Saturday, December 15, 2012

109, 110. Nancy and Catharine Collins

I have two students named Collins listed as attending the Mordecai school:

Ann or Nancy Collins was there in three periods:  The second half of 1811, from 1814 to mid-1816, and both 1818 sessions.  That's a strange pattern; is it possible there were two, even three girls named Ann/Nancy Collins?

Catharine Collins attended the school for just one session, the first half of 1811.

I don't have adults' names or hometowns attached to either girl's account, so this could be a short entry. 

Or not.  There's a mention in an 1812 letter from student Emily Sitgreaves to Caroline Mordecai, asking "My love to all the girls I know especially Mary Stith, and my dear little Collins write me how she comes on."  Except we don't have a Collins students at the school in 1812.  Emily Sitgreaves attended in both 1811 sessions, so she could be referring to either Nancy or Catharine with affection.

There's a letter from Caroline Plunkett to Ellen Mordecai dated 10 June 1826, in which she mentions "did I tell you Nancy O Brien, Collins, was going to keep school next session..."  That construction can mean "Nancy O'Brien, who used to be Nancy Collins" in the Mordecai letters.  Another mention of Nancy Collins comes twenty years later:  Ellen Mordecai writing back to Caroline on New Year's Eve, 1846, says:
"Mary and I went all over the schoolhouse now moved to where stood our kitchen and the school house is now used for one and sleeping apartments for the servants.  Only one name remains Nancy Collins cut deep into the schoolroom mantlepiece."
 So not only was Nancy Collins a student at the school, but one who left a permanent impression, literally.  

I found a possible match for Catharine Collins:  There's a family history that mentions a Catharine Collins born 1802 in South Carolina, who married in 1826 to a Henry Rodgers at Monroe, Georgia, and had five children--and her second daughter was named Nancy.  She was widowed before 1850, and died between 1850 and 1870, probably in Murray Co., Georgia.  There weren't a lot of students who attended the Mordecai school from South Carolina, but there were some, so this Catharine wouldn't have been an outlier geographically.

The student (or students) Nancy Collins could be this Nancy Collins, born 1798 in North Carolina, the daughter of Griffin and Martha Collins.  She would have married a Mr. Robinson (not O'Brien), and if all the Ann/Nancy Collinses are the same, she would have been 20 by the time she finished at the Mordecai school.  It's not impossible, but certainly unlikely.  Another family history has this Nancy Collins, daughter of William and Martha Collins, who married in 1827 to Samuel Black, in Bourbon KY--But her family moved from Virginia to Kentucky in 1797, probably before she was born.  There's no record of students coming to the school from Kentucky, though certainly some moved there later in life.  Haven't found a Nancy Collins O'Brien who would fit the mention from 1826, though.

Nothing for sure in this one.  But I'm glad to have the Collins mentions put together here, and maybe someone from family or local history will come by to claim one or both of these students.


  1. Michael Collins (abt. 1726-10/9/99), was s/o John & Dorothy Drake "Dollie" Collins. His W was Elizabeth "Betsy" Drake, a cousin, d/o James Drake. Their son, Michael, Jr., b5/16/1778, was ward of his kinsman, Caswell Drake, whose sons, Edwin Duke & Joseph Arrington, attended Mordecai's. Michael Collins, Jr's first W was his cousin, another Elizabeth "Betsy" Drake, d/o cousins, Matthew & Ann Arrington Drake. Among this Collins family was Harriet Elizabeth Ann, whose H was Oliver Duke Fitts, s/o Henry Fitts, Jr., b/o Judge (also NCAG) Oliver Fitts (gave his Warrenton home for MFA aft fire.) Among these NC girls maybe students you mention?

  2. Very helpful, thank you! The Fitts family is coming up alphabetically, many many Mordecai students among them, and as you say, the Fitts home became the school's location after the fire. So any Collins connected to them is a good candidate for a Mordecai student.