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 4

Continuing the story of a Choestoe lad who, despite grave circumstances, received a good education and became Georgia’s state superintendent of schools for twenty-five years, this segment of his biography views briefly his marriage, work as an editor and as an administrator.
Mary Louise Jackson Collins was mother of Mauney Douglas Collins and six other children. This valiant widow reared her large family and saw that each of them received the best education possible for the era in which they lived. Norman Vester became a medical doctor. Mauney Douglas earned his PhD and became state superintendent of schools. Nina Idaho Dyer was a homemaker who reared four children who were outstanding teachers. Laura Collins Shuler was a teacher and poet. Kate Collins Reed was a teacher for awhile and a homemaker who reared a son who became a doctor. Son Jean Benjamin had a 50-year career with the Southern Railroad. Dora Dorothy Collins Sims became a teacher, a poet, and married a banker.

About 1910, Mary Louise Jackson Collins, M. D.’s mother, sold most of her property at Choestoe and moved to Broxton, Georgia, where her son, Mauney Douglas, was teaching and preaching. She became his housekeeper. The move also provided better educational advantages for three of her children still at home: Callie Kate, Dora Dorothy and Jean Benjamin. This arrangement continued until after M. D.’s marriage, after which Mary Collins relocated to Flowery Branch.

Mauney Douglas Collins married Winnie Byrd on December 31, 1911. She died on November 22, 1912. Their only daughter, Fannie, died in infancy.

Mauney Douglas Collins and his wife, Mary Jeanette Cochran Collins

His second marriage was to Mary Jeanette Cochran of Palmetto on September 15, 1921. Mary was a graduate of Cox and Shorter Colleges. Their marriage ceremony was performed by Dr. Fernando C. McConnell, noted Baptist preacher and first cousin to Dr. George W. Truett. Dr. McConnell’s father, W. R., had helped the young M. D. Collins while he struggled financially to finish Hiawassee Academy years before. The union with Mary was a happy one, continuing until her death in 1958. They had no children.

Ever versatile and involved, M. D. Collins wrote for the Union County paper before leaving Choestoe. Later he was editor of The Campbell County News (1926-1930) in Fairburn and concurrently The Fairburn Messenger for five years (1926-1930). He was also a reporter for The Atlanta Journal for a short while.

One of the incidents he liked to recall as a Baptist preacher was performing the marriage ceremonies for eight couples in one day, Christmas Eve, 1927. This was a noteworthy event that caught the attention of Margared Mitchell (who later became author of the famed Gone with the Wind). She was then a reporter for The Atlanta Journal and wrote an article about “The Marrying Parson”. Most of the couples he married that day had been his students in high school.

Continuing as pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Fairburn, he also expanded his work in education. From teaching, he went into school administration, first as a principal and then as superintendent of schools. In 1927, when he was superintendent of Campbell County Schools, he took a firm stand against a gambling and dog-racing syndicate. Others in the community, when asked to sign an injunction, backed down, but not Dr. Collins. His signature alone withheld operations. He won the case in both Superior and Supreme Court where records label the case “M. D. Collins vs. St. Louis Dog Racing Company.” His astute sense of morality could not propose a high value system for Georgia’s youth and condone a means of revenue coming from a syndicate with questionable activities.

From 1921 through 1932 he was superintendent of Campbell County Schools. When Campbell was merged with Fulton County in 1932, a merger Dr. Collins favored, his job then became that of an educational supervisor in the Fulton County School System.

His political career began in earnest as he sought the office of state superintendent of schools. Conducting a “grass roots” campaign for this highest state educational office, he promised the people of Georgia improved schools, better trained teachers, salary increases for teachers, and more money for education. He had confidence that he could fulfill his campaign promises. He was elected in 1932 and took office as state superintendent of schools in January, 1933.

Perhaps he did not dream when he began his duties as superintendent that he would lead for twenty-five years, a period of vast changes and improvements in education in Georgia. The next segment of this biographical sketch will give some of the major milestones in his quarter of a century as superintendent at the helm of Georgia education.

[Next week: Concluding installment of the Life and Times of Dr. Mauney Douglas Collins]

c2003 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 16, 2003 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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