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William H. Collins was the only son of William Burrage Collins the son of William Collins and Esther Morris. William Burrage Collins was married to Elizabeth Wilt Hertzog in Madison County, Illinois, Feb. 26, 1826, by Rev. Salmon Giddings. He was for a time associated with his three brothers in business. Later he bought the larger part of the real estate, and continued to carry on the milling business, the farm and kept a store of general merchandise. He had the “Yankee” versatility, and could turn his hand to useful and skillful work along almost any line. He was a thorough miller, and his brand of flour found a ready market even in Boston, Mass.

He loved the hunter's pastime, which was gratified by the abundance of deer, and other game about Collinsville. He had a compass and chain, and did surveying for neighbors as they needed his services.

He was an "elder" in the church and superintended the Sunday school and led the singing.

He was a man of good health, but he died of typhus fever at the early age of thirty-three, leaving a wife, four young daughters, and a son, William Hertzog Collins.

Among some old papers Mr. Collins found a history of the business enterprises of the Collins brothers written by one of them, Anson Collins. Extracts were made in the Collins book which Mr. William H. Collins compiled, for which he wrote sketches, and finished in 1897including data of the family from 1630 to 1897.

The names of these brothers were Anson, Augustus, Michael, Frederick and William Burrage. William Burrage Collins was the father of William Hertzog Collins. Anson in one of these extracts writes: “In the month of September, 1817, my brothers Augustus and Michael with myself left the state of Connecticut for the western country. Augustus had been in partnership with me in Litchfield, Conn., about a year and a half. We were not as successful as we wished to be.

We settled up and started for New York. Our old goods and such as we bought new were worth $3,585.75. We had not five dollars in cash when we arrived in St. Louis after paying expenses of freight and passage.

"In a few months we moved to the new State of Illinois, bought land, paying at the land office one-fourth of the purchase money.

“The next summer we followed farming on a small scale, erected a small log house, distillery, and in the fall of 1818 built a borre mill costing three hundred and fifty dollars.

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“In the spring of 1820 August went to Connecticut for more goods, which he brought to Illinois.

"In the spring of 1822 he went again to Connecticut to bring his family to the west. In the spring of 1823 he opened a store in St. Louis to dispose of goods and shoes. This store was removed to Collinsville, Ill., about May, 1824. In the fall of this year we erected a large distillery. In three years it paid a profit of five thousand dollars.

"In 1821 we engaged in the tanning business. In 1827 we again tried a store in St. Louis. The name of the firm was Augustus Collins and Company. I (Anson) went east and bought goods in the spring, and again in December. During my absence at this time my brother Augustus died.”

Writing of the marriage of Augustus in 1824 he states:

“At the east he got him a wife with a marriage portion of some silver spoons, a pair of sugar tongs, a feather bed and some linen, all of which after my brother's death, we returned to her, and also one set of chinaware, and a gilt looking glass, paid for by the company. The marriage ring and her wedding dress he purchased for her with the money of the company, all of which met our entire approbation. As our property of every name and nature was common, we kept no account against each other."

The agitation of the temperance question reached the Collins brothers. Their old pastor, Doctor Lyman Beecher, preached and published his celebrated "Temperance Sermons." These they read.

They brought their distilling business before the bar of conscientious judgment, and decided to abandon it. To avoid even the slightest appearance of compromise, they cut their copper still into scrap. One large copper kettle did duty in preparing water for scalding hogs at the "hog killing time," which recurred each year, or was used for boiling cider or making soap. It vearly went the rounds of the immediate neighborhood in this line of service. The best of the stones under the old distillery were used in the foundation of a church building.

Anson, Augustus, Michael and Frederick now moved to Naples on the Illinois River.

The counties on the river and eastward were producing large crops of wheat. Their plan was to grind these crops into flour, and ship by the river to the markets. They also built a steamboat to use in their trade. In their enthusiasm for temperance, they named it “The Cold Water." This meant no “bar” on board. It was a rebuke to the established customs of the community. It was flaunting a red flag in the face of the majority of the people defying a time honored custom and fundamental right. The result was that when the boat made a landing at St. Louis, it was attacked by a mob, and it was allowed to do business only after a change of name. Doubtless many of the ruffians in this moh were the same who drove Lovejoy out of St. Louis, to meet martyrdom at Alton, for his devotion to liberty and free speech.

The death of Augustus and Anson in their prime, led to other changes. Michael and Frederick removed to Adams County, Illinois. The former operated a farm at Liberty; the latter, after a few years at Columbus, made his home in the city of Quincy.



Papers Read at the Special Memorial Meeting, April

14, 1911.

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