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The Collins Family of Connecticut

Source: COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD of HARTFORD COUNTY, CONNECTICUT

(Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early
Settled Families.); Illustrated.;
Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1901.

Pages 54-57

COLLINS. The Collins family of Hartford, who are the descendants of Honorable Amos Morris Collins and his children, is one of the Colonial Families of New England, a number of whose descendants have been among the leading and influential Citizens and businessmen of Hartford.

Honorable Amos Morris Collins was in the seventh generation from John Collins (2), the American ancestor, the line of his descent being through John (3), John (4), Daniel, William and William (2).

John Collins, the first to the family of whom there is any known record, lived in London, and in Brampton, County of Suffolk, England, where he died and was buried. His wife was Abigail, daughter of Thomas Rose, of Eximouth, Devonshire, England. She was buried at Braintree, County of Essex, England. Their children were: Edward; John, Daniel, Samuel and Abigail.

(I) John Collins (2), son of John Collins, came to New England prior to 1640, living in Boston and Braintree, Massachusetts, prior to that date. He was born in England about 1616. He married in England, prior to 1640, Suzanna ???. He was admitted to the Church in Boston in 1640, and that year was made a "freeman". He was an active and prominent businessman in the Massachusetts Colony. He was a member of the Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. His children were: John, Suzanna Thomas and Elizabeth. [NOTE: The ancestry tree posted here as COLLINS_CT_OPG.ZIP provides greater detail on this line of the descendants of John Collins; in that tree see John Collins II and following]

(II) John Collins (3), son of John Collins (2), was born about 1640 in Boston. He married (first), in 1662, Mary Trowbridge, who died in 1667, and he married (second), in 1669, Widow Kingsworth, or sister of Henry Kingsworth. John died at Guilford, Connecticut, in 1704. He was one of the patentees of the town of Guilford been, and "townsman" and schoolteacher as late as 1702. He taught a grammar school there in 1682. His children, all by Mary Trowbridge, were: Mary, John and Robert.

(III) John Collins (4), son of John Collins (3), was born in 1665 in Saybrook, Connecticut, died in 1751. He married, in 1691, Ann Leete, a granddaughter of Governor William Leete. She died in 1724. Their children were: Ann, Mary, John, Timothy, Timothy (2), Daniel, Suzanna, Samuel, Mercy, Oliver, Avis and Eunice.

(IV) Daniel Collins, son of John Collins (4), born in 1701 at Guilford, Connecticut married in 1725, Lois Cornwall, of Long Island, a daughter of William Cornwall, of Hartford and Middletown. She was born at Middletown in 1702. Their children were: Anne, William, Lorrain, Freelove, Avis, Daniel, Zeriah, Demetrius, Augustus, and Ruth.

(V) William Collins, son of Daniel Collins, born in 1728, died in 1775. He married, in 1758 Ruth Cook, daughter of Aaron Cook, of Wallingford, Connecticut. She was born in 1738, and died in 1790. Their children were: Lorrain, William, Aaron C., Daniel, Samuel, Ruth and Lucy.

(VI) William Collins (2), son of William and Collins, born in 1760, died in 1849. He married, in 1783, Esther Morris, at Morris Point, near New Haven, Connecticut, where she was born in 1763. In 1783 they located in Litchfield, Connecticut, and in 1822 moved to Illinois. She died at Collinsville, Illinois, in 1834. Their children were: Eliza, William M., Amos Morris, Almira, Augustus, Anson, Michael, Maria, William and Frederick. . When a lad of 17 William Collins enlisted for service in the war of the Revolution. He was a private under the command of Colonel Jonathan Meigs. Later, in 1779, he served with his uncle, Augustus Collins, who was a major serving as brigade major under Brigadier-General Ward. William was a deacon in the Church at Litchfield, Connecticut, while Lyman Beecher was pastor.

