We began in last week’s column to chronicle Thompson Collins (ca. 1785-ca. 1858) and his wife Celia Self Collins (ca. 1787-Sept. 3, 1880). He had large land holdings along the French Broad and Mills Rivers and McDowell’s Creek in Buncombe County, North Carolina. In 1822, a general migration of people from that area moved to Habersham County, Georgia. A paper on the migration given at “a lawn party” at the home of Henry Williams in Nacoochee Valley in 1822 lists sixty-two different families who made the migration and settled on lands they secured either by lottery or by purchasing from the Indians prior to their removal to western lands. Thompson and Celia Collins were not in this migration of 62 families originating mainly in Burke and Rutherford Counties, NC.
Two years later, in 1824, Thompson Collins purchased 250 acres of land in Habersham (now White) County, District Four, Land Lot 27. He paid $300 for the land to Daniel L. Richardson of Hancock County, Georgia. The latter probably received it in a land lottery, did not plan to move to the mountains, and sold it instead. Thompson and Celia lived on this land which is now where Loudsville Church is located in White County.
He added 250 acres to his holdings on December 1, 1827 when he purchased from R. M. Richardson of Walton County, GA in Land Lot 28, 4th District for $20.00.
Gold fever struck when nuggets were found at Duke’s Creek in 1828. Whether Thompson Collins ever dug for gold is uncertain. However records in the Habersham County Court house show that he sold fifty of the above-listed acres to Charles P. Gordon of Putnam County, Georgia from Lot # 27 “next to Collins Field” for gold mining. The price he received for the sale was $200.
Thompson Collins’ next land transaction was a purchase of 250 acres in Lot # 75, 4th District, from Averette Bonner of Putnam County for $100.
On February 9, 1831, three prospectors, Elijah Reid, James P. Heath and Michael Brown made a mortgage to Thompson Collins for $200 on parts of Land Lots 27 and 28, District 4, for the purpose of mining.
Another 250 acres was purchased May 18, 1831 from Thomas J. Rush in District 4, Lot # 71 for $150.00.
Collins sold to the said Reid, Heath and Brown for $400 in land lots 27 and 28, 250 acres, “except for 50 acres sold to Charles P. Gordon.”
Collins received from Lewis Clark to secure a debt of $846.30 which Clark owed him the following, delivered to him in person: Negro slaves: a woman named Betsy about 25 years old; Lucy, a girl about 16 years old; Henry, a boy about 8 years old; Patience, a girl about 6; Bill, a boy about 4. The slaves were delivered April 2, 1833 and the transaction was recorded in Habersham County records on August 15, 1833.
Thompson Collins and Henry Turner sold to Francis Logan parts of lots 45, 46 and 51 in District Four (Habersham) and lot 51 in Lumpkin County for $900. Jesse Souther and Olaf Collins were witnesses to the legal transaction. On part of this land, Francis Logan built the Logan Turnpike, a toll road that led from the Choestoe Valley in Union County across Tesnatee Gap and down into present-day White County. This toll road operated until Neal Gap Highway (Hwy 129) was opened in 1925.
The move across the mountain to Choestoe District occurred in the early 1830’s, possibly by the time Union County was formed in 1832. Thompson and Celia Collins were in the 1834 (first) Union County census. By the 1849 tax digest, Thompson Collins owned land in Union, Gilmer, Habersham, and Lumpkin Counties. In District 16 of Union County he owned 2,270 acres. Current owners of land in Lots 82, 95, 96, 112, 117, 118, 121 and 134 in Union County have land once owned by Thompson Collins. In 1849 he owned seven slaves and in 1850 five slaves. It is believed that, upon their deaths, some of these slaves were interred in the Old Choestoe Cemetery, Union County.
The Thompson Collins family made their home on land along Choestoe Creek. Six of their ten children were born in Buncombe County, NC before they moved to Habersham County, Georgia. The remaining four were born in Georgia. Children and their spouses were: Archibald Collins (1811) married Mary “Polly” Nix (1818); Sarah “Sallie” Collins (1812) married Jarrett Turner (1806); Elizabeth “Betsy” Collins (1814-1856) married James Nix (1812); Francis (Frank) Collins (1816-1846) married Rutha Nix (1822-1893); Thompson “Thompie” Collins (1818) married Sarah “Sallie” Ingram (1817); Ruth Collins (1820) married Jacob “Jake” Butt (1808); Celia Collins (1826) married James West (1812); Nancy Collins (1829-1888) married John Combs Hayes Souther (1827-1891); Olive Collins (1831-1853) married Robert “Bob” McCoy (1826); and Ivan Kimsey Collins (1835-1901) married Martha J. Hunter (1840-1920).
In 1834 the first extant minutes of Choestoe Baptist Church list Thompson and Celia Collins as members. They were interred in the Old Choestoe Church Cemetery where descendants erected a monument in recent years on which the names of the couple’s children are listed.
c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published November 25, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.