The Collinses of Jones County, Mississippi: Selected Family Photos

Recently, Dean Collins, a descendant of Stacy and Sara Anderson Collins, shared with me several photos that I am pleased to post on Renegade South. Dean is descended from Stacy and Sara’s son, Vinson A. Collins of Jones County, Mississippi.

Vinson, (not to be mistaken for his nephew and namesake, Vinson A. Collins of East Texas) is pictured here:

Vinson A. Collins of Jones County, MS. Photo courtesy of Dean Collins

Born January 16, 1815, Vinson Collins was past the age of conscription during the Civil War. He was nonetheless as important a figure in Jones County’s anti-Confederate uprising—popularly known as the “Free State of Jones”—as were his numerous brothers, nephews, and cousins who took up arms against the Confederate Army. Even Vinson’s sister, Sarah Collins Walters Parker, is famous for having sheltered pro-Union family members at the expense of her own safety during the Civil War (Sarah’s own son, George Walters, served and died for the Confederate cause during the war).

Soon after the Civil War ended, on July 15, 1865, many of Jones County’s anti-Confederate citizens petitioned Mississippi’s provisional governor, William L. Sharkey, to overturn the county’s 1864  “rebel” elections of probate judge and sheriff and fill those offices with Unionists. Governor Sharkey compromised by allowing dual appointments of both the pro-Union and pro-Confederate candidates. His decision resulted in pro-Union Vinson A. Collins serving alongside pro-Confederate William Hood as probate judge of Jones County.

Three years later, during Reconstruction, Vinson briefly served as delegate to the 1868 Mississippi Constitutional Convention from Smith and Jones County. (Note: the state legislature had previously renamed Jones “Davis County” in honor of Jefferson Davis, but the name “Jones” was restored in 1870).

Below is the back side of the same photo of Vinson A. Collins. Dean reports that the inscription was likely recorded by his grandmother, Bertie Wigington Collins.

Inscription on back of photo. Courtesy of Dean Collins

The following group photograph includes Clay Crittenden Collins (1853-1940), a son of Vinson and Nancy (Bynum) Collins, and his wife Clarissa, “Classie,” (1864-1950). Dean’s grandmother, Bertie Collins, speculated that the photo was taken at the old Lebanon school/church house. Dean believes that it is “most likely a Collins family gathering” since so many members of the Collins family seem present. Following the photograph is  a diagram that identifies a few of the people who were gathered that day. Readers are welcome to offer opinions of who’s who by keying additional names to the diagram numbers.

Group gathering including Clay and Clarissa Collins. Photo courtesy of Dean Collins.

Outline of group photo, courtesy of Dean Collins. Please help identify if you can!

Below is a close-up of Clay Crittenden Collins, son of Vinson A. and Nancy (Bynum) Collins, standing with wife Clarissa around the year 1917:

Clay and Classie (Clarissa) Collins, circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Dean Collins

Here is a 1925 photo of a school class of Soso, Mississippi. Bennie Crittenden Collins, son of John Calhoun and Francis (Hinton) Collins, grandson of Clay and Clarissa Collins, and great-grandson of Vinson A. and Nancy Collins, is kneeling in front row, second from left:

Soso School Days, circa 1925, courtesy of Dean Collins. Bennie Collins is in front row, 2nd from left. Can anyone identify any of the others?

Thank you so much, Dean Collins, for sharing these family photos with Renegade South!

Vikki Bynum

33 replies »

  1. Jeff Collins, the little boy labeled in the picture, was my great-granddaddy. His daughter Mary Louise Collins “Makey” was my Granny. She had a brother Arthur whom they called Ossie, I’m guessing because of the boy in the picture. She also had a brother named Clay after their grandfather. There were other siblings as well. Only two are still living.


