Big Thicket jayhawkers

Collins Family Unionism, Mississippi to Texas

By Vikki Bynum

The Big Thicket of East Texas

The Big Thicket of East Texas

We’ve all the heard the cliché “truth is stranger than fiction,” but it’s always amazing to find an historical event that one can only imagine happening in a novel. That’s the way I felt when I discovered that six Collins brothers, from Mississippi to Texas, were divided into two different deserter bands that fought against the Confederacy. It doesn’t seem so strange to me now, knowing the strong Unionism of the Collins family, but it struck me at the time as kind of like mining for ore and striking gold.

You see, I was simply seeking additional genealogical information about the Collinses when I shifted my research on Mississippi’s Free State of Jones to Texas. I had stumbled on a small, self-published history of the Texas Collins family written by Vinson Allen Collins, whose name I immediately recognized since he was named for his Unionist uncle of Jones County, Mississippi. I wanted to know more about this branch of the family, especially since the family patriarch, Stacy Collins, had moved to Texas with this branch before dying shortly thereafter.

So then I found yet another family history of the Collinses, this one written by Carr P. Collins Jr., a grandson of the above Vinson Collins. From both works, I learned that the parents and four brothers of the Collinses who later joined the Knight band in Jones County had moved to East Texas around 1852. One of those sons, the great-grandpa of Carr P. Collins Jr., was Warren Jacob Collins, dubbed the “Daniel Boone” of East Texas.

What you won’t learn from either of these Texas family histories is that Warren Jacob Collins, joined by brothers Newton and Stacy, Jr., was the leader of the Big Thicket “jayhawkers” of Hardin County, Texas. Nor is there any mention of “The Free State of Jones” in either book, although Warren’s brothers, Simeon, Riley, and Jasper, were instrumental in forming the Knight band back in Jones County. Only by turning to Texas folklore and local histories did I learn this vital aspect of Texas Collins family history.

And that, my friends, is a perfect example of how thoroughly the Unionism of many of our southern forebears has been buried. The subsequent glorification of the Confederate “Lost Cause” by most Southern (and a good many Northern) writers and politicians in the wake of North/South “reconciliation” during the late-nineteenth century turned all “good” Southerners into diehard supporters of the Confederacy. Many southern families, although thankfully not all, were ashamed to find Unionism in their family backgrounds and felt compelled to hide it.

Much of my motivation for writing The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies is my determination to “reconcile” the histories of two branches of the Collins family whose Unionist convictions crossed state lines and survived the Civil War. I’m betting there are many more such families of the South. For now, the example of the Collinses demonstrates the ideological strength of Unionism as one important motivation for deserting the Confederate Army.

174 replies »

  1. Vikki,

    It is very interesting how the history of Southern Unionists have been buried. In working in my home newspapers (the papers that ran from 1867-1940), I ran across a smattering of hints of Unionism and/or simple reluctance with the Confederate Cause. By the 1920s and 30s, the stories about Southern Unionists were running from three different people writing letters to the newspaper. It seems to have been quickly buried again, as there is little or no knowledge in the county today about SU activities, and especially about the brutality against Southern Unionists or disillusioned Confederates… or of the horrors of the conscript hunters.

    Furthermore, I have also encountered, on more than one occasion, situations in which the memory of ancestors who were Union soldiers from northern states has also been blotted from memory; Lost Cause mythology having trumped the ties to those “less worthy of remembering” under the “rules of acceptability” within Southern culture.


  2. So true, Robert. While books on Southern Unionism are great and necessary, I really hope the increasing number of blogs on the topic will do even more to restore Southern Unionists to their rightful place in history.


  3. I am a Collins. My great grandfather was Jasper. My first paper in high school was about The Free state of Jones. I had not realized how much information was available.

      • I’m looking for any information on the Collins of East Texas, in particular a Bessie Mae

    • My mother is a Collins as well. Her great grandfather was Simeon. I am an ancestry enthusiast and I’ve finally gotten my family interested since the Free State of Jones movie is coming out. I guess we are cousins!

  4. Leslie, I am glad to hear from you, and also pleased to know that you were already interested in the Free State of Jones as a high school student.

    I must say that the descendants of Jasper Collins tend to be more aware of their ancestors’ Unionism than most. I think it’s because Jasper never sidestepped his wartime activities and continued to speak his own mind, and embrace independent political stances, ’til the very day he died.

    If there are insights into your great-grandfather’s life that you wish to share in this forum, please feel free to do so.


    p.s. I wonder if you are also related to Benagah Mathews, who organized Newt Knight’s first petition to Congress as a Unionist in 1872? I’m betting you are!

  5. I have been looking for the parents of Elizabeth Collins
    Burrow.married to William Burrow in the 1800’s. I don’t
    know if she was from Wise or Tyler Co.’s
    I think she was the sister of Joel Collins that rode for a
    while with the infamous Bass Gang.
    They had a son by the name of James B.Burrow,07-13 18??
    any help would be appreciated
    gloryanne kesler

    • Gloryanne,
      I am not familiar with this Texas branch of Collins/Burrow, at least not from the names that you provide. Do you have any additional information or names?
      I find it interesting that your Elizabeth Collins married a William Burrow. In 20th century Mississippi, a Jasper Collins descendant, Elizabeth Lyon, also married a Burrow (this was Betty Burrow, who published a series of articles on the Free State of Jones in the PROGRESS-ITEM in 1962). Since there are extensive lines of Collinses who descend from Stacy Collins in both Mississippi and Texas, I wonder if there might be some connection between the Burrow family in both states as well, since related families tended to migrate to new states together in the nineteenth century. Perhaps some Collins/Lyon/Burrow descendants might have insights into this.


    • Gloryanne,
      I am the Great-Grandson of James Bascom Burrow (B- July 18, 1861) we have the family reunion on or near his birthday every year. His father William Henderson Burrow was married to Eliza Harmon Collins. Her fathers name was William Joseph Collins and her mother was Elizabeth Hodges. I have no information on if she had any siblings. Eliza is buried in Veal’s Station Cemetery near Ft. Worth, TX. She married William Campell after my Great-Great Grandfather died in 1862. Unfortunately I know very little about her. I do have some stories from some family history books. Feel free to contact me if you are still looking for information.


      • Thank you so much, Jason, for supplying this information for Gloryanne!


      • Jason,,how wonderful you are..that is the guy and the gal we (the family ) have been looking for.However,I think he was born in 1851,not 61,as if he died in 1862,,impossible..just a typo.but want to thank you so very much.
        I have plenty of info,of James Bascom’s life when he settled in Utah,He was my Grandfather James Henry Burrows’s father.(born in 1889,georgetown,Kane Co.,Utah) James Basom is buried in Springville,Utah Co.,Utah.
        We have James Bascom Burrow b-day recorded as July 13,.He is listed and biographed in,PROMINENT MEN OF UTAH.
        It is a rare book that you can borrow from youre public library.
        jason, thank you,,you are so appreciated and we also have a reunion,”James Henry
        Burrows” every 24th of July..
        god bless you

      • Jason,

        My Great-Grandfathers name is William Joseph Collins .His 1st wifes name is Kelly Ella Thompson. They lived in Quitman Tx./Wood county. My Grandfather-William Earl Collins had 3 sisters . I really dont know much more than that, My G-Grand pa came to TX from ALA. I dont know if he remarried or if he had any other children. I cant find any info on him……..

        Misty Collins

  6. Hi, I found your blog via your post on Vinson Allen Collins was my great-great-grandfather! This is very interesting history to me.

    I’m not clear- are you a Collins descendant or just an interested historian? Can you connect me to other descendants?

    • Hi Priscilla,

      I’m a historian of the nineteenth century South, with special emphasis on the Civil War era. My interest in the Collins family began with my book, The Free State of Jones, (Jones County, Mississippi). Your Great-great-grandfather Vinson was the son of Warren Jacob Collins, who moved to Texas from Jones County, MS, around 1852. I have done a lot of research on Warren, and my next book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War, will include quite a bit on both Warren and Vinson Collins.

      There are a number of Mississippi and Texas Collinses who have commented on this site, but I don’t have direct contact with descendants of Vinson Collins. However, there’s always the chance that one will see your post on here.

      Thanks for stopping by!


      • p.s.–Priscilla, it just occurred to me that your ancestor might be the Vinson Allen Collins of Jones County, who was the older brother of Warren Jacob Collins (the Mississippi Vinson also the brother of Simeon, Jasper, Riley, Sarah, etc.) Can you clarify whether you are descended from the Texas or the Mississippi Vinson?


    • I have a letter from Vinson Allen Collins to my grandfather. I also have some information on the East Texas Collins family.

      • Norma,

        Thank you for contacting Renegade South. I’m sure many of my readers would love for you to share your information about the East Texas Collinses, and certainly the letter from Vinson Allen Collins. If you would rather share privately with me, just let me know.


      • Norma, I am in search of information from the Collins family from East Texas. Any help would be appreciated.

  7. Hi Vikki,

    The Texas V.A. was my great-great-grandfather. His son Halley was my great-grandad, via Hal’s youngest daughter Louella.

    My little brother narrowly avoided being yet another V.A.🙂

    I look forward to following your site!

    – Priscilla

    • Thanks for clarifying that, Priscilla. I hope you connect with some other V.A. descendants here, but so far it’s been mostly descendants of Jasper, Simeon, and Sarah Collins. BTW, although I am not directly related to the Collinses, I discovered through research that a good many of my Bynum relatives intermarried with them.


  8. My great, great grandfather, Isaac Anderson, had a sister,
    Sarah Anderson, who married Stacy Collins. I find the Collins’
    history very interesting. There is an article about Sarah Collins in the April issue of the Journal of Mississippi History.
    Isaac’s son Richmond, my great grandfather, fought in the C.W. at MossPoint, MS. After the C.W., my grandfather, Wm.
    Newton Anderson, came with his brothers and a sister Mary to Angelina Co., TX. These were children of Isaac’s first wife
    Teresia Powell. I believe Teresia’s brother, John H. Powell,
    was quite influential in politics during the period of the Civil
    War. Now, if anyone knows who Isaac Anderson’s parents were, please contact me. Doris Anderson Lamb

    • Hi Doris,

      thanks so much for writing. That article in the Journal of Mississippi history is by Ed Payne, a sometime contributor to this blog, and I encourage those interested in the Free State of Jones or Colllins family history to read it. Perhaps Ed or some other Anderson family researcher knows the identity of the parents of Isaac Anderson and will contribute here.

      As for John H. Powell, yes, he was very important to Civil War politics in Jones County. He was the elected anti-secession delegate to the 1861 Mississippi State convention that decided to take Mississippi out of the Union. Powell held out for about three votes, then gave in, which made many Jones countians furious, including Powell’s son-in-law, Jasper Collins.


  9. Hi,
    My GGDad was named John George Chandler. He married my GGMom in 1874 in Montgomery Co. TX. We have nothing on this person except for his life after marrying. There has been rumors that he was an outlaw and changed his name and DNA testing seems to confirm the name change. There are other rumors about being run out of LA for horse stealing and consorting with black women. Since you seem to be an authority about this time period, is there any information you might be able to share that can help us find who this man was and what he did. We have come to the conclusion that his stated birthdate, birthplace, and name cannot be confirmed as accurate. What we do know, after marrying my GGMom, he led a respectful life and had thirteen children. He died in 1902. Any help you could offer would be an asset since we cannot seem to dig up actual facts about this ancestor. Are their other families who have found this problem with their relations during this time period?

    • Mary,
      Are there any connections between your Chandler ancestors and the Collins, Valentine, Loftin, or Holifield families that migrated from Mississippi to Texas after the Civil War?

      • I don’t recall those names. Where did they settle in Texas? My GGmom was Mary Elizabeth Turner Chandler. The surnames associated with her are Turner, Hunt, McAdams, Ratliff. These families were from all over the South but Mary’s parents lived in Itawambia Co., MS.

