Memories of
Charles Thomas Collins
1872 - 1968

by Charlotte Collins Bond

I was raised in the largest un-incorporated city in the world, Kannapolis, NC, but my summers were spent with my paternal grandparents in Danielsville, Ga. I had the better of two worlds. I lived in a small city that gave you every advantage of the big city, except for the fact you knew all your neighbors. And then I was fortunate enough to experience farm life in rural Georgia before the era of electric lights, telephones or radios. My fondest memories occurred at the feet of my grandparents who had the time to talk to me & tell me of their memories & allowed me to fall into their footsteps as I learned about a world that was foreign to me.
These stories are for my grandsons. The three of you are falling into the same pattern that I lived before you came along, in that same farm house where I was born & my father before me, in rural Madison County Georgia. Now it’s me that lives in my grandfather's home and it’s you that come from the city to visit your grandmother. The stories I’m going to tell you will help you to know me better as well as your forebears.


Some Mornings Never Come

It was March 1968. My daughter, Ruth, was 19 months old. We were living in the house where I was born, with my parents and my 96 year old grandfather.
Papa had gone to bed early. I was busy in the kitchen when I heard him call. "Gal, uh gal, come ere." He had called me his gal ever since I could remember. It was my special name. I dried my hand’s and went into his bedroom expecting that he would want a glass of water. His cold was getting worse and his throat stayed dry. As I approached his bedside tears were streaming down his leathered face and his voice broke as he tried to speak. "Bring me the gal", he said. "You want me to bring you the baby? I asked. "Yeah, I want to hold her." "But Papa, she’s asleep now. I’ll bring her to you in the morning." "No!" he insisted. "I want to see her now."
There was an urgency in his voice that told me this was not an ordinary whim. But something that was very important. I brought my sleeping daughter and laid her in my grandfathers arms. His face lit up and the tears flowed freely. He looked at her with such love and tenderness that I was moved to tears myself.
Papa was so frail it was difficult for him to sit up. He lowered himself into the bed with the baby nestled in his arms and the tears continued to flow. I stood and watched. I felt like an intruder. It was such a special moment of unbridled love. I was wondering what was going through his mind when he looked up at me and said "I was the first one to see you when you were born. I held you and sang to you andI you were my gal. You were always my gal and this gal is just like you. She’s my gal too."
He rambled on and on, going into detail about the day I was born. It was evident that it was important to him that I hear every word. He told me how my father had gone to get the doctor and ran out of gas on the way back and how he had stopped at every house in the community and yelled "the baby’s coming, the baby’s coming." They were so late the father and the doctor nearly missed the blessed event.
My father was convinced that I would be a boy and he had pre-named me Charles. When the doctor told mother I as a girl, she said "Please look again." [I’m convinced that’s why I’ve suffered feelings of rejection. Ha!] I was to be Charles Thomas Collins the second. That was grandfathers [Papa] name and tradition was important to our family.
Papa went on and on………"everybody was sure you would be a boy, but I didn’t care. I had my gal." He choked as he said "I loved you from the minute I held you. I have other grandchildren, plenty of them, but none of them were like you. You were special. [I was the first born of his only remaining son. The other son died in the Navy.]
I knew I was special; at least to Papa. We had a rare relationship. We didn’t need to talk; we just need to be together. It was as if our spirits talked to each other and words weren’t needed. Papa was always a quiet man, saying very little, but when he did speak everyone listened.
That night in 1968 was the most I’d heard papa talk at one time. It was as if he knew he was running out of time and he had to say everything he had ever wanted to say at one time. The next day he became very ill and died within the week of pneumonia. Holding my baby in his arms had stirred up memories in his mind that otherwise I would have never been able to share. It allowed him to express in words what he had never been able to say before. How grateful I am that I didn’t insist on waiting till morning to let him hold the "gal". Some mornings never come.