(VII) Amos Morris Collins, third child of William Collins (2) Esther Morris, was born March 30, 1788 in Litchfield, Connecticut. His father, a deacon in Dr. Lyman Beecher's Church, was a man of recognized Puritan stamp. His mother was a descendant in a direct line from Thomas Morris, of the County of Essex, England. The Morris Families of Connecticut and Massachusetts are without doubt descended from the Morris family of Roydon Parish, County of Essex, England. On April 30, 1811 Mr. Collins was married to Mary Lyman, only daughter of Colonel Moses Lyman, of Goshen, Connecticut. Their children were: William L., Morris, Erastus, Charles, Edward, Maria E., Henry and Mary F. In 1810 Mr. Collins established himself in mercantile business in Blandford, Massachusetts. In a few years he had turned into new channels the industry of that and large portions of the surrounding towns. The impulse which he gave was felt long after his death.

In 1819 Mr. Collins removed with his family to Hartford, Connecticut. He and his wife united at once, by letter, with the First Church of Hartford, then under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Hawes. Of the historic North Church Mr. Collins was one of the founders. He is chosen one of the deacons at the time of its organization in 1824, and retained the office until his death.

In 1827 Mr. Collins erected the building which at the time of his death was occupied by Collins Brothers & Co., in Asylum street. It is a scarcely credible fact that the idea of going so far out of the way was generally considered ridiculous, and sagacious men who survived Mr. Collins acknowledge that they thought he had surely made a very great mistake. He retired from the mercantile business in 1842, leaving it in charge of his sons.

Mr. Collins' benevolence was systematic, as well as bountiful. For about 20 years before his death he had taken a resolve not to lay-up property. "All the great societies of Christian beneficence were aided by his bounty. In this manner he took the rewards of his beneficence into his own life and grew by the Christly measures of his charities". He had always been to a marked degree actively interested in the general welfare of Hartford, and vigorously aided plans for its improvement and prosperity. At the time of the proposed extension into the Farmington Valley of the Hartford and Providence railroad he was chairman of the committee on subscriptions. He himself became a large stockholder as his means would permit, and personally superintended many of the labors incidental to the extension of the road. Mr. Collins was a member of the common council for several years; was elected mayor in 1843, re-elected in 1845, and declined the third term which was pressed upon him. At the proposed election of the Hartford High School he was appointed chairman of the building committee, and with a few others contributed liberally. At its formation he became in great measure personally responsible for its success. Mr. Collins was a zealous and working friend of the Temperance cause, known as such from 1826. In its behalf he made excellent speeches in very nearly every neighborhood in a large circuit around Hartford. He was early an anti-slavery man, the unpopularity of a good cause seeming to him a very good reason for helping it. The Free-Soilers once or twice ran him for Congress. In religious matters Mr. Collins had decided views, and he could clearly and strongly express them. He was firm, enthusiastic, and also well-balanced and just. After his death, which occurred Nov. 10, 1858, his pastor Rev. Dr. Bushnell said of him "Deacon A..M. Collins was one of the few men or Christians who require to be noted as specialties. He was among the landmark characters of our city, and a man so positive in every sphere of action or counsel that the void which is made by his death will be deeply felt, and for long time to come.

"There is almost nothing here that has not somehow felt his power, nothing good which has not somehow profited by his beneficence. Banks, savings institutions, railroads, the singular anomaly of the large wholesale dry goods trade which distinguishes Hartford as an inland city, the city councils and improvements, the city Missions and Sunday schools, the Asylum for the Dumb, the Retreat for the Insane, the High School, the Almshouse, three at least of the churches, almost everything public, in fact, has his counsel, impulse, character, beneficence, and what is more, if possible, his real work, incorporated in it. Whole sections of the city are changed by him.

"But the Church was dearest to him of all. There was never a better man to support and steady a Christian pastor. I loved him as a friend , and what brother did not? I took him for my best counsel, I leaned upon him as a prop. Who can estimate the value of such a man?"

In the troubles that later befell the Church , arising from the charges of heresy concerning its pastor, Mr. Collins with two others of its members were among the first to foresee the course to be pursued. In a paper addressed by him to the Hartford Central Association Mr. Collins said "We think it necessary to take the position of an independent Church and have therefore withdrawn from our connection with the association with which we united in our infancy."