        The names of the Chandler children are Clara Lydia, James George, Josie Lina, Walter Lancy, Rubert Lambert, Rosemond Lynette, Mae Alma, Thomas Buchanan, Whitman Turner, Edwin Foster, Robert Searcy, Charlie Morris, Jesse Estella, and William Lomas.

        There is one other clue about his identity. There is a known letter between him and “John George, Sr.” about a visit to TX. I don’t have the letter in hand and I hesitate referencing it without knowing specifically what it said but I can get it. There is no known information about JGC, Sr. either.

      • Vikki:
        Which Loftin’s are you referring to? Still trying to figure out the possible connection of my Martha Collins Dyess to these Collins. Her daughter Elizabeth married Ezekiel Loftin and he is believed to have died in Jasper county sometime shortly after the 1870 census and his wife and children moved to Hardin Co., TX. These Loftins were spread out from Lawrence to Jasper county and sometimes found in the surrounding counties.

  10. I mispoke about a letter. It is a newpaper in the Galveston Daily News dated April 30, 1880 of an older “John George Chandler” looking for a younger JGC. It states that Sr wanted to locate his son and was retracing the steps taken by Jr but fell ill on the boat ride from New Orleans to Galveston and woke up in the hospital with the known address gone from inside his coat pocket which it was pinned and for three years he has been searching for his son.

    It is not clear which JGC was avoiding the public or both. There is another story about a clandestine meeting during the war that was set up through another newspaper notice between the two of them in Vidalia, LA which is directly across from Natchez, MS.

    I see now that I post on the incorrect thread but any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    • Thanks, Mary. It would be great if some of our readers had connections with your Chandler ancestor. That’s why I asked if there were any Collins, Valentines, etc. in your line. These branches of Jones county, MS, families moved mostly to East Texas, especially to Hardin and Polk counties.


      • In my reading about the Southern Unionist. I have found other names such as Ben Hawkins, and a Foster. Both of these names I have found in my family tree but associated with the Hunts and Turners which is my GGmom’s Mary Elizabeth Turner’s people. My cousin thinks that Mary’s mother Lydia Ann Hunt did recieve a Civil War pension from John Lambert Turner’s participation in the war. Does this mean he would have fought for the South?

  11. Mary,
    Interesting! My next question is whether your ancestors migrated to Texas from Mississippi, especially from the piney woods region of Mississippi. As you may have noticed in my post of letters concerning the Lowry raids, there was an important Smith Co, MS., Unionist named Ben Hawkins. Just below Smith Co., in Jones and Jasper, was the Newt Knight band. The maiden name of Newt’s wife, Serena, was Turner.

    Lydia Ann Hunt might have received a pension from either Confederate or Union grantors of such; you should check and see which it was.

    In any case, receiving a Confederate pension did not necessarily prove that one was loyal to the Confederacy. At least two Collinses who moved after the war from MS to TX managed to get Confederate pensions based on their service at Kennesaw Mtn. Both had been members of the Knight band, captured by Col. Lowry and forced back into the Confederacy.


  12. Seeking info on the Collins of Texas — not sure of the exact area but I do know that they lived in Chidress, Ellis County, Nagadoches areas. Names are William L. Collins and his descendants. He was married to a Lovie L. Powell. Do you know of these?

    • Did you find information in the Collins family of East Texas? My grandmother was Ella Mae Collins, birn 1894 in Shelby Co. Her father, James Washington Collins b. 1863, in East Texas. Mother, Phebie Nations, born 1866 in AR. James’ father was William Collins, married to Lavica, or Lavisa, Elliiott in Clarke Co. MS. I believe they moved to Texas 1852. We have located a couple of family graves in The Tenaha Cemetery. There were Knight graves in the same cemetery.

      • Patricia, I find your comment very interesting and have spent considerable time pondering the possible–even likely–connection of your Collinses to the Stacy Collins family of Jones County, MS, and East Texas. The problem is that I can find NO overlapping first names as I peruse my Collins materials. You say these Collins came to East Texas from Clarke County, MS, which suggests they may be descendants of Stacy’s brothers: they families did fan out after settling together for a time in Buckatunna, Mississippi.

        It is doubly intriguing to learn that there are Knights buried in the Tenaha Cemetery where you found a few of your Collinses buried. Not only did Jasper, Simeon, and Riley Collins, and several of Simeon’s sons, join the Knight band in Jones County, MS., but there is also a “Edwiner Knight” (b.1881-d.1896) buried in the Jasper Collins cemetery in Jones County. Yet I have never found evidence of a Collins-Knight marriage; have you?

        Would love to know what, if any, connections there might be between these families!


      • Patricia, have you heard of a Bessie Mae Collins from East Texas, born around 1902. I’m looking for the birth mother of my late husband. His birth name was Allen Collins.

      • I have not been able to get back to the blog for awhile. I did not find direct evidence of a Collins-Knight marriage. I did find an entry on the 1850 census, Clarke Co., MS, which may be of interest. I do not know how to attach a screen shot here. The household includes:
        Collins, William, 25, gunsmith
        Collins, Lavisa, 19
        Collins, Saborn, 2
        Knight, Mark, 32, Farmer
        Knight, Martha, 26
        Knight, Mary, 6
        Knight, Thomas, 3
        Knight, Nancy, 7/12

        William and Lavisa Collisa are my G-G-Grandparents. They moved to Texas. My GGrandfather was their son, James Washington Collins, who was born in Texas. It is the infant son of James (Willie Isaac Collins) who is buried in the Tenaha cemetery, next to another Collins child, who was a cousin. There is a Knight grave nearby.

      • I really hope people will log into the Bluewater cemetery listings to check for Loftin and Collins descendants from East Texas. People tend to lose their Collins relatives in East Texas and I still strongly believe if they look through the roster of Collins, Loftin and Welch (some are not listed by maiden name Welch,) But these dead-ends for many are right there! I will try and post a list of Collins buried there soon. Thanks and hope this helps some people find their ancestors. The town of Bluewater, Texas is gone but the old cemetery is well maintained. Finding it is not easy if you are not from there and don’t try driving the road in wet weather.

  13. I am a Collins and I am trying to find my ancestry but I have no idea where to start. I know that I am related to the Collinses who ‘migrated’ from Mississippi, but I dont know how to refine the family histories. Please Help? Thank you

    • Hi Natalie, welcome to Renegade South. From what you say, you seem to be a Texas Collins, right? I would begin with Vinson Allen Collins, A Story of my Parents, Warren Jacob Collins and Tolitha Eboline Valentine Collins (1962). Most Texas genealogical libraries have this volume; I found it at the genealogical library of the Texas State Archives in Austin. Vinson’s grandson, Carr P. Collins, Jr., also published a family history entitled Royal Ancestors of Magna charta Barons in 1959.

      To learn about the Mississippi branch, including Stacy and Sarah Collins, the original family migrants to both Mississippi and Texas, and the parents of both the Free State of Jones and Big Thicket Collinses who fought against the Confederacy, see my book, The Free State of Jones published by University of North Carolina Press in 2001.

      I believe the latest work on the Collins family is Ed Payne’s article on Sarah Collins Parker, which is due out momentarily by the Journal of Mississippi History. Perhaps Ed would like to speak to that article, as well as Natalie’s illustrious Collins ancestors.

      Hope this is helpful–may I ask which line you’re from?


      • The only clue Ive gotten from my living family is from the book ‘Tales from the Big Thicket’ By Francis Edward Abernethy. I don’t quite understand what you mean by which line, but i believe VA Collins is part of it. HAHA. I’ve been trying to go backwards from my father and forward from VA Collins, but there are so many gaps. Thank you so much for your advice. I will certainly take a look at those books when I get the next chance. If you think of any additional or refined starting places please let me know.

      • Hi Natalie,

        I asked which line you were from because there were four Collins brothers–Warren Jacob, Stacy Jr., Newton Carroll, and Edwin–who migrated to Texas from Mississippi, with their parents, Stacy and Sarah, around 1852. A sister, Nancy Collins Riley, migrated to Texas even earlier.

        After the war, the widow (Lydia Bynum Collins) and sons of another Collins brother, Simeon, also moved to Texas and lived near Warren Jacob Collins.

        If you are descended from Vinson Allen Collins, then you are from the Warren Jacob Collins line, as Vinson was his son. I will have an entire chapter on Warren and Vinson Collins in my upcoming book.


      • People who are looking for the Collins family who migrated from Mississippi to Texas may want to look up Bluewater Cemetery. The town is gone but the cemetery is still there off an old logging road which used to lead into the town of Bluewater. A lot of the Collins family are buried there amongst Loftin’s and Cynthia Rachel Welch wife of Ezekiel Asa Loftin is buried there as well as John Prentiss Loftin (All who migrated from Jones County joined the union army in NOLA and most went AWOL with the bounty they got for joining and went on to East Texas where they lived there lives rarely speaking of Jones County outside of family and even that was rare. It appears Newt Knight removed the names of many of these men from the rolls of Free State of Jones when they left, “in an attempt to change history,” but the names still carries through. I think Newt’s agenda became more about weathering the storm with his mixed race family in Mississippi. So history was geared from his angle of the fight thereafter. The Welch’s and Knights appear to have married many times afterwards in Mississippi. I think the Collins and Loftin family were working together to carve out a life in East Texas along with the other families who fled. It was a necessary secret to keep. The area in Texas where they settled in and around the big thicket and along the swamps that bordered the Trinity River were very similar to the terrain in Jones but the land was rich. Later they would all be swindled out of the mineral rights they had by the oil companies and the biggest oil strike in History happened right under their land and as millions of dollars of oil was pumped from the earth literally under their feet they gained little to nothing.

      • Thanks for sharing your insights and your knowledge of the Loftin-Collins family, Ezekiel!


  14. Vikki,

    Tonight I read some info about the books “The Free State of Jones”.

    I have not read your book, but on an Internet site there was mention of a B f Moss and his brother. I have done minimal genealogy research, but I think The B F Moss might be my great uncle who came from MS and died in Hallettsville, TX as Major B F Moss who signed the Texas Succession from the Union. His brother in MS would be either my Great grandfather or another Great Uncle. The info on the Internet did not mention the brother’s name. Can you share it with me if you have it?

    My Great grandfather was William C Moss and another prominent brother was my Great Uncle Charles L Moss of MS. All the brothers were born in VA.

    • Linda,

      I’m sorry, but I find no indications that the B.F. Moss that you describe is the same one who lived in Jones County, Mississippi. According to available records and family genealogists, the Mississippi B.F. Moss was born in Jones County on Jan, 16, 1834, and lived in Mississippi (from where he served in the Confederate Army) his entire life.

      His parents were Benjamin Moss of South Carolina (died 1837) and Sarah Hossey. He had many siblings; his known brothers’ names were Andrew, John, and Samuel.

      It’s certainly possible that the MS-TX families were kin.

      Good luck with your research,

  15. Vikki,

    Thank you, for such a quick response! I was hoping I had solved the puzzle of my missing Great Grandfather, and
    his wife. All of his siblings are accounted for, but he and his wife are basically MIA.
    None of the brothers you mentioned are his siblings.

    My Grandmother (daughter of William) Martha Adeline(Addie) Osbourn Moss – and one sister Mary were left as
    orphans in the 1860s and raised by an aunt in MS, Nancy Allen Word.
    Even Nancy’s descendant – Nancy Chambers Underwood of Dallas, TX – author of “Fifty Families” did not find any info on them.
    Martha’s sisters (my other 2 great aunts – (Belle and Francis) were raised by Major Ben Franklin Moss in Halletsville, TX.

    Great Uncle Major B F Moss was born to George Moss, Sept 25, 1817 Gap Mill, Monroe County, Virginia died
    March 03,1890 Lavaca County, Hallettsville, TX. His brother my Great Grandfather William C Moss was born Sept 28, 1821 Gap Mills, Monroe County, Virginia. No accurate death date of burial.

