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January 27, 2013


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Thank you very much for sharing this fascinating information about Robert and Elizabeth Collins! Only recently have I found out that they may be ancestors of mine.

A letter has recently surfaced, at least I didn't know of it's existence, which was written by Joseph Alexander, son of Robert and Elizabeth. In 1866 he was visiting relations in Texas. He mentions visiting his uncle Daniel B Gra(y)ham.

According to family lore Daniel was born in Buncombe County about 1822. His original name is said to have been Collins. He allegedly ran away from home as a boy and was 'adopted' by a Graham family. He had arrived in Texas by the 1840's and settled in Hopkins and Hunt counties and had numerous offspring.

Joseph's letter closely links Daniel to the Collins/Beck family. He possibly was a brother of either Elizabeth Beck or more likely Robert Collins.

I thought I'd just share this bit of information, perhaps in the hope that it rings a bell with someone more familiar with family ties in the Oconaluftee area.

Roger-thank you for the comment. I have just sent you an email with contact information included.

Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

my name is roger bryant. my mother is helen beck of john beck ancestry. wondering if you know which cemetery is john and jane beck are buriedin [old beck or new beck cemetery. there seems to be no marker for them. thanks Roger

Thank you for sharing this story about my great-great-great grandparents. My lineage is: Robert Collins>David Kimsey Collins>Minnie Helen Collins Pulliam> Martha Catherine (Kitty) Pulliam Huntley> Caroline Huntley Riddle. My son, Soren Adrianus Harmsen, and I hope to hike in the Mt. Collins area in the near future.

Helen Catherine (Holly) Riddle
Chapel Hill, NC

What a surprise. A awesome blog. You have the flavor of Appalachia here. Thank you. I will follow you.

My name is Roger Bryant from Thomasville n.c. My mother is Helen Marie Beck , the daughter of Ralph Napoleon Beck. John Beck and Jane Swearigen are my great-great-great-great grandparents. My brother{Tom} and I are researching our ancestors on both sides of the family. enjoyed the article. Would like to know if you have any significant info on john alvertes beck or why john beck came to the mountains to live from davidson {rowan] county. thanks Roger 336-880-0198

Thanks Don - Robert & Elizabeth Collins were my ggggrandparents, loved reading stories about them.
Their grandaughter & my ggrandmother, Augusta Ellen,ded up in Oklahoma. Wish I knew more as to why their daughter Catherine Jane ended up moving to Texas. Thanks Andrea

So very interesting and the pictures are beautiful!

Great post-Don, if you ever want to teach a photography class, count me in!

Thanks for sharing this history

Such a wonderful somewhat comprehensive piece of history. Thanks for putting this historical piece together.

Thanks for posting Don's view near
his homeland. It just don't get any better than this! He has shared his footprints throughout
our beautiful Smokey Mountains, and provided pictures and stories
of a life that once was...Ken

Interesting. I love the history of these mountains. Thanks for sharing this one.

I love the way Don writes. Such a pleasure to read! Like being invited along on a walk through the forests of not only the Smokies, but of Time itself. And the photo from the Jumpoff is a marvel. I hope everyone clicks to see the bigger version!

The pictures are beautiful. I was reminded of some of the terrain my dad and I hunted when I was much younger. I wouldn't attempt some of those places now with these 70 year old bones. But many of the most beautiful and inspiring views on earth require a lot of work to reach.

Thanks for all the great information Don. Thanks for sharing it Tipper. That sure is a good looking fellow standing on that rock, Don. Thanks for the "exposure"!

This post is among the many reasons why I love reading Tipper's Blind Pig web site. Tricorner Knob is now in "Comin' Round the Mountain," the chapter on Great-great Grandfather in "Under Brilliant Stars," my biography of Colonel John Y.F. Blake. This lonely crossroads illustrates the remoteness of the Appalachian Mountains, "America's last frontier."

From preliminary checking, it looks like Charlie Beck's grandfather, John Alvertes Beck, who fought with Company F of the Infantry Regiment of the Thomas Legion during the Civil War, was the nephew of Elizabeth Beck Collins.

As Jim notes, 441 is closed at Smokemont campground, more than 5 miles from the slide site, with ominous warnings of $5,000 fine and/or arrest for violating the closure. The exclusion applies to not only vehicles, but bicycles and even pedestrians. Now I thoroughly understand the need to keep people away from the slide vicinity, but you'd think there'd been a nuclear bomb exploded to require that sort of exclusion zone. Completely unaffected areas such as Collins Creek as well as trailheads at Kephart Prong and Kanati Fork, both of which offer fantastic spring wildflower viewing, are rendered inaccessible.

I've not been to Newfound Gap since the slide, but if access is similarly closed off there, as I understand it to be, that means that access to the upper Deep Creek and Thomas Divide trailheads is also prohibited.

One can only hope against hope that park management will come up with something more reasonable.

As the family's hopelessly addicted fisherman, I'll add a couple of notes to Don's fine historical vignette on the Collinses (if that's the correct plural of Collins). Collins Creek is a dandy little trout stream, although it is, like so many mountain streams in the Park, tightly overgrown. It was the favorite stream of a wonderful writer who was a friend of mine who died far too early, Harry Middleton. Since his death Harry has become something of a minor cult figure in the angling world thanks to his magical, mesmerizing way with words. His book, "On the Spine of Time: An Angler's Love of the Smokies," is set in the Park. I recommend reading it, but would note that the characters are strictly fictional.

The picnic area at Collins Creek (likely to be inaccessible for some months to come because of the slide on Highway 441) has one other virtue I know of--there's a fine growth of branch lettuce (saxifrage) in the area. Mind you, the Park has so many rules on what you can and can't eat, having a fine "kilt" salad featuring branch lettuce may not be permissible, so graze at your own risk.

Jim Casada

P. S. Don--I wonder if Charlie Beck was linked to Mrs. Collins' Beck line. Don knows this well, but for the rest of you, Charlie Beck was connected by marriage to the famed mountain fisherman, Mark Cathey.

Thanks to Don Casada for an extremely interesting and informative presentation of pioneers Robert and Elizabeth Beck Collins. I have been in touch with Don about my own connection (maybe not to Robert Collins-maybe so!) but to Thompson and Celia Self Collins who were in Union County, Georgia when it was formed in 1832. Thompson and Celia are my great, great grandparents--and the ancestors of quite a retinue of others who are glad to claim the Collins connections. Thank you Don. I have such appreciation for those who paved pathways before us and left behind not only name but results of their pioneering way of life and spirit.

These stories are fascinating to me. I am so interested in the old churches,cemeteries, and homesteads. Have any of you considered arranging caravan tours of surrounding churches? If you have I would surely take as many as possible while I am there.

Very interesting reading, to picture in ones mind what it was like to live and die in those glorious Mountains...

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