Collins 1

For months, I have been working on tracing the “deep” ancestry of one branch of my family. The family’s name is Collins. I relate to them through my great grandmother Martha Lydia Collins (1877-1945), her father Hugh Wilbur Collins (1839-1915),and his father Graham Russell Collins (c. 1802-1880).

This family lived for the entirety of the 19th century on the border between Gates County, North Carolina, and Nansemond County, Virginia. There is even a “Collins Rd.” that leads from the “Drum Hill” area of Gates into the “Cypress Chapel” area of Nansemond County, which is now the incorporated city of Suffolk. The family’s farms were near that road.

Tracing the family beyond Graham Collins becomes more difficult. His parents are Thomas Collins (1770-1849) and Anna Russell. They were married in Gates County in 1801. From land records, we can see that Thomas had two brothers or cousins in the vicinity of his farm. These were James Collins and David Collins.James Collins was married to Catherine Russell, likely the sister or cousin of Anna Russell. Both were probably the daughters of James Russell, Sr., whose farm was next to Thomas Collins’ farm.

Thomas Collins and James Collins were about the same age, both born in about 1770. David was about a decade younger. Thomas Collins and James Collins appear in the Nansemond County tax lists in 1805 and 1804, with 50 and 8 acres, respectively. David appears for the first time in 1810 with 50 acres. Before any of these three men appeared in Nansemond County tax lists, there was a William Collins.

William Collins first appeared in the Nansemond County tax lists in 1796 with 50 acres. This is likely the same land that David Collins was listed as head of in 1810, perhaps after William had died. Where was William Collins before 1796? Apparently he was in Gates County. The 1790 census lists a “William Collings” and a “Lamuel Collings” in Gates. The 1800 census lists a Sarah Collins and Thomas Collins.

Older records show a Samuel and Thomas Collins in Gates County in 1786. To me this shows that there are two Thomas Collins — one older who was probably deceased or out of Gates County by the time of the 1790 census, and one younger, who was married in Gates in 1801 and appeared on the Nansemond tax list in 1805.

So who are Samuel and Lamuel/Lemuel Collins? I do not know. A search of Gates County land records showed no Collins at all during the 1779 (when Gates was founded) to 1805 period (when Thomas appears in the Nansemond County tax lists). At the same time, there are no Collins in the tax lists for 1782 through 1796 in Nansemond County.

So where did this family come from? With William Collins, apparently our ancestor, we have an appearance in Gates records in 1790 followed by a move to Nansemond in 1796, where he remained until 1810, his apparent death.

Where was the Collins family prior to the American Revolution? There are a number of families in the region, but I have so far not been able to connect with any of them. I will address this more in my next post.

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2 Responses to Collins 1

  1. Beverly Collins Hall says:

    I am Beverly Collins Hall my people have been living in Robeson County NC since late 1690-2015.
    Collins, Bunch, Gibson, Locklear, Dials, Lowery, Bullard, Jones, Maynor etc. I married a Meherrin from Hertford County Winton NC. I found out later that the Hall and Collins families married in the 1700’s.
    My family traveled from what is know Va, NC, SC and Tenn. We are related to all the Collins that are associated with Native Americans. We are Irish, French and Indian and we also have African American in our families in the 1900’s were our AI families married other races. We are trying to build our ancestral lines with all the Collins Families and add everyone in between. I am from the Cherokee,, Meherrin, Saponi Pamukey and Lumbee Peoples. Would you like to share histories with our group? Maybe we could connect our lines quicker if we work together.

    Beverly Collins Hall
    Office 910-843-9911
    Cell 910-734-4185

    • Thomas Robbins says:

      Hi Beverly, or should say cousin. I descend from the Bunch who ended up on Indian Woods and are Tuscarora, African and European. I am currently a member of the Southern Band. Our founding matriarch maiden name was Hall, married Cotton.

      Thomas Robbins

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