Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Life and Times of Dr. Mauney Douglas Collins – Part 3

For four years, from July 1902 through 1906, young Mauney Douglas Collins taught at Old Liberty School in Union County for short five-month terms. He often had as many as eighty students in seven grades.

Among his students were his own brothers, sisters and cousins, and persons who became notable in Georgia. One student who later distinguished himself was William Henry Duckworth who served as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.

In 1906 M. D. Collins began what is probably a record for a teacher. He taught three terms at three different schools in three counties in Georgia in the same fiscal year. On July 23, 1906, he began a five-month term at Mountain Scene School in Towns County, finishing that contract just before Christmas. At Sugar Hill School, Gwinnett County, he taught two months. Then he moved on to Oakwood in Hall County to teach a five-month term. By teaching on Saturdays as well as week-days, he was able to clock up what amounted to thirteen months (that is, 13 school months of twenty-days per month). He was not dismissed from either school, but as procedures were then in one-teacher schools, he followed the terms set by the local patrons and the availability of the teacher. During that phenomenal year, he turned twenty-one years old.

One day back home in Choestoe, M. D. Collins was taking a “turn” of corn to Souther’s Mill to be ground into cornmeal. He passed by the Twiggs residence where, the year his father died in 1897, the highly respected Rev. John Twiggs had come out to the road to talk to him. At the time of the conversation, Collins was a lad of eleven. But in 1907, on the same road and on a similar errand to the mill, he recalled with clarity what the Rev. Twiggs had said to him: “Apply yourself and work diligently. Remember always that it is not luck but pluck that counts, and that both inspiration and perspiration are necessary for success.”

He pastored several churches in Georgia while also teaching school. In this photograph he is pictured with some of his young church members whom he had also taught in school.

At the age of twenty-four, Collins recalled every word of that conversation with the Rev. Twiggs. Having felt the call to the gospel ministry, Collins was ordained by Old Liberty Baptist Church in 1909. Thus he began another career as a preacher and pastor while continuing to teach school.

In 1908 he returned to Hiawassee Academy and completed requirements for graduation. He entered Mercer University in the fall of 1908 where he hoped to pursue studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree and a ministerial course of study. However, his brother, Norman Vester, was a student at Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons. Knowing that his mother was having a very hard time financially trying to keep two sons in college, and with other children in school, M. D. dropped out of Mercer and again became a teacher, helping his mother and siblings.

The roster of places that employed him as lead teacher sounds like a geography of north and central Georgia: Fish, Broxton, Oakwood, Harmony Grove, Loganville, Social Circle, Fairburn, Union City.

While teaching, he was also gaining additional college education by going to a semester or summer session. Among the colleges he attended were Young Harris, Mercer University, Columbia University, and Oglethorpe University. From Oglethorpe he earned three degrees: Bachelor of Arts in 1931, Master of Arts in 1932, and Doctor of Pedagogy in 1933.

Running concurrently with his teaching career and his college education was his work as a Baptist pastor and evangelist. He favored country churches and pastored several. In 1924 and 1925, the churches he pastored held the statistical record in the Georgia Baptist Convention in number of baptisms. He was pastor of Mount Olive Church near Fairburn. In October, 1930, he became pastor of the New Hope Church in Old Campbell County.

Before the term “Church Planter” came into usage, he was starting new churches and helped to found thirteen churches. His last pastorate was the Friendship Baptist Church in Fairburn where he was the minister for thirty-three years. Upon his retirement from the church, he was made Pastor Emeritus.

His work in education was conducted concurrently with his pastoral duties. He became known as “the marrying preacher.” Many of the young people he taught wanted him to perform their marriage ceremonies. They were assured of a strong counseling session on the seriousness of marriage and family and then he “tied the knot” for them.

[Next week: More on the distinguished career of Dr. M. D. Collins.]

c2003 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 9, 2003 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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