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.
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
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
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
(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
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
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
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.