Collins-Wilson Family Papers, 1861-1896

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator:  Collins-Wilson family

Title:  Papers, 1861-1896

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Curator of Special Collections.

Size of Collection:  0.33 cu. ft.

Location Number:  Mss. A C713

Scope and Content Note

This collection of letters and ephemera documents the family life and Civil War experiences of the William Smith Collins (1810-1885) family of Madison County, Ky. and the Capt. John Wilson (1822-1896) family of Estill County, Ky.

The Collins family papers include an undated document signed by Col. C. W. B. Allison, commander of the Union military prison at Camp Chase, Ohio, related to the 1862 arrest and imprisonment of William Smith Collins as an active Southern sympathizer. Also included are three 1863 letters to Capt. Thomas B. Collins (1842-1869) of the 11th Ky. Cav., C.S.A. that regard the final illness of his sister, Lucy Ann (1846-1863); transcripts are also included. A death announcement in the collection reveals she died at Col. G.W. Churchwell’s in Knoxville, Tenn. on 20 May 1863. [Folder 1]

Of particular interest is an original copy of a diary Capt. Collins kept detailing his Confederate Secret Service activities in Canada in 1864-1865. He makes veiled references to the Northwest Conspiracy, including the plot to release Confederate prisoners from Camp Douglas at Chicago Illinois, and the raid on St. Albans, Vt. in which he participated. [Folder 2] Also present is an original muster roll of Capt. Collins’ company dated 12 February 1862 (1863) at Albany, Ky. [Folder 14, oversized].

The collection also includes the 1868 courtship letters of Joseph Collins (1840-1918) and Carrie Lee Embry (1848-1875) as well as handwritten parlor games, additional family correspondence and death notices. [Folders 3-4]

The Wilson papers include one original and 2 photo copies of the wartime letters (1861-1864) of Capt. John Wilson of the 8th Kentucky Infantry, USA. The letters contain information on camp life and the military operations of the Union’s Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee and Georgia.  Also included is an 1864 letter to “Mollie” from Susan Allan (1827-1907), who was apparently the wife of Dr. Algernon S. Allan of Winchester, Ky. that describes the health and war news in her community. [Folder 9] An undated pamphlet, bearing excerpts from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, documents Wilson’s role in the 1863 battle of Lookout Mountain, Tenn. Printed in Washington, D.C on 2 June 1896, a Tribute to the Memory of Captain John Wilson, praises the late veteran’s virtues and hails him as “The Hero of Lookout Mountain.” [Folder 10]

Miscellaneous items include but are not limited to, genealogical notes [Folders 6 and 12],newspaper clippings [Folder 11] the recollections of Andrew McCord (1896-1963) of Madison County, Ky. [Folder 8] as well as source materials on the St. Albans Raid of 1864 [Folder 7] and the service of the 8th Kentucky Infantry, U.S.A. [Folder 13].


Biographical Note

William Smith Collins (1810-1885) and Mary Ann Bronston (1817-1884) raised a family of five children in Madison County, Ky. During the Civil War two of their sons, Joseph (1840-1918) and Thomas Bronston (1842-1869) joined the Confederate army as members of the 11th Kentucky Cavalry of Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s command. William was arrested by Union authorities for his Southern sympathies and confined in Camp Chase, Ohio in 1862. Following the capture of Morgan and most of his men during the disastrous Ohio Raid of 1863, Capt. Thomas B. Collins served with mounted forces in the Confederate Army of Tennessee.

Capt. Collins rejoined Morgan’s command in early 1864 after the noted raider’s escape from a Union military prison. Cut off from his unit during Morgan’s Last Kentucky Raid in June, 1864 Collins made his way to Canada and participated in Confederate secret service operations until the end of the war. He was among the Confederate partisans who raided St. Albans, Vt. on Oct. 19, 1864. He went into exile in France after the war and died of tuberculosis in Paris in 1869.

After the war Joseph married Carrie Lee Embry (1848-1875), the daughter of Jacob and Caroline Embry, and raised a family in Madison County, Ky.

Capt. John Wilson (1822-1896) was the son of Ebenezer and Rody (Dillingham) Wilson. He married Sarah Bowman (1826-1900) and they raised a family in Estill County, Ky. Capt. Wilson fought for the Union as a member of the 8th Kentucky Infantry which served in the western theater.


Folder List

Folder 1: Collins Family Civil War Letters and Documents, 1862-1865.

Folder 2: Capt. Thomas B. Collins Diary and Transcript, 1864-1865.

Folder 3: Collins-Embry Correspondence, 1868-1901.

Folder 4: Miscellaneous Collins-Embry Family Materials, 1863-1918.

Folder 5: Envelopes (Unmatched), Undated.

Folder 6: Collins Family Genealogy, Undaunted.

Folder 7: St. Albans Raid Articles and Publications, 1864-1967.

Folder 8: Andrew McCord Recollections [Photocopy], Undated.

Folder 9: Capt. John Wilson Letters, 1861-1864.

Folder 10: Capt. John Wilson Tribute and Pamphlet, 1896, Undated.

Folder 11: Wilson Family Newspaper Clippings, Undated.

Folder 12: Wilson Family Genealogy, 2000, Undated.

Folder 13: 8th Kentucky Infantry Publications, Undated.

Folder 14: Muster Roll, Co. F, 11th Ky. Cavalry, CSA, 1863.


Subject Headings

Allan, Susan, 1827-1907.

Allison, Charles William Brandon, 1820-1876.

Clay, Cassius Marcellus, 1810-1903.

Collins, Carrie Lee Embry, 1848-1875.

Collins, Joseph, 1840-1918.

Collins, Lucy Ann, 1846-1863.

Collins, Thomas B., 1842-1869.

Collins, William Smith, 1810-1885.

Confederate States of America. Army. Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, 11th.

Courtship – Kentucky.

Cynthiana (Ky.)

Embry family.

Jennings, William, 1827-1892.

Kentucky – History – Civil War, 1861-1865.

Ku Klux Klan (19th century)

Lookout Mountain, Battle of, Tenn., 1863.

McCord, Andrew, 1896-1963.

Morgan, John Hunt, 1825-1864.

Morton, J. Embry, 1855-1876.

Richmond, Battle of, Richmond, Ky., 1862.

Saint Albans (Vt.) – History – Raid, 1864.

Secret Service – Confederate States of America.

Slavery – Kentucky.

Slavery – North Carolina.

United States. Army. Kentucky Infantry Regiment, 8th (1861-1865). Company C.

United States. Navy – History – World War, 1914-1919.

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865.

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865 – Prisoners and prisons.

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865 – Secret service.

Violence – Kentucky – Madison County.

Wilson, John, 1822-1896.

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