Collins in the Revolution
Guns and "Towmawhacks"
Guilford Court House
Locating Collins' position at Guilford Today
James Collins After the War
James Collins: The Marital History Problem
The Peter Collins Problem
Census Evidence of an Earlier Wife
The 16 Children of James and Temperance (Vinson) Collins
This James Collins is the family patriarch, father of 17 children (16
by one mother) who settled throughout much of the inland South and Midwest.
I am calling him James "II" as shorthand for distinguishing him from his
father, James "I", though as noted in his father's profile, there are many
reasons to object to this usage. By the 1820s the number of James Collinses
in the Franklin County, North Carolina area had proliferated.(1)
Though it has taken me nearly 100 pages to get to him in this version
of the history, until the early 1980s neither I nor, so far as I know,
the other family historians working on other lines were aware of his father's
will: I know that in the 1960s Franklin County, North Carolina officials
assured me there was no such record of his parentage, and in those days
microfilm of the records was not readily available. Donald C. Jeter of
Tennessee, who has worked the same ground largely independently of me (we
have never actually succeeded in making direct contact) also did not refer
to James' father James until the 80's. In part I think this was because
until the publication of the abstracts of wills of that period, county
officials were not prepared to do serious research by mail. So for a very
long time, he stood as our earliest known ancestor.
But he is a patriarch for another reason. James Collins of the Revolution
-- call him James Junior or James II or James (1758-1838) or what you will
-- fathered 16 children by Temperance (Tempey) Vinson and one child, Peter
Collins, by a presumed earlier wife (see below), and of those 17 children
(16 by one mother), most had children, and many had many. Given the progeny
of one line -- through his son Henry, which I know to the first couple
of generations in broad outline, and through Henry's son John, which I
know a couple of generations further along -- it is clear enough that his
children and theirs and theirs beyond them were multiple and mostly tended
to survive. He must have tens of thousands of descendants by now, though
most do not know it and most are not named Collins; it would not be outrageous
to guess that as many as 100,000 Americans alive today might descend from
this one Revolutionary War soldier, who is eight or nine generations back
for the youngest today. Judge George Taylor of Beaumont, Texas, who descended
from Peter Collins, traced a large descent from Peter alone. Donald Jeter
of Tennessee published many of the Tennessee lines in the Marshall County
Historical Quarterly, often without fully explaining his sources. The
late Ethel McLean of Nixa, Missouri traced many of the descents from John
Collins and his sisters -- all grandchildren of this James -- who migrated
to Missouri, and this work has been carried on by the late Muriel Collins
Hanks and her descendants. But others of early generations went to Georgia
and Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi and Texas, and like many families
of Scotch-Irish descent (or in the Collins case, at least self-identified
if not true Scotch-Irish descent), they peopled the upland South. Collins
was a common name in the old south, and most Collinses are not related
to us. But lots of them are, and so are many people of hundreds of other
James Collins was most likely his father's eldest son, since he is named
first in his father's will. We have already encountered him numerous times
in his father's biography. He not only inherited land from his father and
bought more of his own, but he added to his land that of his wife Tempey's
father, and -- as will be detailed in the Vinson history -- bought that
inherited by each of Tempey's sisters as their husbands moved with them
away from North Carolina. Though he could not read and write -- he always
signed with a mark -- he owned a substantial bit of land and was the only
Collins ancestor who seems to have owned a fair number of slaves -- and
by a quirk of history we even know a little bit about them.
Collins served (like most of his neighbors) in the American Revolution,
fought at Guilford Court House and Hobkirk's Hill and left behind all those
children, and they had a penchant for surviving all the things that could
kill in those days. Those who have never tried to trace someone of his
era who could not read and write would assume we can learn little of such
a man, who seemingly never wrote a word in his own hand. But they are wrong.
For despite his illiteracy, James Collins left a fairly substantial
"paper trail" behind him, and we can document his life in considerable
detail, though most of what we know tends to cluster early in his life
(the Revolution) or late (his estate at the time of his death).
James Collins lived long enough to be eligible for a pension for his
Revolutionary service, and his widow Temperance Vinson Collins lived enough
longer for pensions to be voted for widows as well. Though both were apparently
illiterate-- each signed with their mark -- the testimony they provided
in support of the pension application is the most valuable source of material
for James Collins' life and family,(2) though
his estate papers are a close second. In fact, they sent more in than they
had to for the pension, and their children could write.
James Collins was born in Isle of Wight County, Virginia on October
18, 1758, as he himself said in his declaration for his pension.(3)
We know, of course, that this must have been the Kingsale Swamp area where
his father and grandfather were living at the time. His father was James
Collins already profiled; his mother may well have been Esther, the widow
who survived James Collins the elder, but this is not 100% certain since
often men had more than one wife in a lifetime and we have no direct statement
that his father's widow was his mother (though she was married to James
"I" by 1778 at least). Of his childhood we know nothing. He probably had
little education to speak of, since he was illiterate all his life, or
at any rate signed with a mark in his old age, and I have found no certain
indication he ever signed otherwise. (I make the distinction because I
know of two or three ancestors who could write in their younger years but
signed with an X -- arthritis perhaps? -- in their dotage, and there is
some reason to think his father could, at one time at least, sign his name.
See above on Page 97.)
At some date early in life, but before the Revolution, he moved, with
his parents, to Bute County, North Carolina. The dating of the move is
discussed in more detail in his father's profile: his father sold land
as late as 1778 and the Collinses may have gone back to Virgnia briefly
in 1782-83, but certainly they had some presence in Bute prior to 1776.
(Bute was formed from Granville County in 1764. It became Franklin County
only in 1779, and we know he was there before that.) Bute, named for a
British lord, was abolished in 1778/9, becoming basically Warren and Franklin
counties and part of what still later became Vance. His account of this
in his pension file is simple enough and worth quoting verbatim:
[He declares] . . . That he was born in the county of Isle of Wight
in the State of Virginia on the 18th day of October in the year 1758 according
to a record of his age which he now has in his pofsefsion. That at the
time he entered into the service of the United States he was living in
that section of what was then the County of Bute which now forms the County
of Franklin, and State of North Carolina . . .
As discussed in his father's profile, there is no deed on record for
a James Collins prior to 1780, but there is no reason to doubt that the
family had settled in Bute some years before the Revolution, and the 1780
deed refers to James the elder as already being "of Franklin County". The
Collinses settled, and long lived, in the northeastern part of what is
today Franklin County, in what I have called the Sandy Creek community.
The land, and the families who made up the extended clan with which the
Collinses would interact and intermarry, are discussed in detail in his
father's profile, the family discussion beginning above on Page 83.
James Collins in
If James Collins was an illiterate farmer, how can we write such a long
biography of the man? Thanks in part to the Federal Government. The census
every ten years gives us some help, but the short service of James Collins
in the Revolution gave us the equivalent of a written autobiography by
a man who could not write. State tax records, county legal documents (deeds,
wills, and a huge file for his estate settlement) all help to put together
a fairly clear picture of the man. But no part of his long life is clearer
to us than the short time he spent in the American Revolution.
Not until 1832 did every veteran of the Revolution -- whether or not
wounded, and no matter how long he had served, or whether in the Continental
Line or in the militia -- become eligible for a pension. A little later
widows did too. By 1832 the number of veterans -- 56 years after the Declaration
of Independence, and in an age before antibiotics -- was surely reduced.
But those who did survive applied, and when they died, their widows applied
too, and eventually even widows who had married the veteran after the Revolution
were eligible. By 1868 all veterans of the Revolution were dead but 888
widows still survived, suggesting the old Patriots married younger women
quite a lot after the war.(4) Because after
more than half a century these old men had lost any discharge or enlistment
papers they ever had (many couldn't read them anyway), and the British
burning of Washington during the War of 1812 did a good job on many of
the original enlistment papers, depositions had to be taken to prove they
were eligible for pensions. Many illiterate men sat and told their stories
to clerks and notaries in order to get their pensions. Widows might not
have proof of their marriage, so they had to acquire witnesses, and list
the children of the marriage. (James Collins' widow threw in a list of
slaves for no particular reason, but of great historical interest.) The
pension files in the National Archives -- sometimes four or five legal
sized pages of memoirs, dictated to a clerk by an aging, illiterate soldier
-- are the greatest personal narratives surviving of the common soldier
in the Revolution: and they have never been adequately tapped. When this
writer asked some questions of a Park Ranger at Guilford Court House National
Military Park in North Carolina in 1991, the ranger immediately asked for
a copy of James Collins' pension files: the historians of the battles of
the Revolution recognize how much they can learn from the aging memories
of otherwise unknown militia privates. (A copy of the record was naturally
On September 12, 1832, just over three months after Congress passed
the new pension law, James Collins made a declaration before the Court
of Pleas and Quarter Sessions -- as the County Court of a North Carolina
county was then called -- in Franklin County, North Carolina, and told
at length his story of his service in the American Revolution. He signed
it with a mark. It gives us the best insight we have into the man and his
After the declaration mentioned above and an early statement of his
postwar migrations, Collins relates:
That he entered the service of the United States as a drafted Militia
man a private, under the command of Colonel Gee, Captain James Denton,
Lieutenant John Macon (a brother of the Hon. Nathaniel Macon formerly Senator
in Congrefs) and Ensign William Harrison, on the 14th day of May 1776 and
marched immediately from the said County of Bute where he was drafted through
Tarborough on to Wilmington where or near which place he remained during
the space of three months, the time for which he was drafted to serve.
He was at Wilmington when the news of the Declaration of Independence was
received there and recollects the rejoicings which that event occasioned
-- He believes but is not certain, that the regiment to which he was attached
was the Third -- in addition to the officers before mentioned he recollects
Colo or Major Hogan and Captain Benjamin Sewall who commanded another company
from the same County of Bute -- he was engaged in no battle during this
time of service. he was discharged by Captain James Denton, but dos not
recollect whether the discharge was in writing and if it was, he does not
know what has become of it. He has no documentary evidence by which to
prove the above-mentioned facts but he believes they will be, in all material
respects substantiated by the testimony of William Leonard whose affidavit
is hereunto subjoined.
Some comments on this first tour as described by our ancestor: May 14,
1776, a few weeks before the Declaration of Independence, was a bit over
a year after the Revolution broke out. "Tarborough" is today's Tarboro.
The friend, William Leonard, who signed a statement concerning his service
in the absence of a discharge, is one of the neighboring Leonards and may
even be the father of the Will Leonard who married James' daugher Salley.
The comrade-in-arms (presumably) outlived James II and still appears, aged
90, in the 1850 Franklin County census. (On the Leonard connection, see
above, Page 86.) Leonard said that he served "in the same company with
the said Collins inn his first tour, and in a company which marched with
the company to which said Collins was attached in his last tour".(5)
The Leonard family were not only neighbors in North Carolina: they also
settled in Marshall County, Tennessee alongside the Collinses.
Guns and "Towmawhacks"
Now let us look at this first tour of duty in a bit more detail. He
served under "Colonel Gee, Captain James Denton, Lieutenant John Macon
(a brother of the Hon. Nathaniel Macon formerly Senator in Congrefs) and
Ensign William Harrison". This allows us some very precise knowledge of
his unit. On May 11, 1776, the colonial assembly authorized drafting of
militia for three months in the Halifax, Edenton, Newbern and Wilmington
areas -- Bute County probably was part of the Halifax district -- and "Resolved
that Peter Dauge be appointed Colonel, Drury Gee, Lieutenant Colonel, James
Hogan 1st Major and George Wynn 2d Major to command that part of the militia
to be drafted from the district of Edenton and Halifax ..."(6)
Collins does not seem to have remembered Dauge's name, but he remembered
those of Gee and Hogan. And at the company level, his memory clearly identifies
his company as Company Number 5 of the Halifax Brigade of the North Carolina
Militia. Its officers as listed on June 11, 1776 (less than a month after
Collins' enlistment were "James Denton, Captain; John Meacon, Lieutenant;
William Harrison, Ensign".(7) Except for
"Macon" being splled "Meacon", this is clearly the unit in which Collins
served, with him remembering all the names exactly more than half a century
later. The James Hogan mentioned, by the way, is apparently the same man
(sometimes spelled Hogun) who later became a General in the Continental
We can shed a little more light on this unit, which was one of two Bute
County companies in the "Halifax Brigade" On July 31, 1776, it is listed
as part of Col. Peter Dauge's Regiment of Militia, and, as noted above,
Dauge was the superior of Gee and the other officers remembered by Collins.