    They all have interesting stories like my uncles hanging and shooting people in Hallettsville,
    aunts connected with the Choctaw, and relations to Greenwood Leflore – last Chief and signer of “The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek”, etc. All well documented.

    But, my poor Great Grandfather (and his wife) seemed to have disappeared!
    So, I was hoping I had found him in your book, even if he was a ruthless old man, killed in the war!

    Your site has given me a great interest in your books and an extreme admiration for you!

    I am sorry your history was altered for the other book and movie, and glad to know they are not accurate tales! I am off to buy your books!
    Any college student who has you for a professor is very lucky!

    Thanks again,
    Linda Morgan

    • Linda,

      I’m just sorry I couldn’t make a Moss connection for you. Perhaps, however, a Moss researcher might see your post and supply a link between the Texas-Mississippi branches.

      Thank you so much for your enthusiastic words about the site, and your support for my scholarship. I hope you enjoy your reading, and wish, indeed, that I had you as a student in one of my seminars–it’s always great when a student is already engaged in research!


    • We are researching the Moss families of Mississippi and Texas. We would like to contact Linda Morgan, we have information linking the Mississippi and Texas families. Any help you could provide would be appreciated. Thanks, Charlie

  16. I am from the Ainsworth-Collins clan and I was trying to find info concerning my Grandmother who was Verdie Eldora Collins and was a twin to Vernon Collins.

    • Hello Clay,

      I see from posted online records that your grandmother Verdie married Garry Donald Ainsworth sometime before 1946. I wonder if this was just a coincidental, more recent, merging of the Collins-Ainsworth lines, or if they were descendants of the same Collinses and Ainsworths who married back in the nineteenth-century.

      It appears your grandmother was from Hardin County, which indicates that she and her twin brother likely descended from either the Warren J. Collins line, or that of his brother, Simeon Collins. Warren Collins moved to Texas from Jones County, MS, in the early 1850s. Simeon’s widow, Lydia, and their children moved to Hardin County in the 1870s. These lines did not, to my knowledge intermarry with the Ainsworths in the 19th century.

      It was James P. Collins, b. 1816 in Wayne Co., MS, who married an Ainsworth in the 19th century. Shirley Pieratt, author ot The Ainsworth-Collins Clan in Texas, 1838, believes that the Hardin Co. Collinses were distantly related to this James, who is her ancestor. James P. Collins married Eliza G. Ainsworth, surmised to be the daughter of James Ainsworth Sr., and a Choctaw woman possibly named Elizabeth. After Eliza’s death, James married again.

      If you have any more family names you could share, they might help researchers to recognize which Collins and/or Ainsworths lines you are likely from.

      Good to hear from you; hope we can help.


      • She was married to Barney Lee Ainsworth Sr. and Gary is her second child. My father is Barney Lee Ainsworth Jr. Barney Sr. father I believe was Henry Ainsworth. Collins is the hardest line for me to put together. I am from Hardin County originally.

      • Sorry, Clay, that I identified Verdie’s son as her husband–I inadvertently copied the wrong side of the document!

        Since you are from Hardin County, I strongly suspect you go back to Warren or Simeon Collins. I gather you don’t know Verdie and Vernon’s parents’ names? Meanwhile, maybe a Collins or Ainsworth descendant will help. I’ll check my files, too.

        Good luck,

  17. I should add that on my Mothers side we have an Elizabeth Ainsworth (Hampshire) and that my grandmother Annie Barrow is cousins with Clyde Barrow.

    • Clyde Barrow in the family tree? Hmmm, you just went beyond the renegade category!

      The fun of studying one’s genealogy. . . .


  18. This is Clays little sister Leah….Just wanted to add Elizabeth Ainsworth our Great Great Grandmother born 1882. All we have of her parents are the names of her mother last name (Abshire).

    Elizabeth Ainsworth married James Antonio Hampshire in 1897. They had 11 children.

    • Thank you, Leah! This give us more to work with. I’ll go through the Ainsworth files that Shirley Pieratt gave me at my first opportunity and see whether any of these names turn up there. Hope some other Ainsworth researchers will also check their records.


      • Ok I think that I have this. I had done research in the past and already perhaps solved my own question.

        Verdie Eldora Collins
        xColumbus Riley Collins
        xxBenjamin Franklin Collins
        xxxSimeon Collins
        xxxxStacey Collins

      • This is great! You are officially descended from the Free State of Jones. Both Simeon and his son, Benjamin Franklin, “Frank,” were members of the Knight band, led by Newt Knight, in Mississippi. There is quite a bit on this family in my upcoming book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War, and there is also quite a bit on this family in my last book, The Free State of Jones. The Simeon and Lydia Collins family provides the most extensive and strongest link between the Texas and Mississippi Collins line. Simeon died in Mississippi in 1865, and his entire family, including his widow, Lydia, moved to Texas to live near Simeon’s brother, Warren.

        Lydia Collins was a Bynum, so you are also distantly related to me. Lydia’s father, Mark Bynum (who also supported the Knight band) was the brother of my gg-grandfather, William.

        I’m still finding that Ainsworth connection interesting! It suggests a later connection between the Collins lines descended from Christopher and Stacy Collins. who many researchers believe were brothers.


      • hi, this is Tonya, Clay and Leah’s sister and Molly’s cousin!!! wow. i was doing some resurch on Heny Ainsworth married to Josie Ainsworth and this is where i ended up. i would like to find out more information on Josie as well as Verdie. and Molly you are right her name was Verda, all my life and i never knew that. but Josie has me at a dead end, i think her madian name was kirkham, not sure. this gets more confusing as we go!!! if you have any info that will help i would be very thankful.


  19. Clay,
    I searched for “verda eldora collins” and got this blog. I was gonna say “Hey that was my grandma!” What I really want to know is what their lives were like.
    Did you know her name was actually “Verda” and not “Verdie?”

    • I kept wondering why our Grandmother’s name was Verda Eldora Collins, (Which is Green and Gold) and if you consider the time frame she was born (early 20th century), her name points to the Irish flag and Irish independence.

      • What a great thing to realize, Clay! So often, our ancestors gave names to children that had either historical or familial significance; I love it.


  20. I am also researching the Collins – Ainsworth line. I have found some information that leads me to believe that Eliza G. Ainsworth( sister to Asbury Sebastian Ainsworth who was married to Rachel Collins) married James P. Collins about 1838 AL and they all moved to Texas together. Any documentation on any of these names in your research?

    • Hi Brenda,

      Nice to hear from you. According to Shirley Insall Pieratt, author of The Ainsworth-Collins Clan in Texas, 1838, Eliza G. Ainsworth did indeed marry James P. Collins in 1838. Pieratt believes they were married in either Wayne or Madison County, Mississippi. She identifies Eliza’s parents as James Ainsworth Sr., and his Choctaw wife, Elizabeth. Pieratt also identifies Eliza’s siblings as Asberry S., Jeptha P., William H., and James P. Ainsworth.

      Pieratt provides charts that show what she proports to be the relationship between James P, Collins and the descendants of Stacy Collins (including Jasper, Warren, Simeon, Vinson, Riley, and Sarah Collins among others). According to her, James P. was the son of Christopher C. Collins (1768-1855), who was the brother of Stacy Collins.

      Hope this is helpful.


  21. Rachael Collins was the daughter of James P. Collins and Eliza A. Ainsworth (daughter of Thomas P. and Sarah Finch Ainsworth), Asberry Sabastian Ainsworth was born in AL but, there is some confession over his partents (James and Elizabeth Mangum) or Thomas and Sarah Finch Ainworth. Let me know and I will invite you to a tree we have on—-there you may be able to trace down some of your relatives. Ann Valentine

  22. Vikki,
    I am a decendent from Simeon Collins. My ancestors are buried in Polk County “Bluewater Cemetary”.
    Morgan Columbus Collins 1846 – 1926
    Sarah Elizabeth Collins Bush 1881 or 1883-1945
    Francis Joyce Bush 1915?-2009. My beloved Grandmother just died in December. She was a rebel until the day she died! I became interested in my grandmother’s past when she left a geneology to us written by VA Collins. I have wondered about Stacey Collins father, William Collins 1740? Do you have any information on him or Stacey Collins mother?
    Proud granddaughter of a Rebel

    • Thanks for posting information on your branch of the Simeon and Lydia Collins family, Cynthia. My new book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War, contains a fair amount on this couple, including their son, Morgan Columbus Collins.

      I have never seen any proof of who Stacy Collins’s parents were, so I can’t comment on that. Perhaps you can share more of your information on William Collins, b. 1740, as there are lots of interested Collins descendants.

      It seems that the women of the Collins family, like the men, tended toward rebelliousness. Glad to hear your grandmother was among them!


  23. Vikki,

    I ran across you blog while searching for my family line. I have since read your book, The Free State of Jones, and loved it! I’m looking forward to reading your new book. My mother’s grandmother is Allie Sevilla Walters, who is Mary Jane Collins granddaughter through her daughter Sevilla’s line. I have two questions, if you would be so kind to answer them for me. 1) You mention a lot about the Collins family in your book, which I was thrilled to read about. Do you have any information about Mary Jane Collins? And was her Husband Robert Morgan Walters affiliated with the renegade bands? 2) Also, and this may be a question for Ed Payne, I’ve read a lot of his comments on your blog, but do you know if Herren Henry Walters b. 1785 SC and Thomas W Walters b. 1777 are brothers (this is Ed Payne’s line)? According to my notes, Herren Walters is Mary Jane Collins father-in-law.

    I can’t thank you enough for all the research you have done and the wonderful way in which you have written it. It has been great to learn so much about my family line and their heroic actions during the Civil War.


    • Thank you Debbie! I appreciate your good words about my book, and hope you like the new one as much.

      I am going to turn your questions over to Ed, since he is the Walters expert, but also because I am getting ready for a big move to Missouri, and my files will soon be temporarily inaccessible.


  24. Debbie:

    I just retired last week and am suffering a temporary lack of an office, but will attempt something of a belated answer. 1) It is generally accepted that the 4 Walters on the 1820 MS census were brothers: Asa, Herrin, Matthew, and Willoughby. 2) There are many genealogies that seek to equate the Willoughby Walters who settled in Jones County with a THOMAS Willoughby Walters of SC, but I credit the more careful research by Jimmye Watson that indicates they were, in fact, two separate persons (Ms. Watson’s article about the family appears in “Echoes From the Past” by the Jones County Genealogical and Historical Society). 3) The little I know about Mary Jane Collins is that her name appears in the Stacy Collins bible (“Mary Collins born June 12, 1817”), that she married Robert Walters, and she apparently died before the 1850 census.

    Owing to Robert Walters’s age (he was 46 in 1860), he was exempt from service and thus from the circumstances that caused younger men to join the Knight Band. Only two males from the extensive Walters clan (72 males listed on the Jones County on 1860 census, of whom 29 fell within conscription age) are mentioned in Thomas Knight’s account: Archibald and “J.L.” But he also quotes Calvin Walters as saying two of his brothers rode with the band, which implied the two were Marada (aka Meredy) and Archibald, sons of Daniel Walters. I wrote a posting about Marada Walters and his family in Part 3 of my series on Jones County widows.

    Hope this helps.

  25. Hi All,
    Stumbles onto this site…how awesome. I am a direct desendent of Mary Collins and Robert Walters. Robert Walters was the son of Herrin Walters and Ann Blackledge. Robert and Mary had a son Robert Warren Walters who married Sarah Barnes. Robert and Sarah had a son Robert Stace Walters who married Jewell Marie Kornegay-(my grand-parents) they had my father Robert Stace Walters, Jr.
    Back to Herrin Walters and Ann Blackledge-some people have down that Herrin Walters was married twice-not true. Herrin and Ann were married until Herren died in 1853. I found a pension record filed by Herren Walters and then another on later on after Herren’s death that Ann filed. In the one that Ann filed she gives her name as Blackledge and that Herren and She were married in Colleton Co, SC. Have yet to figure out who Herren Walters parents are. I do have some information on a William Walters back in the 1600’s who has a son Elijah Walters who has a daughter Winnefred Walters who marries a Thomas Collins-this family also ends up in Mississippi along with our Walters and Collins-not able to tie them together as of yet. I would love to exchange information with anyone that needs it.

