by Terry Johnson
D. Collins, one of the three Melungeon Collins patriarchs, was the
father of Mahala Collins Mullins, arguably the most famous Melungeon
personality. He was married
to Virginia Jane (Gincy) Goins, daughter of Joseph Goins and Millie
Loven. According to an unsubstantiated narrative in Hancock County
& Its People (1989), Solomon D. Collins came to the Newman's Ridge
area of Hancock County about 1815 in a covered wagon from near
Asheville, North Carolina. Whether
this date is accurate is in some doubt since a Solomon Collins is listed
in the 1820 Buncombe County Census of NC.
By most accounts he was born near Asheville in 1795 or 1799,
placing him at age 16-20 during this migration.
He does not appear in the earliest known record of Melungeons in
East Tennessee, the Hawkins County Tax List of 1810, which listed
Benjamin, Vardy, James, and Hennery (sic) Collins.
Unquestionably he is in Hawkins County Tennessee by 1830, when he
appears on page 77 of the Hawkins County Census, listing (0,0) with one
fpc (free person of color) male and one fpc female between 10 and 24
years of age. Although this
is his first official appearance in Tennessee, he was probably there by
1823-4 when his firstborn child, Mahala, was born, since later census
records show her birthplace as TN. Solomon appears on all subsequent Hawkins/Hancock censuses
most of the literature states that he died 28 June 1863 in Hancock
County, this is incorrect since Solomon D. Collins appears in the 1870
Census of Hancock County8 with Jane, whom I believe to be his second
spouse, and some of his children still living at home.
The confusion surrounding Solomon D. Collins' date of death
undoubtedly comes from the records of his son Solomon Collins III, of
the First Tennessee Calvary (Union), who died 28 June, 1863, and is
buried in the Nashville National Cemetery.
of Solomon D. Collins and Gincy Goins Collins were:
COLLINS, born 30 March, 18249, Hawkins Co. TN.
Married Johnnie Mullins. She
was known also as "Big Haley", an infamous bootlegger
COLLINS, b. 1825. Never married*.
COLLINS, b. Abt. 1827, d. March 24, 1863, Triune, TN.
Orpha Davidson (1860 Census, 712/683)
COLLINS, b. August 07, 1827, Hawkins, TN; d. September 22, 1908,
Hancock, TN. Married
Melissa Rhea. First
Tennessee Calvary, Co. A
(Ink) COLLINS, b. 1830, TN.6
(Tommy?) COLLINS. B. Abt. 1832
COLLINS, b. about 1832, d. 28 June, 1863 in Nashville, TN
First Tennessee Calvary, Co. A.
(LETHY) COLLINS, b. 1835.6
(BETTY) COLLINS, b. Abt. 18376,Married McKinley Collins*
(SALLY) COLLINS, b. 1841 (LDS) or 1839 (1850 Census)
(Milla Ann) COLLINS, b. 1844. Married
COLLINS? (LDS) Undocumented.
Married Sarah Davidson.
listed by some researchers: Millie, probably Amela.
Marriages from notes of Martha Collins, granddaughter of Bailey Collins.
Most printed references to Gincy have her born in 1793.
This is unlikely since she would have been 51 when her last child
was born. By 1860 I believe Solomon D. Collins was living with another
spouse, Jane. Her age and
state of birth are different that Gincy Jane Goins Collins in the
Censuses of 1860/1870. Of
course, Gincy could have merely been lying to the enumerator about her
D. Collins left the following documented record in Tennessee:
Mahala Collins born in Tennessee7
Hawkins County, TN Census, page 77
Entered 50 acres on Newman's Ridge, Entry Book A-1, #22. May 30,1831
Hawkins County Tax List of 1836, District 5 (Salloman Collins)
Solomon Collins (father?) died in Lewis County, VA (now WV)
Edy Collins (mother?) enters 50 acres next door to Solomon D. Collins9
Hawkins County, TN Census, page 232
Entered 50 acres, Newman's Ridge. Entry Book B, p.169.
Bondsman for Zachariah Jones and Delaney Burk in a murder case
Hawkins County Court: Charged with illegal voting.
Acquitted of above charge.
State of Tenn. vs. Solomon Collins, forfeiture of bond in Jones case
Hancock County, TN Census, age 57
Hancock County, TN Census, page 104. Age 65.