Collins' memory of hearing about the Declaration of Independence while
in the Wilmington area fits the fact that on July 31, the entire Regiment
was in "Camp at Wilmington".(9)
The officers were apparently all from Bute County (that is, what became
Franklin and Warren Counties, North Carolina). James Denton appears from
time to time in Franklin County records later.(10)
The other company commander from Bute County, mentioned explicitly by Collins
in his statement, Benjamin Seawell (Sewall in Collins' spelling), was a
prominent figure also from Franklin County.(11)
The return for Col. Dauge's Regiment includes some interesting data
on Captain James Denton's Company, in which Collins was serving: at that
date (July 31, 1776) the company consisted of 59 men: its captain (Denton),
two corporals, one drummer, one fifer, 38 soldiers present fit for duty,
nine soldiers "Sick and Wounded". The weaponry included 55 guns (presumably
meaning muskets here), or four fewer than there were men, 13 "Towmawhacks"
(tomahawks), and six axes. The company had one wagon and four horses. Some
other companies listed their rounds of powder and lead, but Denton's company
This discharge must have been in August. "Sometime after" this, he volunteered
for three months at Louisburg, the county seat of Franklin County. This
presumes, as Collins himself noted, a date after the creation of Franklin
County in the spring of 1779. Interestingly the pension bureau and my own
earlier writings on James Collins misinterpreted what he said. Collins
said that he knew it "must have been after" the creation of Franklin in
the spring of 1779; but he has just said that "the applicant does not recollect
distinctly the month in which he volunteered for this term of service,
but he remembers several circumstances which show that it was the Fall
of the year". Clearly, he is saying he volunteered in the fall of 1779,
dating the season from memory and the year from the formation of Franklin
County that spring. But an abstract of the pension application defines
the enlistment date as "Spring 1779" and I had earlier written about Collins
as if this were the case. Clearly we should prefer the fall for this tour:
the man himself is our best source by far. He states that it was between
the Spring of 1779 and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March 1781,
it could also conceivably have been in the fall of 1780, but if I have
made the right assumptions (to be noted below) about his overall commander,
it must have been in the fall of 1779.
Presumably Collins' 1776 drafted experience -- when, of course, he never
seems to have encountered any British or fired a musket ball in anger --
made him willing to volunteer for another tour. Or perhaps he was in need
of bounty money, or bored, or looking for excitement.
His account of his next experience, which took place in the fall of
either 1779 or 1780 (for reasons to be noted, almost certainly 1779) is
This applicant further states that sometime after the expiration of
his first tour of service, he volunteered for three months at Louisburg
in Franklin County in a company commanded by Captain Elijah Denby who marched
immediately on to Halifax, where the company was put under the command
of Major John Williams, who carried this company with others, to Tarborough
where he believes (though he is not certain of that fact) that Colo Reed
took command with a Mr Hogg as Major, after remaining at this place a short
time, they were marched on to the Crofs Creek(13)
on the Cape Fear River, thence down the river to a station some distance
above Wilmington where they joined the troops under Colo Rutherford(14)
who took command of the whole regiment which this applicant thinks was
the third --The British had pofsefsion of the opposite side of the river,
and the Americans were employed in watching their movements during the
balance of this applicant's time of service, at the expiration of which
time he believes Captain Denby gave him a written discharge, but this is
now lost. This applicant does not recollect distinctly the month in which
he volunteered for this term of service, but he remembers several circumstances
which show that it was the Fall of the year - He is also uncertain as to
the date, but from the fact that Franklin County was formed at the time
of his entering on this tour, he knows it must have been after the Spring
of 1779 when the act erecting Franklin into a County was pafsed -- He also
recollects that it was before the battle of Guilford Court-House -- He
was in no battle during the tour, though there were several alarms during
the time the troops were stationed on the Cape Fear River. He has no documentary
evidence by which to prove the above state facts, nor does he know of any
living witness by whom he can establish them.
Now let us review this tour in greater detail. He does not date the
tour but implies is a few months after the first one, he had joined a company
commanded by Captain Elijah Denby. The name Elijah Denby appears often
in the Franklin County, North Carolina records. While I have not found
him in the immediate Sandy Creek area where the Collinses lived, there
seem to have been some links between Denby and some families linked to
Sandy Creek: Denby apparently died in 1812, and in his estate sale there
are sales to persons named Stallings, Eley, Murphrey, and Lankford, all
of which are names we have met before.(15)
Denby apparently continued in service after the war, rising at least to
Lieutenant Colonel of Militia.(16) After
the enlistment, they marched to Halifax, to the northeast, which was something
of a rebel capital for this part of North Carolina. There the company came
under the command of Major John Williams, who marched it, with other companies,
on to Tarborough (Tarboro). There, Collins believed but was not sure, a
Colonel Read took command with a "Mr. Hogg as Major".(17)
Later Collins would report serving under a "Colonel Reed" at Guilford Courthouse.
This appears to be a reference to Colonel James Read. This James Read,
reportedly from Wilmington(18) was almost
certainly Collins' superior officer later at Guilford Courthouse and Hobkirk's
Hill, and it is probably the same man referred to here. At least at the
time of Guilford Courthouse he commanded a mix of mounted and unmounted
militia, with Collins apparently in the latter.(19)
Major Hogg is probably Thomas Hogg, who held that rank and later Lieutenant
Colonel; he appears from time to time in North Carolina records.(20)
They remained a short time at Tarborough and then marched to Cross Creek
on the Cape Fear River (the Scots settlement of Cross Creek, today's Fayetteville,
was held by the rebels during the early part of the war after the Battle
of Moore's Creek Bridge, and while the town itself was pro-independence,
the hinterland was heavily Tory). Then they marched down the Cape Fear
River to "a station some distance above Wilmington" -- where the Cape Fear
flows into the sea -- where they joined the troops of "Col. Rutherford"
who had command of the Regiment, which again Collins thought was the Third.(21)
Here he remembered that "the British had pofsefsion of the opposite side
of the river, and the Americans were employed in watching their movements
during the balance of this applicant's term of service . . . He was in
no battle during this tour, though there were several alarms during the
time the troops were stationed on the Cape Fear River".
As noted above, Collins believes this took place in the fall, but is
not totally clear as to whether he means the fall of 1779 or the fall of
1780. But assuming "Colonel Rutherford" is Griffith Rutherford, these events
took place before the Battle of Camden (September 1780) when Rutherford
was taken prisoner, and probably before the Battle of Ramsour's Mill in
June 1780, when Rutherford was based farther west. That, plus the fact
that most of North Carolina north of the Cape Fear seems to have been empty
of British (that is why they went down to the Cape Fear) suggests 1779,
before Cornwallis' invasion of North Carolina.
When Collins' tour was up, he was given a discharge -- a written one
this time for sure-- but he subsequently lost it. Unlike the previous tour,
he could not remember a living witness (in 1832) who could testify to this
Collins' first two tours of duty were mild enough: no battles, and in the first one he doesn't even seem to have seen a Redcoat while in the second they were watching them across the river.
By early 1781 things in the Carolinas were much more lively. The southern
states had become a major theater of war and the Americans had won a victory
at Cowpens. Lord Cornwallis marched with little to stop him through North
Carolina, and whipped Horatio Gates at Camden (where my ancestor James
Kell, on the Dunn side, fought). After Gates' defeat the Quaker general
Nathanael Greene was sent south to fight Cornwallis and hammer him north
into Virginia, where the anvil of Washington's army was waiting. The campaign
which followed was really the strategic beginning of the movement that
would end with Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown and a world turned upside
Guilford Court House
Whether or not James Collins volunteered in February of 1781 because
he understood the importance of the events which were taking place in the
Carolinas, or just to get away for a few winter months, we don't know.
He joined a company under James Richards, marched to Warrenton, then to
Harrisburg (in Granville County), then through Hillsborough (Hillsboro)
to "Guilford old Court House, the Head Quarters of Genl. Greene." Major
William Hill started out with the company but may not have stayed with
James Collins had not been with the company the whole time. He had stayed
behind -- he does not say where-- with a "few others for the purposes of
making cartridges and did not reach the main army with his company. As
soon as he had performed the duty afsigned him, he proceeded on and rejoined
the company while drawn up in line of battle, soon after which the battle
of Guilford Court House commenced and ended in the defeat of the Americans."
Making cartridges was a necessary task but a time-consuming one, though
the militia was not uniformly armed with a standard musket. He arrived
the morning of March 15.
Guilford Court House, fought March 15, 1781, was a critical battle,
and the American defeat has long been blamed on the North Carolina militia--
the very units which included James Collins. His own account of it makes
more sense if one understands a bit about the battle. Probably many descendants
who have read James Collins' account have wondered why he made such a point,
51 years after the battle, of insisting on how many shots he fired. The
reason was pride and a desire to defend his own company against being tarred
with the brush which blackened the militia's memory.
Even the Continental Line, the regular Army of the rebellious colonies,
was a fairly haphazard force compared with the trained British troops they
were fighting. The North Carolina Militia were not even that, but rather
locally raised companies with little or not military training and whatever
arms they could gather, poorly uniformed if not in farm clothing. They
were men like James Collins, mostly illiterate, with no schooling in the
arts of war. James Collins was 22 years old and his previous six months
at war had apparently been spent without firing a ball in anger. At Guilford
they faced some of the best of the British Army. Collins' own unit faced
the 23rd Foot, Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the 33rd Foot (West Riding), the
latter Lord Cornwallis' own former command.
As the battle evolved, the British line moved forward towards a rickety
old rail fence that marked the boundary of what had been a cornfield. In
a clump of trees two hundred yards to the right of the fenceline, James
Collins was posted. As the British advanced the North Carolina militia
at the fenceline, over a thousand strong, fired a volley. The redcoats
faltered only briefly since the militia probably were well beyond range
when they fired. (And 18th century muskets were smoothbore, not rifled,
and hitting the side of a barn was not easy. Some of the militiamen may
have had rifles, though the rifle was slow to load and despite its range
and accuracy was not much used for combat.) The British troops fixed bayonets
and charged. It was too much.
The militia at the fence in the center of the line broke and ran. It
was one of the great disasters of American military history, for the militia
had been posted as a forward position to delay the British assault against
the Continentals behind them. Nathanael Greene had asked that the militia
fire three rounds-- remember, muskets had to be loaded after every shot--
before retreating. They were then to fall back in order and let the Continentals
handle the redcoats. If needed, they could reform-- as they had done at
Cowpens-- and provide a final assault force once the Continentals had taken
their toll of the British. This did not happen. Most of the militia only
fired once, then broke in disorder, not stopping to reform. History was
to blame the North Carolina militia for the loss of the Battle of Guilford
Now it may make more sense to hear James Collins' own memories of the battle. Because he was concerned about the reputation of the militia -- one presumes -- he went into more specific detail than in his other descriptions of his service. The result is his account:
He was placed in the first line of the Americans about two hundred yards
to the right of an open field, and when the British made their charge he
saw the disgraceful retreat of that portion of the militia which was placed
behind the fence of the field. He, with most of his company stood till
that [they?] gave four fires, when, finding the retreat pretty general,
he also fell back and retreated to the Iron Works (the name of which is
not recollected) where the troops were directed to rally in case of defeat.
Remember that we are hearing a man just short of his 64th birthday remembering
(through a court clerk paraphrasing his tale) a terrible day when he was
22. The detail recalled is clear in its motivation. Collins is expressing
his disdain for the "disgraceful" retreat and going out of his way to indicate
that he was not part of it. Greene had asked for three volleys; Collins
specifically notes that his company fired four times before pulling back,
by which time the American center was smashed and the militia on the flank
would have been in danger of being cut off.
This account by James Collins led to a request by the Guilford Courthouse
National Military Park, already alluded to, for a copy of the application
(which I had with me during a visit to Guilford Courthouse to try to locate
Collins' area of the fight in late 1990). In a subsequent letter to me,
Park Ranger and historian Thomas E. Baker said that the Collins pension
file was "one of only a handful of applications that contain sufficient
detail to pinpoint the position of the applicant's unit in the first battle
line at Guilford Courthouse. This is particularly important because there
is very little primary source material regarding the specific dispositions
of the North Carolina militia".(23)
In his application, Collins said he did not recall who commanded during
the battle but that Colonel Reed commanded the men after the retreat. We
have mentioned Col. James Read before. Commanding a force of mounted militia,
apparently with some infantry militia as well, Read had joined Greene's
army a few days earlier, at about the time of the Dan River Crossing, with
some 200 men.(24) Read had probably been
Collins' commander in the earlier tour and also later at Hobkirk's Hill,
so he may have been the overall commander at Guilford as well, though Collins
-- who, remember, arrived just before the battle, having been making cartridges
-- only remembered that he commanded after the retreat. The Iron
Works mentioned were on Troublesome Creek some miles behind the site of
the battle, and a well-known landmark in colonial times.
Collins' position at Guilford Today
James Collins' information in his pension record, plus other things
we know, allows us to determine more or less where on the present ground
around the Guilford Court House National Military Park he actually stood.
That is the good news: the bad news is that the right of the North Carolina
militia line, where Collins fought, lies today under a condominium development
north of the military park.(27)
Collins' own description means he would have been on the extreme right of the American first line (or the extreme right of the militia: there was cavalry further right). According to the US National Park Service's current interpretation, these were the troops of Brig. Gen. Thomas Eaton. Since Gen. Eaton was from the Bute-Halifax Counties area like Collins, this makes sense: the troops of Brig. Gen. John Butler's brigade, the other North Carolina militia brigade, were from the Piedmont area. But most standard books which show the location of the two brigades of militia show Butler's on the American right (north) and Eaton's on the left. The National Park Service disagrees, placing Eaton on the right, which is clearly where Collins says he was. For those interested in the evidence, it appears in the footnote.(28)
It should be noted that that is also the interpretation given by a 19th
century local historian of this part of North Carolina, Rev. Eli W. Caruthers,
who wrote two volumes on North Carolina in the Revolution after interviewing
locals for family traditions:
Behind these fences the militia of North Carolina were drawn up. Eaton's
brigade on the north side, and Butler's on the south side of the road,
while the artillery, consisting of four six pounders, under the command
of Lieutenants Singleton and Finley, took its position in the road nearly
between the two brigades. (29)
Phillips Russell's North Carolina in the Revolutionary War agrees that Eaton was north of the road.(30)
Descendants or relatives who may wish to visit the scene of James Collins'
most important battle will find the Guilford Courthouse National Military
Park located just northwest of Greensboro, North Carolina, in fact today
within the city limits of Greensboro. The land held by the Park Service
is nicely preserved (though vandals in 1989 desecrated several monuments,
including a mounted statue of General Greene), but areas just outside the
park boundaries are now being heavily developed as suburban apartment and
condominium housing. One such development, just to the northwest of the
park, would seem to be on the ground where James Collins actually stood
during the battle, and is known as Williamsburg Square. If the visitor
walks from the visitor center along New Garden Road west to the edge of
the park land (where a footpath reaches the road), one sees this new development
across the road and stretching northward. New Garden Road today is at this
point believed to be close to the old road, and Eaton's troops rested with
their left on that old road. Collins was several hundred yards to the north,
in the housing development.
