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.



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