Background

The information I plan to post here relates mostly to Vines Collier and his descendants, of which I am one. Those that come from other Collier lines are welcome and urged to provide their materials, also.

Isaac Cuthbert Collier, Confederate soldier, successful planter and merchant of Piedmont, Georgia died in 1908. After his death, his son, Jena Cuthbert (J. C.) Collier began trying to find out more of his family’s history. His inquiries led him to locate and mark the grave of Vines Collier, his great, great-grandfather. He enlisted the services of professional genealogists to trace his ancestry to Europe and to research and document the service of Vines Collier in the French & Indian War, as well as his contributions to the American Revolution. Not content to depend strictly on genealogists, he sent out hundreds of letters to anyone he thought might be related. A man of organization, he sent his letters with a discussion of his own background and attached an ancestry form to be filled out by the possible relative. I believe he often included a self-addressed stamped envelope for the return of the form. When on business trips, he contacted Colliers he found in telephone directories or those he heard about through word of mouth. Jena was eventually assisted in his pursuit of family history by his son, Durward Cuthbert (D. C.) Collier. Durward’s investigation led him to visit Collier historical sites in England.

With the recent death of J. C.’s granddaughter, the Collier Heritage Foundation came into possession of the extensive genealogy papers of Jena and Durward. It is a treasure trove of information. The wealth of the family allowed them to use stenographers, not only to type and send out dictated letters, but also to transcribe and type the handwritten returns. The typing was done on onion-skin paper using carbon paper to make several copies. Letters of inquiry went out throughout the Deep South and to more distant states, such as Texas, Arkansas, and California. If any of the correspondence was thrown away, it is not obvious.

Return letters came from all over. Some of the them provided no genealogical link, but some were more fruitful. J. C. connected up with previously unknown relatives in Texas. He visited them in Texas at least once and opened up a line of written correspondence that extended until his death in 1944.

Early in the quest for his roots, J. C. wrote that he hoped to publish a book on Collier history “this fall”, then “next year”, and then “soon”. Finally he realized, and put into writing, that the task was so overwhelming he would never get it finished. It is probably no less overwhelming today….Glen A. Collier

J. C.’s connection to Vines Collier is:

Vines>Robert>Robert Marshall>Isaac Cuthbert>Jena Cuthbert Collier

Jena Cuthbert Collier as a Young Man (b. 1866, d. 1944)
Jena Cuthbert Collier as a Young Man (b. 1866, d. 1944)
Example of Exploratory Letter Sent BY J. C. Collier
Example of Exploratory Letter Sent By J. C. Collier

 

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