John M. Collins, Jr. was my 3rd great grandfather. John was born about 1784 in South Carolina, probably Spartanburg County. I have not yet found documentation as to his parents although a number of family trees list his father as John Collins, Sr.; that may be logical from today’s mindset, but many times in earlier generations a younger person in a community with the same name as an older person in the community would be called junior to differentiate him from the older man even if they were not father and son. Additionally, John Collins, Sr. had a son named John who was referred to as John ‘Jack’ Collins the bachelor.
John married Edith F. McCarter sometime prior to 1808. The 1810 census for Spartanburg listed their family unit as 1 male 26-44, 1 female 26-44 and 2 females under 10, plus one slave. Their neighbors included a number of the surnames of families who would later join them in moving from Spartanburg to Fayette County, Alabama: Loftis, Ballenger and Pennington, along with Edith’s father, John, and her brother, Alexander McCarter.
The 1820 Spartanburg census for John Collins shows the family now had seven male children [probably sons] with the same two daughters as in 1810 plus one adult male between 26 and 44 and one adult female between 26 and 44. They also now had one male slave and two female slaves.
Their oldest daughters S. Ann Collins and Judah Collins were both married by the 1830 census. S. Ann married David Loftis about 1825 and Judah married my 4th great-grandfather, William J. Willis, in Spartanburg County about 1829.
The 1830 Spartanburg census seems to have a blended family [these are tic mark census records so all you have are notations of males and females within certain age categories]. There is a male and female between 40 and 50 [John would have been about 46 and Edith about 41], but there is also a male between 30 and 40 and a female between 20 and 30. There are census records available for the first two daughters under their husband’s names, which would account for their two older daughters and their sons would not be older than 20. Two of the older sons are not enumerated in this census and their are two more younger sons. There are five females enumerated I cannot account for by known names; these may be children of the younger couple.
The Collins family were members of the Holly Springs Baptist Church of Spartanburg County. The church apparently misplaced their constitution and set up a committee to rewrite them. A report was presented with the new constitution on November 7, 1834; John was a member of that committee. Following the constitution was a list of the members, including a number who were being dismissed by letter to move to another church. Those members included: John Collins, Thomas Collins, John W. Collins, William F. Collins, Alexander McCarter Collins, and Edy Collins, as well as several Ballenger family members. This record would indicate the general time frame of the move from Spartanburg to Fayette County, Alabama
The 1840 census for Fayette County, Alabama lists the J. M. Collins family with 16 members with ages for the two older male and female adults between 50 and 60 and the remaining 14 with ages ranging between under 5 up to about 29 – an obvious blended family.
On a trip to Fayette County in 2010, a cousin drove us by the land where John and Edith Collins had their farm after their move to Alabama. After turning left off State Highway 107 onto Old Gin Road [the Old Mount Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery is located on the right side of the road about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to the first road; take the curve to the left and their old farm property is on the left [marked by a red 'x'].
The known children of John and Edith Collins were: S. Ann Collins Loftis, Judah Collins Willis, Alexander McCarter Collins, Thomas Collins, William F. Collins, John Whitten Collins, Richard Collins, Edith Collins, Joel Collins, Amy Collins Willis, James B. Collins and Sarah F. Collins Graham. After the death of Judah Collins Willis, their daughter Amy Collins married her sister’s husband and they had one son, James Franklin Willis, my great-great-grandfather.
The 1850 census included a Mortality Census asking people to list anyone who had died within the year from June 1849 to June 1850. That census lists the death of both John and his wife, Edy; Edy in May 1849 of an unknown illness of 8 months and John in August 1849 of a fever he’d had for fourteen days. [Most family trees list John's death as August 1850, but the census records were effective June 1, 1850 so had he been alive in June 1850, he would not have been listed in the mortality census but would rather have been listed in the regular 1850 federal census.] In addition to month and cause of his death, the mortality census also affirms he and Edy were born in South Carolina and tells us that John was a wagon maker.No records of their burials have been found but due to their previous membership in the Holly Springs Baptist Church and the Willis family’s affiliation with the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, in addition to some family tradition, it is believed they are buried at Old Mount Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery on Old Gin Road which was just a short distance from their home and which is located just to the south east of the green square on the map above Old Gin Road.
This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.
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