Collier Family Collection at East Texas Research Center

Family of Absalom Terrell Collier shortly after the end of World War II.

The East Texas Research Center of Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), in Nacogdoches, Texas, has added the Collier Family Collection to its archives.  According to its website:

“The East Texas Research Center (ETRC) collects, preserves and provides access to East Texas’ unique cultural history. The ETRC houses photographs, documents, maps, books and other archival materials that emphasize eastern Texas life, culture, economy and history. The ETRC serves as a Regional Historical Resource Depository for the State of Texas and manages Stephen F. Austin State University’s Record Management Program and the university’s archives.”

The Collection documents the history of various Collier family lines who moved from Virginia in the mid-1600s, to Georgia in the late 1700s, and to Texas in the 1800s.  The bulk of the information focuses on the descendants of Virginian, Vines Collier, a veteran of the French and Indian War and a supporter of the American Revolution who relocated to Georgia in about 1780.  He and his wife, Elizabeth, raised thirteen children.  Many of the children and grandchildren played prominent roles in the settling and early development of Georgia.  Two of the grandsons, Efford Cobb Collier and Robert Terrell Collier, brought their families to Texas in the 1800s.   Efford Cobb’s group eventually ended up in Central Texas while Robert Terrell established the East Texas branch of Vines Collier descendants.

One focus of the collection is the family descended from Robert Terrell Collier, who came to East Texas from Georgia in the 1880s.  Absalom Terrell Collier, a son of Robert Terrell, was the patriarch of a large family in the Nacogdoches area.  The Collection covers the Nacogdoches family line through the baby boomer generation following World War II.

The Collier Family Collection at SFASU compliments the Collier Family Papers at Georgia Historical Society (GHS) in Savannah.  The Georgia collection was received on July 26, 2016.  After almost two years of cataloguing, the Collier Family Papers, consisting of over 100 (some estimates are closer to 200) cubic feet of material, was finally announced available to researchers at GHS Research Center in Savannah.

After similar inventory and cataloguing, the ETRC archived Collier Family Collection will be made available to researchers by appointment only.

The Collier Family Collection at the ETRC was made possible by the estate of Virginia Collier Dennis, donations from the family historical files of Doris Collier, and Collier Heritage Foundation.  Please contact CHF if you have materials you wish to donate to any of the archives.

The Shattles Connection

Shattles Cemetery Marker (photo courtesy of Amanda Johnson)

The Colliers and Shattles were both prominent families in Middle Georgia during the 1800s.  In the early part of the century, as the counties were formed from Indian territory, these families were among the early settlers.  In Upson County, Robert Collier settled near The Rock, while brother Isaac farmed west of Thomaston near the Flint River.  A third brother, Cuthbert, claimed land in adjacent Monroe County, where he eventually built a rail station.  The Shattles families lived in an area which, at the time, was near the Upson-Monroe county line.  Much of that area in Monroe County was made part of Lamar County in 1920.

Historically, the Shattles line has only been traced back to about 1772 with the birth of George Washington Shattles.  Prior lineage is lost in the fog of time, possibly because, as family legend holds, Shattles may not have been the original name.  I find it interesting that an infant would be named George Washington in 1772, four years before the Declaration of Independence.  Of course, in 1772, the original George Washington was a hero of the French and Indian War and was part of the social and political elite of the colony of Virginia.   It is entirely possible the future Father of Our Country had his admirers before becoming President.  Still, it seems odd the Shattles line could only be traced back to a man named at birth for someone who had not yet achieved his greatest prominence.

The information about the Shattles family comes to CHF primarily from the work of Joel Shattles, Sr., who is now deceased.  Beginning in about 1998, Joel, along with his son, Joel, Jr., began tracing their family history.  A bound, unpublished history of the Shattles Family was produced in 2000.

Joel Shattles, Sr. Speaks at the Shattles Family Reunion 2003

There were at least two Collier-Shattles marriages.  It is not the intent here to discuss the entire Shattles line, but to focus on the Collier-Shattles connections.

The aforementioned George Washington Shattles was born in Pennsylvania.  He married his wife, Barbara (maiden name unknown), in about 1791 in North Carolina.  George died about 1859 in Upson County, Georgia.  Both are thought to be buried in a portion of Upson County that was later carved off and made a part of Pike County.