The park, one of the oldest and better preserved of the Revolutionary
national parks, is worth a visit. During a visit in the spring of 1991
the author discussed James Collins' position with a park ranger, who asked
to keep a copy of Collins' pension record in the event other descendants
came to Guilford looking. Of course a copy was left.
Cornwallis won the battle, but with great losses of his own. Stragglers
from the American ranks trailed into the Iron Works for days. Then Greene
was ready for another strike at Cornwallis. Often considered the neglected
strategic genius of the Revolution, Greene headed for Ramsay's Mills (Collins'
clerk-transcriber spelled it Ramsey's) and found that the British had passed.
He turned south into South Carolina in pursuit. A few miles north of Camden
-- site of an earlier major battle -- he took up position on Hobkirk's
The battle which followed is sometimes called Second Camden, but usually
Hobkirk's Hill. It was fought April 25, almost seven weeks after Guilford.
The British facing the American rebels were under Lord Rawdon. Collins'
unit's captain and lieutenant were both absent for unstated reasons; it
was therefore commanded by "Colonel Reed, a little French officer (name
not recollected[)], and Ensign Thompson Curry". French names were probably
strange indeed to James Collins. "Colonel Reed" is certainly the same James
Read mentioned earlier, who had about 154 North Carolina militia, mounted
and unmounted, at Hobkirk's Hill.(31)
The North Carolina militia performed tolerably well at Hobkirk's Hill,
though they were in reserve behind the Continentals this time. According
to Russell, "Colonel Read's horse and foot militia from North Carolina
formed the second line with Colonel William Washington's cavalry.(32)
But it was another tactical defeat for Greene. (Greene was good at squeezing
strategic advantage out of tactical defeat, however.) Collins' total account
of this battle is rather sparse. The declaration says merely that "This
applicant was engaged in the battle" followed by the statement about the
little Frenchman already quoted.(33)
After Hobkirk's Hill Collins' unit moved with the main army to "the
country between the Wateree and Congaree" [rivers] and he was again discharged.
Greene moved between the Congaree and Wateree in his campaign from Hobkirk's
Hill towards the siege of Ninety-Six, in late April and early May. Collins'
loss of yet another discharge may make him seem absentminded but remember
that he was illiterate and that it was an 1832 Act of Congress which made
him eligible for a pension, so he did not know until old age that he would
have need of these discharges. We may be grateful he lost them. Had he
not, we would not have the details of his service which we do.
Greene went on into western North Carolina and his campaign continued,
losing battles but maneuvering Cornwallis out of the Carolinas and into
the Virginia peninsula where Washington, Rochambeau, and the French Navy
would trap him at Yorktown. Collins was out of it now, and out of the war.
He went back to farming.
After the War
Collins spent the rest of his life in Franklin County, with one exception,
according to his pension declaration, which says that "since the revolutionary
war he has lived (with the exception of nearly one year during which he
lived in Nansemond County, Virginia) in the County of Franklin aforesaid,
where he now lives", now being 1832. Although he does not explicitly state
that the one year in Nansemond County was immediately after the war, the
fact that a James Collins (either he or his father?) appears again in Isle
of Wight County in a 1782 tax list, and that other Collinses appear in
1783 in Nansemond but all disappear thereafter, may be taken as evidence
that they were living in the old area again after the war, at least briefly.
James said it was "nearly" a year; clearly it was not much longer. (On
the other evidence confirming this return to Nansemond/Isle of Wight, see
above, Page 79.) The move, the reasons for which are never stated, is still
a reminder that the Collinses must have retained some links with Tidewater
Virginia and also that the extreme northeast of North Carolina and extreme
southeast of Virginia remained closely allied regions.
We have seen that James Collins had moved to North Carolina, and that
his brother Jesse Collins also drops from the records after the 1770s but
may be the man who appears in Nash County, just east of Franklin County.
Perhaps one or the other had kept land in Virgiinia and returned to try
to work it after the war. This is all speculative, and the fact that the
land records for Nansemond do not survive make it difficult to be certain.
In any event, the Collinses presumably still owned their North Carolina
land as well, and the return to Virginia was temporary.
James Collins: The Marital History Problem
Since almost everything we know about James Collins personally -- as
opposed to his land and tax records, which tell us little about the man
-- is derived from his pension file, the fact that his and his widow's
claims list 16 children -- in two separate documents -- obviously leads
to the conclusion that his 1784 marriage was his only one. But there is
solid, persuasive evidence to believe that there was a first marriage,
with one son, Peter Collins, born sometime before James married Temperance
Vinson, perhaps even several years before. We should look at this question
before examining his children and subsequent life, even though we must
start with his death to do it.
The pension file shows this: On March 10, 1847 "Tempa Collins" (as signed
by mark: "Mrs Tempy Collins" in the text, and clearly meaning Temperance
Vinson Collins, also often spelled Tempey, as I usually have spelled it
in my text) filed an affidavit at the Court of Pleas and Quarter Session
for Franklin County, noting that James Collins had died on December 23,
1838 (two days before Christmas!) in his 84th year, and that she was his
widow, having been married to him by one John Webb in Franklin County on
March 16, 1784. (The Webbs, remember, were another possible Kingsale family.)
Their first child was born on Christmas day of that year, Durham Collins.
She then listed the 16 children she had had by him. She also said that
her maiden name was Vinson and that she was then (March 1847) 82 years
old, giving her a presumed birthdate between March 1764 and March 1765.
In addition to Tempy or Tempey Vinson's own 1847 statement there is
included in the file a piece of paper with writing on both sides. It was
once folded into four segments, like a legal sized letter folded for an
envelope. Along the left margin of the lower fold on the back is the phrase
"A list of ages" in what may be a clerk's hand. It is reproduced on Page
One side of this document includes a list of the 16 children of James
and Temperance, a list also included in Tempey's declaration, but here
clearly in an older original. The handwriting is the same but different
darkness of ink suggests it was done over a period of years, rather like
a Bible entry, but on a separate sheet of paper. Deaths have been crossed
out, presumably to make it a list of births only, but this too adds to
the impression that this was kept like a Bible entry, and then edited for
sending to Washington. The handwriting is a fine, clerical hand: obviously
not James' or Temperance's, since they signed by mark. One side includes
the 16 children. On the reverse, in the same good hand, appear the names
of three Richardson children. These do not appear to be grandchildren of
James and Temperance, but the name Richardson, Richason or Richeson appears
adjacent to various Collinses and Vinsons in Franklin County. Collinses
and Richardsons regularly sold each other land, witnessed each others'
deeds and wills, and so did Vinsons and Richardsons. Neighbors certainly;
kin probably. Oddly enough, Richardsons continue to accompany the Collinses
all the way to Tennessee, and Henry Collins' daughter Frances Ann Collins
married a Richardson.(34) Just below these
Richardson entries the handwriting changes. There is a subtitle "Negros
ages-- GC" (it might not be a "G". If it is it is probably George Washington
Collins, who provided most of the data on his illiterate mother's application).(35)
If this handwriting is George's, it is not the same as that of the list
of children, which is much finer and more bookish. It is not known whose
fine clerical hand recorded it; the ink differences suggest it was a family
member, since it was recorded over a period of time, and not a clerk. If
it were a copy made by the pension office, they would hardly have included
the slaves, and this seems to be in a Collins family hand ("GC").
These two records -- Temperance Vinson Collins' statement and this family
record submitted with it (and left with the pension office for some reason)
certainly suggest that the 16 children of James and Tempey (16 seeming
to be plenty) were all the children of James Collins. It includes the names
of children who died before reaching adulthood, so presumably Temperance
did not leave out any of her own children who had already died.
But there is another figure in the records who cannot be explained by
Temperance's list. Some 20 years ago I learned that he apparently had another
son, Peter Collins. Judge George D. Taylor of Beaumont, Texas, a descendant
of the Collinses and Guptons through more than one line I believe, has
succeeded in establishing this beyond any question.(36)
As a jurist, he was able to make his case in a legal manner which persuaded
me and must convince anyone who examines the evidence. I have also now
seen all the documentation which Judge Taylor used in the original, and
believe we can add details to what he had.
This earlier son also explains the fact that James and Tempey married
when James was 25 (nearing 26) -- a bit old for a first marriage for a
farm boy of the era, despite the attractions of fighting in the Revolution.
His service, brief militia tours, gave him plenty of time to come home,
bring in the crops, and create children, and plenty of soldiers who served
from Bunker Hill to Yorktown used their long leaves to raise whole families
in the years of the fight against the Crown.
None of James' tours of duty was over three months. And 25 is a fairly
old age for first marriage in an illiterate, farming society. (Tempey,
at the time of marriage, would have been around 19 at most, since her birthdate
was presumably between March of 1765 and March of 1766.)
The Peter Collins Problem
Peter Collins is the problem. If he was a son of Temperance, why does
she make no mention of him? He was dead before 1847, it is true, but she
mentions other children who had died. Could he have been the son of another
James Collins? No, for the evidence to be presented shows that Peter was
a son of our James, whoever his mother was. Presumably James was married
before. (The legal documents would have likely identified Peter as illegitimate
if he was.) Anyone uninterested in the proofs of Peter's being a son of
James may choose to skip to the next section, on the known 16 children
of James and Temperance, beginning on Page 124.
Peter died in 1817 (his estate was administered by his father, James
Collins, explicitly so called in Peter's will), and left two sons and two
daughters (Josiah, b. 1805, James, Martha, and Priscilla, dates not known);
his wife Patience survived him and is found in the 1820 tax list, where
she was taxed for 479 acres at $2 per acre. Later, in the administration
of James Collins' estate, Peter Collins' heirs are treated the same way
as Durham Collins' heirs, since Durham (the first son by Temperance) had
also died before his father. And all the heirs mentioned in the estate
are explicitly stated to be either children or grandchildren of the deceased
I was skeptical when I first heard from Judge Taylor. He noted that
James Collins, father of Peter Collins, was so identified and appointed
executor in Peter Collins' will, dated April 26, 1817 and probated that
year. One could argue this does not prove that this was our James
Collins. But Taylor also found a petition dated 1839 in which Temperance
Collins and others sought a partition by sale of 15 slaves of James Collins
who, we know, died in December 1838. I have also consulted the original
petition directly. The petition was filed by 22 people, last of whom was
Temperance Collins the widow of James. The sale of the slaves was so ordered
and a report made on June 10, 1839. The 22 people listed were:
--Will, Wilson, Holland, Henry, Jones, and Elisha Collins of Tennessee;
assuming Will is Willis then these are the Collins brothers who emigrated
to Tennessee, to be discussed later, but all known as children of James
--Will Leonard and his wife Sally Collins Leonard of Georgia; Sally
or Salley is a daughter of James and Temperance; we have already met several
Leonards of course, and see the detailed discussion of children below;
--David Collins, James Collins, Washington Collins, Bennett Stallings
and his wife the former Temperance Collins (all of Franklin County); these
are known sons and daughters of James and Temperance, those who remained
in, or returned to, North Carolina;
--six people stated to be of Tennessee and children of Durham Collins,
deceased. Durham was a son of James and Temperance. The six are: William
Turner, and his wife, formerly Temperance Collins (daughter of Durham);
Thomas Collins, Jones Collins, John Collins, Sally Collins daughter of
Durham, Mary Collins. Jones the younger, John, Sally and Mary were represented
by their guardian, James Collins (brother of Durham, presumably).
--Josiah Collins, James Collins, Martha Collins, and Priscilla Collins,
stated to be the children of Peter Collins, deceased.
If this weren't evidence enough, the petition states that the late James
Collins, who had recently died, was the husband of Temperance Collins listed
as his widow, and "was the father of some of the others (other than Temperance
herself) and the grandfather of the rest". The petition sought to divide
the property (which, remember, was 15 slaves) into 14 parts (how, one dares
to wonder?). One part was to go to the widow, Temperance, one part each
to the nine living sons and two sons-in-law in right of their wives, one
part to the children of Durham Collins and one part to the children of
Clearly, Durham's children and Peter's children were treated as equal,
and each group as equal to the shares of the surviving known Collins children.
This leaves no real doubt that Peter was a legitimate son of James Collins,
though his relationship with Temperance is never stated. Again, Judge Taylor
deserves credit for establishing documentary proof, which can now be further
confirmed by additional documentation.
Also in 1839 Temperance filed a petition seeking a dower interest in
the estate and listed her surviving children as "heirs at law", but did
not list the children of either Durham or Peter. Judge Taylor also noted
that on April 10, 1839 all children of James Collins 11 children of James
Collins and the children of Durham and Peter petitioned to sell the lands
of James Collins, stated to be 1,000 acres subject to the dower rights
of Temperance Vinson (more on the land later). All petitioners were again
stated to be either children or grandchildren of James, clearly showing
that Peter's children were James' grandchildren. James Collins the younger,
son of our James, bought the lands in 1839 from the others; the instrument
is dated Sept. 22, 1840 and includes Peter's children.