Old Shep

When I was a young girl, I spent a good bit of every summer in Danielsville, Ga. with my grandparents, Charlie and Savannah Collins. They had a dog that I remember well. Her name was Tippie. She was a feist and boy oh boy was she ever feisty. Tippie and I played at the base of a huge mulberry tree. It had large protruding roots that ran atop the ground. This was my playhouse. The only problem was, Tippie thought it was her playhouse.
Tippie would excavate the ground between the roots, then she would scratch the ground till she had a cool place to sleep. I would promptly wake her up and smooth out the ground and lay my pretend table with pieces of broken pottery and chipped and broken dishes discarded by my grandmother. I would play for hours. That is, until Tippie decided it was time for another nap. Tippie and I were a good pair, but we did not compare to the relationship my grandfather had with his dog, Shep.
The story I’m about to tell you happened many years ago and has been told over and over again and I never tired of hearing it.
Grandfather was a farmer, a blacksmith, a shoe cobbler and an all round "Jack of all trades" and master of MANY. Papa had a yellow collie dog that he called Shep. He could rarely take a step that Shep didn’t follow. They were constant companions. They were partners.
As Papa pounded horseshoes on the anvil, Shep lay nearby awaiting a move from Papa. It was Shep’s job to round up the cows for the morning and evening feeding and milking. Shep loved and adore his master and that love was returned ten fold.
One hot summer day, Papa was plowing in a lower field down toward the Hudson River. It was out of ear shod of the house. On occasions like that, my grandmother would ring the big dinner bell about fifteen minutes before the noon meal, giving Papa time to walk to the house and wash up before dinner. This day, Papa did not respond to the dinner bell. Shep did! He came running as fast as his legs would carry him. His bark was constant. He went round and round as if he were chasing his tail. Then he would stop and bark and then repeat going round and round.
Granny knew that something was terrible wrong. She said "Shep, where’s Pa?" At this, he began to run, stopping only to see if granny was following him. She ran as fast as she could. She had stopped at the well only long enough to get a bucket of water and on she ran with the beat of her heart bursting in her ears.
When she reached the lower field she could see the mule and the plow standing still; but no Papa. Then she saw Shep at the edge of the woods and there he was standing vigil over Papa. She ran in that direction and found her husband lying on the ground unconscious. She cooled him down with the water and he revived enough to drink a sip of water and then he began coming around.
He related to her what he could remember. He had become overheated and began to feel dizzy and he fell across the plow and then to the ground. He was too weak to move or get to his feet. Shop came to the rescue. He took the gallowses of his overalls in his mouth and began to drag Papa across the field till he got to the edge of the woods in the shade. Then he said he told Shep to go home and get Ma.
Shep had saved Papa’s life for he had suffered sunstroke and would have died had help not reached him in time.
Many years went by and Shep and Papa continued to spend their days together. But finally, the years took their toll on old Shep and he became blind. He still tried to follow Papa at his heels, but the day came when Papa knew what he had to do.
He took him to the barn lot and said his good byes to him. He walked away a few yards and turned with his loaded gun pointed toward Shep. Time stood still. He aimed his gun over and over again but no shot was fired. Finally, he shoved the gun to his son-in-law and said "I can’t see him, you do it." The gun fired and Shep lay dead. Papa’s eyes didn’t fail him. He was blinded by hot burning tears.
Who can comprehend the love between a man and his dog? I know people who think that it’s a sign of weakness for a man to cry. How sad to think that a "real man" should show no emotion and never shed tears. I thank God that my grandfather was so strong he wasn’t afraid to show his love through his tears. After all, as the song says, "Tears are a language that God understands" Aren’t we blessed?!
In Loving Memory of Charlie Thomas Collins, My Papa