The first child of George and Barbara was John Richard Shattles, who was born in 1772 in North Carolina.  John Richard also took a “Barbara” for his wife in 1811.  John and Barbara had seven children; the first was born in North Carolina, the rest in Georgia.  Information from a page in a family Bible tells us John Shattles died May 13, 1869, and Barbara Shattles died the next month on June 15.

The fifth child born to John and Barbara Shattles was another George Washington Shattles.  This George Washington was born about 1821 in Monroe County, Georgia.   He married Lucinda Kennedy September 6, 1840 in Monroe County.  George died June 4, 1857 in Upson County.  Lucinda’s date of death is given as 1896.  Both are buried in the Shattles Cemetery in Lamar County.

George Washington Shattles Marker (Father of Francis Ann Shattles, Who Married Robert Terrell Collier)

Lucinda Kennedy Shattles Marker (Mother of Francis Ann Shattles, Who Married Robert Terrell Collier)

George and Lucinda had nine children.  The eldest was Francis Ann Shattles, born July 18, 1841.  On November 17, 1859, Francis Ann married Robert Terrell Collier, son of Williamson Collier and grandson of Vines Collier.

George Washington Shattles, Father of Francis Ann Shattles and Grandfather of Absalom Terrell Collier

About 1884, Robert Terrell and Francis Ann moved to Texas and settled in Nacogdoches County, founding the East Texas branch of Vines Collier descendants.  Both Robert Terrell and Francis Ann or buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Upshur County, Texas.

Grave Markers of Robert Terrell Collier and Francis Ann (Shattles) Collier, Upshur County, Texas

John and Barbara Shattles’ six child was James Monroe Shattles, born February 25, 1823 in Monroe County, Georgia.  James, or Jim, as he was also called, married Ann Davidson on July 26, 1876.  James Shattles died June 15, 1883.  No death date is known for Ann Shattles, and no burial location is known for either spouse.

James Shattles was an active farmer and landowner.  On the map of Land Districts, dated sometime around 1850, the “Shattles Bros.” place most likely refers to farms of brothers George Washington Shattles and James Monroe Shattles.

 

Eleven children were born to the union of James and Ann Shattles.  The second born, and the first male, was given the family name of George Washington Shattles.  This George Washington was born December 5, 1849 in Monroe County, Georgia.  George married Mary Delonia Collier on April 24, 1871 in Upson County, Georgia.   He died February 17, 1899 in Gordon County, Georgia.  Mary Delonia passed away in 1916.  Both George and Ann are buried in West Union Baptist Church Cemetery in Gordon County , Georgia.

Mary Delonia (Collier) Shattles at the Wedding of her Son, James Thomas Shattles, to Dorothy Irvin in 1902

Mary Delonia Collier was the daughter of Isaac Peterson and Martha (Dickens) Collier.  The military service of Isaac Peterson Collier is discussed further in this CHF post dated August 18, 2018 and entitled “Nothing But My Duty” (click here).  Mary Delonia’s paternal grandparents were Charles Vines and Rebecca (Owen) Collier.  More information on the Confederate service of the Sons of Charles Vines collier, Sr. and Rebecca Owen Collier and Rebecca is discussed in a post of September 14, 2015 (click here).   Vines and Elizabeth (Williamson) Collier were her great-grandparents.

The Shattles Cemetery is located in Lamar County, on a well-known historic farm known as Sugar Hill.

Some interesting trivia:

The Shattles Cemetery is in a portion of Lamar County that was carved off from Monroe County when Lamar was created.  The area is known as the Redbone Community.  It is thought Native Americans referred to the area as Redbone because of the large number of red fox squirrels they found in the area.

William Merrill Collier, half-brother to Robert Terrell Collier, died sometime around 1870.  He was buried in the Redbone Community.

In 1925, J C Collier had the remains of William Merrill Collier exhumed and re-interred in the Collier Family Lot at Greenwood Cemetery in Barnesville (click here) for related post.

The first born son of George Washington Shattles and Mary Delonia (Collier) Shattles was named Pascal Smith Collier.  For a discussion of the name of Pascal Smith see this post (click here).

Joel Shattles, Sr., was the grandson of George Washington and Mary Delonia (Collier) Shattles.  His great-grandfather was Isaac Peterson Collier.