Evidence of an Earlier Wife
Judge Taylor convinced me, and further work in the Franklin County records
has simply served to confirm the fact that Peter Collins was definitely
a son of James Collins "II", the man we are profiling here. But he did
not appear in the list of "my children" by Temperance Vinson Collins, though
I must note that she mentioned at least one child -- Polley -- and
almost certainly one other (John) who had died before her testimony. Taylor
was uncertain what this meant; he did not have the census evidence showing
that Peter was born before or during 1784.
The strongest evidence that Peter was not a son of Temperance
but of an earlier, forgotten first wife is the fact that in the 1800 Franklin
County Census he appears as a man 16-26 and in 1810 as a man 26-45.(39)
Both would mean that 1784 is the latest possible year for Peter's
birth, which could have been as early (from the census) as 1774, but since
James Collins II was only 16 in that year a date somewhere in the late
1770s or early 1780s seems likelier. Since James and Tempey married in
March of 1784, and their first child was born in December of that year,
Peter could not have been born in 1784, at least not with Tempey as mother,
unless he was a twin of Durham in December, and that would show up in the
As mentioned in footnote 212, in 1800 Peter apparently was still unmarried,
and in 1810 was married and had a son and daughter. The son must have been
Josiah (born 1805) and the daughter perhaps Martha, listed first in the
petition. Two more children were born before his death in 1817. All this
is consistent with a man born in the late 1770s or early 1780s. In short:
Peter had to be born in 1784 or earlier, but since Durham Collins was born
in December of 1784 nine months after Tempey's marriage -- and was not
listed as a twin -- Peter must have been born before 1784, to a wife other
There is further confirmation of this. In our last chapter we quoted
a tax list from Franklin County which carries no date but which the editor
dated as 1800-1803 (See above, Page 93, for full reference), which shows
Peter Collins as a landholder with 388 acres. Though the census of 1800
showed him as unmarried we know he had married before 1805 (when Josiah
was apparently born), and it appears that by 1800-1803 he owned land in
his own right, suggesting he may have been at least 18, pointing to a birth
by 1782 or so. And if the date of the undated list is in doubt, there is
no question that Peter appears once more, as a landholder with 388 acres,
in the 1804 Franklin County tax list, cited above on Page 93.
Actually, as also noted above (Page 91), the 1790 census lists two James
Collins families which are clearly James I and James II, but it is difficult
to tell which is which. One, however, has two males over 16, five males
under 16 and only one female. James and Tempey had not had any daughters
born in 1790, but had had five sons, all born after 1784. If this family
is James and Temperance's, then it might suggest that Peter was already
16 in 1790, giving him a birthdate of around 1774. That seems a bit early
-- James was only 16 -- and can be read other ways. But it seems clear
enough that Peter was born before 1784 and that therefore his mother
was not Temperance Vinson Collins.
I therefore believe it is clear that James had an earlier wife, of whom in fact we know nothing. (Illegitimate birth by a mother other than Tempey would probably have been noted in the legal claim, since the legitimate heirs would have sought to exclude Peter's heirs.) Who Peter Collins' mother was we do not know, but unless he was born of Tempey before her marriage to James, or was an unrecorded twin or Durham Collins, his census age shows he was not a son of Tempey. Judge Taylor showed he is a son of James, so an earlier wife seems certain -- but undocumented.
In the realm of pure guesswork, we can even suggest what her name might
be. Peter named his two sons Josiah and James, one after his father, obviously,
and the other a common name which recurs in other branches of the family.
He named his two daughters Martha and Priscilla. One of these might well
be the name of Peter's mother, but that is only a guess.
16 Children of James and Temperance (Vinson) Collins
By Temperance (Vinson) Collins' own statement, she and James Collins
had 16 children. I have not sought (as some relatives have) to trace the
descent of those other than my direct ancestor, Henry Collins, but some
of their fates were linked and some part of the story depends on understanding
their relationships. Besides Temperance's statement there is the document
I have called the list of ages, which appears to have been written at different
times and which includes the Negroes' ages on the back. This document is
probably the earliest and best evidence of the ages provided and includes
some information on those who died young. It is thus preferable to and
probably prior to Temperance's own statement.
I have not sought to trace all the Collins descendants. I have attempted
to learn what happened to each line for a generation or two, but have not
gone beyond about the 1850 census, nor have I checked these lines through
databases such as the International Genealogical Index. My goal has been
to describe the life of James and Temperance and of our own line of descent,
giving enough information about the other lines for others to hook themselves
into the data.
Where other information is available, as in Judge George D. Taylor's
information on descendants of Peter Collins or Donald C. Jeter's "Collins
Chronicle" work on the Marshall County, Tennessee Collinses, or my own
cousins' work on the Missouri lines, that material does appear in the descent
tables at the end of the work, but they are not intended to be comprehensive
at this time.
The 16 children listed in the "List of Ages" and Temperance's petition were:
Durham Collins. Born December 25, 1784. The eldest child of James and Tempey, Durham was apparently the first of the Collinses to move to what became Marshall County, Tennessee. He does not seem to have gone to Georgia like the other brothers who later came to south-central Tennessee. Durham was in Bedford County by 1812 and Maury County by 1814 (both predecessors of Marshall County), married twice, first to Mary Weaver, the second time to a woman named Rebecca Hooten (or Whooton?) in 1816 and bought 175 acres in Maury County in 1817, in land which became Marshall County.(41) Durham and Rebecca had 11 children; what I know of their descendants will be found in the genealogical tables at the back of this work. Whether Durham's name was derived from the North Carolina place name is unknown, but James Collins I's will was witnessed by one Durham Hill.
Willis Collins. Willis was born February 18, 1786.(42) He was one of the sons who migrated to Georgia prior to going to Tennessee, and his marriage to Phebe or Phoebe Martin appears in the Elbert County, Georgia records for 1810, as will be discussed in the profile of Henry Collins. Willis fought in the War of 1812, is said to have served under Andrew Jackson, and is probably the Willis Collins who served with Wilson Collins in the 2nd Regiment of Georgia Volunteers (Jenkins' Volunteers). Willis is found in the 1820 Oglethorpe County, Georgia, census as a farmer, but it is also remembered that he served as an overseer during his time in Georgia.(43) Phoebe seems to have been a sister of the Frances Martin who married Henry Collins, as will be discussed in more detail in Henry's profile and in the notes on the Martin family. Willis appears in the 1820 census as a man of 16-45, his wife in the same age category, and with two children under 10. Willis is said to have been a Whig politically prior to the breakup of that party. He moved to Marshall County (or rather its predecessor Maury County) about 1826, the same year as his brother Henry. Phoebe or Phebe was born May 20, 1786 and died December 10, 1867. They had nine children, the oldest, Thomas, being born July 27, 1818. Willis Collins died November 24, 1854.(44) Those descendants I can identify appear in the genealogical tables.
Wilson Collins. Born
June 9, 1787. He seems to have been in Georgia, too: a Wilson Collins served
in the 2nd Regiment of Georgia Volunteers (Jenkins' Regiment) during the
War of 1812, the same regiment in which a Willis Collins served, and a
Wilson Collins appears in a Barbour County, Georgia tax list.(45)
At the time of the 1839 settlement of his father's estate, Wilson was stated
to be of Tennessee. He does not seem to have lived in Marshall County,
though, despite signing the 1839 petition. An 1841 power of attorney to
his brother James III, for sale of his share of his father's property,
still as part of the estate settlement, he was living in Barbour County,
Alabama.(46) (He is not, by the way, the
Wilson Collins who turns up in Nash County, North Carolina censuses, and
who had a son named Wilson; the Nash County Wilson was older than this
man, being 82 in 1860, and while presumably some sort of kin I cannot yet
identify his exact relationship.) In fact he had been in Barbour County
as early as an 1833 state census, and thereafter in 1840 through 1860 as
well, suggesting that he already had Alabama links prior to the 1839 petition.
In the 1850 census he is shown as a man of 64, and in 1860 as 74,(47)
which is within a year of being correct, and the 1841 letter makes it virtually
certain this is the same Wilson Collins. Alabama records and some unverified
material seem to suggest that he married twice; his first wife is said
to have been Barbara Beasley, by whom he may have had as many as eight
children (including a daughter, Tempy, confirming his ancestry.)(48)
He later had an apparent second wife Elizabeth Early, for he is mentioned
in the will of her father, Jesse Early, in 1843(49);
she was apparently been a second wife, as she is aged 30-40 in the 1840
census, while he is correctly in the 50-60 category; there were young children
in that census.(50) He is said to have
died prior to 1875;(51) a descendant source
reports a death date of 1 December 1875 near Louisville, Choctaw County,
Alabama(52). He is also said at some time
to hjave lived in Putnam County, Alabama. Though he is said to have died
in Choctaw County, most of his children lived on in Barbour County. In
the 1850 census there, Wilson was shown with Adeline Collins, age 9, born
in Alabama, while he is 64. He may be her grandfather, or possibly she
is a daughter by a second marriage, since the 1840 census showed some young
children in the household. Elizabeth must have died prior to 1850. Adeline
must be the same as Adeline Collins who married George W. Williams on 16
November 1858 in Barbour County, by whom descendants are known.(53)
A newspaper obituary confirms that Wilson's son Hartwell Collins died in
Barbour County, Alabama on 1 January 1908.(54)
Born October 17, 1788 according to both the "List of Ages" and Temperance
Collins' declaration; the "List of Ages" makes his first name "Hollander"
but no later sources do. The name Holland, as we have seen, is associated
with the Collinses from the Kingsale Swamp area of Virginia. He died in
Tennessee in 1843, and appears in the census there by 1830, so he too was
one of the migrants to that state, but we have little else on him. Jeter's
"Collins Chronicle" has a year earlier October 17, 1787, but that is only
four months after Wilson's birth.(55) He
moved to Logan County, Kentucky before Tennessee; it would appear that
his uncles Elisha and Henry lived there already, plus other Sandy Creek
cousins. (See below, in the Henry Collins biography, at page 161.) There
he married Caty Edwards on 17 March 1813 and children were born there through
about 1825.(56) He was in Tennessee by
1830 (when he is in the census there) and owned 220 acres by 1840.(57)
Holland married (second) a woman named Mary or Polly, who survived him
and died 1848.(58)
John Collins. Born July 14, 1790. Not accounted for in later documents. There is evidence that this son died in Army service. On the same page of Franklin County Will Book F (p. 222) which contains the will of James Collins I, appears an entry for the account of "John Collins dec'd", described as "a soldier in the United States Army", by James Collins, administrator. This dates from the December Court 1819. The same material is repeated in a document in the estate files under John Collins (1819), in which there is a claim for Army pay due. The date and the fact that James Collins was the administrator makes it highly probable that this was the son born in 1790, who would have been in his late 20s. It is not clear if he died in warfare or merely while in service. There were numerous men named John Collins who served in both the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars of the 18-teens. A John Collins served in the 5th Regiment of North Carolina militia (Atkinson's Regiment) during the War of 1812, or he might have served from Georgia like some of his brothers. He might also have died in the Creek War (during the War of 1812) or, given the date of the administration, perhaps more likely the Seminole War of 1818 in which Andrew Jackson fought the Seminoles in Florida. There are a number of John Collinses listed in the military files of those Indian wars, but I have not pursued research with enough detail to identify if any came from Franklin County.
David Collins. Born
October 25, 1791. David was used as a name for one of James II"s brothers,
and Temperance's father had been David Vinson, so it is not surprising
that the name turns up. James Collins' land at the time of his death is
said to border David Collins' and he seems to have owned land to the east
of his father. He also acquired some of the David Vinson land. It is virtually
certain that he is the same man who died 1 January 1861, leaving a wife
Martha (also known as Patsey, often a nickname for Martha), who appears
in the census records and in the Franklin County estate files. That man's
dates vary a bit from census to census (he is 67 in 1850 but 70 in 1860!)
but despite this he seems to be the same man as the son of James II.
Born January 20, 1793. An entry showing that she died April 4, 1801 appears
on the "List of Ages" but has been crossed out. Presumably this is her
date of death (crossed out since the list was intended to show only births).
No further record. Polley or Polly was usually a nickname for Mary in the
18th and 19th centuries, but may also have been a given name.
Born June 8, 1794. No further certain record found. She is not listed in
the 1839 petition, and is listed only in the form "Patsey", never as Patricia
or Martha. (Patsey was a common nickname for Martha in earlier centuries;
George Washington called his Martha Patsey, for example.) However, note
that in the 1840 census we find "Tempy" Collins (widow of James II), listed
as 70-80, with another female in the household listed as 40-50, plus four
slaves.(59) It looks as if one of Tempey's
daughters may never have married, and since we know Polley was already
dead (see above) it might have been Patsey (though Elizabeth, see below,
could also fit the age). Or she could have been a daughter-in-law or paid
servant. There is a Martha Collins, aged 68, in the 1860 Franklin County
census, a farmer living alone.(60) But
since she is not mentioned in the 1839 petition for James II's estate,
it seems likelier that she had died before her father.
Our ancestor; fully profiled in the next chapter;
born December 18, 1795. Married Frances Martin. He was robably named for
his uncle, James Collins II's brother Henry.
