TWO INTERESTING CONNECTIONS between my families and known Indian families in Gates County have come up. To remind you, I am tracing the ancestry of Thomas Collins (1769-1849) and Anna Russell (1770-1855), who were married in Gates County in 1801, although it seems they may have been cohabiting since about 1791.
At the moment, Thomas Collins’ father appears to be the Thomas Collins who appeared in the Gates County tax lists in the mid-1780s and then disappeared after 1787. There was a William Collins too, who could have been his brother. Later in the tax lists there is a William Collins, Sr., and a William Collins, Jr. There is no way to differentiate these men, as they owned no land.
I can say that Thomas Collins (1769-1849) had a nephew or cousin, also named Thomas Collins, who was born in about 1800. This Thomas Collins was also the nephew of a woman named Celia Collins who married a man named Daniel Eure. Considering the succession of the marriages of Thomas Collins in 1801, his brother James in 1801, and Celia in 1804, I tend to think they were all siblings and children of the older Thomas Collins who died in 1787.
While the Thomas Collins who was born in 1769 moved to what is southern Nansemond County some time after 1803 (when he is listed on a land deed involving Sarah Butler – more on her later), Celia Eure and Thomas Collins born in 1800 stayed near what was the Chowan Indian Reservation. In fact, in the 1850 census, one can find them on the page preceding the family of James Bell Robbins’ family.
Another factor here is that James Bell Robbins’ wife and the mother of his children was named Nancy Eure. On the census she is listed as a 65 year old mulatto, meaning she was born in about 1785. Nearby are listed James Eure, age 36 and Leah Eure, age 45, meaning they are too young to be siblings of Nancy Eure. Celia Eure, whose age is given as 74, meaning she was born 1776, is actually Celia Collins. Her deceased husband, Daniel Eure, however, could have been Nancy Eure’s older brother. It is possible that the Eure family had deep familial ties to the local Chowanoke population. At least one online genealogy shows family progenitor Stephen Eure’s spouse as a Chowanoke woman.
Thomas Collins, born in 1800, is also interesting here. He was bound to his uncle Daniel Eure in 1809, in which he was called an orphan boy. That means that his father was likely the William Collins who died in 1809. This William Collins was likely the brother of Thomas Collins born in 1769. In the 1840 census though the same Thomas Collins has a 55 to 99 year old free colored female in his household. Is this his mother or mother-in-law? If it is his mother-in-law, then she is Sarah Parker, widow of Abraham Parker. If it is his mother, then why was he bound out at age 9 to his uncle?
It is interesting that there is no record of marriage for the father of Thomas Collins, born in 1800, even though Gates County records date from this time. Perhaps his mother was an Indian woman from the reservation, and his father, William Collins, did not marry her.
It is my suspicion that the Collinses who arrived to Gates in the mid-1780s did so from the Roquist Swamp area from Bertie County, where they lived near the Tuscarora Butler family. Thomas Collins witnessed Sarah Butler’s land deed in 1803, and Sarah Butler’s land in 1816 passed to Martha Butler, head of a household of other free in 1820. In Gates County, they lived in and among the Chowanoke fringe population.