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In the Scriptorium | Max Barascudts, by 1927

In the Scriptorium | Max Barascudts, by 1927

Unfortunately Condon’s term as the Superintendent of Lighthouses was short lived. When Howe and the Liberals regained power in 1861, Condon was once again fired from his job. This second firing had much more severe consequences for the Condon family.

Egg Island Lighthouse, circa 1935

Egg Island Lighthouse, circa 1935

It was not until 1865 that William obtained a stable position again, when he accepted a job as the first lighthouse keeper for a new station on Egg Island, a bare rock on the Eastern Shore off Clam Bay, eleven miles from Ship Harbour. It is hard to imagine the type of life the Condon family lived whilst William tended the lighthouse. In essence, this employment was a form of “exile” from society, as communication with the mainland could only be had during bouts of good weather. Storms frequently damaged the lighthouse and surrounding buildings, and repairs could take months or even years.

In 1870, a heavy gale swept right across the island, uprooting the house and depositing it 150 feet from the foundation. The Condons were able to escape into the light tower just in time. All the other buildings were completely destroyed, and the boat slip which William had constructed sometime before was washed away. Although the damage on the island was known, the Dominion Government’s Sessional Papers indicate that work was still being done to repair the lighthouse and buildings as late as 1874.

 

Indeed, it was in that year that wear and tear on Condon’s health finally forced him to retire, after just nine years of service. William’s son, William Jr., took over the job. It is unknown whether William Sr. and the rest of the family continued to live on the island after his retirement, but it is likely that they did. Only 19 years old when he took over the position from his father, William Jr. no doubt required help.

Egg Island, Nova Scotia, Satellite Image

Egg Island, Nova Scotia, Satellite Image

In 1880 or 1881, William Sr. and his wife moved off the island to a home at 86 Pleasant St., in Halifax. Their youngest son, John, also lived with them at this address, working as a travelling agent. In 1884, John Condon left Halifax for Massachusetts, where he enlisted as a private in the Hospital Corps of the U.S. Army. Honorably discharged in 1889, he re-enlisted as a Sergeant in the Battery H, First Artillery in California. Discharged again 5 years later, he re-enlisted for a final term before retiring in 1900. In 1908, he married Amanda Thompson, a widow with a young child from Fort Davis, Texas. They moved to New Mexico where John died on June 12th, 1935. His wife died two years later. They had no children together.

William Condon Sr., Obituary, 1899

William Condon Sr., Obituary, 1899

William Jr. continued in his capacity as lighthouse keeper for another 25 years. In 1899, he requested a leave of absence for three months. Like his father before him, life on Egg Island had worn down his health. The superintendent at the time recommended that William Jr. be released, as long as he “provided a suitable replacement at his own expense to attend to the light during his absence”. Unfortunately, William Jr. never recovered, passing away in June of 1899, months after his father’s death. Only 44 when he died, William Jr. left behind two sisters, Margaret and Mary. Little is known about the fate of the two sisters, but it does not appear that either married.

In 1896, William Sr.’s wife Elizabeth died. At the time of her death she and her husband were living at 17 Smith St. After the death of his wife, William Condon remained in Halifax, living in quiet retirement. At some point during his later years, he had gone completely blind. He died in 1899 and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery. At the time of his death, few people would have remembered his colorful past, but newspapers gave him due recognition for his political affairs in their obituaries.