John D. Collins
Morris Co. Up

Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. II., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899.

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Through thirty years' connection with the building interests of the city of Morristown, Mr. COLLINS has erected many fine buildings, which stand as evidence of his handiwork, and he is classed among those business men whose energy and enterprise have enabled them to overcome an adverse fate and secure for themselves a comfortable competence.

A native of the Emerald isle, Mr. COLLINS was born in county Cork, on the 24th of June, 1844, and spent there the days of his boyhood and youth. He had three brothers and a sister. The names of all the children in the family are as follows:

  • Michael, who married and resides in London, England;
  • James, married and at present residing in New York city;
  • John D., our subject;
  • Jeremiah, married and resided in New York city, where he died in 1896; and
  • Ellen, who was the oldest of the children, left London in 1864, bound for Australia, but has not been since heard from.

When a young man of twenty-two years, Mr. COLLINS resolved to cross the Atlantic to the United States and seek amid new scenes that competence which incites the laudable ambition of all energetic young men. Accordingly, in 1866, he sailed for New York, and spent the first winter as a quarryman in Bradford county, Pennsylvania. The following year he entered the employ of the prominent old mason builder, Ellis PARCELL, then engaged in the construction of the Drew Seminary, in Madison, New Jersey. He completed his apprenticeship at the trade under the direction of Mr. PARCELL, and began contracting on his own account in October, 1873. He erected the Babbitt building and the J. B. DICKSON mansion, in Morristown, and in Normandy Park the residences of Wheeler H. PECKMAN, Henry C. HOWELL, Henry P. PHIPPS, H. E. WOODWARD, Jesse L. EDDY and Thomas PINCKNEY. He was also the builder of the Young Men's Catholic Association building, half of St. Elizabeth's convent in Morristown, and the L. A. THEBAUD residence at Morris Plains. In 1888 the citizens of Morris county contributed to the erection of a large stone memorial to mark a historic spot in the county, —the site of the famous Fort Nonsense, of the Revolutionary epoch. Here the Continental soldiers had thrown up breastworks of stone and rocks, and the embankments are still plainly visible. It was signally consistent that a proper entablature be created to designate this spot for all time, and the massive stone which has been placed upon the embankment has an appropriate inscription and stands in evidence of the patriotic spirit of the people of Morris county. To Mr. COLLINS was assigned the work of doing the masonry for the foundation of this historic memorial, and he may well take pride not only in the finished work, but in the part which was his to perform in the connection. In 1896 he built the celebrated St. Bartholomew school, near Morristown, completing the entire work in the brief period of ninety days.

Mr. COLLINS is an enthusiastic worker in the Catholic Benefit Legion, and is a firm believer in the efficiency of fraternal insurance. He is chancellor of Council No. 40, St. Columbanus, and in 1897 was sent as a delegate from that council to the state convention at Belleville, New Jersey, where he took an active interest in the advancement and enactment of such legislation as he believed would prove beneficial to the order. Fraternal insurance is the poor man's insurance, and realizing that fact Mr. COLLINS is ever working in the interest of the women and children who are unprotected by an insurance policy and who might be left widows and orphans by the sudden decease of the head of the family. On various occasions he has received the thanks of those whom death had thus bereaved and who were left provided for as a result of the influence and aid of Mr. COLLINS in that direction. He also holds an endowment policy in the Mutual Life Insurance Company, of New York city.

Mr. COLLINS has been married twice. At Madison, New Jersey, in 1867, he led to the marriage altar Miss Ann CASEY, and the children by that marriage were

  • Walter J.,
  • John D., Jr.,
  • J. Frank (an architect in the office of Robert C. Walsh, of Morristown),
  • Mary D.,
  • Joseph P.,
  • James M., and
  • Annie, who lost her life by being accidentally burned to death.

Mrs. COLLINS died March 4, 1892, and June 19, 1893, Mr. COLLINS was united in marriage with Bridget Anna ROMAYNE, and the children by this marriage are

  • Agnes and
  • Paul Leo.

Mr. and Mrs. COLLINS are devout members of the Roman Catholic church in Morristown.

 This biography was scanned and contributed by Catherine Smith DeMayo.

This page was last modified on:  01 January, 2014

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