A Little Bit Closer

IN MY LAST POST, I showed how some associations between people living in Gates County, North Carolina, at the end of the 18th century and New Kent County, Virginia, at the end of the 17th century had led me to discover apparent genealogical connections between both locations.

This led me to a rather stunning discovery, as I understood that my ancestor Graham Collins (1802-1880), who was born in Gates County, was very likely named after a local landowning family in New Kent, the Grahams. I also understood that my Collins ancestors likely had deep roots among the mixed Indian families of that region, most of whom were Pamunkey Indians.

Perusing the tax lists of that region, excerpted by Paul Heinegg, dredged up some familiar names. In King William County, the following Collinses appear starting in the following years: John Collins (1782), Mason, John, and William Collins (1787), James Collins (1790). Interestingly James Collins is the most poorly documented individual from my family in Gates County, disappearing from tax lists in the 1820s. There is a James Collins who reappears in King William County in the 1830s. Could this be the same man?

James, John, and Mason Collins all appear in King & Queen County as well at this time. Moreover, an Elijah Collins also appears. This is quite interesting to me, as my ancestor Graham Collins’s eldest son was named Elijah Collins. A Thomas Collins appears too. So, in King William and King & Queen Counties, we find the almost exact family names as we do in Gates County and Nansemond County: Thomas, James, William, Elijah.

Interestingly, we find Birds, Langstons, and Sweats alongside them, the same families we find beside the Collins families in Nansemond County in the 1850 census. The tribal origin of these families is always in question. We find Boones, Butlers, and Wigginses among the Tuscarora, and among this Cypress Chapel cluster of families in Virginia. But this is more evidence of my family’s roots among the indigenous populations of Virginia and North Carolina, and I welcome it after so many years of searching.


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