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Below is a family biography included in The History of McDonald County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Prominent among the early settlers of Missouri is Thomas Collins, of Indian Springs. He was born in Cooper County, Mo., on February 17, 1822, and is a son of Thomas and Frances (Woods) Collins, natives of Madison County, Ky., and Tennessee, respectively. Mrs. Frances (Woods) Collins, was a daughter of Peter Woods, a Baptist preacher living in Tennessee; her mother was Jael (Cavenaugh) Woods, and they were both born in Ireland. Thomas Collins, Sr., was born on September 22, 1789, and was married on July 12, 1810. He was a farmer by vocation, and a few years after his marriage removed to Cooper County, Mo., where he took a claim, which he could not enter because the land was yet unsurveyed. Several years later he entered 160 acres, and soon after purchased enough to make him 400 acres, near Walnut Grove, Cooper County. He was quite successful at farming, and accumulated a small fortune. On the 29th of March, 1832, he went on a flat-boat to New Orleans with bacon. While in that city he took the yellow fever, and died on June 27, 1832, far from home and among strangers. He was buried in one of the cemeteries of New Orleans. He was an active Christian, and a member of the Baptist Church. His wife was born on May 12, 1795, and, after the death of Mr. Collins, married again. On November 15, 1840, she married James D. Smith, who died September 15, 1844, leaving one child by their union, Nancy B. Mrs. Smith afterward married Michael Chism, on December 10, 1854. They are both now dead. By her marriage with Thomas Collins, Frances Woods was the mother of eleven children, seven boys and four girls. They are William, Peter, Andrew, Susanna, Green W., Thomas, Jael K., Mary E., Sarah Ann, John G. and James M., of whom Thomas, Mary E., Sarah Ann, John G. and James W. are living. The grandfather of our subject was also Thomas Collins, a native of Ireland, who was married three times. His first wife, to whom he was married on October 22, 1770, was Abby. His second wife was Susanna Wallace. They were married on June 17, 1781, and after her death he married Mary Barr, on October 18, 1813. The maternal grandparents of our subject were also born in Ireland. Thomas Collins, the subject of this sketch, was reared on a farm in his native county, and spent his youth assisting his father with the farm work and attending the common schools. His father died when he was yet young, but he remained with his mother until she married again. On November 3, 1842, he married Elizabeth Smith, a daughter of James D. Smith, his mother’s second husband. She was born on February 10, 1825, in Cooper County, Mo. After his marriage he managed the old home farm for two years, and removed to Cass County, Mo., in the spring of 1844. He purchased 120 acres near Pleasant Hill, which he cultivated for twenty-seven years, after which he rented the farm and removed into Pleasant Hill. In 1882 he sold his property in Cass County, which amounted to several hundred acres of land, and came to McDonald County, settling at Indian Springs. He first purchased 200 acres, and soon afterward 120 acres more, and homesteaded forty acres. He gave his daughter, Mrs. Mintie D. Morney, eighty acres. He owns seven lots in Indian Springs, and has a comfortable home in the village. His first wife died on September 18, 1879, in Cass County, Mo. To them were born eleven children, as follows: James T., November 15, 1843; William W., October 27, 1846; Luther Finley Smith, December 25, 1848; Frances Jane, May 29, 1851; Susan Green, November 29, 1853; John Andrew, July 29, 1855; Mary Melvina, April 5, 1857; Nancy E., August 11, 1863, and Mintie Davis, January 31, 1867. Two died unnamed. Frances Jane, Nancy E. and Mintie D. are the only ones now living. The mother of these children was a consistent member of the Baptist Church. Mr. Collins married Mrs. Mary A. Bush on December 3, 1879. She was born in Warren County, Ill., on November 23, 1844, and is a daughter of Benoni and Deliah (Abbott) Merrifield. Mrs. Merrifield was born in Indiana on August 17, 1815, and died in Cass County, Mo., on January 25, 1885. Mr. and Mrs. Merrifield were married on June 9, 1836, and were early settlers in Warren County, Ill., where they resided until 1872, when they removed to Kansas City, thence going to Cass County, Mo., eighteen months later. There Mr. Merrifield still resides. They were the parents of nine children, viz.: John, Samuel, Elizabeth, Mary A., Johnson, Benjamin F., Alexander, George and Josephine. Johnson and Samuel are dead. By his second marriage Mr. Collins is the father of three children: Charlie, Nellie and George Vest. In politics Mr. Collins is a stanch Democrat. He was elected to the Thirty-third General Assembly of the State of Missouri in the fall of 1884. He is a devout Christian and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

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This family biography is one of 82 biographies included in The History of McDonald County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: McDonald County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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