Papa’s Gal

 Remember Papa, when I was born? "You can’t name her Charles, Charlotte it’ll be; for she’s not a boy…..she’s a gal! Yep! This is Papa’s gal."
And then the day when I was two and the ants covered the sugar biscuit and me. You cleaned me up and wiped the tears. "Mean old ants can’t eat my gal. This is Papa’s gal."
The depression was on and times were hard. Mom and Dad were leaving to look for work and I was left behind. "Tell this child you’re coming back soon, before you leave this yard. Can’t stand to see her cry. She’s Papa’s gal."
When I was four and settled in the Tar Hill state you and granny came to visit. I could hardly wait! The Good Humor Man’s music was loud, but without a nickel my face looked like a cloud. But you saved the day when I heard you say "Make hers chocolate. She’s Papa’s gal."
Remember that big girl next door? Peggy Sue? She must have been six. Up under the house we played beauty shop. She cut and cut and then Mother screamed and screamed. And when the barber said "Climb in the chair pal" the men began to laugh and tease and said "Whose little boy is this?", you gave my scared hand a squeeze and with you John Wayne look said "This here ain’t no boy……she’s my gal."
The years and tears came around so fast. Why is it the good things can’t last? But through it all, Papa, you were always there to remind me that when I was high or low, right or wrong, good or bad, no matter what….. I was still your gal.
You’re gone now…..but you’re never very far away. When I taste scuppernongs I see you pruning your huge arbor. When I taste watermelon I see me on a sled piled high with melons and you leading the mule and your precious cargo home.
The taste of pot licker sends me to the huge long kitchen table and I’m on the bench asking for more crackling corn bread. The smell of gardenias and lilacs transport me to Granny’s garden and you shooing the chickens and guineas out of her precious special place.
The odor of kerosene and pine lighter wood take me to your bedroom where the coals are burning low in your fireplace and sweet potatoes are cooking and you are popping corn in a long handled popper and granny is reading by the dim light of the kerosene lamp.
Thorn bushes remind me of when you brought one in from the woods and placed colored gum drops on every thorn and told me it was my private Christmas tree. It was empty before Christmas got here, and I still love gum drops [and you].
The smell of Octagon soap and I see you on the back porch steps just in from the fields with your bib overalls rolled up to your knees with your feet in the foot tub and I‘m kneeling washing your feet in water that I drew from the well that morning and sat in the sun to warm.
That memory stirs up another one of filling a wash tub of well water to warm in the sun, hid in the corner of the house. That was for my bath. Then it was for Charles, then Tommy and then Kenneth and then it went to the flower garden. Not a drop wasted.
Funny how smells and tastes can stir up so many memories of yesterday. I have such a rich heritage and you left me a great legacy that I want to pass on to my grandchildren. Unconditional love!
I’m a mother now and even a grandmother. I had the joy of wiping tears from my eyes when my father, your son, said to my little girl, years ago, "Come ere to Papa. You’re Papa‘s gal."
You rocked me in that big rocker that sits in the attic now and sang "Bye Baby Bunting, Daddy’s Gone uh Hunting, Gone to Get a Rabbit Skin to Wrap My Baby Bunting In. I sing it now to my grandsons.
How sweet and precious are the memories you gave me. I want to do the same for my grandchildren. Your belief in me inspired me to try to live up to your ideals and continue the living heritage you instilled in me. I am so proud and so lucky to have been my Papa’s gal



Papa’s Tree

My grandfather, Charlie Collins, moved his family to their new home in 1904. It is where I now live and I call it the HOUSE ON THE HILL.
Shortly after settling in, grandfather planted a tree at the edge of the horse lot. I never knew the name of the tree, but it was a rare and beautiful tree. It was his pride and joy. It was just a small sapling when he first planted it and he took great care with it and warned the children to be careful around it and not knock it down.
Years later, one of his daughters had a young suitor call on her and instead of tying his horse to the hitching post he tied it to Papa’s special tree. Grandfather nearly went into a rage. The tree was not yet strong enough to withstand the pull of the horse and besides that, the horse was enjoying biting off its leaves!
That young man later became his son-in-law, but never his friend! I wouldn’t say that grandfather held a grudge, but he accurately judged the young man as irresponsible.
Through the years the tree grew to be about 60 feet tall. It was glorious to behold in the summer, but it was spectacular in the winter. Bare of it’s leaves it revealed a bewitching sight. In fact, I always called it the WITCH TREE. He limbs were contorted and snarled.
I used to lie on my grandparents bed on Sunday afternoons in the winter just to look out the window at the tree. It always fascinated me. It seemed to be alive. I mean REALLY alive. When the wind blew the witch began her dance. Her arms and bony fingers seemed to reach for me. On moonlit nights she was especially awesome. In fact, spellbinding. Its strange how you can relate to a tree.
Papa died in the spring of 1968. Before summer had ended huge limbs had fallen from the tree and covered the ground. It was the strangest thing you’ve ever seen. The heart of the tree was dead. It stood for nearly a year after its death, still littering the ground with what seemed to be tears. Do trees cry? Do they love? Do they relate to people? Maybe so. Papa loved his tree and I think his tree loved him. Papa died. The tree died the same day.
I miss Papa’s tree. I miss Papa!


