* History Of The Collins Family Cemetery *
The "Collins Family Cemetery" was started on the property of Alexander and Carrie Curnutte Collins in 1914. The Collins family moved from Wayne County, West Virginia to Big Bottom Road in the Campbells Creek area of Kanawha County, West Virginia in 1901.
Alexander worked in the coal mines, and also managed to keep a nice-sized farm going. In addition he sold lumber from his property. In 1912, Alex was joined in the mines by his son, Roy, who was now twelve years old.
Six days a week father and son would trek down Big Bottom Road to catch the coal mine train at Campbells Creek Road. Then after a full shift, they would depart the mine train at Big Bottom Road and hike back up the mountain to get home.
Many residents living back up the hollers all along the train route along Campbells Creek Road had the same type of journey to make. The weather conditions at times were horrendous. A hardy stock, indeed.
By the time Roy was working with his dad in the mines, Alexander's family consisted of three males(including himself) and nine females (including his wife, Carrie). Another son, Harry, would be born in 1914, but live for only three years.
In 1910, Alex's daughter, Lilly, married Andrew Henry Hood. Over the next few years they had a boy and a girl. About 1914 both children died. Alex, Carrie, Lilly and Henry decided the children were to be buried on the Collins property where the children would remain close and the Family could visit their gravesites as often as they wished.
They picked a hilltop on Alex and Carrie's land, which would provide a safe place in case of floods (which could be devastating in the mountain hollers), and provide a beautiful vista, which is often desired by the families of the Departed. An inspirational view, I suppose. And this mournful event was the beginning of "The Collins Family Cemetery".
As with all 'family' cemeteries, they are never something that a family wishes to start.
In 1915, Alex Collins's father, Joseph Franklin Collins, passed-away. He was buried near the graves of the two children. No permanent marker is known to exist, although at the time, he and the two unfortunate children did have non-stone markers.
Alex died one-and-a-half years later, along with his youngest son, Harry (1914-1917). His tombstone has him dying in 1915, but the Kanawha County Death Registry has his date of death as February 27, 1917. His daughter, Elizabeth 'Garnet' Collins Hylton, told me that Alex died from a stomach or intestinal disorder, while the death record has him dying of pneumonia. Alex was 43 years-old. Alex now lays beside his two grandchildren and his father up in "The Collins Family Cemetery".
This left the Collins Family with 8 females and only 2 males. One son, Joseph, was only 11 years-old at the time. Roy was now 17, and was still working the coal mines which he would continue to do until he retired in 1952, with forty years of service).
Carrie decided the burden of the farm was too much for her family, and sold most of the Collins land which Alex had bought over 15 years before. She retained some of the land, including (as per the deed), "The Collins Family Cemetery". It remained (and still remains) Collins property. Its use by law is strictly as a cemetery.
Carrie and Family then bought a house on Campbells Creek Road. At the very least it was a lot flatter, and the coal mining train passed right by their house. Son, Roy, no doubt found the arrangement much more agreeable; though he would have given anything to be trekking back up Big Bottom Holler by his dad's side again. I know this for 'Roy' is my Grandfather, and he told me so. But, such is Life.
Over the years more Collins Family members, including persons by marriage and so forth, have been interred there. Some burials were, and continue to be, of non-Family, despite its designation as Collins Family Cemetery property. And, as with many other 'family' cemeteries, the word 'family' was dropped by lack of spoken usage, and most people know it as "The Collins Cemetery". Some of the older generation still refer to it as "The Collins Family Cemetery".
Today there are over sixty persons 'resting in peace' in "The Collins Cemetery". The mountain-top view is quite nice if one peers between the trees which surround the entire location. The bare trees of winter allow more of a vista and a sense of just how 'the land lays'.
The cemetery is situated on a knoll which sweeps gently downward to the tree-line. "Gently" by West Virginia standards, that is. One dirt road off Big Bottom Road allows entry and exit. Several trees are in the otherwise grassy clearing which makes up the cemetery.
The graves of Alex, his father, Joseph, his daughter Lilly, and his son-in-law, Henry Hood are all at the center of the property at the top of the knoll. Doubtless, the graves of Alexander Collins' two grandchildren are close to him. They were the first 'residents', sad to say.
This was the traditional way a 'family cemetery' was started... the owner and his family being located in the middle of the graveyard. And, as tradition (and necessity) dictated, additional graves were laid-out radiating from this center.
There are at least thirteen graves without permanent markers and/or having no names on what markers exist. Nine or so markers are only stone to show where some departed's gravesite is. It is said that some people's graves have yet to be located.
Over the years I have heard some 'discussion' (to put it euphemistically) as to just which family owns the land that is "The Collins Cemetery". For any debaters still doubting the Collins' ownership of that parcel of land, a short trip to the Charleston Courthouse for a look at the deed made by Carrie Collins will show in no uncertain terms that "The Collins Family Cemetery" is owned by the Collins Family.
I have long felt that the 'residents' of "The Collins Cemetery", no matter their family origins, get along better than their living counterparts do. That does provide some solace to folks like me.
Well, to bring this history to a close, I would like to relate something of a human interest nature to all who are reading these lines; for I surely do not wish to end this on a bad note.
Shortly before her death, Garnet Collins Hylton (1904-2000), daughter of Alexander, (who actually lived on the property while her father was still alive, and for a time afterward, and attended all the above-mentioned Collins funeral services in the 1910s), expressed in a very sad tone to me her desire to have a 'stone marker' placed at her father, Alex's grave. She said, "it bothers me to no end to think of daddy laying up there on that hill with nothing to mark his grave".
I hope she knows that her father does, indeed, have a permanent gravestone. If she does know... then she just might be with him right now.
"The Collins Cemetery" is well-kept. Services are held there to this day. It is a beautiful, quiet, country cemetery.
GPS Coordinates: 38.34988, -81.49901
- Added: 15 Aug 2010
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #2366066
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