1889 Bio Index
E. A. COLLINS was a man of decided character, who, though not one of the earliest settlers of Shelby County,did, by his untiring energy, enterprise, and broad, liberal views, become more closely identified with the people of this county than most men of longer residence. Possessing ample means, he came into the county in 1871, and purchased an excellent tract of land in Shelby Township, brought it to a high state of cultivation, made it his home, and took especial pleasure in entertaining a very large circle of friends and acquaintances, who enjoyed his hospitality.
Mr. Collins was born in Pennsylvania, January 31, 1810, being a descendant from the old Pennsylvania Dutch stock. His mother could not speak a word of Engish. He was raised in the mountainous district of his native State, and being inured to the hardships incident to that period, lie grew to manhood possessed of splendid health, and a magnificent physique. He was endowed with a well-balanced mind, and possessed an unusual amount of good common sense. His father died when he was quite young. He was raised by an uncle, who brought him up to the trade of a tanner. November 12, 1833, in his twenty-third year, he was married to Nancy Ann Parkhiser, and there were born to them eight children, four sons and four daughters. Soon after his marriage Mr. Collins embarked in the tanning business for himself upon rather a small scale. A few years after he formed a partnership with Jesse Grant, father of General Grant, and for twelve years they were associated together in making and selling leather, in the meantime they built a large steam tannery on the Ohio River, and as the western country grew and developed they opened a wholesale store in Galena, Illinois, then the Chicago of the West, for the sale of leather, saddlery, hardware, shoe findings, etc. In 1853 the firm of Collins & Grant was dissolved by mutual consent, Mr. Collins continuing in the business with his two older sons, under the firm name of E. A. Collins & Sons; they had branch stores at Marshalltown and Iowa City, and did a very successful business. In 1861 Mr. Collins closed out his business interests and removed to Davenport, Iowa, where he resided about two years. He then removed with his family to Louisiana, and purchased an orange grove in the vicinity of New Orleans, where he resided seven years.
In 1871 he visited Shelby County, purchased a 1,000 acre tract of land,named it Deer Ridge Stock Farm, and devoted his time to improving and developing this place. He stocked it with fine blooded cattle, and for several years farmed it on quite a large scale; at one time he had several bead of buffalo and elk on the farm. Here it was that his first wife died, September 24, 1874, after a long continued illness. Mr. Collins married his second wife, Mrs. Maria Conn, in 1880, who still survives him; there were no children by this second marriage. Mr. Collins continued to make this farm his home until his death, which occurred in April, 1882, at the age of seventy-two years; he left the following Sons and daughters - John S. Collins, Omaha, Nebraska; E. A. Collins, Jr., Yorkshire, Iowa; Mrs. James Franklin, Neola, Iowa, and Mrs. W. F. Cleveland, of this county, since deceased. Mr. Collins was highly respected by all who knew him, for his sterling worth and undoubted honesty. When death removes from our midst such a man as E. A. Collins was, the community meet with an irreparable loss, but his life affords us an example worthy of emulation.
Source: 1889 Biographical History of Shelby County, Iowa, pp. 303-304. Transcribed by Marthann Kohl-Fuhs.