This picture, taken in 2001, includes some of the Shattles family at the cleanup of the Isaac Collier Cemetery.  See the post about the event by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

Follow Up to Isaac Collier’s Powder Horn From the American Revolutionary War

Collier Homestead, built by Isaac Fleming Collier, sketched by Walter H. Kiser and published in the Louisville Times in 1938.
From Heather Cecil of Shelby County, Kentucky Historical Society:
My research is complete on the powder horn owned by Isaac Collier, and I wanted to share with the Collier family.  Below is the article I wrote for the Shelby County, KY Historical Society Facebook group, with additional photos.  I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks,
Heather Cecil
The story goes that Isaac Collier was a member of the English Navy. When he left to join the Continental Army during the American Revolution, he gave his elaborately hand-carved, scrimshaw powder horn to his brother, Michael Collier. Michael, a Blacksmith, was one of the first citizens of Shelbyville, Kentucky. Upon Isaac’s departure, he requested that Michael name a son after him, and to pass this gift on to his descendants. Michael indeed named a son after his brother, and the younger Isaac went on to play an instrumental role in the founding of one of the oldest church congregations in Shelby County. Despite the fact that Isaac was not a Baptist at the time, he donated an acre of land on Fox Run Road to the erection of a church there. He later converted, and on June 16th, 1801, Burk’s Branch Baptist Church was organized. A humble log structure was erected there, chinked with mud and stones. The younger Isaac passed away in 1835 and is buried in the church cemetery. The powder horn passed to his son Isaac Fleming Collier, who built a fine home at the southeast corner of Burk’s Branch and Fox Run Roads. While the house has been lost to time, Walter H. Kiser published a sketch of it in the Louisville Times in 1938. When Isaac Fleming Collier had a son, he also named him Isaac, and the powder horn continued to pass from generation to generation, until it was gifted to the Shelby County Historical Society by Charles S. Moore, Sr., to share this piece of our history with future generations of Shelby County.

 

Headstone of Isaac Collier (August 10th, 1780 – February 16th, 1835), son of Michael Collier, Burk’s Branch Baptist Church Cemetery
From the Louisville Times, April, 1893.
For the original post see:

Isaac Collier’s Powder Horn From the American Revolutionary War

Here is a great challenge for researchers and a terrific look at a Collier military artifact dating from the founding of the United States.  Realizing that “Isaac” is by no means a rarity in Collier names, any help you can provide to connect this item to family lines will be gratefully received.

CHF received this message from the a member of the Shelby County Kentucky Historical Society in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

I am a member of the Shelby County, Kentucky Historical Society. We were gifted with a powder horn that was owned and carried by Isaac Collier, during the American Revolution. Can anyone tell me more about this particular Isaac Collier, and how he (or his descendants may be connected to Kentucky?

We followed up by asked for photographs and additional information.

Thank you so much for the quick response! The powderhorn is scrimshaw, and is elaborately carved. Isaac Collier’s name and 1776 are inscribed on it, among other things. The item was donated by a gentleman by the name of Charles S. Moore, who said he was a descendant and that it was carried by Isaac Collier during the Revolutionary War. Any information you can find out about him would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Heather Cecil
Shelby County, KY Historical Society

Here are pictures of this important Collier Family treasure.

1776 scrimshaw powder horn made and carried by Isaac Collier in the American Revolutionary War.  Gifted by Charles S. Moore, Sr. family.

 

Detail of Isaac Collier’s name carved on the 1776 powder horn he made during the American Revolutionary War.  Gifted by Charles S. Moore, Sr. family.

 

Revolutionary War powder horn, circa 1776, made and carried by Isaac Collier.  Gifted by descendant Charles S. Moore family.

 

Detail of 1776 powder horn made by Isaac Collier during the Revolutionary War.  Gifted by Charles S. Moore, Sr. family.

Thank you to Shelby County Kentucky Historical Society for seeking out CHF and providing the information and photographs. 

Some interesting facts about powder horns from Wikipedia:  Typically there was a stopper at both ends, in later examples spring-loaded to close automatically for safety.  The wide mouth was used for refilling, while the powder was dispensed from the narrow point. In some cases the point was closed and the mouth used for both, with a powder measure, a type of scoop used to dispense the powder, and in others both ends were open and the horn merely used as a funnel. The horn was typically held by a long strap and slung over the shoulder.

