I kept thinking about this influential man who was born in Union County over a century ago. He never served in any branch of our armed forces, but his patriotism was unparalleled. His name was Charles Roscoe Collins, born September 20, 1907. He died January 29, 2000 at age 92. I count it a great privilege that I knew him and had the opportunity to be taught by him, not in formal classroom settings, but as we traveled to places my husband and I took him and visited on many occasions.
Someone has written about the dash- the period between birth and death- and how meaningful that is in a life well lived. "Ros," or C. R., as he was lovingly known, filled that dash with fruitful living. He was a patriot par-excellence and educator-extraordinary. At this 4th of July, 2008, let us recall and honor him as a giant among us.
One of the characteristics of a genuine patriot is the respect and love a person bears for his ancestral roots. Charles Roscoe Collins did much research on his family lines "on both sides" of his early-settlers families.
C. R.'s father was James Johnson Collins (1868-1967). Ros's paternal grandparents were Ivan Kinsey Collins (1835-1901) and Martha Jane Hunter Collins (1840-1920). His Collins great grandparents were first Collins settlers Thompson Collins (ca. 1785-ca. 1858) and Celia Self Collins (ca. 1787-1880). He could link these ancestors up to their kin on the "Hunter" and "Self" sides. Celia Self Collins's father was Francis Self. Martha Jane Hunter Collins was a daughter of William Jonathan Hunter (1813-1893) and Margaret Elizabeth (called "Peggy") England Hunter (1819-1894). And that marriage joined another early-settler family. Peggy England was a daughter of William Richard England and Martha "Patsy" Montgomery England, and her grandparents were Daniel England and Margaret Gwinn/Gwynn England. Daniel England and his father were patriots of the American Revolution in that their iron forge in North Carolina produced metal for arms in America's War for Independence. These links to a patriotic past did not escape C. R. Collins's notice and appreciation. His stories of the brave exploits of his ancestors, and their opening up new areas for settlement, were dear to him.
C. R.'s mother was Margaret Ann Nix Collins (1871-1927) who had the nickname "Babe." She was a daughter of Thomas J. Nix (1848-1902) and Martha Jane "Sis" Ballew Nix (1852- 1951). Margaret Ann and James Johnson Collins were married at Choestoe, Union County, Georgia on March 6, 1890 by W. C. Hughes, Justice of the Peace. Margaret's grandparents were James "Jimmy" Nix (1812- 1882) and Elizabeth "Betsy" Collins Nix (1814-1859). Have you guessed yet? Elizabeth's parents were Thompson Collins and Celia Self Collins. Margaret Nix Collins and her husband, James Johnson Collins, had the same grandparents, early settlers Thompson and Celia Collins. And on Margaret's Nix side of the family, her father James's parents were William Nix (1788-1874) and Susannah Stonecypher Nix (1788-1870?). Susannah's parents were John Henry Stonecypher (1756- 1850), soldier in the American Revolution, and Nancy Ann Curtis (ca. 1760-1849), whose father was a Revolutionary patriot (not a soldier).
With a knowledge of his ancestry, Charles Roscoe Collins had a life-long interest in history, and contributed much to preserving it. He was a founder of the Union County Historical Society and served as its president. He and Jan H. Devereaux compiled the first Sketches of Union County History and published it in 1976. C. R. wrote in the preface of that book: "Our heritage is a good heritage, and we have much of which to be proud - not ourselves so much as those who went before, those who settled this land with little more than the strength of their bodies, minds and souls." He continued to contribute to that heritage until his death, speaking at organizations, schools and churches, using his keen mind and willingly sharing knowledge of "how life was" when his ancestors settled in the wilderness prior to Indian removal and carved out homes and a county for posterity. He added to that heritage by his own outstanding contributions in education, leadership and preservation efforts.
This is the first in a continuing series. Stay tuned. Next week, we will continue with the life and work of Charles Roscoe Collins. In the meantime, enjoy a safe and meaningful 4th of July. Remember an axiom that carries much weight: "Freedom is not free."
c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 3, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.