    Lori Lampkins

    • Lori, thank you so much for adding this material on the Collins-Walters-Blackledge connections. I love the early 1600s material; it would be great to establish a definite kinship link. I hope Collins researchers will notice your post and chime in with questions or comments.


    • Hi Lori,
      Were you ever able to find the parents of Herrin Walters? He’s one of my ancestors.

      Michael Walters

  26. He was my great great and other great grandpa..
    When grandpa kight told mom she hasn’t done nothing else but talk about him..
    the house he got killed in, in ellisville was moved..
    My grandpa kight was a preacher at a small church in SoSo Mississippi..
    There still a lot of knight that go to the church and still live in Soso

  27. Hi Cindy,

    You tell an interesting story–could you identify the ancestors you speak of more clearly? Who exactly was killed in the house in Ellisville, and who preached at the church in Soso?

    Hope to hear more from you!


  28. I’m looking for family history on my husbands line. His name is Newell Douglas Collins. His Father was Newell Guy Collins. His mother’s name was Lennie Ellen Cregger Collins. I know Guy Collins who was married to a Grace Collins (unknown Maiden Name), but I believe that Grace was the first white child born in the Mesa,Az valley. We have belief that Herrin or Herren Collins was a Texas Ranger and we have a colt 45 that we were told he took from a Mexican Bandit. If you have any information please e-mail me.
    Sincere Thanks,
    Paula Collins

  29. I descend from James Patton Collins and Eliza G. Ainsworth. I have Christopher Columbus will which lists James as a son, in Mississippi. Glad to see someone identifies Eliza as Choctaw. I thought she was Alabama Coushatta Cherokee. She stays near Jeptha Ainsworth and the others in the reservation in Polk County Texas. I visited some descendants of Eli L. Collins and Asbury Sebastian Collins in the 70’s. My William Greenberry was their younger brother. I do not know of another genealogy buff on this line. I have no knowledge of Christopher Columbus Collins or his wife (maiden name?). Family rumor says they moved from Virginia to Spanish Florida to avoid the American Revolution. This may be true, but it doesn’t sound like the personality of this Collins family who move from being law enforcement persons to being outlaws at the drop of a hat.

    Tell me more of the Missippi Collins family.
    Thanks, Kay

  30. Kay,

    Thanks for responding to this Collins family post. Your Collins line–from James Patton Collins, son of Christopher C. Collins, b. 1768 in NC–has been identified by other researchers as a line that runs parallel to that of Stacy Collins, b. about 1786. According to Shirley Insall Pieratt (and others), another descendant of James P. Collins, Joshua and Jacob Collins were also their brothers.

    The sons of Stacy Collins, both in Mississippi and Texas, were not outlaws, except to the Confederacy during the Civil War. Even then, most of their pro-Confederate critics recognized their political opposition to secession as genuine, and they continued to be elected or appointed to local offices after the war.

    Shirley Pieratt’s book paints a more rugged portrait, however, of the early Ainsworths and Collinses who moved out onto the Texas frontier before 1840. I’ve quoted her description elsewhere, but here it is again: they were “an engaging lot of kinfolk: slave-owning entrepreneurs, hard-scrabble farmers, a country schoolteacher, Choctaws, blacks, put-upon women of all races, two county judges, an accountant for a race track, Sam Houston’s nemesis, a justice of the peace-sheriff-preacher–and a rogue medicine-show man.” Does any of that sound familiar?

    Hope to hear more from you on the James Patton Collins line.


  31. In doing research on Christopher C. Collins (1768-1855) I found reference to “Free State of Jones” and continued looking for more. Christopher C. is my
    and I found all the info in this blog very interesting. According to an article I found in the McCain Library and Archives (USM, Hattiesburg, MS) this person thought the Ainsworths (Eliza, Jeptha, and A. S.) , married brother and sisters – not true. James P. Collins was a cousin to the Collins sisters who married Jeptha and A. S. Ainsworth. The Collins girls were daughters of Christopher C. Collins’ brother, Jacob and his wife, Lucy Hendricks. Christopher C. was married to Rachel Hendricks, sister of Lucy. I certainly enjoy finding new information on my family, but one thing keeps eluding me — who is Christopher C., Jacob, Joshua, and Stacy’s father/mother?

    • Happy St. Patrick’s Day. There is a Barbados to South Carolina connection to explore and it will make sense why the name Christopher Columbus is a prominent name in our family. I looked at a map of Barbados and ironically the name Collins is there in the Northern part of the island.

      • Clay, that is really interesting! I know that many immigrants from the British Isles settled in Barbadoes before moving on to South Carolina, but I never imagined that the Collinses might be among them. It would be great to find proof for this, one way or the other.

        Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!


  32. Hi Connie,

    Welcome to Renegade South! And thanks for your contributions in regard to the Collins/Ainsworth genealogy. I am traveling right now, so have no access to my files at the moment. When I return home, I’ll compare your information with that of Shirley Ainsworth Pieratt. Meanwhile, I hope other Ainsworth researchers might chime in with their own research.

    As for who were the parents of Stacy Collins and his siblings, to my knowledge no one has yet documented that.


  33. My gr. gr. grandfather Simeon Collins was a son of Stacy Collins. I know the story of his death, but I was wondering if you had ever ran across any information on where Simeon is buried?

  34. Hello Garry,

    Thanks for your question. It’s my understanding that no one has been able to determine where Simeon Collins was buried. Given that he and his family lived in Jasper County, MS, and that his widow and children did not move from there to Hardin Co., TX, until around 1872, several years after Simeon’s death, it’s likely he is buried near the old family home back in Jasper Co, MS.


  35. By chance, I stumbled upon your site. My grandfather was William David Collins who lived in Winston County, Mississippi. He died in 1968 (the year before I was born). Very little is know about him and his ancestry. I was wondering if you ever came across his name?

    • Jimmy,

      Thanks for your question, but that is a Collins name that I am not familiar with. Perhaps some of our readers are, and will comment here.


  36. I have only just begun to dig into my family history which includes a maternal link to the Ainsworth/Collins connection. My grandmother (maternal) was a daughter of Sarah and James L. Ainsworth. James L. was a son of Arch Ainsworth and Mary C. Foster-Ainsworth. Arch was a son of Asbury/Asberry Ainsworth and Rachel Collins-Ainsworth. Asbury and Rachel, his brother Jeptha Patterson Ainsworth and his sister Eliza and her husband James P Collins (brother to Rachel?) all moved to Texas at the same time. I discovered you site in doing what little research I have done so far and would very much appreciate any pointers you might provide in digging through this spaghetti of information. Thanks so much, Jon Newman

    • Welcome to Renegade South, Jon! Hopefully, you’ll gain some helpful information on this site. I can tell you that Shirley Insall Pieratt’s self-published history, The Ainsworth-Collins Clan in Texas,1838, would be a great help to you if you do not already have it. I have perused my copy to find information on your family line, and there is quite a lot. Shirley wrote her book in a novelistic form, frequently adding dialogue that she admits is speculative. However, the book also contains many transcribed documents and is carefully footnoted. (Shirley was careful to separate her literary voice from her historian’s commitment to truth.)

      Here’s a few tidbits I gathered about your line from her book:
      Asberry/Asbury married Rachel Collin on 8 Nov. 1827. Rachel was the daughter of Jacob Collins (a brother to Jones County, MS.’s Stacy Collins Sr.) James P. Collins, who married Asberry’s sister, Eliza, was the son of Christopher C. Collins, brother to Jacob Collins. Christopher and Jacob were married, respectively, to Rachel Hendricks and Lucy Hendricks, daughters of John Williams Hendricks.


  37. Ma’am, at first you had me so fighting mad that I was going to whoop the tar out of the author until I realized it was a woman. So, you have nothing to fear from this Johnny Reb. My great great grandfather Morgan Columbus Collins and two of his brothers were with the 7th Mississippi Cavalry /or/ 7th Ms Mounted Infantry, Chalmer’s Brigade, Braggs Corps. He and one of his brothers were captured by the yankees at Kennesaw Mountain. The problem here is you are calling them Yankees if I am understanding this correctly. After a half hour I calmed down and got to wondering, what do you know that I don’t? It seems I have a cousin that has posted here named Cynthia Dotson as she is a descendant of Morgan C. Collins. His Confederate grave marker sits not far from the rest of the line of our family veterans. Given that my ancestors came over here to Hardin County. Morgan Collins ran a little store in the vicinity of Ace Texas sometime after the war. They and the Loftins were a hard bunch. Thank you for your research but I sure hope you’re wrong or that I’ve misunderstood something. My grandfather was Perry Morgan, my father Ronald Morgan, myself, and my son, Morgan Scott…

    • Hey, Curtis, welcome to Renegade South; always good to meet a Collins descendant, even if he’s fightin’ mad at me! Yep, you’ve got a bunch of relatives who supported the Union during the Civil War–but that doesn’t make them “Yankees,” it makes them Southern Unionists. And the South had a lot more of those than most people realize.

      Along with his father, Simeon, and two brothers, Morgan C. Collins was forced into Confederate service by Colonel Robert Lowry after he raided Jones County, MS, and captured a number of members of Newt Knight’s band. The men were sent to Kennesaw Mountain, where they were captured by Yankees and sent to prison camps. The sons were later granted Confederate pensions based on their service at Kennesaw Mtn, but they were members of the Knight band before that, and their names are all listed on the roster that Newt kept.

      I realize this might be considered shameful news to a self-proclaimed Johnny Reb, but I don’t find it shameful at all. Morgan C. Collins’s father, Simeon, and his Uncles Warren and Jasper were proud of their Unionism. Simeon died directly after the war, but Warren and Jasper lived long lives and never ran away from their pro-Union views. It’s all documented, and I have written extensively about both Warren and Jasper in my last two books.

      Thanks for writing,

    • Curtis:
      You and I have some of the same ancestors. Perry Morgan Collins was the son of Mary Ellen Collins and Leonard Littleton Lofton who was the son of Ezekiel Asa Loftin and Cynthia Rachel Welch. Ezekiel was the son of Ezekiel Andrew Loftin who married Elizabeth Dyess daughter of Dempsey Dyess and Martha Collins. I am descended from Dempsey’s son John Wesley Dyess. If you don’t already have the ancestry on the Dyess and Loftin sides, I can send it to you. My email is

    • Curtis, I have seen your 2nd great grandfathers Civil War papers in Texas Archives and yes he was a confederate and you have every reason to be proud of him.

  38. Upon discovering my Collin’s family Unionist background, several of my relativies thought I was lying and made the whole thing up. Then they came to the conclusion that there must be another Morgan Collins that served in the same regiment. Well, I just tell them to research it themselves. Apparently Morgan never spoke about his Civil War days to any relatives in Bluewater, Texas. My husband is on a deer lease right up the road from the Bluewater Cemetery that was next door to my Nanny’s house that she grew up in. My Nanny’s mom was Sarah Elizabeth Collins, daughter of Morgan C. Collins.

    • Hi Cynthia,

      I am enjoying all this new attention that the Collinses are receiving! And you certainly have the last laugh in the debate over whether your Morgan C. Collins fought against the Confederacy as part of the Knight Company. Seriously, the Collinses were such well-known Unionists in both Mississippi and Texas that it’s a bit surprising how thoroughly their history was buried over time among some branches of the family. I should mention that some of the Loftins were tied in with the Knight band as well.