The inside and outside of a powder horn were often polished to make the horn translucent so that the soldier would be able to see how much powder he had left. The use of animal horn along with nonferrous metal parts ensured that the powder would not be detonated by sparks during storage and loading. Horn was also naturally waterproof and already hollow inside.

 

Turning High Plains to Farm Ground

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Absalom Terrell Collier was born December 14, 1876 in Upson County, Georgia.  His parents were Robert Terrell and Francis Ann (Shattles) Collier.  Sometime after 1880, his family loaded their belongings in a wagon and headed west.  They settled in East Texas.

Ab (as he was called) grew up in the rolling pine and hardwood hills of East Texas.  He was lanky and probably over 6’4” tall.  Oral family history tells us as a young man he broke wild horses to ride.  In 1895, he married Eudora Belle Stewart in Melrose, Texas.   They made their home in the Melrose area of Nacogdoches County.  Ab and Dora had six children who survived past infancy:  Alton Terrell, Lula Bell, Christine Sybil, Pauline, Lora Pearl, and Douglas Woodrow.  As were most of the men in rural East Texas, Ab was a farmer.

Eudora was born in Mississippi in 1877.  Her father, Eli Stewart, was a Primitive Baptist minister whose travels to deliver the Message led his family from Georgia to Alabama to Mississippi to Louisiana, finally putting down roots in the East Texas county of San Augustine, just east of Melrose.  Dora’s mother passed away when Dora was only six or seven.   Eli was married three times; researchers should note his first and third wife were both named “Jane”.

Eli Stewart and his third wife, Jane Pate Stewart. Eli is holding Sallie, Jane is holding John. Eudora Belle Stewart is standing. Photo was taken 1893.

Eli and his third wife are buried in the Shiloh Cemetery near the Denning community of San Augustine County, Texas.

 

Dora’s sister and the oldest sibling, Mary Elizabeth, was 25 when their mother died.  Mary helped Eli raise her brothers and sisters and was no doubt was an important person in young Dora’s life.  Mary Elizabeth Stewart, married William (Billy) Barton O’Neal in 1879.  They made their home in San Augustine County, where they stayed at least through the 1920 census.

William (Billy) Barton O’Neal as a young man.

Billy and Mary O’Neal left San Augustine County sometime after 1920.  The early 1920’s found them farming near Lubbock, Texas.

This is a low resolution photo of William (Billy) O’Neal on a mule. The setting appears to be in Lubbock County, Texas.

The 1920s were a time of change for American farmers.  During the years of World War I farmers prospered due to high prices resulting from war-torn Europe’s diminished agricultural capacity.   To address the high demand for agricultural products, the United States government encouraged an expansion of farms and farming assistance programs.  However, as Europeans recovered from the devastation of the war, U. S. agricultural exports fell and prices began to slide.  With the mistaken thought that prices would stabilize, the government continued to promote farming expansion.

As the 1920s progressed, it became more and more difficult to make farming pay in the small fields cleared between the forested East Texas hills.  The close-knit Collier family was hard hit as farming prices continued to plummet.  Cheap land was available elsewhere, including the Texas Panhandle.  And it was being discovered that the grass-covered High Plains of the Panhandle, once known as part of the Great American Desert, could be extremely productive farmland under the right conditions.

Dora began experiencing some medical issues, and her doctor suggested she consider moving to a drier climate.  Meanwhile, the farming economy in East Texas seemed to be getting worse.  Ab and Dora decided to take their family to the Lubbock, Texas area where sister Mary and her husband, Billy O’Neal were raising cotton.  They most likely made the move in the late fall of 1925 or early winter of 1926, after the cotton harvest.

Ab, with sons Alton and Douglas, loaded equipment, livestock, and other belongings on a train and went ahead by rail.  The rest of the family followed by automobile.  In the group traveling by car were Dora and her children, Lula Bell (with toddler Helen and her husband, Burette Doss), Pauline, and Lora Pearl.  Daughter Christine Sybil was married, had left Nacogdoches, and was building her new life with her husband.  Also included in the car were Alton’s wife, Tommie Inez, and the couple’s three sons:  Cecil Ensley, Homer Raiford, and Lenox Ravonne.  It was no doubt a tiresome trip, covering some 450-500 miles in a 1920’s automobile, with 6 adults and 4 children, and over roads that, compared to today’s, were probably poorly paved and not well-maintained.