Jones Collins. Born
June 28, 1797. Some records have been misread as "James" but the man was
named Jones. Josiah Collins, son of Peter, and Holland Collins also named
children Jones. And as we know, Jones was a family name both in the Kingsale
area and in the Cypress Creek area, where Drury Jones sold land to James
Collins II. This Jones Collins fought in the War of 1812, apparently in
a Georgia militia unit.(61) If so, he was
already in Georgia by then; we know that at some point he moved to Oglethorpe
County, Georgia, where in the 1820 census he was living next door to Henry
Collins. He moved to Tennessee in 1832, six years after Henry and Willis.
The Tennessee records speak of his wife as Sophia Wright and they named
a daughter Sophia, though the marriage record in Greene County, Georgia
has been transcribed as Sophronia Wright. The wife's tombstone in Tennessee
has Sophia. She was born 1798 in Georgia and died in 1875 in Tennessee.
A son David was born March 16, 1827 and fought in the Mexican War. Jeter
lists nine children.(62) Jones Collins
was a Jacksonian Democrat. According to Goodspeed's county history (which
made him six years older than he really was, though), Jones led 14 of his
children and grandchildren to the front in the Civil War, clearly on the
Confederate side. (This figure includes grandchildren; Jones probably only
had nine children.) Jones would have been 64 when the war broke out. He
was a farmer and extensive landowner in Marshall County. In 1875 Sophia
died. Jones was still alive in 1886(63)
and also in 1888 when a relative describes him as "harty and peart as common"(64).
He is said to have died in 1889.(65)
Elizabeth Collins. Born January 2, 1799. Apparently not alive in 1839 (not included in petition). Probably died young but no other evidence.
Born October 28, 1800. Although Judge Taylor identified "Sally" Collins
with the "Polley" above (probably by misreading the handwriting), Sally
(also often "Salley") was clearly Sarah, since then as now Sally was a
standard nickname for Sarah. Salley (so spelled) was also the name of one
of Tempey Vinson Collins' sisters, and this daughter may have been named
for her. In 1839 she was in Georgia and married to Will Leonard, one of
the Leonards of the Sandy Creek area. This is not the same as the William
Leonard who served with James Collins, and who lived past 90; her husband's
given name was Willis Leonard, as is shown by one version of the 1839 petition,
though he seems to have always gone by "Will". In the 1830 Franklin County
census we find and wife in the 30-40 range. Salley would have been 30 in
that year; there was one female child under five. The Georgia records may
shed more light.George Washington Collins, Salley's youngest brother, married
Mary P. Leonard in 1830. She was reportedly a daughter of Frederick Leonard,
another neighbor, and how she was related to Willis is not known. The 1839
petition shows Willis Leonard and his wife "Salley" as being of Georgia
and they are not in the 1840 Franklin County census. I have not identified
them with any of the Leonards in the 1840 Georgia census, though there
were several "Williams", and a Van Leonard who lived in the mid-1800s in
Muscogee County, Georgia must be the same man or a son of the one who witnessed
James Collins I's will in Franklin Co., North Carolina in 1815. Though
many Franklin County Leonards turned up later in Marshall County, Tennessee,
Willis and Sarah do not seem to (though a William with wife Sarah,
born in South Carolina and Tennessee however, do turn up there).
James Collins "III".
Born January 24, 1803.(66) This younger
James Collins is sometimes called James Collins Junior in land records,
which is confusing since his father had been called Junior while
James Collins "I" was still alive. I have called him James III with all
the reservations I have already noted about James "I" and "II". There were,
however, several other James Collinses in the area at the time: James son
of Peter Collins, and James son of William Collins, as well as his father
James II. On sorting these Jameses out in the records, see my footnote
176 above on Page 103. James III is said to have been in Tennessee in the
mid-1820s and again in 1839, and to have moved back to North Carolina in
1839 or 1840.(67) The 1839 petition shows
him as a resident of Franklin County. There is evidence to suggest that
he owned land as early as 1822 in Tennessee, which would mean when he was
19 or so; and in an 1841 letter to James III Henry Collins says prices
are similar to when he (James) was in Tennessee. This James Collins certainly
lived out his last years in Franklin County; the other brothers and sisters
sold him their share of the James Collins II land after James II's death.
He is pretty certainly the James Collins who died 11 January 1860, leaving
a wife Rebecca and a son, William T. Collins, as that James with the family
appears in both the 1850 and 1860 censuses as a man born about 1803. The
other James Collinses do not fit the birthdate.(68)
Born July 19, 1805. So in the "List of Ages" and Temperance Vinson Collins'
declaration; later listed as "Temperance" like her mother in legal documents;
Tempy presumably not the legal name. Married Bennett Stallings and appears
as his wife in the 1839 petition. The Stallings were a well-attested family
in the Franklin County area, and there is still a "Stallings Crossroads"
there, right by James Collins II's land. Stallings also appears in Tidewater
Virginia earlier, and the families may have had other links. Bennett Stallings
seems to have had children by an earlier wife than Temperance, whom he
married February 18, 1832 in Franklin County; I have some reservations,
however, about the information contained in one Stallings genealogy.(69)
Their descendants remained in the Marshall County area for some time.
Born May 2, 1807. The name Elisha is common in the family; James Collins
II had a brother Elisha, uncle of this Elisha, and James II's brother Jesse
also had a son Elisha. The name was regularly used thereafter. This one
moved to Tennessee sometime before 1830, when he's there in the census
and when he married; it is probable (but not stated) that he came with
Henry and Willis in 1826. He married Elizabeth (Betsey) McGregor in 1830.
The land he bought in 1837 must not have been his first in Tennessee. Goodspeed
gave him 10 children, though Jeter gives him 11, and is probably more accurate
as one daughter had died in infancy.(70)
Three of the sons are said to have been killed in the Civil War, including
one who was only 13 years old, "who had ridden his horse to the back of
his father's farm to drive the milk cow home, when he was shot by bushwhackers,
who stole his horse."(71) Jeter says Elisha's
son Willis, born 1837, died near Chattanooga in 1862, Patrick H., born
1843, died in 1863, and Elisha Pain Collins, born 1845, died December 1862.
These are the only ones who died during the war, and Elisha P. would seem
to have been 17, not 13. Goodspeed seems to have some ages wrong for birthdates
as well. Elsewhere we learn that Betsey McGregor was born in 1807 in Virginia.
Elisha was a Democrat who died November 16, 1872. Betsey was still living
in 1886, when Goodspeed wrote.(72) They
are buried in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Lewisburg, Tennessee, where we
learn that she died March 19, 1893.(73)
Collins. Born November 12, 1809. He married Mary P. Leonard
(remember his older sister Sally married a Will Leonard) on November 23,
1830 in Franklin County. It is said he moved back and forth several times
between North Carolina and Tennessee.(74)
He certainly spent time in both places. The full name "George Washington
Collins" does not seem to appear but enough combinations do to make it
clear what the name was. In the 1839 petition he was listed as being of
Franklin County, and listed as "Washington Collins"; he signed himself
as "G.W.", on other known documents. "George W." also appears, and his
son was George W., Junior. He seems to have been in Tennessee in 1839 (when
the estate of his father was settled), and as late as 1841 (when he is
mentioned in a letter of Henry Collins as living nearby).(75)
On April 18, 1849 the elder George W. signed a declaration in the pension
files stating that he was "the only Surviving Heir of Tempy Collins". "Child"
has twice been crossed out and "Heir" written in, so presumably he was
aware his other brothers still survived in Tennessee. The pension record
is confusing since James Collins "III" was definitely still in North Carolina
and so was David Collins. George is also probably the "GC" whose initials
appear on the "List of Ages". After Tempey's death he remained for a time
in Franklin County (he is there in the 1850 census), but it is said that
he lived in Marshall County, Tennessee, near his brothers, until 1864 when
he moved to Prentiss County, Mississippi, where he lived in Boonville.
In a will dated October 11, 1870 he named his sons George W. Jr., John
Thomas, and Elisha Squire Collins (yet another Elisha), and daughters Ann
Jackson and Mary McConnell, both deceased.(76)
Jeter lists eight children by his first wife and one by his second.(77)
Judge Taylor noted that of the 16 children of
James and Temperance Collins listed in the 1847 list, all are named as
petitioners except Durham, Sarah, John and Elizabeth. Durham's children
are listed. Judge Taylor apparently did not realize it, but Sarah is certainly
Sally; he read "Polley" in the old handwriting as Sally. But the "List
of Ages" shows that Polley died young. John is almost certainly the man
who died in the Army by 1819. Patsey may have lived on with family, or
may have died young. Only Elizabeth seems completely unrecorded. It is
presumed she died young as well.
Of the 17 children of James Collins, (Peter and
the 16 by Temperance), 13 of them, all but John, Elizabeth, Polley and
Patsey seem to have had children of their own. In every case but that of
Salley Collins Leonard, we have at least a partial list of names, and Salley
and her husband showed unnamed children in the early census records.
On the names, it is worth noting that the most
unusual among them are Durham, Willis, Holland and Jones. (Elisha is a
good Biblical name as well as a very frequently repeated family name; Tempy
or Tempey of course comes from her mother. All of these unusual names are
perpetuated in later generations of our family, and there seems to be reason
to believe, as noted earlier, that several of them may be names of intermarried
families: Holland, Willis, and Jones may all fit this description. Holland
we have mentioned several times, and it is perpetuated for several generations,
at least to my great-grandfather's era in my own line, though sometimes
spelled "Holand". Clearly it came from the Kingsale Swamp Hollands, though
if they were intermarried with the Collinses, we do not yet know how. Durham
may simply come from the North Carolina town, though the name gets repeated
through several generations of Collinses and one Durham Hill witnessed
the will of James Collins I: perhaps he was kin. Willis proved to be an
exceptionally popular middle name among later Collinses, and must reflect
some early family alliance we have not discovered. It is also worth noting,
given both the antiquity and ubiquity of the name "William" in our Collins
ancestry, that there are no Williams among these 17 children, though there
is a Willis and a Wilson. Perhaps there had just been too many Williams.
But then the Collinses may have just been searching
for interesting names. James II's brother William, for example, named sons
James, Jesse, William, Nathanael, and, apparently running out of straightforward
names, Theodorick, Littlebury, and Littleton. The last two both sound like
surnames, and sound a lot alike, too.
When James Collins II died he owned 1265 ½
acres of land, a substantial amount. This, however, did not account for
all the land he had owned at one time or another, since we know that he
had sold off most of the lands which David Vinson left to Temperance and
her sisters, and which almost all passed to him eventually. This, the fact
that the deed books do not appear to account for every transaction, and
the fact that unless "Senior" or "Junior" was used, it is not always clear
which land was James I's and which James II's, leads to some confusion
in being able to define the land precisely.
However, we know precisely what he owned when
he died, because that was divided up in his estate, and a plat exists.
We also know the acreage which turns up in various tax lists. Since his
father, James I, seems to have almost always kept to the 150 acres he acquired
early on in the Sandy Creek area, most of the deeds found later seem to
relate to James II.
Certainly those two early purchases which refer
to Cypress Creek land, one in 1789 (See Page 76) and the other in 1793
(See Page 77), either refer to James II or represent land which eventually
passed to him, because later he will be found primarily in the Cypress
Creek area, and in many years will often appear in a different militia
district from his father, his brothers, and for that matter his son Peter.
(For a full accounting of Collinses in the tax lists and census records
from the 1790s through about 1815, see the biography of James I, particularly
pages 91 through 95.) Already in 1798 he had 688 acres, more than can be
accounted for in the known deeds. By 1804 that has shrunk to 512 acres,
which remained stable for a while. In 1810 he still has 512 acres in his
own right but is administering 530 acres of David Vinson's estate.(78)
(David Vinson was Temperance's father.)
In 1815 we find James with 847 acres, taxed at
$2 per acre, for a total tax of $1694; he also has three slaves of an age
to require a poll tax. (This varied from time to time but generally taxes
were only paid on the able bodied males, free and slave, on the land.)(79)
The 1820 census for Franklin County is lost. An
1820 tax list, however, shows him owning 900 acres in Captain Jackson's
District, up a bit from five years earlier, and paying $2 per acre on the
land for a total of $1800. He also paid for three black polls in that year
as well. In the same year, and also in "Captain Jackson's District", we
find Esther, widow of James I, with James I's 150 acres (taxed at $3 per
acre, either because it was more devloped than James II's land or was in
a better location), Patience Collins, widow of Peter Collins, with Peter's
479 acres, and another James Collins with two white polls, but no acreage.
This is probably James son of William but that is not certain; perhaps
it is James III, who was just about 17 years old at this time.(80)
William Collins, David Collins (probably now David son of James II, who
would have been 29, as the earlier David was dead by now), and Jesse Collins
(probably William Collins' son of that name) living in Captain Davis' District,
William with 340 acres and one black poll, david with 58 acres and one
white poll, and Jesse with no acreage and just one white poll.(81)
James Collins' land at the time of his death in
1838 is spelled out in detail in the plat and other materials accompanying
the creation of Tempey's dower land in the 1839 settlement of his estate.
That material is complex and will be discussed in greater detail in a future
edition. For now, it is perhaps sufficient to say that the best historical
and geographical reading I can put on the historical record is the map
which appears at the end of this chapter as an appendix on page 145.