      Thanks for commenting,

    • Cynthia,

      I too am a decendent of Morgan Columbus Collins through his son John Bruce Collins. I would love to chat sometime about any info you may have. I have some pictures that I am trying to identify. Thanks, KIM

    • I will be the third possibly 4th (some claim a very old stone is missing) Ezekiel Asa Loftin buried in that cemetery (Bluewater,) alone and my daddy used to talk about his great granddaddy who was in Texas when my daddy was young,) he would have fought in the war of 1812 (From
      lawrence and Jones County,) That is our family graveyard in Texas along with a bunch of Collins family. More graveyards in Mississippi and Virginia and North Carolina. Cynthia Rachel Welch my great great grandfather. I went to find the cemetery he was supposed to be in but we never found it. So confusing. All of the land records Etc place him smack dab in Jones and Lawrence. As well as my great granddaddy also Ezekiel Asa Loftin who was son/grandson of the Mississippi Ezekiel’s. It was not popular to even mention the word Yankee in East Texas even during my lifetime so things get hidden except in family talk and deathbed confessions. I found Ezekiel leaving Jones County joining Union Army NOLA with his brother John Prentiss Loftin and Cynthia Rachel Welch either his out or was sent on ahead to Texas. I then find a record of his desertion from the Union Army after getting the bounty John too and then he reappears in the Union Army as a Sargent in a mounted cavalry unit as a Sergeant. Only family lore explains that craziness. But it gets messy and some might say a bit risqué and crazy. But that is in line with my family history since the early 1500’s in Accomack, Virginia. I would like to know yet more about how the Collins and Loftin family got so chummy in East Texas. Based on what I have heard I think I have a theory but when people shared graveyards when plenty of land was available they were usually close. The Oliver graveyard near Bluewater may have some of the Collins family buried there. My grandmother was adopted into the Oliver family as a baby. We finally in a death bed confession found out the roots of that mystery since she had black hair and dark eye’s. My daddy also had black hair and lighter eyes. I have light hair and blue eyes. To make a long story short think Alabama- Coushatta. I am going to walk Bluewater again when we make it back to the Texas house but we are headed for our Virginia and Mississippi homes prior to that trip. List of those buried at Bluewater coming soon.

  39. Hi Vikky,
    Noticed that we might be somewhat related… Especially if Robert Bynum, 1835 married Elizabeth Wilborn, 1840, in Jones Co.
    Have read your work and enjoyed it; however, not at all surprised at the split families in the Civil War. My Wilburns are fairly representative of that… With the Folks from AL, AR, IL, KY, etc serving in both militaries.
    Keep up the good work.
    Also enjoy the Mudcats music.

    • Larry,

      Thanks for your comment! We probably are distantly related. Not certain who the parents of that Robert Bynum are; will have to check my records. In regard to the Wilborn/Welborns, I too have noticed that throughout the Confederate states–including Texas–they appear as both Unionists and Confederates, as do the Bynums.

      I’m passing your compliment about the Mudcats on to Gregg (aka Dr. G)!


  40. I came across Renegade South the other day and have enjoyed the posts. I have an interest in Collins family members a number of ways: I am interested in the American Revolution and the number of Collins family members who participated as both Whigs and Loyalists. So related is the waiter/servant/bugler for Col. William Washington (yes, second cousin, first removed, of George Washington) wo saved Washington’s life after the battle of Cowpens as Washington rode after the fleeing British (depicted in the William Ranny painting, 19th century). The bugler has not been positively identified, but one tradition gives his name as Collin or Collins. He is painted as African-American in the Ranney painting, but Collin (Collins), it seems, was not a slave. The only information we have is that he was born in Virginia in 1761 making him 20 years old at the battle of Cowpens (1781). If he was a Collins, could he have joined with Washington’s Third Continental cavalry in Virginia or in North Carolina or in South Carolina? Evidently, he migrated west, perhaps to the Old Southwest or to Indiana or Illinois. I know someone who researched his migration, but can’t now find his research.

    Would anyone have any ideas on researching this supposed Collins?

    My fifth g-grandfather was William Collins of the Broad River area in early Tryon and Rutherford Counties, North Carolina. His daughter married Drury Dobbins whose daughter married a Harrill. My grandmother was a Harrill. I have never been able to connect William Collins to those Collins of Flat Creek (Eno River area) or to the Spartanburg Collins family (and Free State of Jones) or to Abraham Collins, noted Loyalist and counterfeiter or the other Abraham Collins, the tar-burner, in the same area. I would be pleased to share information.

    Scott Withrow

    • Scott, this is all fascinating Collins material, and so suggestive of links between possible branches of the same family, although connections remain unclear and the name “Collins,” alas, is all too common. I know that Ed Payne (a descendant of the Free State of Jones Collins line) spent a good deal of time in the South Carolina State Archives this summer, and I’m hoping he’ll have some comments, and perhaps insights, on all this.

      Welcome to Renegade South, and thanks for taking time to post!


  41. Scott:

    As Vikki noted, I am rather precariously descended from the Stacy Collins line via his daughter Sarah (Sallie) Collins Walters Parker who was my 3x grandmother. There has been much effort put into the search for Stacy’s parents with no definitive results. Also in question is the exact relationship between Stacy with 3 other Collins men who arrived in Wayne County around the same time: Christopher, Jacob, and Joshua.

    There is family lore, but no proof, that Stacy was born near Spartanburg, SC. This past summer I visited the cemetery of the Nazareth Presbyterian Church in Moore, SC (just outside Spartanburg) where there are several Collins tombstones. However, the person I spoke to was unable to direct me to any early church records.

    The earliest documents I have found are land deeds involving Christopher, Joshua, and Stacy Collins in the SC Archives. All involve tracts located in the watershed of the Upper Three Runs River of Barnwell County, SC. They date from the period of 1800-1809. Christopher in particular is cited on a number of land transactions. The Barnwell County records tend to support the lore that a sister named Elizabeth Collins married Bennet Blackman, who also resided in the area. I suspect that the mother of all these children was a woman named Ann Collins (occasionally referred to as Nancy Collins within a single document). The first record of Ann Collins in the Upper Three Runs area dates back to her purchase of 100 acres in 1784. Other persons named Collins also lived in the same county, although in a different section–including a different Nancy Collins. Whether they shared kinship or not, I don’t know.

    It seems possible that Stacy may have been a half-brother of the other Collins children. Stacy was much younger than the others and a woman named Ann Collins posted bond for a charge of bastardy in Winton County (the predecessor of Barnwell County) one year after Stacy’s birth (18 Oct 1786). Since there are straight line male descendants from both Stacy and Christopher Collins, it would be interesting to have DNA testing to confirm or refute this.

    Sorry that this is inconclusive, but the mists of time are fairly thick. The story of Col. William Washington’s servant is interesting. One thing I am learning is that in early colonial history manumission of slaves was easier to accomplish and, indeed, some mixed-race persons may have come to America as indentured servants. And “Collins” is one of the surnames linked with the mixed-race Melungeons of Appalachia–although life is too short for me to get involved in the debates concerning that group.


    • Ed,

      Thanks for your reply. The Collins of Old Tryon and Rutherford County might not have been related at all to the Spartanburg County Collins families, or perhaps they were distantly related. There were other Collins families in the area also. The Enoree River, thought once to be from the Cherokee word for muscadine and perhaps related instead to the word Eno and the Saponi-Oceneechee, was first known as the Collins River, I think for a family that lived in present Laurens or Union County not far south of Spartanburg County.

      I am about 30 minutes from Nazareth Church and know of the Collins buried there. Even more perplexing is the origin of those Collins at Little Mountain in Spartanburg County, once known as Collins Mountain, and also those Collins in Polk County, NC of the former gold-mining community of Collinsville, settled early by the Collins, Hall, and Weaver families. There is a dead end for each of these families in my research. I once talked with a Collins from the Collinsville family who spoke of high cheekbones, dark features, and an “Indian” ancestry for her family, but I have lost touch with her.

      Historian Lyman Draper states that Abraham Collins and a Quinn man who were sent by Patrick Ferguson to get help from Gen. Cornwallis in Charlotte prior to the battle of Kings Mountain were Irish Catholic. Indeed the names can be Irish, but I have always wondered if Catholic families (or, at least, practicing Catholics) would have been on the Carolina frontier at the time?

      Scott Withrow

  42. Does any one have information on a Joseph Collins and family listed in the 1850 census of Wayne co Mississippi? Joseph Collins age 60 is listed with his wife Lavinia age 43. Children listed were James age 19, Joseph age 17, Ann P. age 13, Lavina age 8 and Thomas age 2.
    Ann P maybe Ann Priscilla who married a Jacob Elliott.
    My 3rd great grandparents were William Collins and Lavicy Elliott. Their son Eli Collins married Georgia Ann Nations

  43. I’ve enjoyed reading so much on the various wings of the Collins family. I’m hoping you, or one of your readers, can point me to where I can find more information on my Great Great Grandfather Francis Marion Collins. He was born in AL in 1822, and lived much of his adult life in the area of Lafayette County, MS. He died in 1910 in Abbeville, MS when hit by a train. I have a lot of suspects (for his parents) from leads gathered from autosomal DNA testing ( kit #M194350), but nothing I can link to any documentation.

    One approach I’ve used is to look at the family FM Collins son George Henry Collins (b. 1853 MS) married, and to look at who FM’s in-laws married. I’ll condense some of this information and state that there are known marriages with the Anderson family. I’ll include a short snippet below that starts with reference to William Anderson, Within this line there is a marriage to an Ainsworth Middleton. Perhaps this person is kin to the Ainsworth’s mentioned above:

    For the following, see Waterloo: A History of the Anderson family, by Mildred Wilson Goodlett, South Caroliniana Lib., Columbia, SC).

    William married Mary Elizabeth “Molly” Cobb. Before 1768, William and Molly resided in Charlotte Co., VA, but by 1768, they were residing in Lunenburg Co., VA (I haven’t yet researched to see if they, in fact, stayed in place, but the county changed its name). By 1778, they had moved to South Carolina where they settled near Waterloo, Laurens Co., on the waters of Long Lick Creek and Reedy River. By about 1770, son James H. Anderson had been born.
    James H. Anderson married his first cousin, Elizabeth Middleton (James’ father, William, had a sister, Jean/Jane who married Ainsworth Middleton, and had daughter Elizabeth Middleton). James H. & Elizabeth Middleton Anderson had 3 children, Middleton, William & Mary, before Elizabeth died. James H. Anderson then married, in about 1794, Nancy (possibly O’Bannon), and they had 11 children (with a son named O’Banion): Robert, Ambrose, John, Sarah m. David Collins,..

    My (Dr.) FM Collins married Ruth Humphreys. Her sister Leah Almarine Humphreys / Humphries married John Burgess, then as a widow married John Collins. I have no proof of a relationship with my FM.

    Following the family George Henry Collins married in to back a couple of generations, I find a Kilgore married to Altheia Collins.

    Also following other in-law relationships, I find a link to Rev. Robert Isham Collins in Lafayette County, MS.

    Does this Collins line sound familiar to anyone? The earliest record I have on FM is that he is most likely the Marion Collins shown in the home of Hiram Robertson on the 1850 Lafayette County Census, living not far from his future wife Ruth Humphreys. Any leads that would lead me back would be appreciated.

    Karen Allman

  44. Karen:

    I’m afraid I can’t offer any connections with the Collins line mentioned on these pages, who are among my ancestors. Indeed, there is still much mystery concerning the parentage of its Piney Woods patriarch Stacy Collins.

    I did note the Marion Collin (sic) in Lafayette County 1850 census, who seems to have been overlooked by many of the Ancestry genealogies. By 1860 Francis Marion Collins was listed as a physician. In 1850 Marion Collin was listed as a teacher, but next door to Wm M. Paine, a physician. Interest coincidence.