  2. Actually, Laura, I think the boy labeled “Jeff” Lamar is your great uncle and your Granny, Mary Louise’s, brother. I think #22 is your great grandfather Jeff Clay Collins and Mary Collins is your great-grandmother and my grandmother who I never knew. (She perished when struck by lightning when Mary Louise, my mother, was 3 years old. I wonder where Mary Louise is? She would be a year younger than Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am descended from Christopher Collins through his gd, Lucretia Maria/Mariah Collins. She was apparently a quite amazing woman. I have a letter of marriage proposal she received and rejected from W Webber in 1847 or 49. Script is hard to read. She went on to marry William Wilson Lowery.
    Interesting side on CCCollins. I live in Concordia Parish, La. CCC was involved in a land suit here about 1810..dont have records with me now as I am on phone. He sued and lost vs Don Vidal, Spanish land Commissioner for the area. The court ruled CCC had not adequately homesteaded land and so lost rights to Vidal. Yeoman farmer vs landed aristocracy once again.


    • Cecelia, I appreciate all your posts. Sure wish we Collins researchers could find documentary evidence of who were the parents of Stacy Collins!



      • Has anyone over the last 6-7 years since this comment thread found any indication of the parents of Stacy Collins? How is Stacy related to Christopher C , Jacob, and Joshua Collins? And do we know who their father and mother were? Was their father also a Christopher Columbus Collins? I’m discovering that trying to do the work of a historian is trying to get past the mountains of false information. Thanks for any indications of parentage/grandparents/etc y’all may have of Christopher/Jacob/Joshua Collins parentage as far as anyone has documented (on Collins side). And same thing especially for Stacy Collins.


  4. I am going to ask my Uncle Rodney Robinson, great-great grandson to Jasper Collins. My family shared lots of stories and he may hold an answer to the parents of Stacy Collins.


      • To explain myself regarding my comment about the third cousins, my lineage from Jasper Collins is through his daughter Fannie. Fannie married James Lafayette Shows. James and Fannie’s last son was my Grandfather, Willie Shows. Willie first married Shellie Bassett of Louin, in Jasper County and had several daughters and a son who died very young., then he married my Grandmother Mary Alice Pearson of Steen’s Creek in Rankin County. So, to all my Collins cousins, I hope to meet you all someday and God bless y’all!


      • I also know of a Mrs. Grantham, just down the highway at Greenville, MS, who is a descendant of Palestine Collins. Would be great if descendants of each of Pappy Jasper’s kids were represented on this thread!


    • I’m the son of Hanson Collins, son of Wofford Collins, son of Clayton Collins, son of Riley who was Jasper’s brother along with Warren and Nig (I bet it is Nigel and they gave him the nickname. Hey Cuz!


      • Robert, this is Donna daughter of “Bo” Collins. Please Call or text me.
        601-422-3620. Oh I am so excited to have stumbled on to this comment


      • We are definitely cousins. Jasper was my GG Grandfather, then Ulysses GGrandfather. My Grandmother was from Ulysses first wife who died of CA?


    • My line flows like this: I am the daughter of Gayle Rogers Robinson, son of Mildred Myrick R., daughter of Elizabeth Lyons Myrick Burrow (Betty Burrow in the bibliography of The Long Shadow of the Civil War by Victoria Bynum), daughter of Theodocia (Docia) Collins Lyons, daughter of Jasper Collins & Gatsy Powell. Just a little genealogy fyi! I love finding cousins!


    • I would also love, as we all would, to know who Stacy’s parents were. My line is as follows: Jasper is my great-great grandfather. His son, Ulysses Sherman, is my great grandfather and the father of my grandmother, Bertie Collins Moffett. I love reading everyone’s notes and research!


  5. Thank you for posting these pictures, especially the photo of Clay and Clarissa Collins. I am descended from them through their daughter France’s Seleta (Peggy) Collins Hollifield, who is my great grandmother.


  6. According to ancestry.com, I’m a descendant of Avery Collins. I’ll check and add more details.


  7. I a descendant of Arthur Avery Collins. I’d like to know more about the family. My great grandmother was Mary Magdelena Blackwell.


  8. I am the adopted son of Wilson Hollis Collins, son of Alvah Allen Collins, son of Clay Crittenden Collins, son of Vinson A. Collins. My father W. H. Collins turned 93 years old on July 5,2016. Although I am not blood related I feel truly blessed to be apart of the Collins family an amazing family with lots of history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I feel truly blessed to be apart of the Collins family an amazing family with lots of history.” So true, Daniel!


