While I have hinted that John Collins (1690-1752) of Bertie County, North Carolina, may be an ancestor, as his name shows up on deeds that feature the ancestors of neighbors of our Collinses, the truth is that I have no evidence linking this man to my ancestors. Moreover, I simply cannot find my ancestors in any documents prior to the American Revolution. As previously mentioned, we are focused on an area on the border between Nansemond County and Gates County, North Carolina. Nansemond, which merged to become Suffolk City in 1972, is a “burned county.” Most records prior to 1866 have been lost. Gates County, formed in 1779, has been more fortunate. Luckily for us, many if not all of the marriages in our family were registered in Gates County, as it supposedly had the closest office to do so.
Gates was formed from pieces of Chowan, Hertford, Bertie, and Perquimans Counties. I have been unable to find out to which of these counties this area belonged. Some neighbors of my Collinses (the Russels and Wiggins, for example) show up in the 1770 Chowan County list of taxables. There is a Collins there, Nicholas, but he is not closely related to our family, as wills and other records attest. Going back farther, there are no Collins in the 1717 Chowan County early census. So, no good leads in Chowan.
Perquimans could be an option. Orapeake/Corapeaks records are known to have been kept there, and Corapeake is not far from the area in question. There is an Andrew Collins, but, again, not our connection. Bertie has more hits — there is a William Collins in the 1757 tax list. Of course, there is no definitive link between this guy and our William Collins. But, it’s a start. Hertford, sadly, is another “burned county,” though there do exist tax records from 1768 and 1770 that it would be nice to access, but they are not available online. But, for now, I am unable to trace this family beyond 1783.