Three sons (Bailey, Silas, Solomon III) enlist in First Tenn. Calvary
Silas died near Triune, TN in March
Solomon Collins III died June 28 near Nashville
Hancock County, TN Census, #55/53, next door to Bailey Collins
parentage of Solomon D. Collins remains uncertain. Grohse represents him to be the son of Solomon Collins of
Cumberland County, PA, (born about 1760 - died 1838 in Lewis Co. VA, now
WV) probably derived from family tradition.
Until recently, this seemed unusual in that Pennsylvania was not
thought of as a Melungeon population center.
However, it now seems certain that at least one branch of the
Melungeon tree springs from the Saponi Indian tribe of Colonial
Virginia10. This tribe was
part of a group living outside Ft. Christanna in Virginia in 1717-1720. The group dispersed after losing the protection of the fort
against the Cherokees, their traditional enemies, some going to live
with the Catawba in South Carolina, some going north to Pennsylvania,
and some remaining in the border area between Virginia and North
Carolina. Those who went to
Pennsylvania settled near Sunbury, in Northumberland County, formed from
Cumberland and other counties in 1772.
Thus, a Melungeon Solomon Collins Revolutionary War veteran from
Pennsylvania is certainly possible.
documenting his location in "Melungeon country" has been an
issue. However, if one
compares the Pension application of "PA" Solomon Collins with
the Pension List of 1820 (Indexed Edition) it is clear he was living in
Giles County, Virginia, surrounded by others with Melungeon names:
Tax List, Solomon Collans, one white tithe, p4. (with Daniel and
Census, Solomon Collans, p620. (With Danil Collans,Mary Collans, Sam'l
m 0-10, 1 m 26-45, 1 f 16-26)
Giles Co. Personal Property Tax List, pp 2-8. (Schreiner-Yantis 1970b)
Living among a sizeable Melungeon population including John Mullins, Wm.
Boling, Thomas Collins, Sr., John Collins, Samuel Collins, Millenton
(sic) Collins, and David Goens (sic).
Giles Co Census, Solomon Collens, p113A, near Daniel, Milly, Samuel,
Meliton, & Burgess Collens. Several
Mullins families lived nearby.
Pension List, p559. (Indexed Edition)
Last appearance in Giles County.
Solomon applied for Revolutionary pension in Lewis County VA in 1818 is
not known, unless Samuel Z. Jones, who attested to his service, lived
there. Interestingly, he
did not receive payments directly, but through R. W. Collins of Lewis
County, possibly a brother. Some
sources say the pension was denied, but a copy of the approved pension
is in the author's possession (S39331).
Strangely, he also stated in his application that he had no
family to support. Unless
he divorced or abandoned Edy, this was not true.
(Edy Collins appears on the Hawkins County Census of 1840 as a
woman living alone, age 80-90. In 1838, she entered 50 acres between Solomon D. Collins and
Andrew Collins, another piece of evidence supporting the theory that PA
Solomon was the father of Solomon D. Collins)
lists Solomon's father elsewhere as Benjamin Collins, as does Jack Goins
(Jack H. Goins said 1830 p. 77, Solomon Collins 0-0...1 free colored
male 10/24 & 1 female 10/24. "Solomon
s/o Benjamin Collins & Benjamin was the son of old John Collins Sr.
s/o Thomas Sr. Louisa Co. VA."
Demarce Research). Like
Mr. Goins, I am convinced the Melungeon Collinses of Hancock County all
spring from old Thomas Collins, Sr. and his kin, but since
"Ben" and "Sol" were patriarchs of separate
"clans", I am doubtful that Solomon D. was the son of
possible clues are:
D. Collins stated his father fought in the Revolution, lending at least
some weight to the theory that PA Solomon was his father.
is an unverified statement by Arthur Taylor that Solomon D. Collins was
really a Dickerson or Dickenson, but raised by a Collins. Pat Elder reports in her book that it was a grandmother of
some degree who was a Dickerson. I
have no documented evidence, but it is a possibility that unmarried
Solomon and Edy Dickerson separated, and Solomon D. Collins was raised
in the Collins family. This
would account for the pension information as well as Taylor's statement.