David Vinson Land
James II is also listed in 1810 under "Vinson,
David's estate by James Collins Jr. 530 ac."(82)
And thereby hangs a tale of inheritance and resale., though his wife was
probably not the eldest in the family and only received one-sixth of the
children's allotment, plus a dower interest in the land set aside for her
Tempey's father David died in 1810(84),
and the details are provided in his profile in the Vinson section. Some
needs to be repeated here, however. In the division of the lands of David
Vinson, Deceased, in 1811 we find that Elizabeth Carrell, Salley (elsewhere
Sally) Wilhite, Charity Vass, Temperance Collins, "Rachal" (elsewhere Rachel)
Bass and Lydia Richards each drew 58 3/4 acres. This adds up to 352 1/2
acres, rather less than the 530 acres mentioned in the 1810 tax list as
being under James II's authority. Probably this is because the widow of
David Vinson (Frances in the documents, though the "Hannah" question crops
up) was given a dower estate set aside for her, though perhaps there are
other explanations. In any event, over the next few years each of Tempey's
sisters or their heirs sold their shares of the property and their share
of the widow's dower to James. Most of the sisters seem to have moved out
of state. The first case was as early as November 6, 1810, only three weeks
after the estate settlement and widow's provisions. Elizabeth Carrell,
of Randolph County, Georgia, deeded her share of land to James. On August
10, 1814, Rachel and Theophilus Bass of Wilson County, Tennessee -- another
sister-- deeded their land and share of the dower, but called the widow
"Hannah Vincent". For the Hannah/Frances problem, see the Vinson section.
Less than a month later, on September 7, 1814, Sally Wilhite, another of
Tempey's sisters, did the same, as well as her share in the land set aside
for Frances Vinson. On August 25, 1818, two people named Vass -- presumably
surviving children of Tempey's sister Charity Vass -- did the same: land
plus their interest in the dower land. As for the final sister, Lydia Richards,
her husband George sold some or all of it to Parker Murphrey (the mystery
heir in James Collins I's will, who received a full share and must be some
kind of relative), and Murphrey in turn sold it to -- James Collins II.(85)
So James probably had all the sisters' estates, unless some of the Richards
land went elsewhere -- Murphrey does not state that he bought all of George
Richards' land from David Vinson's estate.
However, on August 19, 1820, James Collins sold
his interest in the dower land and the first five lots of the David Vinson
(Vincent in this record) estate, presumably keeping Tempey's only, if
that.(86) The whole Vinson land record
will be dealt with in the Vinson history and, perhaps, in future versions
of this one. What is clear is that a significant parcel of land (the plat
in David Vinson's estate records make it clear that it was on the south
side of Sandy Creek), passed into James Collins' hand through his wife
but then passed out again.
Glimpse of James Collins' Farm: The Estate Sale
As we noted in his father's biography, the estate
sales of our ancestors sometimes give us a useful glimpse into their everyday
lives. While it requires us to jump ahead past the man's death, the cattle,
household goods and other belongings owned at his death give us a picture
of what the man's farm must have been like during his life. The "Account
of Sale" appears to be dated in April (possibly the 10th? -- the microfilm
is muddy) 1839, and was submitted to the September Court of Franklin County
in that year. (Once again, North Carolina courts met in "quarter sessions"
in March, June, September and December).(87)
Most of the buyers at the estate sale were either
family members or people with names suggesting they were in-laws or at
any rate members of that Sandy Creek community we have discussed. The sale
included, (though some entries are hard to read or identify): w Scythe
cradles, two lots of Barrels, (next two items illegible in my copy), one
lot of flax, one barrel and (pans?), another of same; two large stands;
one barrel; two barrels of vinegar one "culling knife and lot of cord (or
card?)"; one still which sold for $50.35 (more than some of the cattle;
and it sold to Tempy Collins); another still which sold to James Collins
III for $18 (why was the first still so much more expensive: more productive?
bigger? better); one still cap (or cup?) with "pitcher", one Apple mill
and 2 cider presses (also to Tempey for $11.25), one Waggon (Croft? Crost?),
one grindstone, one "pare cartewheels", one handsaw and "auger", one "Lot
of Augurs", one "Jointer", one lot of barrel timber, one yoke of oxen which
sold for (apparently) $38.25, or almost $12 less than the still; an oxcart,
another yoke of oxen which went to Tempey for $15; another oxcart, a cow
and yearling, one lot of "cash" (? unless it is "cask": it went for $1);
one "Currying knife" (this may have something to do with currying horses
or, perhaps likelier given that it is a "knife", with the work of a "currier's
knife" in tanning); one "Meal Stand (also to Tempey); a variety of pans,
pots, a potrack, an oven, two more potracks, one (sugar and draining knife?
or sugar and drawing knife?); one lot of card; two separately sold footstools,
two griddles, unspecified "Kitchen Furniture" and a lot of lumber (both
the latter bought by Henry Collins, our ancestor, who seems to have returned
from Tennessee for the estate settlement), one Jug, a lot of Puter (pewter),
one "Bucket &C", a Jar, a "pitcher etc.", another two jars, another
lot of lumber, a Coffeepot, a "Basket & Contents", one "Table &C",
another Jar; one "Hone" (or "Kone": not sure if this is something for honing,
or a misspelled "cone" since it is in the kitchen list); two separate spinning
wheels; one (seal and something?), one clock, one walnut table, one Looking
glad, a lot of lumber, an unreadable line on a crease, one "Stone pitcher"
or possibly "Stove pitcher" one "Set chairs", one "pare money Scales" (to
our ancestor Henry Collins); (unclear number of) "Razors"; one Razor Strop,
one Glass, one Testament (presumably a bible or at least a New Testament:
interesting given the fact that James and Tempey signed by mark); two beds
and furniture, each of which went to Tempey (one for $5.01 and one for
$6); one "Press", one (Cut?: Possibly cot?); one desk, one looking glass,
another walnut table, another bed and furntiture (this to Henry Collins
for $11),; a bedstead; one "Little Table", one Candle Stand; two separate
items labeled "pan and Irons" (perhaps for a fireplace or kitchen?), one
(pole?), one Teapot and Mug; one Caster; two Decanters, one Gallon measure,
another of same, two "Pitchers", one Lock, one bell, one gunlock (presumably
for an old flintlock type weapon), a Chest, an unreadable line (on a crease),
another Chest, a table, three "Siting chairs" (I presume "sitting"), one
side saddle, one "pare Saddlebags", one "Sythe" (scythe), one Axe, one
Rawhide, one Hatchet, two (Foreplanes?), two stands, a "parcel of Sheep"
(to G.W. Collins for $1), one Iron Wedge, a stack of fodder, five barrels
of "Old corn" (presumably for animal food), another five and yet another
five, five barrels of new corn, then 71/2 barrels, and then four more barrels
of new corn.
The total for all of this also included $87.861/2
due to the estate for the hire of Negroes and $150 due for the rent of
land (amount not stated),for a total amount of $619.71 1/4 cents (there
were quarter cents in those days). There were also some notes due and payable
to and by the estate, separately accounted for.
Collins Family's Slaves
Most family histories of southern families tend
to overlook the fact of slavery, but in the years since Alex Haley's Roots
it has become clear that all records of slavery may be of use: not just
as historical records, but in helping descendants of former slaves to trace
their roots. The Collinses have left a few records, some of which
I hope to make available to black genealogical libraries now springing
Note that the sons of James Collins seem to have
been a mix of Democrats and Whigs. And while Henry Collins is said to have
been a Democrat, some of his children were Whigs. (John Collins would name
a son Henry Clay Collins after the great Whig compromiser, and his children
and children's children look like radicals for their place and time.) Willis
had been an overseer of slaves -- a very low-status, even non-status occupation
in those days, even in the deep South -- and politically he was a Whig,
but an "old-line" Whig, meaning a southern pro-slavery Whig, one presumes.
Several of the Tennessee Collinses would own slaves. We have already cited
(see above, page 120) the list of Collins "Negros" which appears on the
reverse of the list of family births we have called the "List of Ages".
In the 1790 and 1800 censuses James II does not
yet seem to own any slaves. His father, however, had four in 1800, and
his father-in-law David Vinson six. In 1807 James II paid tax, apparently,
on a single white poll. By the 1810 census James II had two slaves, but
his father, who had had four 10 years earlier, is now down to two. One
wonders if he sold or gave them to James II. In fact, James Collins also
bought a number of other items from David Vinson's personal estate, including
one Negro boy in 1810.(88) While I have
David Vinson's estate sale I do not think I have actually found the sale
of slaves. Franklin's census for 1820 is missing, but in the 1820 tax list
for Franklin, James paid a poll tax on three black persons. I believe that
only male slaves aged 12-50 were taxable, so there may have been others
In 1830, we find James and his family holding
(according to the census), four slave males under 10, one 10-24, two 24-36,
two 36-55, and one over 55; two females under 10, three 10-24, one 24-36,
one 36-55, and one over 55. This is a total of 19: clearly not plantation
slavery in the large scale, but a farm operating on slave labor nonetheless.
There are enough to suggest more than mere household service. By then most
of the 16 or 17 children had moved away, and the old folks probably needed
the slaves to work the farm. The slaves listed in the "List of Ages" begin
with one born in 1812, so we do not have names for the older generations
of these slaves.
One does wonder if the two older slaves, those
over 55 (and they may have been quite a bit older: the category in 1830
was age "55-100"), may have been the parents of many of the others. The
earliest birthdates we hear of are Ben, born 8 April 1812, and Zelpha,
born 10 February 1814. These must have been children or grandchildren of
the older pair, if related at all. Perhaps all the slaves were descended
from those two slaves whom James Collins II owned in 1810. It is worth
listing the names in "A List of Ages", since some descendant of one of
these persons may some day seek their own ancestral history:
Negros ages -- GC [?]
Ben. Was Bornd the 8" April 1812 ----
Zelpha was Bornd 10 Febr 1814 ----
Olston Was born 10 July in the yar of our lord 1815
Peg was Born a bout the 25 of July ----- 1817
Darkis(90) Was born the 31 day of May --1820
[erasure] Liddy was Bornd march 31th [sic] 1822
Merry was Bornd - March 31 1822(91).
Jacob son of Elizabeth was Born the 6th Day of July 1825.
Norflet was Born the 6th of May 1827
Ephriam(92) Zelpha son was bornd the 11th of October 1829
Jerry Sollomon was born the 24 of April 1830
Mager [?(93)] Son of Elizabeth was Born 22th Day of December 1832 .
Demsey Son of Zelpha was born 23th(94) 1832.
Salley [?] Daughter of Peg ------[?] was Born 23 Day of March 1832
Frank Green Son of Darkas was Born the 14th Day of August 1833
William was Bornd [illegible] Aprel the 26th 1835
Joyce was Bornd [illegible] D[overwritten:ecember?] the 7 1837(95)
[tear]lan [-tan?] was Bornd on May th 15 -- 1837.
The "List of Ages" reminds us a little of slave
life. Zelpha was born February 10, 1814; Ephraim, born Oct. 11, 1829, is
Zelpha's son; she was 15 at the time. Demsey son of Zelpha was born in
1832, when she was 18. Peg was born in July 1817; Salley daughter of Peg
in March 1832, before Peg had reached her 15th birthday. If "Darkis" and
"Darkas" (I presume a female named "Dorcas") are the same woman (girl?),
then she was born May 31, 1820 and "Frank Green, son of Darkas", born August
14, 1833, was born when his mother was 13.
Now, there is one other list, to be discussed
in a moment, and this is the list of the slaves sold when the estate was
divided after James' death. Because the 15 slaves, some of them children,
could not be evenly divided among the heirs, they were sold pursuant to
an order of the County Court in the March term of 1839, the sale report
being submitted 10th or 11th June (the second figure is a narrow zero or
a fat "1") 1839. This list does not match very well with the names in the
"List of Ages". The list is as follows, with purchaser and price:
Negro Man Tom Temperance Collins $451.00
do. do. Austin Henry Collins 902.00
do. do. Lewis Washington Collins 900.00
do. do. Ned David Collins 704.00
do. do. Harry John Stallings 136.00
do. do. Thomas William Leonard 081.00
do. Boy Jacob Jas. Collins 761.00
Lydia & Child Nathan Holland Collins 851.00
Mary Henry Collins 715.00
Betty & Child Joe Temperance Collins 500.00
Peggy & Child Helen Jas. Collins 951.00
Annerchy to the Lowest Bidder Warren Gupton 50.00
Credit for Keeping Annerchy 50.00
Balance Due to the Heirs $6902.00
It is hard to be sure whether any of these slaves
can be identified with the "List of Ages" slaves. Lydia, sold with her
son Nathan, may be the same as Liddy born in 1822, and Betty might be the
same as Elizabeth. It's not known what the problem was with "Annerchy"
(was someone trying to say "anarchy"?), who had to be specially cared for
and went to the lowest bidder. Ned may well be the same Ned bought (along
with Alice) from James Collins I's estate after the apparent death of Esther,
by James II, in 1823. (See above, Page 100.)
Note as well that after James II's death, Tempey
Collins appears in the 1840 census with one male and one female slave 24-36,
and one male under 10. And in the 1850 census, which had a "Mortality Schedule"
for all persons who died in the year before June 1, 1850, we find a "Betsey
Collins", a 60 year old slave, who had died in that year. Whether she is
Elizabeth, or may have belonged to another Collins family, or even to have
belonged to another family entirely, is not clear to me.
It is only fair to note the details of James Collins'
pension, since the pension records provide us with some of our best evidence
of his life. An act of Congress passed June 7, 1832 granted pensions to
Revolutionary War veterans regardless of whether or not they had been disabled
(as previous pension acts had required). On September 12, 1832, Collins
went to the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for Franklin County and
swore out his declaration of service. It is interesting that he calls himself
James Collins, Senior, since for the early part of his life he was always
James Collins, Junior (thus I have resorted to Roman numerals instead).
