Antoine Collins

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Antoine Collins (Also seen documented as Antonio and Anthony) was an early resident of territorial Florida during the antebellum period who operated the Collins Hotel along with his wife and served as Escambia County Sheriff from 1847 to 1851. He also served on the city's Board of Aldermen in 1834, 1847 and 1848.[1]

Family[edit]

Antoine Collins was born approximately 1785[2] in Mississippi Territory, West Florida, Spanish Territory. It is not clear when he emigrated to Pensacola, Florida (likely with Francisco Collins, another resident of the city, who names a son Antonio). By 1810 he had married Mary Pyburn,[3] the daughter of Tensaw settlement pioneers Jacob and Frances Pyburn.[4] Her father, Jacob Pyburn signed an oath December 1784 to the Spanish King [5] and is listed as a resident on the 1785 and 1786 Spanish Censuses for Tensaw.[6] and his wife is found in the 1787 and 1789 Spanish Census for the areas, as well as in the American State Papers, Volume 1, for a land claim under the name of Francis "Fanny" Steele. Frances Pyburn, nee Mullis married William Steele November 22, 1798. [7]

The Household of Antonio Collins in 1820 included the following [6]

  1. Antonio Collins
  2. Mary Paiban Collins
  3. Teresa Collins (actually Innerarity, her marriage record states she is the daughter of James Innerarity and Mary Pyburn)[8]
  4. Jaime Collins (James, presumed to be a son of James Innerarity) [9]
  5. Eulalie Collins
  6. Mary Louisa Collins
  7. Antonio J. Collins
  8. Cecelia Collins
  9. Phoebe Paiban Turvin, widow


The son of Antoine Collins, Antoine J. Collins, killed Charles Winters in a bar fight in October 1853. He then escaped the Pensacola jail and fled to Texas.[10]

Eulalie Collins married Horace Higley in Pensacola, Florida May 15, 1827. Mr. Higley became a banker in Mobile, Alabama, where the couple resided. Their son John Hunt Higley was a prominent soldier from Alabama during the Civil War.

Mary Louisa Collins married Alexander Hamilton Bowman in Pensacola, Florida February 19, 1835. Alexander Bowman was a graduate of West Point, an army engineer, and was the superintendent of West Point during the Civil War.

Cecelia Collins married four times Her second husband was John W. Rochelle, they were married June 25, 1849. He was both a soldier and plantation owner. She had one daughter with Mr. Rochelle, and one son with her fourth husband Francis L. Norton, they were married August 13, 1859.

The stepdaughter of Antoine Collins, Teresa Robina married Adam Cornelius Hollinger of Baldwin County, Alabama in 1821 in Pensacola. His stepson James is never found again in records.

Antoine Collins' children left the city of Pensacola and resided in Mobile, Alabama and Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

Antoine Collins killed himself December 1865 by jumping out of a third story window at a hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The following news article details his death.

New Orleans Times, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 29, 1865

"Antoine Collins, aged about 80 years, committed suicide in Philadelphia by jumping from a third story window of the United States hotel. Deceased was a proprietor of a large hotel in Pensacola, Fla and during the war lost all his property. He had recently been subject to fits of temporary derangement."

He is buried in Union Cemetery, presumably in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[11].The data states he was married, and not widowed, but no death information or burial has been found at this time for his wife Mary Collins.

Life in Pensacola[edit]

Census records for 1850 and 1860 indicate that Mary Pyburn and her son, Antoine Collins, Jr. owned slaves, but that Antoine Collins Sr. did not. The 1860 United States Census for Escambia County also shows Antoine Collins net worth as $ 500 for private property in 1860, but his wife Mary had a net worth of $8000 real estate and $14000 for private property. His daughter Cecelia, at this time the wife of Francis Norton, is listed with private property valued at $1500. Perhaps bringing truth to the words penned by resident I. A. Allen in the Pensacola Journal, that "his wife was said to be a long ways better man than he." [12]


Antoine Collins purchased Phoebe Turvin's land shortly after it was affirmed in 1831 by the United States Government.[13]. The location of his plantation, and that of Phoebe's is north of the city of Pensacola. The term the Antoine Collins Grant is still used to refer to the geographical areas of the original land patents and is located near the modern day town of Molino. [14]

Newspaper accounts reported nationwide the fire at the hotel run by the Collins in 1841, and then again in 1852 when their was a second fire this time at their home.[15] In 1841 after the first fire, Mary and Antoine moved the hotel to their plantation, named Live Oaks [12], and rebuilt the hotel.[16] According to I. E. Allen, the hotel was called the St. Mary Hotel.As Mr. Allen states, the Collins Hotel often had balls, some of these events made it into society news in papers throughout the country. [17][12]

Lifetime Events of Note[edit]

In November 1818, an article in the Mississippi State Gazette, Natchez Mississippi (picked up nationwide) reports that Antoine Collins recently arrived in Mobile, and reported the city of Pensacola was to be given over to any Spanish authority by Col. King. A similar article appeared in February 8, 1819 in the Mobile Gazette, and was picked up nationwide, that Jacob Pyburn, Antoine's nephew by marriage, had recently arrived to Mobile and reported of a force of Spanish ships that had recently arrived at Pensacola.