    Has anyone checked on whether an obituary of Francis Marion Collins was published in the local papers? A photograph of his tombstone on Find-A-Grave (‘Dr. F.M. Collins’) shows a death date of 10 Oct 1901 rather than 1910. Since on the 1900 census he gave his birth month / year as Apr 1822, the 1901 death year would correspond with the age carved on the tombstone (“79 yrs, 6 mos, 3 days”).

    A transcription of an obituary for his widow, Ruth Caroline Humphries Collins, was also posted on Find-A-Grave. This obituary led me to explore a curious thread of which you may or may not be aware: one of Ruth Collins’ 4 surviving sisters was listed as ALLIE COLLINS of TX. As far as I can tell, Allie Collins was the sister born as Leah Almarine Humphries in 1837. She first married a John Burgess ca 1858. Some genealogies list her as dying young. But Lafayette County marriage records show L.A. Burgess married John S. Collins (born ca 1819 in TN) on 13 Apr 1870. They can also be found on the 1870 census of Lafayette County (as J.L. and L.A. Collins). In 1880 she was a widow operating a boarding house in Tallahatchie County and by 1910 was living with her widowed daughter Jessie (Collins) McCaslin in San Antonio, TX.

    The point of all this is that it seems possible there *might* be a family connection between Francis Marion Collins and John S. Collins, in as much as they both ended up in northern MS and married two sisters. John was previously married to a woman named Mary. In 1850 the couple was in Yalobusha County and in 1860 in Panola County, both bordering Lafayette.

    Best of luck.

    • You are correct about the year of FM’s death. Below is his obituary, as well as some civil war info. I have my cousin Terri Stern to thank for sharing her research:

      Transcription of F.M. Collins obituary:
      The Oxford Globe, Thurs, Oct 17, 1901: “Dr. F. W. Collins, one of the oldest and best known physicians in the county was run over and instantly killed by freight train No. 52 at crossing, near the depot in Abbeville, last Thursday. He started across the track, and someone called to him to lookout for the train. As he turned to reply the engine struck him. He did not realize the rapidity the train was going and thought he had plenty time to cross. He was one of the first settlers in this county having lived here for many years. For several years he has made his home at Abbeville. He was a good man and will be missed by the community. His remains were interred in the Abbeville Cemetery by the Masonic Order.”

      My notes on his service during the Civil War:

      1. Pvt F. M. Collins enlisted in Co G, 4 Reg’t Mississippi Cavalry at Cherry Creek on 30 Apr 1862 by Capt J. T. Pitts for a period of 3 years. Appears on Sept-Oct 1862 muster rolls as “absent sick.” Appears on May-June 1863 muster rolls as “absent sick in hospital somewher unknown, never paid.” Appears on June 30 to Oct 31, 1863 Muster Roll as “present, last paid by Maj Jones to 1 May 1863.” Appears on Nov-Dec 1863 muster rolls as “discharged Dec 9th by order Gen Piller, never paid.” NARA M269, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Mississippi.

      2. NARA Footnote: This company subsequently became (1st) Company G, 2d Regiment Mississippi Cavalry. The 2d Regiment Mississippi Cavalry was first organized about May 11, 1862 as a battalion of seven companies and designated Gordon’s Battalion Mississippi Cavalry; this battalion was shortly afterward increased to a regiment and designated the 42d Regiment Mississippi Cavalry, which designation was subsequently changed to the 4th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry by order of General Armstrong. Early in 1864 the designation was again changed to the 2d Regiment Mississippi Cavalry.

      • The Enoree River in South Crolina, was, at least in its eastward flow, at one time known as the Collins River. This would be in the Laurens County area. I haven’t identified the Collins for whom it was named. Interestingly, the Enoree was often given as Cherokee in origin meaning River of Muscadines, however, research shows it may be a form of Eno -connected to the Eno River and, Eno-Saponi-Occonneechee Indians of the Hillsborough area in North Carolina. I haven’t connected these Collins family members to Spartanburg, SC Collins or those in Mississippi or Alabama.

      • Karen and Vikki,

        I wanted to include a chapter on the Collins families in the area, but didn’t think I had enough documentation. Maybe later.

        Susannah Collins was a daughter of William Collins and my 4th (?) great gradmother. My family line is Collins, Dobbins, Harrill, and Hamrick (my mother’s side). Drury Dobbins, one of my grandfathers (3rd?), was described as “having dark hair and dark eyes.”

        These Collins family members were all in either early Lincoln County or Rutherford County, North Carolina, near the Broad River, Buffalo Creek and First Broad River, and across the state line from South Carolina (Cherokee and Spartanburg Counties). Some of this is now in Cleveland County. In the same area were two Abraham Collins (Abraham the Loyalist) and Abraham Collins (Abraham the Tar Burner)., by tradition. Abraham Collins is supposed to be buried in or near the Graham Cemetery near Stice Shoals, First Broad River, present Cleveland County, NC. Abraham Collins and ferryman Peter Quinn were sent by Patrick Ferguson to get help from Cornwallis in Charlotte Town prior to the Battle of Kings Mountain. Historian Lyman Draper said that Abraham Collins and Peter Quinn were “of the Roman Catholic faith,” but I rather doubt it because of their location in a frontier area. Sometime around or after 1800, Abraham Collins was taken into court for counterfeiting.

        A James Collins fought as a Whig in the Battles of Kings Mountain and Cowpens and left an autobiography
        (Amazon at (but expensive). James Collins migrated to Tennessee and later Louisiana, and, later, Texas. He is buried near the Red River in Texas. Other Whig Collines (Samuel and others) are buried in the El Bethel United Methodist church cemetery near the town of Kings Mountain (NC). Some of the Collinses there married into the Preston Goforth family, a family that had brothers on both sides in the Battle of Kings Mountain.

        A Lewis Collins and Revolutionary War veteran from the area of early Hillsborough–Flatt River–I believe lived in that area among the other Collins for a time.

        The Collins in the Buffalo Creek-Broad River area tended to intermarry with the Martin family quite a bit. I believe there were a number of Martin Collins.

      • Scott, you have given Collins researchers a lot to work with here, and I thank you! Your final remark that the Collinses of the Buffalo Creek-Broad river area intermarried quite a bit with the Martin family caught my eye. While I have found no Martin Collinses among the Jones Co., MS branch, the maternal grandmother of Tolitha Eboline Valentine, who married Warren J. Collins of Jones Co., MS, was Sally (Sabra) Martin.

        The early Whig affiliations are interesting as well; I believe the MS Collinses were also Whigs during the pre-Civil War era. We can’t make definitive conclusions based on such tentative information, but they can provide a starting place for seeking connections.


  45. Karen,

    I’d be interested to know whether the Collinses are featured in Scott Withrow’s book, too, which is an edited collection of essays by various authors. You’ll find a fuller description of its contents here:

    Meantime, perhaps Scott will share more details with us directly!


  46. Hi Vikki,

    Enjoyed reading your book Free State of Jones a few years back. I am a direct descendant of Vinson A. Collins (1/18/1815 – 7/1/1892) – Stacy’s first son – buried in Lebanon Cemetery, Jones Co. MS. I have some old family pictures given to me by my grandfather before he passed. One of them is an (original) portrait of him with an inscription on the back that reads great grand dad. It is very old. I had a copy of the Stacy Collins Bible (destroyed in Katrina) which described the descendants in accordance with your book. Very interesting. I’ve got some other pictures that I have yet to identify the people. I have been told some family folklore stories about VA Collins that I would like to believe/verify but have had no luck to this point.dean Can you point me to a book, article, or other source that may help me gather more info. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    Dean Collins

  47. Dean,

    It sounds like you have a treasure trove of Collins materials! If you ever care to publish any of your photos on this website, please let me know. Much of my genealogical material came from the family history written by the Texas namesake of your ancestor, Vinson A. Collins, son of Warren J. Collins. I analyzed Vinson’s history of the Texas branch more extensively in my 2010 book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War, than in Free State of Jones. I also learned a lot from extensive email correspondence with Collins descendants, two of whom supplied me with copied pages from the Stacy Collins Bible.

    An important recent article on the Jones County Collinses is Ed Payne’s history of his ancestor, Sarah Collins Walters Parker. See “Kinship, Slavery, and Gender in the Free State of Jones: The Life of Sarah Collins,” Journal of Mississippi History 71, no. 1 (spring 2009): 55-84.

    Thanks for writing,

  48. Dean,

    I would strongly second Vikki’s comments. Our understanding of Civil War events in Jones County would be far less detailed without the stories that were recorded during the 1920s and 1930s. I hope you will consider writing down what you’ve been told about the Collins family. It might be possible to authenticate some things, while others may have to remain ‘the way it’s been told.’

    As noted on this site, I’m descended from Sarah Collins Walters Parker via her son George Warren Walters and his son Warren Vinson Walters. George married Martha Rushing and I wrote a post about her life following his death in the Civil War. I live in Jackson, MS and make it down to Laurel fairly frequently, so hope we can get together. Please let Vikki know if you’d like my email address. If so, contact me and I will send you a copy of the Sarah Collins article.

  49. Vikki, Ed,

    My email address is I’ll be more than happy to email the pictures I have and tell you what I know about them. Just let me know where to send the info. Also, I’ll jot down what I remember from my discussions with my Grandfather and Grandmother about Newt Night and the Free State of Jones.

    Ed, I believe I received the most interesting one from you where Clay and Classie Collins is surrounded by 34 other people – a few of which are identified. I would very much like to take a look at that article.

  50. Opps, I forgot to mention…I have some information related to the Jones County Wigingtons as well from my Grandmothers side.

  51. Hi Dean,

    You can send photos and histories directly to me by simply replying to this message. Rather then post your reply, I will format the photos and combine them with whatever stories you provide to create an illustrated post on the Collins family.

    I am not familiar with the Wigingtons, but am interested in learning their history as well as that of the Collins.


  52. Like my cousin Jon above, I am also a descendant of Archibald Ainsworth and Mary Clifford Foster. Archibald was a son of Asbury Sebastian Ainsworth and Rachel Collins. As you have mentioned, Asbury’s sister, Eliza, married James Patton Collins. She is buried in Antioch Cemetery, near Leesville. She died in 1936; her marker has fallen, but is still very readable. I have been to that cemetery, and there are a TON of Collins buried there. If you’re interested in that line of Collins, this cemetery is a must-see.

    I also read on another forum, a rather old post, that Asbury Sebastian and probably Rachel are buried in the old Providence Cemetery in Eastland County. It’s basically inaccessible except by boat, being surrounded by Lake Leon. There are about 50 readable markers there, including a WL Ainsworth, 1877-1909, but apparently no Asbury. Almost all the markers there are from the 1800’s; this cemetery has pretty much been forgotten by the modern world. To my knowledge, there are no Collins buried there.

    I would be glad to make a trip sometime to Antioch Cemetery, and perhaps someday we can take an expedition to the old place at Lake Leon.

    • What is old home place at Lake Leon? Will be going to Wayne County in November to do Gen work on Christopher Collins branch…my ancestor.

      • It’s my understanding that somebody is buried in an old cemetery near the shore of Lake Leon, but I’ve never been there. It’s difficult to get to, behind a locked gate and a long, muddy dirt road. It might be Archibald and Mary Ainsworth. What do you know about this? I would be willing to put together a trip there when the weather clears up.

  53. I’m sorry, but upon further research at, there are seven Collins at Antioch Cemetery, not “a ton” as I stated. Wish I could edit my post! Benjamin Collins is buried there, as is his wife, Elizabeth Cooper. He was a son of Christopher Collins and Rachel Hendrick. There is another Benjamin Collins there, 1811-1878, with a tall marker bearing a Masonic Lodge symbol. I have no idea who he was. Thanks, and again I apologize for the error.

