf's head.  One unanswered question in all this would be--who made that cane?  Given that at least one other such cane seems to have followed the Collins family through its history I would posit a medieval Collins was the craftsman.  He may well have created a prototype and kept it, with ignorant descendants taking it as a mere heirloom.  More, evidence exists of exactly such a cane in the hand of an-as-yet unidentified female vampire in the late 17th or early 18th century.

The New World

In many ways the Maine Collins branch is an offshoot of the New York.  Like many families then (and now) certain names popped up again and again.  Some confusion may have arisen among chroniclers because of this.

Cabot Cove is a town in Maine, founded unofficially sometime around the American Revolutionary War but became incorporated somewhat later due to the auspices of brothers Seth Collins and Jeremiah Collins I (Jeremiah II was brother to Joshua of the Massachusetts branch).  Both men had made their fortunes in trade but not always in ways their father Thomas I approved.  Indeed Henry Collins (Strangers at Collins House #3) speculated that Jeremiah's treatment of African Slaves had something to do with subsequent events.

But Collins House itself was built by Jeremiah, who married twice.  However only his first marriage produced children.  We know little or nothing about his first wife but his second, a much younger woman named Rosette de Freniere, had an affair or simply fell in love with Seth's son Jonathan.  This Jonathan Collins would prove one of the most important figures in the family.  He had a brother, James, who married a woman named Maria.  Collins House itself went to Jeremiah's sons--William and Tobias.  There was also a daughter named Erica.  Jonathan himself proved a brooding but brilliant figure, but who fell afoul of a mad scientist and a vampire circa 1830 (Barnabas, Quentin and The Grave Robbers).  Only 25 years old at the time, Jonathan had fallen for a young lady named Paula Sullivan.  In 1849 Jonathan Collins "died."  In fact, he rose from the dead as a vampire.  The exact circumstances remain a little unclear, but at least he was spared his cousins' fates of becoming sealed for centuries in hunger and darkness.  (Note:  Keep in mind that many of Jonathan's exploits were conflated with those of Barnabas Collins of Massachusetts.)

William, son of Jeremiah, suffered a terrible fate.  Disapproving furiously of the friendship between Jonathan and his son Jonas Quentin--no doubt due to the former's relationship with Rosette--he sent Jonas Quentin on a trading mission abroad in the 1830s.  When Jonas Quentin returned, he brought with him one Count Villalobos--a werewolf who'd made the young man one as well.  Upon learning this, William sought to kill the Count and succeeded but ended up bitten.  Blaming Jonathan and the entire Collins family he killed 15-year-old Daphne, his own niece.  Eventually Jonathan was able to trap William on an island.  [Gold Key #5] But Jonas Quentin eventually went insane at least partially out of guilt but also because, like Lawrence Talbot, his curse rendered him immortal (Barnabas, Quentin and the Witch's Curse).

Tobias had four known sons:
  1. Gerald who had two children, Derek and Irma.(Barnabas, Quentin and the Serpent as well as  The Curse of Collinwood).
  2. Enoch, who married Sophronia and had a ward named Sabina (Barnabas, Quentin and the Unknown Assassin).
  3. Daphne, murdered by William.
  4. Nathaniel, a ship captain.  His ship was the Arrow and he was murdered by the warlock Lucas Prinrose Bell in Egypt.  (Gold Key #6)  His daughter died at sea while young.
  5. Theodore (Barnabas Collins and the Gypsy Witch)
Theodore in turn had three sons:
  1. Quentin David, a melancholy young man who somehow became a werewolf.  Please note--the novels often conflate different Quentins in the Collins family as the same person whereas it was a very common name in this clan.
  2. Conrad, who had a club foot and more importantly would seem to be what we in modern times would call a psychopath.  (Barnabas Collins and Quentin's Demon)
  3. Jonas, who married Margaret (Barnabas Collins).  It was Margaret who circa 1900 realized that "cousin Jonathan" was in fact his namesake and a vampire.
Jonas and Margaret had four children:
  1. Michael James.
  2. Henry, who had quite an exciting but strange life.
  3.  Greta, who was crippled but evidently bore a startling resemblance to the long-dead Rosette.
  4. Judith, an adopted daughter.
 As yet we do not know who was Michael James' wife but he had three known children:

  1. Mark, a rather disreputable archeologist with a daughter named Linda.  (The Mystery of Collinwood)
  2. Michelle.  In the Ross novels she is most often conflated with Liz Stoddard.  In fact she was much younger and rather more of a rebel.  She spent some time in New York City, during which she became a werewolf (Wolf).  However, she generally was able to control this aspect of herself.  She married a cousin eventually--Louis Collins of New York.  It did not last.  Upon their separation, their elder daughter Constance went with her mother to live in Collins House.  Their younger son, Martin, went with his father.  Michelle at one point also seems to have had an affair with Adam Van Helsing (of Vampirella fame) leading young Martin to call him "Uncle."
  3. Edmund (conflated with Roger Collins in the novels), who was in some ways the very oddest member of the family but in a totally normal (as in non-para) and natural (as in non-super) way.  The man traveled extensively as part of his business, during which he married rather a lot of women.  He never divorced even one.  Not until his death did any of this come out.  His known children include:

The legal wrangles about all of Edmund's many children were almost certainly the major reason the Collins family was no longer living in Cabot Cove by the 1990s.

Please note that in nearly all the Ross novels the characters of Victoria Winters, Maggie Evans and Carolyn Stoddard are in fact conflated with Constance Collins, daughter of Michelle.  It seems very likely that she inherited the strain of lycanthropy from her mother.  Her story and that of Martin pertain somewhat more to the New York branch.

