So, maybe it is time to do a little “fine mapping” on this family. As noted in the previous post, we are tracing the ancestry of Graham R. Collins, the grandfather of my great-grandmother, Martha Lydia Collins.
Graham Collins was probably born between 1801 and 1805 in Nansemond County, Virginia. He died in March 1880 of cancer in the Cypress Chapel District, which runs along the border in the southeastern part of the county near the Great Dismal Swamp. While US Federal Census Mortality Schedules list his age as 84 in 1880, making his birth year about 1795 or 1796, his parents were Thomas Collins and Anna Russell, who were married in Gates County, NC, in 1801. Graham had at least one brother, Thomas R. Collins, who was born in the same timeframe.
They also had a cousin, Elvy R. Collins, who was born in about 1806 to James Collins and Katherine Russell, who were also married in 1801 in Gates County, North Carolina. Katherine and Anna Russell were probably the daughters of James Russell, Sr., whose land was adjacent to Thomas Collins’ land in Nansemond County, while Thomas and James Collins were likely brothers.
How old were Thomas Collins and James Collins? Census records show that Thomas Collins was 60-69 years old in 1830, making his birthyear between 1761 and 1770. The 1840 census lists his age as between 70 and 79, again, making his birthyear sometime in the 1760s. Finally, the record of his death gives his age as 80 in August 1849, indicating a birthyear of 1768 or 1769. James Collins appears to have been a few years younger. These two brothers also had two younger brothers, it seems, David Collins, who was born about 1780, and William Collins, who was born in about 1785. Their father appears to have been William Collins, who was listed in the 1790 census in Gates County, North Carolina. So, using this information, we are able to construct the following.
William Collins, born about 1745 in ?, died in 1810, Nansemond County, Va. married ?
Children: 1) Thomas Collins b. 1768, 2) James Collins b. 1772, 3) David Collins b. 1780, 4) William Collins b. 1785
The big question is where William Collins was born and what is his background. There are a number of families in the area that are probably relatives. There is the Collins family of Kingsale Swamp, well profiled by Michael Dunn. But our William Collins b. circa 1745 is NOT the brother of his James Collins I, who lived in Franklin County, NC. As you can see, he died in Nansemond County in 1810.
Then there are associated families in Bertie County. Again, the names here make some sense. One of John Collins’ sons is William Collins, and he is about the right age to be our William Collins. But this William Collins was given land in Tyrrell County and died in 1764. It is unclear when this William Collins was born, but it was likely in the 1720s, meaning he would be old enough to be the grandfather of our Thomas Collins and the father of our William Collins. But there is no evidence connecting these Collins with the Collins family of Drum Hill, Gates County, and Cypress Chapel, Nansemond County. It is possible that our William was a son of David Collins, William Collins of Bertie’s older brother. If so, it is not yet proven.
There are other families that might be relatives too, but that is for another post.