  54. Ron:

    The monument to Benjamin Collins 1811-1878 in Gonzoles, TX matches the dates for the son of Christopher Collins and Rachel Hendrick Collins (born 18 May 1811, died 5 Jun 1878). One is listed on Find-A-Grave under the name “B.C. Collins” (although the name on the tombstone is “Benjamin Collins”) and a much more weathered one under the name “Benjamin Collins.” On the weathered one a partial birth date of May 18__ can be made out. It might be that descendants put up a more recent tombstone to supplement the weathered one.

    Ed Payne

  55. Ms Vikki,

    My husband is a descendant of Morgan “Morg” Mathis Collins (Warren Jacob Collins son). I am trying to collect written/published information on the Collins family from Texas. I just purchased your book, ” The Long Shadow of the Civil War”, and I can’t wait to read it! I am also interested in the publications you mentioned in your original post. The two Collins family history books written by Vinson Allen Collins and the other by his grandson, Carr P. Collins Jr.
    I would like to purchase them, but haven’t had any luck finding them. Do you think you could help me locate copies? Also, how can I get a copy of Mr Ed’s publication about Sarah Collins?

    Thank you in advance for any advice or information,

    Tracee Collins

  56. Tracee:

    I’ll be happy to mail you a photocopy of the Sarah Collins article. Via this comment I’ll ask Vikki to provide you with my email address. Just send me a follow-up and be sure to include your mailing address.

    Ed Payne

  57. I am a descendant of James Patton Collins the son of (Christopher Columbus Collins) and never have seen so much about these four brothers regarding the civil war. I had heard of a book on the Collins-Ainsworth line in Texas that was privately published years ago, but lost the information. Finding this site is like finding a treasure. Has anyone ever been able to prove the native american ancestry of these family lines to Daws rolls to prove native American Ancestry and register with a tribe? Thank you for sharing your research with us all.

    • Hi John, I am also a descendant of James P. Collins and Eliza G. Ainsworth. About six years ago my uncles and I restored and reset Eliza’s tombstone in Antioch Cemetery in Gonzales County, Texas. Please contact me if you would like to exchange family history.
      H. Martin Soward, III

  58. John, It’s good to hear from you, and I’m pleased that you find this site helpful. I am familiar with James Patton Collins, but have never conducted original research on him. The book you refer to on the Collins-Ainsworth line is probably the one by Shirley Insall Pieratt. I have a copy of that book, and she does discuss the Native American roots of Eliza Ainsworth. As for Collinses being traced back to the Daws rolls, perhaps there are readers out there who can speak to this.

    If you’d like me to look anything up in the Pieratt book, let me know.

    Vikki, Moderator

  59. I am a descendent of Joseph Collins of St Landry Louisiana. I am looking for relatives in connection with this person. Joseph also had a brother with the name Frank Hawkins whom was born 1779. I would like to you know if they were descendents of any of the Collins you all speak of on this site?

  60. Medonna,

    I missed your question altogether when it came in almost a year ago, so my apologies for this late response. I’m sorry to say I have no answer as to whether or not your Joseph Collins is related to the Collinses discussed in this post and discussion thread. St. Landry, Louisiana, does not appear as a place of migration for the Mississippi-Texas Collinses of my research.

    Perhaps some of our many Collins researchers know something that I don’t. If so, please chime in!


  61. Ms. Bynum,

    I am a long time subscriber/fan & distant-distant relative of yours! I am also one of the “Collins” folks that brought the rest of her cousins to the symposium at Texas State during your last visit! I am constantly sharing the story of my family with everyone that will listen because I am so proud & fascinated by the history! I read every comment that comes in from other descendants and I feel we all share the same excitement to know that we are personally connected to these RENEGADES!! I have been wondering if it would be possible to create some type of webpage, blog, Ancestry group where all of us could exchange information that we have found and to help build our Trees and really complete them. Maybe even dig up some items things/relics that most of us do not yet know about. If you have any suggestions on a good website or place to do so I would welcome them. It would also be nice to create a username and password in order to keep some of our personal information private and not share it with the public. I start with you because I know that so many have contacted you individually that you may be able to more easily compile the names/e-mails of folks who are most directly related. If there is any interest by any of these folks to meeting, I would propose to meet in Houston at the Clayton Geneological Library. I did meet a Lydia Collins at the symposium who also lives in Houston and would love to meet up as well with her!

    Thanks for your time and patience with me as I know this is not the ideal place to correspond but I wanted other blog followers to see it and reply if interested in forming a group etc.


    Kimberly C. Spreen

    • Hi Kimberly,

      It was great to meet you and your relatives at the Lone Star Unionism symposium at Texas State University last April! Thank you for your good words about the Renegade South site.

      I think it would be great if you and others created a family site specifically for the exchange of information, photos, announcements, etc., on the Collins and allied families. My suggestion would be that you begin a wordpress blog like this one; I’ve seen a number that are focused entirely on a particular family line. You could have more than one moderator, and you could easily control what goes on the site and what does not. If you do initiate such a blog, you don’t have to make it public until you feel comfortable navigating it.

      I would be happy to use Renegade South to inform people of said site. Either I or you could write up a post announcing the existence of a new blog site, and also provide a link to it. It’s against my policy to distribute email addresses, however, without a person’s permission. What I can do is send your email to particular people who have commented on Renegade South, and invite them to get in touch with you if they’re interested in participating in a family site.

      So best of luck with this, and let me know if I can help in any of the above ways.


  62. I am descended from Christopher C. Collins, through son Jacob, and granddaughter Lucretia Mariah Collins. Those who go through line can trace lineage back to the Jamestown Colony. I am interested to see if Mariah’s husband, William Wilson Lowery, has a connection to the Free State. The Collins in Wayne County owned slaves, but I find very few connections to CSA pension rolls. Also would like info on Dawes Rolls and Native American ancestry. Both my father/siblings and the maternal line back to Mariah have strong NA physical features.

  63. Ezekiel Asa Loftin, the son of another Ezekiel Asa (Not Andrew, as stated by a previous poster) Loftin (My great great grandfather) married Cynthia Rachel Welch. They were from Jones County MS. where they had been living since he and his brother John Loftin along with Cynthia (Welch) Loftin were involved in the Free State of Jones. My forefathers who were not fond of Yankees either swung down to New Orleans and accepted the 150.00 bounty’s they received to join the Union Army as mounted Cavalry. As per the paperwork (and family tales,) they took the Union bounty money, deserted quickly, leaving New Orleans and headed for Polk County Texas, (Just above Hardin) and used the money to buy land and help others resettle from Jones County. The town of Ace (now gone and just a marker) was settled by my great grandfather and at one point we had a logging operation there. We also lived in Bluewater, Texas (Town gone except for the Bluewater Cemetery) where several Ezekiel Asa Loftin’s and Cynthia Rachel (CR) Loftin are buried along with my Grandfather Ezekiel Asa Loftin (Yes there are a ton of us named Ezekiel Asa Loftin including me and it gets confusing). My grandfather whose grave is marked E.A. Loftin is buried in Bluewater Cemetery in Polk County where Bluewater, Texas used to stand.

    A lot of families owe a lot to my family who fought against that crazed rebel during The Free State of Jones conflicts. The band of rebels in Mississippi were more about pillage, rape and child stealing, than any real cause of the confederacy which was in its death rattle. They hated the Union army too but were proud to take their money when they deserted and put it to good use buying land for family and friends from Jones County. My great, great grandfather though listed as a deserter is also listed as a sergeant in a mounted brigade in official paperwork. That was a quick switch but in reality the man fighting in my grandfather’s name was his brother John Prentiss Loftin who made a valiant return and was promoted to Sergeant after recounting a tale of the death of John (himself,) attempting to apprehend the band of deserters they were actually assisting and his valiant efforts to save him. He reported back in his brother’s name and in the confusion that was NOLA at that time it was never questioned. He did this to take the heat off of Ezekiel and Cynthia Rachel who had started a family in Polk/Hardin area and were being hotly pursued for taking bounty/immediate desertion which had became a clever way to finance moves to East Texas out of Jones County. He is listed as the father of my grandfather, but I assure you he is not. We never got the entire story it is so outlandish from beginning to end,) but as a previous poster said the Loftin’s were a wild bunch and an Ezekiel Asa is on every war role back to the American Revolution and one listed in the War of 1812 in a Mississippi outfit. So it is no surprise we would help start a war-within a war.

    My great, great Grandmother’s family, the Welch’s, were saturated in The Free State of Jones conflict as well. As they say, “If this ain’t a mess, it will do until one gets here.”

    Oh, the lady looking for remnants of the Moss family history may be tied into the town of Moss Hill near Liberty Texas.

    Additional note: Ezekiel Asa Loftin my great grandfather is country singer George Jones grandfather whose daughter married a Jones in Saratoga, Texas just down the road.

    Ezekiel Asa Loftin XII

    • I’ve been to bluewater! I love it! It’s a very special place – you can experience what they went through living in the THICKET. My grandmother grew up out there and I can’t imagine what a hard life it must have been. although it must have been rough, I’m sure it was also Peaceful!! It’s worth the drive for sure! Downtown Livingston has a café, I think it might even be called the whistlestop café, if not – that is what I call it anyway! It’s a great day trip from Houston! There is a Polk County museum there which we stopped at. The museum was unaware of the Collins and other families who were anti-confederate. It seems our ancestors were good at keeping their secrets!🙂

      • Our families were not anti-confederate as much as they were anti-everyone because both sides they hated hence many of them joining the Union army for the bounty in NOLA and promptly deserting and keeping the bounty money to buy land that awaited them since the FSOJ families were establishing a community there and helping each other relocate. My great great-grandfather and his brother devised a way to keep an insider in NOLA in the Union service though it involved one brother returning and serving to the rank of major and helping provide opportunities as a major for the other FSofJones soldiers to desert and make their way safely to Texas. Supposedly they had a very lever method. This was done by having one brother return to the Union Army in NOLA with great tales of being kidnapped and escaping from Confederate soldiers. The quirky thing was one brother John Used his older brother Ezekiel’s name when he returned since he was unmarried. John Loftin was promoted upon his “heroic tales, ability to navigate/guide in the swamps and serving then as a Major in the mounted infantry (using Ezekiel’s name,) arranged for “opportunities for records to disappear and assigned the FSoJones men to fight the confederates in and along East Texas state line making it easy to disappear in the Big Thicket where bodies could not easily be found and they were assumed dead. It also allowed them to take some shots at the Confederate army who had been so terrible to them in Mississippi in the process. Ezekiel (going under the name John Prentiss) met up with the fleeing soldiers and helped them hide and blend into the Big Thicket until pardons were handed out. Not many Yankee soldiers could navigate the alligator and snake infested swamps where they often hid in around Tanner Bayou, Moss Hill, Big Thicket, Saratoga. They also had some help from members of the Alabama-Coushatta tribe through a family who has long been associated with my family and are members of my family now. We heard these stories from my grandfather and some of the great uncles and my daddy said his granddaddy(s) (Ezekiel and Prentiss, ha!) told him many of these stories when he was a boy. My grandfather and many in the family never told these stories outside the family and were indeed very tight-lipped about it since they were wanted by the North and the South simultaneously and though they hated the Rebels who had robbed them blind, murdered, kidnapped, raped and pillaged as bad if not worse than Sherman. Yet, they hated the Yankees even worse. And in the end I feel the majority of The Free State of Jones ended up in East, Texas with help from the Collins, Loftin and Knight families who resided near and our buried in Bluewater.I found some old papers of my daddy’s who died recently and I am going through them now. The weird disappearance and reappearance and promotion of Ezekiel Loftin in the Union army in NOLA are easily found online.

      • Thanks, Ezekiel, for adding your comments about your Loftin and Collins ancestors to Renegade South. Your insights are lively, interesting, and obviously based on a lot of stories that were passed down to you, and on your own research. I’m sure you’re right that many of them hated both the Confederacy and the Union; such hatred was common among folks who had no stake in the war and yet experienced great disruption as a result of it.