Temporary Insanity
When enough is too much
My grandfather, Charlie Collins, was the most easy going man I’ve ever known. He was honest to a fault. He had rather be cheated than to cheat another person. He did business with a handshake. His word was his bond. I never even heard him raise his voice or speak a word in anger.
Everyone I ever heard speak of him always spoke highly of him. He was always good natured and loved a good belly laugh. He was the kind that didn’t talk till he had something to say. No chitchat; just straight talk.
I was talking with my dad, George Collins, one day about Papa’s sweet nature and he agreed. He said Papa was always slow to anger and never lost his temper. He would just politely walk away from an argument, that is, except just one time and he remembered that time real well; just like yesterday.
Dad said he was about 6 years old when it happened. This is his story:
Papa’s wife was the former Savannah Beard. Her sister, Samantha, was married to James Olie Fowler. Everyone called her "Mainty". They lived about a mile apart from each other. Samantha ran the local telephone company out of her house. The phones were the big wooden telephones that hung on the wall and you picked up the receiver and then turned a handle that made a bell ring and the operator would answer and say ‘CENTRAL". Then you told her who you wanted to talk to. No number, just the name. Samantha was ‘CENTRAL’.
My grandfather, Charlie, was the telephone lineman. He put up the poles and ran the lines from one house to another. When repairs were necessary he climbed the poles and made the repairs. Those pole climbers are in the attic of my house.
Olie and Mainty’s second child, Wortie Savannah, (named after my grandmother), had married Hoyt Dudley and moved to South Georgia. They had a little girl named Janie. Things never went well with Hoyt. Several years after this incident that I’m about to tell, he stole my grandfather’s new T Model Ford in Athens and was never seen or heard from again. At the time I’m writing about, he had abandoned Wortie and his child and left them in dire poverty. Wortie wrote her parents of her situation and wanted to come home.
Olie came to his brother-in-law, Charlie, and asked him if he would go in this truck after them and if he would bring them and her belongings home, he would pay him for his time and trouble. Papa agreed and left on the long journey south. You have to keep in mind that Hwy. 29 was not paved until 1932 and this was around 1915. I don’t think any of the State Highways were paved at that time. Some of the cities had cobble stone streets, including Athens, but out of town you hit the dirt roads again.
I’m not sure how long the trip took. I would think the better part of 2 days one way. There were no motels, restaurants, or rest rooms along the way. I’m sure Granny packed a good supply of ham biscuits and fried chicken, but not enough I’m sure for the return trip.
When Papa found Wortie, it was worse than he had ever imagined. They had no food at all. The child was nearly starving. When he was loading what little furniture they had he found meat that she had hidden in the mattress. It was full of maggots!!
The trip home seemed longer now that there was a woman and a child in the truck. I’m sure they found food some where along the way at a country store somewhere. They always had bananas, Johnnie Cakes, cheese, crackers and soft drinks.
They finally arrived home and Papa asked Olie for the money he promised for his time, gas and other expenses. Remember, this was a four day journey. Money was tight for Papa. He had a wife and 5 children at home to feed. Olie said he didn’t have it right now, but would pay him later. The days, the weeks, the months stole by and now it was years. The answer was always the same. "I don’t have it now."
Papa let Daddy go with him to the Bond Gin to get his cotton weighed and ginned. The Gin was just up the road from Papa’s house on the road to John Beard’s house. Daddy was only about 6 years old and this was a real experience for him. He got to hold the reigns on the mules that pulled the loaded wagon.
It was a busy day at the Gin. The yard was filled with loaded wagons lined up for their turn. Papa was up on his wagon getting the cotton ready to be weighed when Olie came in the Gin yard with his cotton. Olie came over to Papa’s wagon and climbed up on it to talk to him. Papa decided it was the right day to ask him for his money because he knew he wouldn’t have an excuse. He would have the money!
Olie’s answer to papa was the wrong one. He said "I’m not going to pay you! I never had any intention of paying you in the first place!" Before the words were out of his mouth good, Olie was lying on the ground with blood coming our of his ear. It was later determined that he lost the hearing in that ear that day.
Dad saw the whole thing, as well as half the community. Most of the men were glad to see Olie get what was coming to him. He had already earned a reputation for not keeping his word. Papa said he never would have believed he had hit him if he had not seen him on the ground. He didn’t remember passing the blow…. I guess that’s what they call "temporary insanity" or "the straw that broke the camel’ s back" or "THE BLOW THAT OLIE NEVER HEARD." Papa always said "enough of anything is enough ", but in this case ENOUGH WAS TOO MUCH!