  9. I am the adopted daughter of Wilson Hollis Collins, son of Alvah Allen Collins, son of Clay Crittenden Collins, son of Vinson A. Collins. As my brother Danny said, although not biologically related, I am proud to have been reared by a Collins, especially my dad Hollis who proudly served in some of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific theater of WWII. Thank you for this compelling window into the Collins legacy.


  10. I am .the great granddaughter of Steward Collins and Granddaughter of Fordyce Collins. My mother was Mary Collins daughter of Fordyce Collins and Nettie Holifield.


  11. I would like someone to contact me concerning the Collins Family group photo that Dean Collins posted. Said to be taken at the old Lebanon School/Church house, that also pictured Clay & Clarissa Collins
    I have a photo of them and others taken in the same location that seems to be earlier.
    would love to hear from someone.


  12. I have enjoyed reading Renegade South. I have looked for more information regarding my third-great grandfather Nathaniel Collins (BIRTH ABT 1808 • Adams County, Mississippi, USA and DEATH 9 MAY 1882 • Houston, Harris, Texas, USA). Nathaniel Collins married Sarah Ann Thompson in Adams, Mississippi, on April 14, 1828, when she was 20. I would like to know more about Nathaniel’s parents and siblings. Any information would be so appreciated.


  13. My lineage is Jasper Collins, Ulysses Collins, Lennie Lee Collins-Read, Virginia Carolyn Read Brister, Donna Cheryl Brister, and Karen Leigh Brister, Robyn Noel Brister. I”m looking for photos.


  14. Identification of Persons in Collins Gathering Photo
    I’m fairly sure of these people:
    #29 Frances S. (Peggy) Collins Holifield (my great grandmother) married to Morgan Holifield
    #30 Cleo Holifield (Kenneth) Edes (daughter of #29)
    #8 Stella Holifield Davis (daughter of #29)
    #9 Camilla Holifield Bush (Harry) Clawson (daughter of #29)


  15. Since the Collins and Walters families are intertwined, as are many Jones County families, could you please enlighten me? My grandfather Jesse Malaci Walters (homestead Ridge Road & Indian Springs Church Rd) had three wives, two were from the Collins family. My grandmother Clarissa Collins, his third wife, born 2/13/1878 – died 11/8/1979. It’s our belief that she was the daughter of Clay Crittendon Collins and granddaughter of Vinson A. Collins. What I do know as fact is that two of her brothers were Jeff and Burkett Collins….I met them several times when I was younger. My grandfather’s first wife, Sarah Florance born 12/26/1858 – died 9/28/1895 is buried at Calhoun Cemetery next to my grandfather, and our records show that she is the daughter of Riley Collins. Any info you can furnish is greatly appreciated.


    • Hello Conrad,
      Thanks for visiting Renegade South.

      Though I’m not a professional genealogist, I rely on genealogy for my historical works. After spending a good part of my morning going through my records, it seems clear that your line is indeed part of the heavily intermarried Walters and Collinses families. Here is what I found:

      First of all, you’ve likely already consulted the Edwards/Strickland book, “Who Married Whom in Jones County, Mississippi” (1986). I have found that book to be pretty reliable, and it does list successive marriages between Jesse M. Walters and 1) Sarah Florence Collins, 2) Martha Pool, and 3) Clarissa Collins.

      I also consulted my notes from the 1860 and 1880 federal manuscript censuses. In 1860, I found Sarah F., age 2, listed as the daughter of Riley and Desdemona Collins. It seems safe to assume this is Sarah Florence since the family gravestone identifies her as such.

      Also in the 1860 census, Clay Crittenden, age 8, is listed as V.A. and Nancy (Bynum) Collins’s son, which makes me certain of what appears in the 1880 census. There, “C.C.” Collins, age 26, and “C.E.” Collins, age 25, are listed in the household headed by V.A. Collins. I’m certain this is Clay Crittenden and his wife, Clarissa. This seems especially certain because the Edwards/Strickland book identifies Clay’s wife as “Clarissa E. Wood” born 1855 in Alabama, and a daughter of theirs as “C. Elizabeth,” born 1878. It seems a safe bet that C. Elizabeth is Clarissa Elizabeth, named for her mother, and the future third wife of Jesse M. Walters.

      Vikki Bynum


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