The declaration and supporting documentation have been mentioned many times
in the pages above. We also learn from Tempey's 1847 declaration that James'
pension amounted to $30 a month.
Death and Tempey's Life Thereafter
James Collins died on December 23, 1838, two days
before Christmas, a little over 80 years and two months old. Christmas
was a curious time for the Collinses: his first son, Durham, was born on
Christmas day, and just a little less than a week under a decade later,
on December 19, 1848, his widow Temperance would die. His father had bought
land on Christmas day, 1780. Late December dates turn up a lot among the
His widow survived him. Temperance had an equal
share with each of the children in the sale of the 15 slaves, and as we
have seen above, in the sale she acquired the man Tom, the woman Betty
and Betty's child Joe. She also sought, in a widow's petition filed in
the March Court Term of 1839, a dower interest in the estate of James Collins.
The county appointed George Tunstall, W.D. Coppedge, John Stallings and
George W. Webb (the last two good old Viriginia names!) to lay out her
dower land and her one year's allowance, an old tradition for the widow
when a man died intestate. She was allotted 421 1/2 acres out of a total
of 1,265 1/2 James had owned at the time of his death; her dower land is
shown in the plat with the estate settlement and in the map of James Collins
II's land on page 145.(96) She also filed
an application for a widow's year's support from the estate of James. The
allowance was made and Tempey was allowed:
Report the following articles necefsary for her
support and comfort viz. 30 barrels Corn, 600 lb Bacon, 40 lb. Lard 2 Barrels
Flour, 100 lb. Sugar, 23 lb. Coffee, 3 Gallons Molafses 5 Gallons Brandy,
2 lb. Pepper 1 lb Spice 1 lb Ginger 2 Bushels Salt 100 lb. Seed Cotton
5 [lb.?] Wool 1 Wheel & Cards & 1 Cow & Calf, 30 lb Soap, 12
lb Rice, 1 Work Horse 2 Sows & Pigs 4 Shoats 2 asses 2 Plough Hoes
2 Weeding Hoes & 15 lb. Iron all of which is respectfully submitted
given under our hands & seals this 11th June 1839.(97)
I cannot resist noting that in the sale of her
husband's estate Temperance got the larger still and the cider presses,
and in her widow's provisions got five gallons of brandy. This does not
appear to have been a teetotaling family. One might also remember that
when James II submitted the costs of the estate administration of his father
James I, he charged the estate six dollars for six gallons of brandy provided
at the estate sale, presumably to facilitate bidding. (See above, Page
On March 10, 1847, she filed her petition for
a widow's pension under James' old Revolutionary War pension. In it, she
noted that the reason she had not applied sooner was because "she did not
Know that she was entitled to one living in a verry retired part of the
County & alone and all of her children had left her". This sounds as
if none of her children were still around, that she had no idea where they
were, and that she was pretty isolated. When I first encountered the line
back in the 1960s in the pension files, I certainly had an image of an
old lady who could neither read nor write, whose children had moved on
to Tennessee and beyond and who probably had no idea what had become of
Anyone who looks at the large number of documents
in James Collins II's estate settlement files knows that was hardly the
case. In the 1839 petition, no fewer than four of the children are stated
to be of Franklin County: David, James (III), George Washington Collins
and Tempey Collins Stallings. Although Washington Collins certainly moved
between North Carolina and Tennessee and ended up in Mississippi, all the
census and land evidence suggests that James III and David, as well as
Temperance Stallings, were still living in Franklin County after Tempey
died, and that James III acquired all the land of his father's except the
dower land which went to Temperance. Furthermore, the Collins children
in Tennessee, and the Leonards in Georgia and Wilson Collins in Alabama,
all filed legal documents in the settlement of the estate, and my own ancestor
Henry Collins and his brother Holland may have returned to North Carolina
during the settlement of the estate; they show up among the buyers of the
slaves, and there are documents in which his siblings gave Henry their
power of attorney.
How, then, to explain Temperance's remark that
she was "living in a verry retired part of the County & alone and all
of her children had left her"? Well, the only explanation which I have
been able to come up with (that does not involve the still, the cider presses
and the brandy, anyway) is that the grand old American habit of fibbing
to the government just might have been well established even then: in context,
Temperance was trying to explain why she was late applying for the widow's
We learn of Tempey's death on 19 December, 1848
-- just four days before the 10th anniversary of her husband's death, and
like so many Collins dates, close to Christmas -- from a declaration filed
by George Washington Collins, her youngest son, on April 18, 1849. In it
he notes that he is the "only Surviving Heir" of Tempey; the clerk wrote
"only Surviving Child" and "Child" has been crossed out and "Heir" written
in twice. This is curious, since there is other evidence that James and
David were still there, and Bennett and Temperance Stallings show up in
the 1850 census as well.
In his declaration G.W. notes that Temperance
Collins, whom he calls Tempy (though most of the estate documents used
Tempey or Temperance), died December 19, 1848. She must have been 83 or
84; in March 1847 she had been 82 by her own statement. We do not know
her exact date of birth. Her ancestry is dealt with in separate notes on
1. . Sometimes identifying all the James Collinses who show up in Franklin County records can be confusing. Here are the basic conclusions I have reached and which are reflected in the genealogical tables derived from my database: James Collins I died about 1819, as we have seen, after which James II, who had been called James Junior in the records, came to be called James "Senior". His son, James III (born 24 January 1803) lived for a while in Tennessee but then returned and lived out his life in Franklin County; he was often referred to as James "Junior" while James II lived. Based on the census ages, he must be the James Collins who had a wife Rebecca and was born about 1803 like James III; this man died 11 January 1860 according to the Franklin County Estate Papers. Still another James Collins wrote his will in 1827, mentioning a wife Mary and children Josiah, Mary, Elizabeth, Emily and Ann. He is most probably James Collins, son of William Collins, James II's next oldest brother. Another James, James the son of Peter Collins, must be the James Collins who was born about 1813-15 according to the census, and married Mariah Cope in 1841. Peter's first son Josiah was born 1805, but Peter had only one son so far in the 1810 census, so his second son James must have been born between 1810 and Peter's death in 1817; this James who married Mariah Cope was born 1813-1815 according to the census, and named his eldest son Peter. Many of James II's other sons named children James, though often after leaving North Carolina. That the name James Collins also turns up occasionally in Nash and Warren County records suggests we still may not have them all accounted for.
2. . James Collins' pension file in the National Archives will not hereafter be cited by separate footnote. The Pension Number is W6737. Pension files are microfilmed alphabetically, with the widow's file included with those of the soldier, so the old pension numbers are no longer so important. James Collins' file can be found alphabetically in any microfilmed set of revolutionary pension files.
3. . The declaration notes that this is "according to a record of his age which he now has in pofsefsion". That record was not included in the file. On pension records generally, see the comments on Collins in the Revolution.
4. . Numbers quoted from Gilbert H. Doane, Searching for Your Ancestors, Bantam 1974 paperback edition, p. 122.
5. . Statement of William Leonard, Franklin County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, September Term 1832 (exact date not given), Collins pension file.
6. . The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Ed. William L. Saunders, Volume X (1775-1776), (Raleigh: 1890), p.577.
7. . List in The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Ed. William L. Saunders, Volume X (1775-1776), (Raleigh: 1890), p. 626.
8. . Phillips Russell, North Carolina in the Revolutionary War (Charlotte: 1965), pp. 98ff.
9. . Table in The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Ed. William L. Saunders, Volume X (1775-1776), (Raleigh: 1890), sheet between pp. 680 and 681.
10. . One query posted on the World Wide Web says that Denton also served in the last Colonial Parliament for Bute County: http://www.genforum.genealogy.com/nc/franklin/messages/58.html. He certainly served as a Captain of Light Horse operating in Western North Carolina soon after this period: The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Ed. William L. Saunders, Volume X (1775-1776), (Raleigh: 1890), p. 941, 942.
11. . On Seawell, see Edward Hill Davis, Historical Sketches of Franklin County (Raleigh: 1948), pp. 59-63.
12. . Table in The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Ed. William L. Saunders, Volume X (1775-1776), (Raleigh: 1890), table between pp. 680 and 681.
13. . Looks like "Crofs Crefs" in the original, but the context makes it clear it is "Cross Creek", modern Fayetteville, North Carolina.
14. . Apparently Griffith Rutherford, promoted to general in April 1776 however, so "colonel" is an anachronism if he is meant. Rutherford was an Irish-born Rowan County pioneer and witnessed the marriage bond of another Collins-line ancestor, John Cowden, in Rowan County. Rutherford County in North Carolina is named for him.
15. . For Denby's estate, see Will Books D,E,F,G Franklin County, North Carolina 1812-1824: Wills, Estates Records, Guardian Accounts, Abstracted by Dr. Stephen E. Bradley, Jr. (Keysville, VA: 1990). Inventory of Estate of Elijah Denby was taken Dec. 10, 1812 (Will Book D, 35 (29), p. 3 of the abstract) and the sale recorded Dec. 28, 1812 (Will Book D, 40 (33), p. 4 of the abstract).
16. . The State Records of North Carolina, Ed. Walter Clark, Volume XX (1785-'88), (Goldsboro, NC: 1902) p. 272..
17. . In earlier versions of James Collins' biography circulated over 20 years ago I read this as "Higg". Today it looks clearly to be "Hogg".
18. . Information provided by a National Park Service ranger at Guilford Courthouse.
19. . On James Read, see Phillips Russell, North Carolina in the Revolutionary War (Charlotte: 1965), index, and references below to Guilford Courthouse and Hobkirk's Hill.
20. . He was apparently from Granville County. See Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Part I, Vol. II (F-M) (Waynesboro, TN: 1991), p. 1669, citing BLW #104-400.
21. . See Footnote 189, Page 110, for Griffith Rutherford; also on his career, see William S. Powell, Ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5 (P-S), (Chapel Hill: UNC Presd, 1994), pp. 275-276. There were other Rutherfords, though I am not aware of another serving as a senior commander at this time.
22. . For a good, popularly written account of this period, John Buchanan's The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997) provides the context very well and is a good read. There is a large literature on the war in the South, some of which will be cited in the footnotes to this chapter.
23. . Letter dated 9 May 1991 to Michael C. Dunn from Park Ranger Thomas E. Baker, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, North Carolina.
24. . (25)
25. . Information provided by ranger at Guilford Court House National Military Park. At the request of the park ranger, a copy of James Collins' pension was left on file at the Park.(26)
26. . Information provided by ranger at Guilford Court House National Military Park. At the request of the park ranger, a copy of James Collins' pension was left on file at the Park.
27. . An excellent tour guide for Guilford and other North Carolina Revolutionary sites is Daniel W. Barefoot, Touring North Carolina's Revolutionary War Sites (Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 1998).
28. . Thomas E. Baker, Another Such Victory, written by a Park Service historian and published by Eastern Acorn Press, 1981, for sale at the National Military Park, includes National Park Service troop movement maps for the battle. Though there are many accounts of the battle, the troop movement maps make this one the essential one for locating units. On Eaton and Butler's troops, see p. 44. The map on pp. 48-49 shows the American first line as now construed by the Park Service, reproduced here. In his May 9, 1991 letter to me, Baker, Park Ranger and author of the booklet, explained that the evidence for placing Eaton on the right is as follows: Eli W. Caruthers' Revolutionary Incidents: Sketches of Character Chiefly in the "Old North State", Second Series (Philadelphia, 1856), p. 108 clearly states that "Eaton's brigade was on the north side and Butler's on the south side of the road". [See also footnote on Caruthers below.] According to Baker, "This corresponds with local traditions regarding the spot where a Guilford militia captain from Butler's brigade was killed and, of course, with the James Collins application. We also have a pension application from a Guilford county militiaman [thus under Butler] who recounted that his place in the line was 'on the left of the artillery', and who recalled having seen and heard Harry Lee during the artillery duel that preceded the British attack." I believe, and Baker agreed in his letter, that the tradition that Eaton was on the left came from a remark in Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee's memoirs that "the North Carolina militia took to flight, a few only of Eaton's brigade excepted, who clung to the militia under Campbell", since Campbell was on the left. Lee was the father of Robert E. Lee. But Baker notes in his letter to me that "I have some reservations about accepting Lee's comment at face value. I do not believe that Lee (or any other observer) could have distinguished the two North Carolina militia brigades by sight. Neither was uniformed and they lacked flags or other identifying accouterments or insignia. Furthermore, this was but one of many engagements in Lee's military career, and his account of it was written 31 years after the events in question. in short, I believe there are grounds to question Lee's recollection."
29. . Caruthers published two volumes under the general title Revolutionary Incidents and Sketches of Character chiefly in the 'Old North State'. The account of Guilford Courthouse is in the Second Volume and, according to the letter from Baker cited in the footnote above, appears on p. 108. I have not had access to the original edition of Caruthers. Both volumes have been republished in one (unfortunately with new pagination) typed and indexed by Ruth F. Thompson and published by the Guilford County Genealogical Society under the title The Old North State in 1776: Volumes I and II with Index [though there is little about 1776 in it] (Guilford County Genealogical Soicety, 1985). In that more readily available version of Caruthers, the reference to Eaton being on the right, quoted here, appears on p. 133.
30. . Phillips Russell, North Carolina in the Revolutionary War (Charlotte: 1965), pp. 218-219 and note 1 on p. 301.