The Day Papa Mooned a Snake
My grandfather was Charlie Collins. He was born 1873 and died 1968. To me, he was just Papa and his wife, Savannah, called Vanna, was just my Granny. The two of them raised their six children on the farm the bought in 1904. Together, the family was self sufficient. They raised cotton as a cash crop and corn and wheat for their bread and they had every kind of vegetable. They raised cows for milk and butter, chickens for eggs and food. They also raised pigs and goats for food.
Granny and her four girls worked in the garden and Papa and the two boys worked in the fields. Granny and the girls did all the cooking on a wood stove and they canned and preserved their food for the winter. Papa killed the hogs and cows in the winter and put them in the smokehouse for curing.
They grew apples, peaches, pears, figs and plum trees. Life on the farm kept everyone busy year round. In the winter by the fire, the girls pieced quilts from their old dresses and the boy’s old shirts and any other material they could find. When they were finished, the quilt racks were hung from the ceiling and friends and neighbors would come in for a quilting party. They embroidered pillow cases and doilies and dresser scarves. They made all their dresses and underclothes as well. They made shirts for papa and the boys. If material was scarce they made their clothes as well as sheets and towels out of feed and flour sacks.
Life was hard for them but it had its good times too. Winter nights were spent by the fireplace reading and popping popcorn in a long handled basket. Sometimes Papa played the fiddle and everyone sang and danced around. Other times it was story telling time. Everyone was involved in the telling of stories. Papa would tell of his father’s experiences in the Civil War and Granny would tell of her father, Bill Beard, and how he was seriously wounded in the head in the War and then she told about her Grandfather, Dickie Fortson, and how his wife, Lucy Jane, rode a horse to Richmond, Va. to bring her husband home from the Military Hospital. She said Lucy was so fearless that no Yankee dared to bother her. To this day, the headstrong girls in our extended family are called LUCY JANE.
Other stories would begin with "Do you remember when…….?" The story teller would hold their audience in the palm of their hand as they embellished the stories by acting out the rolls. Roars of laughter always followed each story.
Many years later as all the siblings grew up and had their own families, the custom of telling stories continued. Family reunions were a riot of laughter as one sister would tell a childhood story on one of the others.
My best friend, Betty Ruth, and I were witnesses to an event when we were in our teens that we still laugh about today. And we loved Papa’s theatrical gyrations as he would re-in-act the event at every reunion.
This is the story:
"Do you remember the time that snake crawled up my overalls pant leg?" Then everyone burst into laughter as he demonstrated the experience. It sent chills up my spine and at the same time found me rolling in laughter.
It seems Papa was plowing the cotton field just below the house when he felt something crawling up his leg. He shook his leg thinking whatever it was would fall away but it didn’t. He stopped the mule and laid the plow down and began to feel around his leg. His heart nearly failed as he realized a snake was crawling up his leg under his pants leg.
What to do??? He had his hand on the snake through his overalls. He had do idea what kind of snake or how long it was. How to get it out??? Papa worked his fingers up on the outside of his pants till he got to the snakes head. He clamped it tight. Then he unfastened his gallowses with the other hand. Still holding the snake by his head he let his overalls drop slowly to the ground.
There he was! In the middle of a field, in sight of the road, naked from his shirt down. HIS MOON WAS SHINNING. I don’t know if the snake caught sight of the moon as he departed this life or not, but that’s how PAPA MOONED A SNAKE.


