Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Through Hardship Came
Courage: The Harrison and Nina Mays Collins Family
our ancestors coped with hard situations they faced in life was told by
Lorraine Collins Goodwin in her family story submitted for The
Heritage of Union
County, 1832-1994. After reading what Vera wrote, I thought how
facing hardships really bore out the truth of how courageous our
as they “made do” with what they had and still lived a victorious life
Vera Lorraine Collins was born July 15, 1917. Her
parents were James Harrison Collins (4/30/1889 – 12/17/1928) and
Nina Mays Collins (2/26/1899
– 3/10/1990). Her parents were married November 30, 1914. Vera had one sibling, an older brother George
Blaine Collins (10/28/1915
Like many of us whose ancestors were
early settlers in Union
lineage back to Thompson Collins (ca. 1785 – ca. 1858) and Celia Self
(ca. 1787 – 09/03/1880). These were her
4th great grandparents.
Firstborn of Thompson and Celia, Archibald Collins (ca.1811- ?)
married Mary “Polly” Nix (ca. 1818 - ?) were her great, great, great
grandparents. Their son, James N.,
called “Jim Jesse” Collins (1842 - ?) who married Mary Ann Duckworth,
great, great grandparents. Next in her
lineage came their son, William “Bill Posey” Collins who married
on September 12,
grandparents, parents of her
father, James Harrison Collins. Tracing
all these roots and their branches can take volumes, and that is not
purpose of this article. We want to look
at how the Harrison and Nina Mays Collins family lived courageously
some hard times, typical of many who lived and worked on the small
farms of Union
in the early years of the twentieth century before modern conveniences
known and utilized.
In 1923 when Vera Lorraine was six
years old, her parents moved to what she called the “Vess Collins Place” at Track Rock (a farm that had belonged to
Vester Eugene Collins, who may have “gone west” prior to the Harrison
family moving to that farm).
Vera recalls that she went to Track Rock
Church building). Her teacher was John Turner.
Not too long after the family moved to Track
Rock, Vera received a bad cat scratch on her hand.
The hand became severely infected and was
swollen and very painful. Her parents
had no means of transportation to get to the nearest doctor, so a
Coker, took Vera and her mother to Young Harris for treatment. Vera remembers that the doctor met them on
the steps of his office on the campus of Young Harris
College. He took a look at the infected hand, and
without benefit of any sort of anesthesia, he lanced the young girl’s
right there on the steps of his office.
We can almost wince at the thought of the pain to this young
child. But having the infection released
eased the pain, for she remembers sleeping all the way back to Track
the mule-drawn wagon rocked along the dirt road toward her home. The hand miraculously healed and she was left
with no permanent impairment to it.
Syrup-making was one of the fall
activities at Track Rock, and in much of Union County. It was also one of the money crops of
mountain farmers. Vera remembers her
Uncle Thomas Mays driving a Kissel automobile up from Atlanta to bring
her Grandmother Mays to
visit them while they lived at Track Rock.
He purchased several gallon pails of sorghum syrup to take back
with him. Once they were stopped by
authorities on the
way back across the mountain to Atlanta. The
federals were probably searching for
contraband moonshine, and seeing that the Kissel was somewhat
overloaded in the
trunk area, they stopped it. Thomas
Mays, however, would not allow “the law” to open his buckets of sorghum
first got a search warrant to do so.
Imagine their disappointment when they found, not moonshine
sweet sorghum syrup in the aluminum pails.
From their Track Rock home, the
Harrison Collins family next moved to what had been the home of Vera’s
uncle, brother to her grandmother Margaret Dyer Collins.
This was the farm home of Narve Dyer who had
temporarily gone to Dalton
to work at the carpet mills during the Great Depression.
At this Choestoe home, Vera Lorraine Collins
remembers happily that she attended New Liberty
when Miss Goldie Collins was the teacher, and then Choestoe School
where Mrs. Helen Cordelia Collins Twiggs was her teacher.
Vera’s father, Harrison Collins, loved
music and was a music teacher by the “shaped note” method.
He often used his talent to teach singing
schools in some of the churches throughout the area.
Then her father became ill. They
moved first to Suit, NC to be near Harrison’s
brother, Ervin Collins. There her father
farmed as long as he was able,
but his cancer and Bright’s disease became worse. Neighbors
and relatives made up enough money
to send Harrison and Nina Mays Collins by train from Ranger, NC to Atlanta for
treatment. Nina got work at Martel Mills
there to help earn a living, for Harrison
no longer able to work. Vera’s Uncle
Ervin Collins moved the Harrison Collins’s household goods, and his
niece, Blaine and Vera, by wagon all the way from Ranger to Atlanta, a trip
that took several long
days. Vera remembers stopping at
Choestoe to spend the night with her great aunt Mintie Dyer Souther
Jeptha). As they went on, they camped
out along the way, and sometimes spent the nights with kind relatives
friendly people in route. The mules
pulled the wagon, amidst downtown traffic—much less then, of
Five Points in Atlanta
to her Grandmother Mays’ boarding house on Bradley Avenue. Then they went on
mill village house where her parents lived at Hapeville.
Her father was so sick, that, while her
mother worked, she and Blaine took turns staying with him during the
one going to school one day and the other the next.
Her father died there just eight days before
Vera Lorraine Collins married Rev.
James Goodwin and they had three children:
James Thomas Goodwin, Billy Ray Goodwin, and Nina Lorraine
Goodwin. Rev. Goodwin died March 8, 1985 after
over fifty years of
marriage to Vera Lorraine.
Through the hardships Vera’s parents,
Harrison and Nina Mays Collins faced, Vera herself learned much about
and fortitude and taking the bad with the good in life.
“We shall overcome,” was more than a motto;
it was a way of life.
Jones; published June
17, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA.
permission. All rights reserved.
Jones is a retired educator,
freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA
Updated June 28, 2010
Back To Union County, Georgia GenWeb Site