31. . Phillips Russell, North Carolina in the Revolutionary War (Charlotte: 1965), p. 248
32. . Phillips Russell, North Carolina in the Revolutionary War (Charlotte: 1965), p. 259.
33. . I have not been to the Camden area. The are where the Battle of Hobkirk's hill was fought has since been overrun by the town of Camden. According to Mark Boatner's Landmarks of the American Revolution, p. 459, Highway markers on U.S. 521 and 601 (Broad St.) point to the locations of Greene's headquarters and the American line (just north of Greene St.) in the handsome residential area that now covers Hobkirk Hill. For a full tour with driving instructions one may refer to Daneil W. Barefoot, Touring South Carolina's Revolutionary War Sites (Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 1999), pp. 268-271.
34. . Marshall County [Tennessee] Historical Quarterly, Vol. I, Number 2, Fall 1970, p. 42 includes a transcript of the John Washington Richardson Bible. Randolph Richardson of Akron, Ohio has provided me with much data on the Richardson family.
35. . This contains the dates of birth of slaves from 1812-1837; it is reproduced below on Page 139, where a discussion of the slaves of James Collins II will also be found.
36. . Taylor sent me a letter on July 20, 1976 accompanied by a large typewritten and mimeographed family history/genealogy which had obviously been his life's work. His draft proof of Peter being clearly a son of James is summarized in what follows. He seemed to believe that Peter was also a son of Tempey but, as a good lawyer, noted that there was no proof of this. I believe the evidence weighs heavily towards an earlier marriage. I understand Judge Taylor died in 1986.
For those committed to classic genealogy, Judge Taylor's lineage (with my own additions) is as follows: James Collins I1; James Collins II (1758-1838)2; Peter Collins (pre1784-1817) md Patience (d. after 1820) ----- 3;, Josiah Collins (1805-before 1883) md Frances (Fanny) Vincent (Vinson?) 10 Jan. 1827 (Fanny b. 1803)4; Joseph Collins (2nd son)(15 Sept 1815-8 Jan 1901) md Ann Rebecca Gupton 15 Sept. 18685; Anna Collins b. 17 Aug. 1872, md. 5 April 1899 to George Dunham Taylor (Sr.) d. 9 June 19406; George Dunham Taylor Jr. (b., 3 May 1907 Castalia, NC, md. Ruby Mae Batgen Beaumont Texas 10 March 1936; Judge Taylor died in 1986).
37. . See Peter Collins' 1817 will, Franklin County file under original wills; Peter Collins' estate papers, in Franklin County estate papers which shows his land; and the peitition of the heirs of James Collins in the 1839 estate papers of James Collins' estate, this clearly being the James we are discussing. Also see, for Patience in 1820, The 1820 Tax Lists, Franklin County, North Carolina, abstracted by Stephen E. Bradley Jr. of South Boston, VA, 1987, number 591.
38. . All the documents from which Judge Taylor took his proof can be found on microfilms of the filed will and estate papers of Peter Collins (1817) and the estate papers of James Collins (1839).
39. 0. Franklin County census, 1800, p. 479 (James I and II are on p. 478), shows Peter with no wife or children; 1810, p. 94 (same page number/different sheet as James Collins II; James I is on p. 100) has Peter with one son under 10 and a daughter under 10 and a female, presumably Patience, 16-26.
40. . Family historians rarely address the issue of illegitimacy but it is relevant here. It is not impossible, theoretically, that he could have been born of Tempey before her marriage to James Collins, but an earlier wife seems likelier: had Tempey become pregnant out of wedlock, given the time and place, she would have married before the birth. But there is no room for another birth after Tempey's marriage in March, given Durham's birth in December of the same year.
41. . Donald C. Jeter, "The Collins Chronicle", Marshall County Historical Quarterly, Vol. V, No. 3, Fall 1974, p. 89ff., and on Durham's first wife, Donald C. Jeter, "North Carolina Grant No. 51", in Marshall County Historical Quarterly, Vol. XXI, No. 4, Winter 1990/91, p. 110.
42. . His tombstone in Marshall County says February 1785 without a more precise date. This is impossible, since Durham was born in December of 1784 and that was nine months after his parents' marriage. The 1786 date contained in the List of Ages must be the correct one. Cemetery Records of Marshall County, Tennessee, compiled by Timothy R. & Helen C. Marsh and Ralph D. Whitesall, Marsh Historical Publications, Shelbyville, Tenn. 1981 p. 121, for the Collins Cemetery, Spring Place Road on the old Wheatley Farm.
43. . Goodspeed's History of Tennessee, From the Earliest Time to the Present: Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Maury, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Bedford and Marshall Counties..., Nashville, Goodpseed Publishing Co., 1886. (Hereafter Goodspeed/Marshall), p. 1197, biography of Thomas Collins.
44. . Tombstone. See also Donald C. Jeter, "An Addition and Correction to "The Collins Chroinicle", Marshall County Historical Quarterly, Feb. 1983, pp. 90-92.
45. . See the material on Wilson in Georgia below under Henry Collins at page 157.
46. . Legal document dated 15 March 1841 and signed by Wilson Collins' mark, in James Collins 1839 estate file, Franklin County.
47. . 1833 State Census for Barbour County, Alabama, Copied by Helen S. Foley, Eufaula, AL; 1850 and 1860 censuses copied by the same copyist; he is number 666 in the 1850 census and #390 in the 1860 census.
48. . This is mostly derived from material provided to me by an Alabama Collins over the Internet. A few of the dates have been verified by me, but the names of the children shown in the database at the back of this work cannot be fully attested to by me.
49. . Orphan's Court Records Book II p. 45, 25 Sept., 1843, in Helen Sylvester Foley, Abstracts of Wills and Estates, Books I and II 1835-1847, Barbour County, Alabama, Volume I, p. 27.
50. . 1840 Census for Barbour County, Alabama, Copied by Helen Sylvester Foley, p. 62, assuming he is "W. Collins".
51. . Marie H. Godfrey, Rural Land Owners of Barbour County, Alabama, 1851, Southern Historical Press, Greenville, SC 1990, p. 24, citing Orphan's Court Records Vol. 20, p. 324/6.
52. . Again, based on Internet information not verified directly by me, though it fits with the date given in the previous footnote.
53. . See Marie H. Godfrey, Early Settlers of Barbour County, Alabama, Volumes I and II, p. 317, in the descendants of Wiliam Williams. The 1878 marriage appears in Barbour County marriage records as well.
54. . Eufaula Times and News, Eufaula, AL, 2 January 1908.
55. . Jeter, "Collins Chronicle", p. 90.This may come from a tombstone record.
56. . For detailed Logan County information see the material beginning on page 161. The marriage date is from the Logan County, KY records. I owe the initial identification of Logan County to Jim Larsen of California, a descendant of Holland Collins' daughter Elizabeth Rebecca Collins.
57. . Jeter's "Collins Chronicle", 90-91. Jeter says he came in 1826 but may be assuming the date from Willis' and Henry's migration.
58. . Following his 1843 death, there are numerous references to Mary or Polly in his estate settlement in the Marshall County records.
59. . Franklin County 1840 census.
60. . Franklin County 1860 census, Louisburg post office, p. 24, dwelling 182, family 181; she is a couple of pages after James Collins "Jr." and wife Mariah, who I believe was James, son of Peter Collins, and might be connected to that line in some way.
61. . Captain Mauris and Strong's Companies, Georgia Militia; Pension record S.O. 15,502, which I have not seen.
62. . Jeter's "Collins Chronicle", pp. 91-92. Some is taken Goodspeed's profile of Jones Collins' son David, pp. 1197.
63. . According to Goodspeed, who claims he was 94 and in good health (he was actually about 89). Goodspeed's account is on p. 1197 under David Collins, son of Jones.
64. . Letter from Holland Collins, Petersburg, Tennessee to Dr. John Day Collins, Highlandville, Missouri, February 25, 1888, copy in the author's collection.
65. . Jeter's "Collins Chornicle", p. 91.
66. . So from List of Ages and Tempey's declaration. Jeter in information to Taylor had January 21. Probably a misreading of a bad copy of the early document, since the crossbar of the "4"is not always visible to those not aware of old handwriting quirks. James III is not dealt with in Jeter's "Collins Chronicle" as such.
67. . Jeter's material is the source for this, but I am not sure that he has always kept James of North Carolina (James III) separate from James, son of Durham. Certainly the James Collins of the early 1820s must be James of North Carolina if related at all, though he appears as early as 1822 when he would have been only 19. More on this appears in the biography of Henry Collins, which deals in greater detail with the original Tennessee settlement.
68. . Franklin County Estate Records, file "James Collins 1860".
69. . James Henry Stallings, Stallings Family, Volume I, typescript in DAR Library, Washington DC. Volume I, pages 1 and 2. I have also cited this in the discussion of the Sandy Creek community, above, footnote 139, Page 86, where I questioned the English origin claimed there. Fitting the Stallings children listed there for Bennett with those named in the census is not easy. An attempt has been made in the genealogical tables.
70. .Jeter, "Collins Chronicles", p. 92; Goodspeed's profile of James W. Collins, son of Elisha, born February 15, 1832, appears in Goodspeed p. 1197.
71. . I originally took this statement from Judge Taylor, from material said to originate with Jeter. It does not appear, however, in Jeter's "Collins Chronicle" and I cannot confirm it.
72. . Goodspeed, under James W. Collins, p. 1197. Jeter, "Collins Chronicle" for the dates of the children.
73. . See Cemetery Records of Marshall County, Tenn., compiled by Timothy R. & Helen C. Marsh and Ralph D. Whitesall, Marsh Historical Publications, Shelbyville, Tenn. 1981, under Mt. Carmel Cemetery. Further citations given as Cemetery Records with the cemetery given.
74. . Jeter, "Collins Chronicle", p. 92. There is abundant independent evidence of this: George W. appears in some Marshall County census records, in others he is in Franklin. Similarly, other documents in his father's estate file suggest at least one move to Tennessee, followed by a return to North Carolina (where he was present at the time of his mother's death in 1848), then, apparently, a return to Tennessee.
75. . Franklin County estate files, James Collins 1839 (the estate file for James II's estate); petition of the Tennessee heirs and 1841 letter by Henry Collins.
76. . Judge Taylor's citation of the will; the material conforms with the information in Jeter, "Collins Chronicle".
77. . Jeter, "Collins Chronicle", 92; Taylor apparently did some independent research. The 1850 census ages do not always match precisely the birthdates given by these sources.
78. . Full references for all these tax lists up to 1810 appear in the biography of James Collins I, on pages 91-95.
79. . Rosemary Richardson, Franklin County North Carolina, 1815 Tax List, page 16, p. 327 of original.
80. . The 1820 Tax Lists of Franklin County, North Carolina (with Louisburg 1818 and 1821), abstracted by Dr. Stephen E. Bradley, Jr., South Boston Virginia, numbers 589-592.
81. . The 1820 Tax Lists of Franklin County, numbers 92, 93, 95.
82. . Franklin County 1807 tax list p. 90, 1810, pp. 182-183.
83. . Because there are still plenty of questions about the wife or wives of David Vinson, I deliberately say "her father's widow" rather than "her mother", since we're not sure how many wives he had.
84. . Donald Jeter and others have sometimes referred to Tempey's father as James Vinson or Vincent, and a man of that name died in 1809. His estate shows no mention of Tempey while David's clearly does, and the others who received the same share as Tempey explicitly (in their own deed records) refer to David as their father. James' widow Sally, who lived on past the 1850 census, seems to have been about Tempey's age, and the children are of that generation. It seems James "Vincent" was, most likely, an elder brother of Temperance. There is not the slightest doubt, now, that David was her father. David's father is another, more difficult, issue.
85. . For full references on these transactions see the David Vinson section, profiling the daughters and what is known about them. A great deal more on these transactions, and the map plat, will appear in a future edition of the Collins material as well as in my presentation of the Vinson ancestry.
86. . Franklin County Deed Book 19, p. 150.
87. . What follows comes from the James Collins 1839 Estate file, Franklin County records.
88. . Franklin County Will Book C, #229. The date is October 25, 1810, the same as that given for the widow's "provisions". Though the published version has Daniel, this appears to be David. It does not seem to appear on the list of the personal estate sale which I have, from the David Vinson estate papers.
89. . See The 1820 Tax Lists, Franklin County, North Carolina, abstracted by Stephen E. Bradly Jr. of South Boston, VA, 1987, number 589.
90. . Dorcas?
91. . It is assumed these were twins, but since the mother is not named this is unclear: two births on the same day in such a small slave population would be a coincidence indeed, but not impossible: see below, March 23, 1832, when two births appear to be recorded on the same day by two different (stated) mothers.
92. . Apparent spelling for Ephraim, but copy is unclear.
93. . or Magen? Very unclear.
94. . Could be "22th". The "th", used consistently, makes it sometimes difficult to read uncertain figures. Note that this entry, and the one which follows, seem to be the same day but of different mothers; note too that it and the one which precedes are out of chronological order.
95. . Handwriting actually looks like "1867", but context shows it is 1837.
96. . The plat and description appear in the papers relating to the dower land, filed in the estate papers of James Collins (Franklin County Estate Papers, James Collins 1839).
97. . Report dated 11 June 1839 by Geo. Tunstall, W.D. Coppedge, John Stallings, and George W. Webb to the Franklin County Court, June Court 1839, in the James Collins 1839 estate files.