Thomas Jefferson Collins, born near Culpepper court house, Virginia, May 13, 1802. When three weeks old he was taken by his parents to Brownsville, Pa., and later on to Ohio. On November 29th, 1827, he was married to Miss Julia Fowler.
In 1841, he came with his wife and five children to Cass county, Illinois. From his home in Tumbull county, Ohio, he hired his neighbors to take them to Pittsburg, where they waited three days for a boat to take them to St. Louis, where they changed boats and came up the Illinois river to Beardstown. Here the travelers were met with teams by his brother, Rev. Wm. H. Collins, who resided in Virginia, Illinois, to which point they were taken. A few days later Thomas J. Collins purchased about 600 acres of land, between two and three miles east of Virginia, for $6.30 per acre and the family were soon at home. (This farm, or part of it, was later known as the Wm. Wood farm, and Jake Ward farm). After selling part to Mr. Wood, the family made a home on the west 135 acres for many years. Here the seven children grew to man and womanhood, and six of them are still living: Byron, Will and Emily, in Pomona, Cal., Jane, (Mrs. J. W. Allen), in DuBois, Nebraska, Miss Esther, in Washington, Kan., and Ira, in Sabetha, Kan. Almira, (Mrs. J. R. Hallowell), died in Ontario, Cal., 1893.
When Thomas J. Collins moved from Ohio to Illinois, he brought with him a large new up-to-date wagon, with a cast steel thimble. In about a year he traded it to Bradley Thompson for 35 sheep, 3 cows and $35 in cash. Sheep were then worth 50¢ a head and cows $10 each. He also brought a new two seated buggy, which he later sold to Dr. Chandler for $80. these vehicles were very rude as compared to those in use in this 20th century.
He also brought a handsome, red-painted cast iron plow, but it was no good and soon sold because of its handsome color; then he went down below Arenzville and had a blacksmith named Clark make him a wrought iron plow. After working on it several days with brick and sand he got it to "scour" and that was the first plow in that region that ever "scoured," and all the farmer for miles around came to see it.
He was of a genial, happy disposition, quite good-looking and sociable, and a fluent talker. He was a member of the Methodist church, and on Sunday wore a blue broadcloth Colonial coat with brass buttons, and over this in winter a drab cloth cape which fell to his boot tops. His occupation in Ohio was that of a miller, and the frontier hardships soon wrecked his health and he passed away February 8th, 1848, at the early age of 45 years, leaving to the wife and children the heritage of an honorable name which they have never blemished.
With aching heart and willing hands the mother took up her burden and bravely lived her life. In 1865, she went to Monmouth, Ill., to be with her daughters and in 1870 moved with them to Washington, Kan., where she passed away April 5th, 1883, with her seven children at her bedside, and mourned by all who knew her.