John M. Collins


John M. Collins, a well known grocery and real-estate dealer of Waukon and one of the early settlers in Allamakee county, was born in Lewis county, New York, July 19, 1843. His parents later moved to Kentucky and resided in Mason county, that state, until 1856, when they moved to Iowa, making a permanent location in Taylor township, Allamakee county. Here the father owned one hundred and sixty acres of land, broke the soil, fenced his property and began the work of development, which he carried on along progressive lines for many years, dying upon his homestead at an advanced age.

John M. Collins was a boy of thirteen when he came with his parents to Allamakee county and his childhood was spent amid pioneer conditions. He aided in the opening up of the new farm and afterward in its improvement and development, spending all of his time when not engaged with his books in agricultural pursuits. He acquired his primary education in the public schools and supplemented this by outside study and reading, fitting himself for teaching, an occupation which he followed for twelve consecutive terms, becoming well known in educational circles of the state. He afterward entered public life, accepting in 1880 the position of deputy county auditor and serving in that capacity for four years. In 1884 he was elected auditor and at the end of his first term reelected, afterward serving for nine consecutive years in the office. He was later again deputy auditor and in all served as deputy and county auditor for seventeen years, his public service being at all times loyal, efficient and interested. During his long term in office people from all parts of the county came to Waukon to consult him and to lay before him matters which needed his attention and he was never known to neglect any phase of his public duty. In this way he acquired an extensive circle of friends, all of whom hold him today in the highest honor and esteem. In 1898 Mr. Collins went to Minneapolis and there engaged in the mercantile business, at the same time purchasing a half interest in a dry-goods store at Prairie du Chien. He gave his attention to the conduct of both concerns for one year and then sold out his interests and opened a grocery store in Waukon which in the course of fourteen years he has made one of the largest and most important institutions of its kind in the city. He carries a complete and well selected line of goods and has secured an enviable reputation as a careful and discriminating man of business whose success is the direct result of the energy, honesty and straighforward dealing by which it was attained. Mr. Collins is also well known as a real-estate dealer in Waukon, for he specializes in the buying and selling of improved Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Missouri farming lands. He has made some very judicious private investments and is now the owner of fourteen hundred acres, part of which is improved land. In 1883 he purchased a residence in Waukon and has made it his home continuously since that time with the exception of a year and a half during which time he lived in Prairie du Chien.

On the 1st day of February, 1874, Mr. Collins married Miss B. T. Brazell, a native of Canada, who came to the United States in 1860. The have three sons and two daughters, as follows: John B., who is married and who assists his father in the grocery store; Michael L, a farmer in North Dakota; William J., who is also employed in his father’s store; Mrs. Mary Regan, a widow, who makes her home in Minneapolis; and Nellie, who assists in the conduct of the grocery. Mr. and Mrs. Collins had one other son, Albert, who died in 1900 at the age of fifteen years. The family are members of the Roman Catholic church, and Mr. Collins is a member of the Knights of Columbus. For over half a century he has been a resident of Allamakee county and his labors have been a cooperant factor in the development and advancement of the section. He is numbered among the public-spirited and progressive men of Waukon, giving largely of his time, means and influence in the promotion of projects for the general good. He occupies a prominent position in business, social and political circles and has always shown an interest and abiltiy which have made him a valued member of the community.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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