52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks # 28 – John M. Collins, Jr.

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

1840 censusThe 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’].Collins Land

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.1850 mortalityNo 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.


Celebrating a 219th Anniversary

Today, July 1, 2013, is the 219th anniversary of the marriage of my 5th great-grandparents, William Berry Blackstock, Jr. and Mary ‘Polly’ Bobo. According to the U. S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900, they were married July 1, 1794.

I don’t know about you, but I find it amazing that we can find any records at all about people who lived more than 200 years ago. This country is relatively young and many of our earliest settlers couldn’t read or write and yet, those who could, recorded momentous occasions – births, deaths and marriages in family Bibles, and land transactions, probate documents, civil and criminal documents at courthouses – and so, we sometimes find documents from which we can discover and/or infer bits and pieces of their lives.

The Blackstocks  owned a plantation in Union County, South Carolina, which I learned was a Revolutionary War battle site called the Battle of Blackstock’s Plantation. My daughter and I made a research trip to South Carolina in June 2012. The specific dates for the trip were planned around a family reunion held by some Miles descendants – I have no direct line Miles ancestors – just that my great-great-grandmother’s sister, Mary Foster, married a Miles and then my great-grandfather’s half-brother’s widow, Mary Priscilla Middleton Willis, married the same Miles man after they both were widowed in the early 1860s – additionally, the elder Miles was a local minister who had married several of my extended family members.

The reunion planners had scheduled several speakers and visits that tied directly into our research wants and needs and made joining them a great benefit. One of the scheduled activities was a visit to the Blackstock Plantation with a speaker from the South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism department who currently own the land.

???????????????????????????????The park ranger, who came out on a Sunday morning, talked to us about the family and the battle and the impact on the ultimate outcome on the Revolution. There are a number of websites with information on this Battle; I have provided one link for anyone with an interest.

As a result of that reunion we got quotes from a letter written by L. [Landon] Miles to Dr. J. H. Logan on August 11, 1858 and published in the Thomas Sumpter Papers of the Draper Manuscripts. Two of his recollections were pertinent to my Blackstock ancestors:

Miles says he was born Feb. 1, 1782 – born and raised within 3 miles of Blackstock’s and still lives there. “I went to see Old Blackstock’s when I was a boy. He was an old Irishman when the British & Torys camped at his house or nearby, he used to pilot them to my father’s to rob & plunder… I have heard my mother say all the way she could keep anything to eat was to put it in a jar in the jamb of the house and cover it with ashes. They would pass it for an ash can. The Tories would strip beds and take everything they or their horses could use at their camps.”

He also wrote that “Old Man Blackstock’s son in time of the war married into a Tory family. The old man was opposed to it – the wedding was at my grandmother Farrow’s. It was a run away match. Old Blackstock’s was in pursuit and came up while Squire Ford was marrying them & cutting short his ceremony said, ‘I now pronounce you man & wife.’ Blackstock heard it ad howled out ‘I pronounce it a damed lie.’ Came up very angry. He said the Tories had left him nothing but his old red jacket and they might have that – & pulled it off, & stamped on it & swore that they might have it too.”

One of the stories I heard from the ranger that day and have also seen written was the account that Mrs. Blackstock (apparently the younger because there were several small children around her and the older Mrs. Blackstock was past childbearing years), was out in the field telling Banastre Tarlton that she forbade him to fight on her property. Her husband, William the younger, was serving with Col. Roebuck’s unit and was away at the time of the Battle.

We can infer from that story as well as William’s age of 30 that he had been married before he married Mary “Polly” Bobo since the battle took place in 1780 and they didn’t marry until 1794. There are some family trees that list his wife’s maiden name as Yarbrough. Since other Blackstock siblings married into the Yarbrough family, it is not unreasonable to assume that his first wife was, in fact, Mary Yarbrough; to date, I have not found supportive documentation. My daughter got DNA samples from my son and grandson for autosomal testing through Ancestry.com. We have had several matches that would appear to have come through the Bobo line and, thus far, this is the only direct line Bobo I’ve found.

A slight digression would be to say my daddy bought a marvelous blonde Cocker Spaniel puppy for us in 1955 or 1956 that he named Bobo. At the time it merely seemed like a reasonable name for a pet but once I started doing research on daddy’s family in Fayette County, Alabama I discovered many of his neighbors’ surnames were Bobo and though there were some marriages between aunts, uncles or cousins, there weren’t any Bobos in my direct line. What a pleasant surprise to find that the name Bobo that daddy chose as a pet name was actually a direct line surname by the time I arrived at my 5th great-grandmother.

Once the reunion was over, we began the research portion of our trip and headed over to Columbia where the South Carolina Archives are housed. We found William Blackstock’s will. In spite of the fact he apparently had children from his first marriage, he only mentions the two daughters born in his marriage to Mary Bobo. I have been unsuccessful to date in locating information on those earlier children; consequently, it is difficult to know if they were omitted because they predeceased him, or if they had quarreled, or moved away and had not stayed in contact with him.

William Blackstock 1841 will webSince the daughters were the only ones mentioned, it is presumed that his wife had predeceased him. Both daughters were married and are identified in the will by their married names: Mary Pool and Jane Foster. George Pool is named Executor and Jane Foster (my 4th great-grandmother) is named Executrix and the property was to be divided equally between the daughters after his debts and funeral expenses were paid.

One of the benefits of the will is that my daughter gained another signature for her signature file. The signature tells us two things about him – he could write and his control of his hand was shaky – quite logical since in 1841 he was 91 years old.

Information on my Blackstock/Bobo ancestors is spotty and, thus far, not very thoroughly documented. I would love to hear from anyone from either family who could add to my knowledge and documentation base for them.