Antoine Collins provided information on the British to the Americans during the War of 1812.[18]

In one anecdote, Uriah P. Levy, then commander of the war sloop Vandalia, was in Pensacola and called Collins "a damned blackguard," after which Collins proceeded "to wring his [Levy's] nose severely, without [Levy] making any resistance." For this, Levy was charged with cowardice by his commanding officer.[19]

References[edit]

  1. List of Aldermen
  2. [His age in the 1850 census is listed as 63, in 1820 it is 40, and in 1860 it is 67 . His age on the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania death record states his age is 80 in 1865.Year: 1850; Census Place: Pensacola, Escambia, Florida; Roll: M432_58; Page: 131A; Image: 257,Year: 1860; Census Place: The Country, Escambia, Florida; Roll: M653_106; Page: 418; Image: 423; Family History Library Film: 803106,Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803–1915." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2008, 2010. From originals housed at the Philadelphia City Archives. "Death Records."]
  3. [This information is obtained from two sources. Mary's maiden name is listed Paiban in the 1820 Spanish Census of Pensacola, as transcribed by Coker, William S. "Spanish Census of Pensacola 1784-1820". It is also found in an article in the Pensacola Journal, April 2nd, 1905, Second Section, in an article by I. E. Allen http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87062268/1905-04-02/ed-1/seq-9/;words=Pyburn+Marie+Marys?date1=1836&date2=1922&searchType=advanced&lccn=sn87062268&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=&andtext=mary+pyburn&dateFilterType=yearRange&index=1]
  4. [Baptism of Mary Pyburn at home of her mother Francis Pyburn, American Nov 5, 1788. Records at Archdiocese of Mobile. Date of birth September 1784.]
  5. [Holmes, Jack D. (1971) "The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol33 No. 2" pp87-97, Birmingham:Alabama Historical Society http://digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/quarterly&CISOPTR=1069&REC=6]
  6. 6.0 6.1 [Feldman, Lawrence H. "Angloamericans in Spanish Archives", Genealogical Publishing, 1991. Lists residents for 1785 under Louisiana Tensas]
  7. [Records at the Archdiocese of Mobile, Mobile Alabama.]
  8. [Recorded at the CatholicChurch in Pensacola, I have been told the Archdiocese records for this period are in Mobile and not Pensacola]
  9. [Jaime's baptism is included in the estate papers of James Innerarity, Panton and Leslie Papers, University of West Florida, Baptised 1808, no father listed. Godparents John and Isabelle Greenwood]
  10. Times Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana, October 5, 1853, and Daily Alabama Journal, Montgomery, Alabama November 9, 1853.
  11. [Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803–1915." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2008, 2010. From originals housed at the Philadelphia City Archives. "Death Records."
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 [Pensacola Journal, April 2nd, 1905, Second Section, in an article by I. E. Allen http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87062268/1905-04-02/ed-1/seq-9/;words=Pyburn+Marie+Marys?date1=1836&date2=1922&searchType=advanced&lccn=sn87062268&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=&andtext=mary+pyburn&dateFilterType=yearRange&index=1]
  13. [Spanish land grants are digitalized online at http://www.floridamemory.com/collections/spanishlandgrants/ Spanish Land Grants and indexed by name. The information is also in Volume 3 of the American State Papers, Land records, available in most libraries, which is also indexed (available online)Chelsea Title and guarantee company, 2 pages, Land Commissioners to Phoebe Turvin, Phoebe Turvin to Antonio Collins.]
  14. [The land that Phoebe Pyburn Turvin sold to Antonio Collins was bordered by the Francisco Collins grant and if further north. Both the Antonio Collins Grant and Francisco Collins Grant have GNIS coordinates.]
  15. [New Bedford Register, New Bedford, Massachusetts, March 10, 1841, also in the Times Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 25, 1841, and several others in 1841. Daily National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C., October 28, 1852, picked up from the Mobile Advertiser on October 19th.]
  16. [Times Picayune, New Orleans, July 29, 1858 mentions a man leaping out of a window at the Collins Hotel]
  17. [National Gazette, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 22, 1827 and Charleston Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, March 29, 1827]
  18. [Jackson, Andrew; Smith, Sam B; Owsley, Harriet;Moser, Harold (1996) Tennessee:University of Tennessee, p305 and 507 http://books.google.com/books?id=lBedSM3L4qIC&pg=PA305&dq=antoine+collins+pensacola&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AHX2T8HRLsqqrQGg6ayLCQ&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=antoine%20collins%20pensacola&f=false
  19. James E. Vale. Rocks and Shoals: Naval Discipline in the Age of Fighting Sail. Naval Institute Press, 1996.