Please note that much of the personality of Michelle (Liz), Edmond (Roger) and Constance (Carolyn) would appear to inform the chronicler of the 2012 motion picture Dark Shadows.



Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shadows Dark, Darker, Darkest

(part one of three)

The Collins family, with their infamously paranormal history, presents quite the challenge to any historian.  Consider the following--what sources exist to give details regarding not only the vampires associated with this clan but also the ghosts, werewolves, witches and the like?
  • The original television series
  • The Gold Key comics
  • The Marilyn Ross novels released approximately the same time
  • The two feature motion pictures released in 1970 and 1971
  • The revival television nighttime drama in 1991
  • The Innovation Comics based upon the 1991 revival
  • The 2004 unfinished pilot for the WB (available only at certain Dark Shadows Festivals)
  • The various Big Finish Audio Dramas
  • The Dynamite Comics picking up where the story left off in 1971
  • The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp motion picture of 2012
What makes the above so very confusing is the blatant self-contradictions  in each and every version.  For example, when we first encounter the governess Victoria Winters as she arrived at the great house of Collinwood, the house itself is identified again and again as being somewhere around 150 years old.  Yet the flashback story revealed it to have been built more than twenty years earlier!  More, its builder was said to be Jeremiah Collins when it turned out to be his older brother Joshua.  And so on.

Trying to make the rest of the history fit into one coherent narrative makes for a knot of gordian purportions.  At least until one premise rears its head that makes all things much clearer...

There are not one, but three branches of the Collins family in New England.  Accept that, and it all begins to make a lot more sense.  Dan Curtis, Sam Hall and others who created the original daytime soap opera had access to quite a bit of material about this family.  At first, they picked out what they thought might make the best overall story.  Over time, this grew far too complicated and they settled more-or-less upon one.  Something very similar happened with other chroniclers, and continues to this day.

Here are the three branches...

The Collins of Collinsport, Massachusetts
When we see the original television show, the new Dynamite comics, or listen to the Big Finish audio dramas we learn of this branch.  Although initially identified as taking place in Maine, this family's history makes little or no sense if that were true.  During the 1790s Maine was a remote wilderness.  It beggars the imagination to believe anyone would build such a grand mansion as the Collinwood we see in such a remote spot.  It would be as if someone built a Disneyland in the middle of Siberia!  More, the history doesn't match.  There were no witch trials in Maine!  Nor was there any kind of easy transportation between Maine and Salem, such as would be needed for what we know of the history of the Collins family in the late 1600s.

So the Collinsport referred to herein almost can be found somewhere along Plum Island on the Massachusetts coast, effectively just off center from the very heart of the old Massachusetts Bay Colony.  This accounts quite neatly for Amadeus Collins in particular being a prominent judge who oversaw the trial of notorious Satanist Judah Zachary!

An excellent article exploring the surprising connections between the Collins family of Massachusetts and other supernatural aspects of the Wold Newton Universe can be found in The Great Old Ones And The Collins Family by Frank Schildiner.  The only point major addition I would make to his accounting would be the possible identification of "Barretstown" in one of the Innovation Dark Shadows comics with Innsmouth of terrible memory.  Note that this presumes the 1991 Revival and the comic books derived from it are a hodge-podge of details from the Massachusetts branch.

The Collins of Cabot Cove, Maine
Physically the most isolated of the all Collins family branches in New England, tales of this group of relatives make up the bulk of tales from the Ross novels and some of the Gold Key Comics.

We need to understand how chroniclers (rather like those of Dracula's soul-clones) changed names to somehow match the family introduced in the original television series.  Thus although each branch of the family included in its members a male vampire who used the (not unusual) expedient of pretending to be his own descendant, in fact these three undead were different people with different personalities and histories.  In Maine, this vampire was named Jonathan Collins and he became a vampire in the 1840s.  Of the three he would seem to have been the most scientifically bent, the most overtly womanizing in habit, and the most ruthless in his habit.  For all that, he wasn't truly evil, and more than once managed via medical means to (at least temporarily) alleviate his vampiric state.  By 1993 it seems this family no longer resided in the town, their mansion (the smallest of the three great estates) Collins House put up for sale when under an alias Jonathan purchased it.  Ironically enough, at this point when he'd diluted nearly all undead taints from his body, he was murdered--by having a stake driven through his heart (as seen in "The Legacy of Borbey House" on Murder She Wrote).

The Collins of Collinsgreen, New York
Although some details of this branch emerge in the Ross novels and Gold Key comics, the major source for details--garbled as they are--are all three motion pictures as well as the unfinished pilot for the WB network.

Central to our subject is Alexander Collins, the first known Collins vampire in the New World.  Much scholarship involving this man remains difficult because of efforts to conflate him with his cousin Barnabas Collins of Massachusetts.  But we do know he was changed into a vampire not as a result of thwarted love but as part of a curse placed upon the Collins family itself, almost certainly by some kind of Satanic coven.  Rather than destroy him, his immediate family chained up his coffin and buried it deep underground, no doubt hoping this would seal him away forever.  Alas, this was not to be.  When accidentally discovered and released in 1970 by a road crew, the now-insane young man whose bloodlust had grown quite out of control, slew several family members before being tracked down and staked in an abandoned monastery on a lake.  So he remained, immobile, for thirty years.  Then, would-be fortune hunters came across his skeleton and removed the stake.  More, one of them cut her hand and that blood revived the vampire.

He came to Collinsgreen in 2004 to find the little boy whose sister he'd turned into a vampire was now grown up, a wealthy and powerful figure with his own dark secrets--not least still struggling with a powerful witch whose spirit longed to take over the estate from the Collins family into which she'd married.

To be continued...