The following extract is from the tribute paid to Mr. Collins by Honorable Joseph R. Hawley In the Hartford Evening Press, of which he was editor at that time: "Positively, it is precisely true, and no unmeaning eulogy, if we say that the symmetry and strength of his physical man harmonized with his fine proportions as a Christian merchant, citizen, friend neighbor. He was such an outgrowth of New England hills, schools and churches as we can point to with pride."

(I) William Lyman Collins, eldest son of Amos Morris Collins, was born at Blandford, Massachusetts, Feb. 10, 1812. For about 35 years he was connected with the mercantile interests of Hartford, first with the firm his father founded as A.M. Collins & Sons, and later as Collins Brothers & Co.. This firm was among the most prudent and reliable in New England, and so much confidence was reposed in it that, after the Civil War broke out, when banks and bankers were looked upon with suspicion, the house of Collins Brothers & Co. was offered large sums of money, without security, by its correspondents. Mr. Collins was for many years a director of the City Gas Light Co., also in the Merchants Insurance Company, a member of the managing board of the Retreat, and was for a long time connected with the Society of Savings. The Park was one of his favorite projects, to which, as chairman of the Park Commissioners for a number of ears, he gave his watchful attention and Hartford is largely indebted to his refined tastes and persevering industry for the plans and laying out of this ornament to the city. He was one of the first projectors of the Hartford & Wethersfield Horse railroad. The Cedar Hill cemetery was another enterprise to which he felt deep interest, and the West End improvements were more due to him been to any other citizen. He was one of the foremost in establishing the Asylum Hill Congregational Church. In Mr. Collins' death, which occurred in Chicago, Nov. 15, 1865, the city lost one of its most enterprising and public-spirited citizens. Mr. Collins was unostentatious, and the public at large could not know him as he was known and respected by businessmen who were constantly brought in contact with him. . He was modest in all things, purely unselfish in all. His opinions were decided and seldom at fault. He delighted in liberal works, in encouraging all deserving charities, and no individual case which called for assistance, and was known to be worthy, was ever turned off unrelieved.

On November 14, 1835, Mr. Collins married Harriet Pierson, daughter of Dr. Aaron Pearson, of Orange, New Jersey. She died Jan. 15, 1871. To this union were born children as follows: Edward Pierson, deceased; Mary Lyman, deceased; Ellen, Frances, widow of Dr. William H. Palmer, of Cleveland, Ohio, who died June 19, 1871; William Pierson, deceased; and Alice, who on April 28, 1881, married Samuel Gurley Dunham, son of Austin Dunham. Their children: Ethel Collins, Alice Elizabeth, Sarah Ruth, Francis Collins, Austin and Beatrice Lyman.

(2) Morris Collins was born Oct. 18, 1813, and died March 19, 1873. On November 4, 1852, he married Martha Wickes Blatchford, daughter of Rev. John Blatchford, of Quincy, Illinois, and their children were: John Blatchford, Alice batch Ford, and Richard Eli. For his second wife Morris Collins wedded Hanna Adams, and they had one child, Henry Adams, born Feb. 6, 1866, who died Aug. 19, 1867.

(3) Erastus Collins, son of Amos Morris Collins, and father of Atwood Collins, was born Feb.10,1815 , in Blandford, Massachusetts. He came to Hartford with his father's family in 1819, and for years was associated with his father in the business described above. He was a prominent and trusted man in Hartford interests. He was a director of the Aetna Insurance Company, and as chairman of its building committee he superintended the construction of the present fine brown-stone structure of that company on Main Street, north of the Aetna Life building. He was also director and vice-president of the Hartford Hospital; a director of the American School at Hartford for the Deaf; an active and valuable school visitor; one of the projectors of the Hartford & Wethersfield Horse Railway Company; a projector of the noble Cedar HillCemetery, and a leader in the Young Men's Institute (now the Hartford Library). For two winters before his death he was especially active in philanthropic work. Mr. Collins was a true Christian; in his own unostentatious way he lived the life he professed. His religious profession, made in his early youth, was in the old North Congregational Church (now, in another locality, the Park Church), in 1830 -- about the time Dr. Spring was succeeded by Dr. Bushnell, we think, and having united with that Church he remained in it until the organization, in 1852, of the Pearl Street Church. He became interested therein, and was one of the founders. He became, when the Asylum Hill Church was founded, not merely a member, but one of its leading supporters, contributing at one time largely toward the extinguishment of the debt. It is to such men as he, and Roland Mather, that the Church has been indebted for so much of its prosperity. Mr. Collins built up an admirable character in Hartford. It was a life work, but it is one which wins appreciation, when fellow citizens can view such character through a long perspective of philanthropic enterprises and abounding good deeds.

