Just as curiosity and the search for new “stuff” are never-ending, so are new findings and their implications on the story being written. From a recent Google Search:

ANDREW AND DAVID COLLINS. I am looking for info on David Collins who died in Stewart Co sometime after 1813 when he filed a power of attorney with William Skiles on the estate of his brother Bennett Collins in Bertie CO NC. Andrew Collins married Mary/Polly Barnes I believe is his son. I am looking for a death date for David and a name for a possible second wife. His first wife was Annis Collins from deeds in Bertie CO. NC. They left Bertie about 1806/07. David sold a slave in 1807 to Parry Humphrey in Montgomery County TN. They may have been in Humphrey CO for a while too. Andrew Collins is the one in the 1850 census. Can anyone help. Look for possible estate papers for David in Stewart Co.
Submitted on Wed Sep 23 22:23:25 CDT 2009

Found in an old online Stewart County Tennessee query page, the preceding represents another chapter in the story of Michael Thomas, who lived and died in Bertie County, North Carolina. The son of Joseph Thomas (II), who died circa 1758, Michael Thomas named his wife Anney in his 1766 last will and testament. Looking at deeds and the related loose estate papers, the name of Michael’s widow changes in time from Annis Thomas to Annis Collins.

Mar 1767, Bertie – ordered that Annie Thomas Exx of Michael Thomas sell the perishable part of the estate of the said Michael.

Feb 1776, Bertie – Ordered that David Standly, Peter Clifton, Zedekiah Stone and Watkin William Wynns and John Watson or any three of them lay off the third part of the real estate of Michael Thomas deceased for the use of his widow and relict Annis Collins and that they make return of their proceedings therein to next court

David Collins is appointed guardian of Anney and Michael’s daughter Judeth and then in 1786, David Collins and wife Anney sell their land on Beaver Dam Swam which is located northeast of the Cashie Swamp. At that point the trail runs dry for me here in North Carolina. However, “Todd” in Tennessee clearly has more to offer as indicated above.

It is known David Collins is the son of Joseph Collins and Rachel Bunch, with Rachel being the daughter of Henry Bunch, who happens to be mixed-race.

As for David Collins’s uncle, Jeremiah Bunch, he is widely remembered for his house-building skills. Now relocated a mile through Bertie County peanut fields from its original location, the 1700s Jeremiah Bunch homeplace once stood across the road from the homeplace of Michael Thomas’ brother, Josiah Thomas. Nearby, if not adjoining to the north are the lands once owned by Michael Thomas, who served as Josiah’s guardian following their father’s passing. And for David Collins’ father,  Joseph Collins, part of his land purchased from the Thomas family is situated across the Cashie River to the east.

Looking back to the Stewart County  USgenweb post from 2009, “Todd” must surely have stories he could tell concerning his possible mixed-race heritage. Seeking to make contact, which has not yet taken place, I was able to glean much from the outdated email address Todd used in his inquiry. It turns out that in 2013 Todd Beckham and Marilyn Cheney co-produced an award-winning short film titled The Melungeons. Directed by Ian Cheney, the film is found on the Wicked Delicate Films site where it can be rented or purchased at a reasonable cost.  Furthermore, the following is a link to the trailer for The Melungeons:

<p><a href=”″>The Melungeons</a> from <a href=””>Wicked Delicate Films</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Too often we bind ourselves to the task of building “trees” while stories often hidden in the background offer a much more meaningful narrative – such as that told on film by Todd Beckham. I wonder how the learning process impacted Todd’s understanding and appreciation of his oh-so “typical” American family?


  1. geothos Post author

    Totally agree with your post and looks like we are of similar cloth though different suits. We each see this from our own but the problem is wide, way beyond being a Collins issue. That said, for Joseph Thomas, 1758, the estate includes a court order for Absolum Collins who, at that time, was “late of Bertie County.” Why was Absolum called upon and there’s more to that story. Also, Joseph Thomas 1758 had son Joseph Thomas per will as did Michael Thomas 1766. Somehow, duh ….I overlooked Michael’s son Joseph and now wondering who he is and in panic worked to isolate him from Joseph Thomas who is believed to have moved to Wake. Thankfully that matter cleared up as it could have impacted a book I’ve all but completed. Also, there is Elizabeth, different people who show up in wills of Joseph Thomas 1735, Joseph Thomas 1758, and Michael Thomas 1766. I’m thinking Elizabeth married into the Summerell family shortly after the death of Michael Thomas and then the said Elizabeth maybe died and said Summerell married Collins. Not sure if I can prove it though such matters need to be discussed. There is more and I think much of this arises from our people acquiring plantations in different locations. Records and stories tend to one location though acquired land elsewhere passed down to others complicated the story status quo. As for joseph Collins, Old Joseph, he had land on Roquist and east of present-day WhiteOak. As for Absolum, his mention in John’s will is for land on deep branch which may be the same land later owned or adjoining David Stone.

  2. Randy Fields

    Jim Long, the curator of Stewart County has a “Master Index” of his compilations here: a href=”” target=”_blank”>Master Index. This Excel spreadsheet contains an alphabetical listing of all the names that appear in his transcribed record books. I have most (if not all) of the books he has transcribed. Your David, Andrew, Annis, et al. appear frequently in the index. If there is a record you are particularly interested in, I can get you the information. Unfortunately, however, I’m not currently at home and will be away off and on for a little while. Let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll be happy to help.

    I stumbled upon your page attempting to verify the relationship between William “Ram Billy” Thomas and Nathan Thomas (of Stewart County, TN). I’m not convinced there is a connection. Any evidence you have that confirms a relationship would be appreciated.

    1. geothos Post author

      Thanks Jim for your response. Back in the 90s I researched this stuff heavily with most of what I found on my site from that time ….and on William, look at:

      For Nathan, prood documents lie include:
      1. LWT of William Thomas naming son Nathan.
      2. Deeds in Richmond County where William Thomas sells part of his land to Nathan.
      3. Neighbors and family and their dealings amongst each other in TN supports the relation.

      Take a look at the website and let me know what you think…


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