A FIRM FOUNDATION

I don’t remember my great-grandfather, Nelson Collins. He died in February of 1932, six months before I was born. He was born 1849. From his photographs I can see that he was a very tall and handsome man. He had a peg-leg in an early family photo and was wearing an artificial leg in a later photo. He was a very distinguished looking man. He lost his leg in a wagon accident when he was thirty years old.
From his obituary and other items I found in newspapers, I learned what others knew of him. He was the Tax Commissioner of Madison County, Ga. He was proclaimed as a very competent and honest man; his books always in perfect order. He was known in the county, according to his obituary, as "one of Madison County’s most respected citizens." His church spoke of him as a true Christian, a faithful husband and loving father. From these accounts and personal stories told to me by his son, my grandfather, he was a man of great faith. He and his family were members of Jones Chapel Methodist Church, eight miles north of Danielsville.
It was evident to me that Nelson had instilled that faith and his virtues in his only son, Charlie Collins, who was born in 1872. Charlie's life exemplified his Christian heritage. He instilled that same faith in his children as well, especially in his son, George, who was my father.
My earliest memory of my grandfather Charlie, is of him rocking me in his great big rocker and singing "Bye Baby Bunting" and "The Mocking Bird Song." He was always my protector. I knew his love for me was unconditional. I could see that love in his twinkling eyes and I could hear it in his voice. I was special, I was his and he was mine. I think of that relationship many times as I try to envision how God loves me. It always boggles my mind when I think of a Holy God loving me and yet KNOWING me; faults and all. I can’t conceive it! It’s too wonderful. And yet, when I remember Papa holding me in his arms and his adoring eyes and his comforting voice, I remember how safe I felt. I wallowed in his love for me. I do the same today when I bask in God’s love, thanks to my grandfather’s example, though it still leaves me in awe.
Papa was a good man; a Godly man; but not a perfect man, except perhaps to me and his wife, Vanna. She adored him. She loved him desperately and showed it in every way. He was the head of the house. The king on his throne! She saw that his subjects always paid him the honor he was due. Her table would be set with an abundance of food she had gathered or canned and hungry kids and grand kids were ready to have a feast but -- not until Charlie sat down at the head of the table. A biscuit or sweet potato would hold us over till he came in from the fields. He was met with a fresh dipper of cold water for his thirst, fresh water in the wash pan on the porch to clean his face and hands and then a foot tub of sun warmed water to wash his feet. That was my job.
No one came into Granny’s house with dirty hands, feet or face. If you were going to respect the king, you would also respect the queen.
The queen met the king one Sunday at Jones Chapel Methodist Church. Actually, she didn’t meet him. She only saw him. She asked a friend "Who is that tall skinny man over there by that wagon?" The friend answered "Why that’s Charlie Collins." Vanna said "Well that’s the man I’m going to marry." Her friend said "No, You’re not! He’s already engaged." Vanna said "You just wait and see!" It was love at first sight for Charlie too and I guess it was a good thing because Vanna was a very determined young lady.
They were married October 27, 1893 and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1943 by renewing their vows on their front porch, in front of their children and grandchildren. The son of the minister who married them in 1893 repeated the ceremony in 1943. The wedding party was the same. Norman & Mary McEwen stood again as their witnesses. Their love for each other was apparent to all who knew them. They were caught time after time holding hands and kissing right up to the time the queen died in 1958.
Charlie lived another ten years to everyone’s amazement. We all thought he would sit down and grieve himself to death. To the contrary! My mother, Ruth Collins, had to be hospitalized the day of Vanna’s funeral. She passed out at the church. She was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally from many years of caring for her mother-in-law and was over-come by grief and relief coming at the same time.