        I must add, however, that there is solid evidence of devotion to the Union side among a large portion of the Collins family in both Mississippi and Texas. In my research on Stacy Collins Sr., who died almost a decade before the Civil War, I found a good deal of support by him for a strong federal presence in the Southwestern territories and new states as a bulwark against lawlessness and corruption. In my opinion, this respect for the U.S. government was passed on to his sons. Jasper Collins in Mississippi and Warren Collins in Texas both proclaimed their wartime Unionism for their entire lives, which was not a popular thing to do once the Lost Cause version of the war took hold in the 1890s. Furthermore, both brothers in their respective states of MS and TX espoused unconventional political views based on their desire for more representative government in the wake of the rise of Big Business and industrialization. Their political views are well-documented. After the war, Jasper became a Universalist and a leading Populist in Jones County who founded that county’s only Populist newspaper. Warren Collins ran for office from Hardin County as a Socialist in 1911-1912. Both Jasper and Warren went to their graves expressing pride in their wartime Unionism, and there is no reason either would have lied about that, given that they never backed down from a political fight during their entire lives. (unfortunately, Edwin, Riley and Simeon all died as a result of the war, so we don’t have their words and actions after the war to draw from.)

        I think it’s important that we leave room for different motives and different behavior among the men who deserted the Confederacy, although in many cases they belonged to the same band of anti-Confederate guerrillas.


    • My grandparents are two of the Collins family members buried there. Virgil Collins and Rillia Collins. Rillia’s mother was a Sumrall. The Sumrall family was also involved in the Free State of Jones.

      I spent many sommer nights roasting hotdogs at the Bluewater homecoming!

  64. John Ira Welch and Catherine Bynum are to the best of my knowledge the parents of my great great grandmother Cynthia Rachel Welch. I also noticed I added or skipped a “great” in all of those “great-great-great’s. People have muddied-up our family tree trying to qualify for ‘Daughters of this’ or ‘Son’s of that since we have the bloodline. We don’t care about the clubs but it does make me unhappy.

    As a side note I am married to the only living biological child of Jerry Lee Lewis, Phoebe Lewis-Loftin. She managed her daddy for 12 years until 2010 when we married and she retired. My father died last month at age 81 in his swamp on the Trinity River until his last few days. Phoebe’s two brothers died and though several children carry his name they did not pass the DNA testing during the divorce(s). Phoebe is the daughter of Jerry And Myra Gale Brown (Lewis). Yes, the 13 year old second cousin that rocked, Rock.

    Myra is my mother in law and is still a beautiful lady. She is Vice President of a real estate company in Atlanta.

    We have a modest home on land near Hardin, Texas in Moss Hill, a historic home in Mississippi (1838) and a home where we primarily reside in Virginia (built in 1875). I inadvertently traveled my family’s migratory path in reverse. Texas, Mississippi to Virginia (They made a few stops briefly here and there as I did, only in reverse.)

    We were invited to stay on the land where the first Loftin arrived as an indentured servant in the early 1600’s and was working for the “Widow Parker,” who had received the land to grow tobacco in a land grant from King George. The Loftin’s somehow propelled from servitude (slavery basically) to landowner in what historians consider an extraordinarily quick amount of time. Perhaps the Widow Parker was a lonely woman, or maybe we Loftin’s just know how to work swamps/marshes.

    My wife laughs about our family being in America since the 1600’s and always ending up living in swamps.

    I hope you are happy with the adaptation of your book to film. My mother-in-law ran into trouble with hers. I know that racial issues were a big part of the motivation of some members of the Free State of Jones survivors, but in reality for many it was a non-issue since they had no slaves. They were robbed blind, again and again. Taxed to death on property that had been, (or would be) stolen.

    So the Free State of Jones was not a race war, though a prime organizer did have that agenda heavily on his mind since he was in a mixed marriage with kids. Many who fled to East Texas, were simply very poor people trying to scratch out a living in a swamp, in between a warring nation; which had taken very little notice of them. That is until they needed something, then they tried to take all of the little they had. They again one of you may inform me I have a black ancestor. Would not surprise me one little bit.

    I think most of the people who were motivated by racial issues actually stayed in Mississippi, but I may be wrong about that and nothing surprises me about my family history anymore. One of the Ezekiel’s Asa’s wives was turned down for a war pension because she could not find the paperwork that showed he had served twice, once in the American Revolution and then the War of 1812 and I’ll be danged if my wife and I did not find a photocopy of the paperwork she had needed on the internet over a 100 years later. That just made me angry and sad thinking of how much that would have helped his poor widow.

    Funny, just how connected we all really are now that we can view our lineage so readily due to the internet; even with the manipulation here and there by folks trying to get in fancy, “blood-clubs.”

  65. More great stuff, Ezekiel, and important insights into what our ancestors faced and how they faced it down. And Jerry Lee Lewis in the family line to boot–I love it!


  66. great great grandmother was Mary ann Collins orMargaret not sure she. married ethan allen Smith in Texas. she came from Mississippi and was born around 1846. do not know who her parents are or siblings. after Ethan Allen smith died she married an Joseph outlaw. by Ethan Allen she had four children one being my grandfather Robert merril smith. they settled in Conroe Texas New Caney area. I know nothing about her family at all. I know the Stanleys and Smith came was settled around SanAugustine. my name is Pamela Cooper. any information would be of help thank you

    • Hello, Pamela, nice to hear from you. I don’t recognize the Collins marriages that you have posted, although there was a Mary Collins among the children of Stacy and Sarah Collins of Jones County, MS (later of East Texas). Do you know which county in Mississippi that Mary/Margaret Collins migrated from?


      • Not sure.really at dead end.anything worth ethan allen smith dad thomas smith and his mother olive standley were in san Augustine before coming to new caney Texas and harris county.pam

  67. Here is a link to Bluewater Cemetery where a lot of lost Collins, Loftin, Welch and Knight family members are laid to rest. There are three Ezekiel Asa Loftin’s here, my great great grandfather (who is supposed to be here but stone is no longer legible or gone, my great grandfather Ezekiel Asa Loftin and my grandfather is listed as E.A. Loftin. This is a very hard cemetery to find and the road (unless recently repaired should not be traveled in the rain,) Hope this helps some of you find those missing links. People are still buried here my family has four plots at least still unused. I dread to tell people this but there is a mailbox where you will find a notebook which is the way people communicate both to the living and dead. There is a caretaker who will shoot you if you desecrate or steal. He had a small trailer beside the cemetery. A couple of houses were across the street nearby and that is all that remains of Bluewater, Texas. Here lies a lot of old Jones County and more are probably over in the Oliver Cemetery not far away.

  68. I was looking and cant find anything on where my great grandpa which his name was james higton collins was from and who was before him his mom and dad etc

  69. I’m the gr-gr-granddaughter of Jasper Jones Collins. It’s been interesting to read the posts on this web-site and to realize that there are many more relatives of mine out there than I was aware of. My mother and brother have done extensive research on the Collins line but were never able to get farther back than Stacy Collins (Jasper Jones Collins’ father). Have you any information on that?

      • I know that Clay took a DNA test for a third party to see if they were related (they were not), but don’t know the details. I want to take the DNA test myself, but need to save up the $ first.

      • My brother said he would be willing to share the DNA results he has with you if you would like.

    • I’ve ben told that I am a descendent of Jasper Collins through my Grandmother’s side. I think he was my GGG Grandfather. I would love to more about this side of the family. My Grandmother was Lucy JuanTurner (Grantham). She was married to Garvin Columbus Turner, my Grandfather. They have both past, but lived in rural Ovett, MS. All information from there up would be awesome.

      I’m also reasonably certain that I am related to Serena Turner. I’ve been told that my GGGGG Grandfather was Stokely Turner, the brother of Serena’s Grandfather, John. I would love some confirmation on this, because there is some confusion as to if Stokely’s name might actually have been Samuel O. Turner. . I would love to know where one, or both are buried, if that is the case. Any help would be appreciated. Btw. I have done the 23andme DNA test if that helps anyone. My Great Grandfather was Travis Turner, also.

      • I would especially be interested if you could trace your Collins family back to Spartanburg County, SC and connect to my Collins family in NC just across the SC line and Spartanburg County.

    • Specifically, I am from the line of Jasper’s son, Henry Clay Collins, who married Vina Ann Herrington.

  70. My great-grandmother was Annie Collins Moulds (1884-1963). She was born and spent her whole life in Jasper County. I’m still trying to sort out what her relationship to the Collins of the Jones County Rebellion was. Her father was Thomas Collins (1848-1923). Her grandfather was Joseph Collins (1788-1858). Joseph married either a Heatherington or a Hosey. I’m leaning towards Hosey because per North Carolina Marriages a Jane Collins married a Hosey man in Cumberland, North Carolina in 1824 and they relocated to Jasper County. Per U.S. General Land Office Records, Joseph Collins bought land in Jasper County in 1841, the same year that Stacy Collins bought land in Jones County.

    Annie Collins Moulds had a son, Wyatt Benjamin “Dub” Moulds (1915-1982). Uncle Dub was the father of my cousin, Wyatt Moulds, Professor of History at Jones County Junior College. Wyatt was some kind of technical adviser on the movie. Wyatt stated in press release that Newt Knight was a cousin of his. So I had to look into whether our side of the family was related to Newt.

    My side of the family is not blood related to Newt. For my generation he is technically described as “the 1st cousin, 3 generations removed, of the wife of our great-uncle Dub Moulds.” His wife was Reba Gail Sims (1924-2000). Aunt Reba was a 3X great-granddaughter of John Jackie Knight (1774-1861), who was the grandfather of Newton Knight.

    Our generation never knew that Aunt Reba had cousins of mixed race until this movie came along and we looked into it.

  71. Thanks for your response, Vikki. I need a basis to start my research. So forgive me for asking to many questions. I don’t know if you know or who knows this bit of information. I have this one glaring question. How does anyone know he was from Spartanburg District, South Carolina? I need a true starting point. So what is the proof that he came from Spartanburg?

  72. Viki,

    The Free State of Jones movie turned out very well in my opinion. I was just wondering if you had an answer to this. In the movie a teenager named Daniel Knight dies at the Battle of Corinth. That couldn’t be Daniel Knight who was married to Elizabeth Coleman. The Daniel Knight teenager must have been a son of one of the other brothers (not Albert or Daniel, but maybe son of either John, William H., James, Benjamin or Jefferson Davis Knight). Or, maybe this teenager Daniel Knight was just a fictionalized version of what actually to Daniel Knight who was married to Elizabeth Coleman. He was wounded at Corinth, was in the hospital, later wen on to fight at Vicksburg. His health would deteriorate and he did died. Appreciate if you could comment on who was this teenager Daniel Knight.

    • Janette,

      I’m so glad that you liked the movie! In regard to Newt’s nephew Daniel in the movie, he is not based on any one person. He is meant to represent the large number of Jones County men and boys who were either killed or wounded at Corinth. Those deaths played a role in stimulating high desertions after the battle. represented in Newt Knight’s desertion after the death of Daniel.


  73. So far it looks like my Collins ancestors were not part of the rebellion. My 2nd great-grandfather, Thomas Collins (1848-1923) of Wayne County is recorded serving in the Gillis Co. of Mississippi Calvary from 1861 to 1865. I’m a decendent of the Reynolds/Moulds/Collins/Patricks/Sandels/Taylors of Jasper County and surrounding areas. My late Uncle Ben Reynolds was the first genealogist in the family. I would go with him sometimes when he would go around the county questioning the old folks. My cousin just informed me that Ethel Knight was one of those he questioned. Uncle Ben had an autographed copy of The Echo of the Black Horn. I have the works of Thomas Jefferson Knight and Ethel Knight in my kindle. I also have the Free State of Jones but haven’t read them yet because I’m still reading The Long Shadow.

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