Note also that the 1810 Giles Co. VA census lists only one female
16-26 years old living with Solomon, too young to be Edy5.
This is further evidence they were not living together.
speculations aside, Solomon's middle name was almost certainly
Dickerson. At least the
census of 1860 listed him as "Solomon D".
Since Edy lived next door, she was likely his mother, who
possibly moved to Hancock County in 1838, the year of her husband's
death. To date, I have
found no marriage record in VA, NC, or TN for Edy and Solomon.
In all likelihood, whatever time they had together was without
benefit of legal marriage.
any case, my conclusion is that the preponderance of available evidence
suggests that my family traditions are correct: Solomon D. Collins of
Newman's Ridge was the son of Solomon Collins of Pennsylvania.
Out the Solomons
fact not mentioned in the literature: Other than the well documented
Solomon Collins who married Delila Nichols (see below), there is no
record of two Solomon Collinses being in Hawkins County concurrently up
to 1838, the year of PA Solomon's death.
For this reason, I believe PA Solomon never came to Tennessee.
Many researchers as a result confuse the various Melungeon Solomon
Collinses of TN, NC, and VA. The
following is based on census and pension information and tax lists:
Collins (PA Solomon), born about 1760, died 8 February, 1838, Lewis Co.
VA (now WV), NOT in Hawkins County TN.
Pension #S39331. Residence documented in Giles County, Virginia
1806-1820. In Lewis County
the father of:
D. Collins, b. 1795-99, NC, died after 1870, place uncertain, probably
Hancock County. This is the
Melungeon patriarch of Newman's Ridge later known as "Old
Collins III, b.1832?, TN, died June 28, 1863 during the Civil War, near
Tennessee Calvary, Co. A.
those researching other Solomon Collins lines:
Solomon Collins appears in the 1832 Tax List of Morgan County IN.
A narrative in "Pioneers of Morgan Co" (see information
on this site) states he had a daughter "Jincey".
He moved west by 1836.
Solomon Collins (who may be the person above) was in Hawkins County in
1814 when he was drafted. (Pension
Records) His Pension
application states he was born in NC about 1787.
He married Delila Nichols in Claiborne County TN 1 Oct 1812 and
had a son Tipton, perhaps others. His
whereabouts are uncertain until 1850, when he appeared in the Ozark Co
MO Census, and in 1880 in the Douglas Co MO census.
Solomon Collins was born 1813 in Ashe County, NC, probably the son of
Elisha Collins. He married
Mary Hollingsworth 23 July 1844 in Clay County KY.
Their children were Jackson, Sally, and Solomon.
He died in 1891 in Clay County KY.
Solomon Collins (DAR 86648) was born 1766, location unknown, to
Bathsheba Hoxie and unknown father, married Sarah Perry 8 March 1792. He served in 2nd Rhode Island in the Revolution, and died
are three Solomon Collinses from Massachusetts who served in the
Revolution, the most interesting being Solomon from Chatham, MA (1778
Census). His record
indicates he was 5'7" tall and had "a dark complexion".
reference, some Solomon Collins marriages:
March 1789 to Alley Tignor in NC
April 1800 to Alifare Simpson in NC
April 1827 to Lucinda Blackley in IN
March 1821 to Katie Ardeston in Roane Co TN
all Melungeon researchers are indebted to Dr. Virginia E. Demarce, whose
impeccable research sets a standard for us all, Pat Spurlock Elder,
whose excellent book on Melungeon origins demonstrates that truth is
more interesting than myth, Jack Goins, whose pioneering research led
the way for us all, and Brenda Collins Dixon, whose untiring efforts in
Melungeon research continues to inspire.
1810 Giles Co., VA Census, Schreiner-Yantis 1970a, page A4
1820 Buncombe Co., NC Census, page 22
1820 Giles Co., VA Census, page 113a
1830 Hawkins Co., TN Census, page 77
1840 Hawkins Co., TN Census, page 232
1850 Hancock Co., TN Census
1860 Hancock Co., TN Census, page 104
1870 Hancock Co., TN Census, #55/53
Hawkins Co. Entry Book B, page 68, #1829
Pat Spurlock Elder, Melungeons: Examining an Appalachian Legend,
Blountville, TN, Continuity Press, 1999.
Highly recommended resource for Melungeon researchers