I carried papa home to settle him in to rest and was going to rush to the hospital to see about mother. Papa would not hear of resting. He was going to the hospital to see about my mother. He said "It’s time to bury the dead and see about the living." I was stunned! Though his grief was unbearable, he put it aside. He was needed! He was never known to know self-pity. To feel sorry for himself was a foreign idea. Though, if anyone was eligible to engage in those feelings it was surely Charlie Collins.
Nelson, Charlie’s father, lost his leg in an accident when Charlie was only seven years old. He had to learn to plow a mule and bring in all the crops so the family could survive. He became the "man of the house" though he was only a child. As the other children were born; Eugenia, Lecie, Frances, and Alice, Charlie continued to make sacrifices and worked much too hard for a mere boy, to see that there was food to eat. His father grew able to do many chores, but plowing and working in the fields was always Charlie’s job.
When Charlie married Savannah Beard, he became the Superintendent of the Paupers Farm in Danielsville. Their family began growing and they needed a larger house. The Easom Bond Estate came up for sale and Vanna took her inheritance from her father’s estate and they bought the Bond Place. They added on to the home and built a separate apartment for his parents, Nelson and Mary "Babe" Moon Collins. Charlie’s youngest child, George, as born in their new home.
Eventually, many years later, two of Charlie’s sisters concocted a plan that rocked my grandfather's world. They taunted Nelson, their father, and told him that as soon as their mother died, Vanna would have him thrown out. He became so sullen that Charlie decided to add his father’s name to the deed to appease him and to make him feel secure. The sister’s plot had succeeded! When the parents died the sisters demanded one half of the estate.
My parents, George and Ruth Collins, had built a new home in Kannapolis, NC. They had to sell their home to buy the Collins Home Place to pay off the sisters because Charlie didn’t have the money and he would have lost his home.
Charlie did not become bitter. He became better! I’m not sure I could have done the same. If he indulged in self-pity or even thought of retaliation, no one knew it.
You know, I don’t remember seeing my grandfather read the bible, though it was always in plain sight in their bedroom. I never saw him on his knees in prayer. But I did see him take short walks and sit on a tree stump or sometimes just lean on a fence post and his face reflected a clam peace. Prayer is communion with God where ever you are. I saw in his life all the precepts that the Bible teaches.
In all my life, I never heard one person say anything bad about my grandfather. He was loved and respected by everyone who knew him. He was a man of integrity. He was honest to a fault. He was a man of noble character. His word was his bond. He did business with a handshake. The way he lived his life reflected his Christian beliefs. I know of no one who reflected the image of his master more than he did.
A few years ago, I interviewed a black man in our community, Calvin McWhorter. I was trying to get information on the black McEver family that had been the slaves of Andrew McEver, my fifth great grandfather. We had a wonderful visit and I learned much more than I had anticipated. In the middle of our visit, Calvin asked me if I was related to Charlie Collins. He said "I knew him well and his father too. Old man Nelson, he was a peg-leg man. I never knew a finer nam that Mr. Charlie and his daddy". Calvin said he used to work the bottoms below grandfathers place. I have to say I was filled with pride at his remarks.
Papa was a man of few words. He had a kind gentle spirit. He also had a wonderful sense of humor. He had to have a sense of humor to be around Granny. She was a riot. Her "Irish" came out of her in many ways, but none so wonderful as her laughter. Papa may have caught his laughter from her, but at any rate, he was never happier than when he had caused a big belly-laugh.
Matthew, Christopher and Alex, the purpose of this profile on Nelson and Charlie Collins, is to show you that a FIRM FOUNDATION has been laid for you by your forebears. It was passed on to your great-grandfather, Papa George. I tried to pass it on to your mother and I pray she passes it on to you.
King Solomon said it best in Ecclesiastes 12:13. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man." This is my prayer for you three young boys, my precious grandsons.

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