1921 Road Map of Texas, stars mark the locations of Lubbock (left) and Nacogdoches (right) counties.  The two areas are 450-500 miles apart.

The family moved into the Wollforth area, southwest of Lubbock, where they worked a place known as the Napper Farm.

The group had not been in the area long before the shine began to wear off their move.   The monotonous landscape with unending horizon and constant sun and wind was in sharp contrast to the green hills of East Texas.

 

 

Ab found farming conditions in the High Plains were different and with a set of unique challenges. The wide-open expanses made farming large tracts possible, but the single-row farming implements Ab brought from East Texas were out of place.

Farmer with one-row, horse-drawn plow.

Even horse-drawn multi-row equipment was giving way to mechanization with the introduction in 1918 of Ford’s mass-produced tractor, the Fordson.

Multi-row horse-drawn farm equipment contrasted with mechanized farming equipment of the 1920s.

Rain was scarce, averaging less than 20 inches of rainfall per year, as opposed to the 40-50 inches they were accustomed to in East Texas.  Winter snow was common, and a wind-driven 3- or 4-inch snow could result in 2-foot drifts if an obstacle was there to stop it.

Panhandle farmers had yet to realize the fine, fertile soil was delicately held in place by shallow, tenacious grass roots.   Turning the soil with a plow opened the ground up to erosion by the never-ending wind, generating immense, suffocating dust storms.  During periods of extreme drought these conditions combined to ultimately result in the infamous Dust Bowl days of the early 1930s.

Dust Storm

Then on April 20, 1926, William (Uncle Billy) Barton O’Neal died.  He was buried in the City of Lubbock Cemetery.

 

Ab managed to purchase multi-row farming equipment.  The Collier family left the Napper Farm and moved to an area northeast of Lubbock where they worked the Duncan Farm.  Meanwhile, the Napper Farm was purchased by Riley Micajah (“Wig”) O’Neal, son of Billy and Mary O’Neal.

Dora and Ab Collier in the Lubbock Area

 

Alton and Inez Collier with sons Cecil (on left), Homer (in back), and Lenox (right front). Photograph made in the Lubbock area circa 1926.

 

Burette Doss holding daughter, Helen, Lula Bell (Collier) Doss and Homer Collier.  In front of windmill in Lubbock, Texas area.

 

Left to right: Lula Bell (Collier) Doss, Homer Collier (boy in front), Helen Doss (in bonnet), Lora Pearl Collier, and Cecil Collier. Lubbock, Texas area.

In 1927, Henry (Bud) Turner drove from Nacogodches to Lubbock with the intention of taking Pauline Collier for his bride.  The two were married in the Lubbock area on July 22, 1927.   In October of 1927, the newlyweds, along with Burette and Lula Bell Doss and daughter Helen, returned to Nacogdoches.  Lula would give birth to her second child the following month.

Sometime in 1928, Mary O’Neal moved to Midland, Texas to be with her son, Bascom Ely “Slim” O’Neal.  She may have been ill when she relocated.

On October 23, 1928, Ab wrote to Burette Doss in Nacogdoches and asked him to find him a farm – they were coming home.  Sometime between the time of cotton harvest in December 1928 and January 1929, the Colliers returned to Nacogdoches.  Family history tells that a crowd gathered at the train depot when the equipment and livestock were unloaded.  Locals had never seen such massive farming equipment.  Ab parked the equipment at his farm where the curious came from miles around to ask if they could look at these High Plains implements.

Mary O’Neal died in Midland, Texas on February 13, 1929.  She was buried in the City of Lubbock Cemetery.  Here sister, Eudora, was back in East Texas and was not able to attend the funeral.

 

The move to Lubbock left lasting impressions.  Homer Collier, son of Alton and Inez, started first grade in Lubbock.  Homer remembered his hands were always chapped by the wind so he tried to keep his hands closed so the redness wasn’t obvious.

Homer Collier, First Grade, Fall 1928

Pearl and Douglas were caught outside in one of the characteristic dust storms.  They were able to make their way home by holding on to and following the wire fence.  Lula often told her grandchildren how lightning would strike a barbwire fence and travel along the fence great distances.

Dora said Ab spent all the time they were in Lubbock chasing his hat!

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