October Brings Memories
October, when the weather cools and the fall season begins, must have been a time for reminiscing for Acworth pioneer John Collins. He would have had vivid memories of the American Revolutionary War in the fall. See, it was October of 1780 when Collins, a true patriot, fought with the colonists in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.
Kings Mountain was a pivotal moment in the Southern campaign for the colonies’ independence. The surprising victory of the patriot militias over the loyalists came after a string of rebel defeats at the hands of Britain’s Lord Cornwallis, and greatly raised the patriots’ morale.
But, Kings Mountain was not Collins’ only memory of the Revolution. With an impressive record, Collins served three tours during the war. His first service, at only 15 years old, was with the South Carolina Militia in 1775 during a Native American conflict at Seneca River. As his service continued, he was taken prisoner during the fall of Charleston. Released, he re-enlisted with the North Carolina Militia, serving in the Battle of Briar Creek, near Augusta, but was again captured by the Tories. Sentenced to be hanged, 20-year-old Collins escaped, re-enlisted for the third time and served at Kings Mountain (October, 1780), Cowpens (January, 1781) and Yorktown (September, 1781) before the war ended.
Capt. John Collins (1760-1852), his wife Phebe Sailors and son Daniel (1813-1890) settled in Acworth during the 1830s. Collins built a central hallway-style farmhouse atop a small rise, where it still stands today. The farm, on which the home sat, was more than 200 acres, and probably extended to present day Lake Allatoona. The home on Collins Avenue has been modified over time to accommodate family growth, and, uniquely, is still the home of John Collins’ seventh and eighth generations of descendants.
John, Phebe and Daniel were all founders of Liberty Hill Baptist Church in 1840. In 1846, Daniel married Isabella Lemon, a sister of Smith and James Lile. By the 1920s, the family had grown considerably. Daniel’s son, J.F. Collins, had eight sons — Jack, Dee “Judge Daniel,” Cliff, Ernest, Jim, John, Norman and Roy. J.F. started a furniture store in 1886 on Main Street. From chair and furniture manufacture to special-order casket construction, the business evolved into embalming and funerals by 1898. In 1900, son Ernest followed J.F. into the business as a licensed embalmer.
With its start in 1886 as a furniture store, the Collins Funeral Home (now known as Marietta & Collins Funeral Homes and Crematory) has the distinction of being the oldest continuous business in Acworth. Two residential buildings, built in the city’s prosperous 1880s, were joined in the 1920s to house the funeral home; the furniture store remained in the business district. Prior to J.F. Collins’ expansion into funerals, caskets were made special-order by chair and cabinet makers. The funeral home remained in the family for more than a century.
– Abbie Parks, an Acworth resident, co-authored pictorial essays on regional history and collaborated on a book celebrating Acworth’s 150th birthday that featured anecdotal history and family photographs.