Mr. Collins was first a clerk, and later associated with his father in the business of the great house which afterward became his own. That house took, among other accounts, that of the well-known Sprague prints. Later, on the failure of the A & W. Sprague Co., Collins & Fenn, by a special arrangement, took all the product of the Sprague mills. This arrangement proved a safe and profitable one for the Hartford house, and, giving as it did the entire Sprague account to the Hartford house of Collins & Fenn, largely increased the business of the commission house. Mr. Collins was a cautious man, in business as in everything else. He went into no business transaction without fully considering it from all points of view. He owned real-estate in Hartford, on the south side of Asylum Avenue, Atwood and Collins streets. He was also a large owner of gas stock and Horse-Railway shares, and other local securities. Toward the close of 1876 Mr. Collins retired from the active business of the house, with which he was a long connected, and afterward devoted his time largely to philanthropic enterprises.

On Jan. 26, 1848, Mr. Collins was married to Mary Atwood, daughter of the late John M. Atwood, of Philadelphia. She died March 31, 1874, he on April 8, 1880. Their children were: (1) Henrietta , was married Feb. 17, 1876, to Daniel Robinson Howe, and their children were Edmund D., Henrietta C., and Marjorie F.. (2) Atwood, married on June 9, 1880, Mary B. Brace. Their children were Gertrude, Frederick S., Elinor B., Marion A. and Emily B. (3) Carolyn Lyman, married, on March 9, 1886, Dr. Charles Whitney Page, Superintendent of Middletown Hospital, and their children are Atwood C, Charles W., Jr., and Ruth Whitney. (4) William Erastus is referred to below.

(4) Charles Collins, born April 2, 1817, was married Sept. 1, 1840, to Mary Hall Terry, of Hartford; she died in 1900; their children are: Lydia Coit married William Platt Ketchum. Charles Terry married Mary Abbey Wood; children, Charles, Clarence Lyman, Mary Terry and Arthur Morris.. Clarence Lyman married Mary Louise Clark; have one daughter, Edith. Arthur Morris died Jan. 3, 1861. Louise Terry married William Allen Butler, Jr..

(5) Edward Collins, born Nov. 15, 1820, passed away Aug. 4, 1822. (6) Maria Elizabeth Collins was married May 13, 1846, to Rev. Caleb Strong, who died Jan. 3, 1847. (7) Henry Collins, born Jan. 7, 1827, died Aug. 22, 1828. (8) Mary Frances Collins.

William Erastus Collins, son of Erastus Collins, was born Oct. 10, 1859. In 1880 he graduated from the Hartford Public High School, and in 1884 from Williams College, after which he became connected with the editorial staff of the Hartford Courant. He was an ambitious and brilliant journalist, and his colleagues upon the newspaper state that "he possessed industry, zeal, a real love of work, clever what and any individual style, with a high level of journalistic work, and was living up to it. He had read freely, traveled widely, and his range of information was large and his culture agenda. He had a home-loving nature, deeply devoted to his family, and evident happiness of his domestic life was proverbial among his friends." He was an active member of the Congregational Church. His active, noble, manly and unselfish life was subtly finished May 20, 1893 on May 5, 1886, Mr. Collins married, and Indianapolis, Eva Lee Steele, and they have one daughter, Ruth Lee.