Oscar Collins

Oscar and Margaret (Dickson) Osborn Collins

Oscar Collins, who has long been actively and successfully identified with general agricultural pursuits in Allamakee county, is now living practically retired but still owns a valuable farm of two hundred and forty acres on sections 16 and 21, Franklin township, which is one of the most highly improved and most modern properties in the county. His birth occurred in Montgomery county, New York, on the 27th of October, 1836, his parents being Josiah and Elizabeth (Wright) Collins, the former a native of Montgomery county, New York, and the latter of Vermont. Josiah Collins followed farming throughout his active business career, and both he and his wife passed away in Montgomery county, New York. He was a member of the state militia. Our subject was the first born in a family of seven children, three of whom are still living and two of whom are residents of the Empire state.

In the acquirement of an education Oscar Collins attended the district schools of his native county. His father died when he was a lad of but ten years and for the next eight years he lived with an uncle. When a young man of eighteen he began working as a farm hand and was thus employed in New York until the spring of 1857, when he came to Iowa, here working by the month as a farm hand until 1861. He was married in the fall of that year and subsequently cultivated rented land in Monona township, Clayton county, until the winter of 1864. At that time he enlisted for service in the Union army as a member of Company L, Seventh Iowa Cavalry, serving as a private until June, 1866, when he was mustered out at Sioux City. He did hospital service and was fortunate in that he was never wounded. Returning to Monona, Iowa, he rented land and there made his home until 1870, when he took up his abode on an eighty-acre farm in Franklin township which he had purchased in 1868. He erected a small house on the place and continued to reside thereon for ten years. On the expiration of that period he disposed of the property and bought the farm on which he now resides and which he had previously rented for two years. His original purchase comprised one hundred and sixty acres but he has since extended the boundaries of his place until it now embraces two hundred and forty acres of rich and productive land and constitutes one of the best equipped properties in Allamakee county. His buildings are all of modern type of the best construction. Mr. Collins makes a specialty of dairying, keeping about fifty head of high-grade Guernsey cattle and other stock in proportion. He still devotes his attention to the management of the farm but is now practically living retired, leaving the active work of the fields to others. His residence is commodious and modern in every particular and, as above stated, his farm buildings are of the latest and most up-to date construction. The dimensions of his cow barn are eighty-six by thirty-four feet and the building contains sixty-three windows and is fitted with adjustable stanchions, adjustable managers and feed boxes. There are also ventilators to carry away foul air, and fresh air tubes extend to the center of the structure. The ceiling is of the hip-roof, self-supporting style and there are no posts or pillars to interfere with the feed space. The building has a capacity of one hundred tons of hay and there is also space for a car load of ground feed or bran. It is fitted with forty-one stanchions and two large box stalls at the north end. The barns have cement flooring and light is furnished by an acetylene plant.

Mr. Collins has been twice married. On the 14th of November, 1861, he wedded Miss Orpha Melissa Cummings, who was born in Monona township in 1840 and was said to be the first white child born in Clayton county. Her parents were natives of Illinois and her mother a Miss Hannah Rowe before her marriage. Her father became one of the earliest settlers of Clayton county, this state, and there both her parents died. Mrs. Orpha M. Collins passed away in January, 1873, leaving four children, namely: Joseph L., born August 13, 1862, who married Miss Sarah Ferguson and is a hotel proprietor and ex-railroad contractor of Forest Grove, Montana; Eunice, born in January, 1867, who is the wife of Charles Thornton, an agriculturist of Franklin township; Retta, who was born on the 19th of December, 1868, and is the wife of Frank Bloxham, an extensive agriculturist of Franklin township; and Page Wright, born on the 1st of January, 1871, who wedded Miss Charlotta May Adams, and is a farmer residing at What Cheer, Keokuk county.

On the 2d of April, 1874, Oscar Collins was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Margaret (Dickson) Osborn, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 18th of March, 1833. Her parents, William and Margaret (Carmichael) Dickson, were both natives of that country. In early manhood the father worked as a weaver. It was in 1850 and he and his wife emigrated to the United States, residing in New York city until 1857. Coming to Iowa in that year Mr. Dickson purchased a tract of land and made his home thereon until he passed away, his demise occurring during the period of the Civil war. His wife was called to her final rest about 1885. Mrs. Collins was the third in order of birth in their family of seven children, four of whom are still living. Unto Oscar and Margaret (Dickson) Osborn Collins was born one son, Lyman Robert, whose birth occurred on the 4th of November, 1876, and who assist his father in the operation of the home farm.

In his political views Mr. Collins is a stanch republican. He has ably served in the capacity of trustee and acted as school director for a period of fifteen years. The period of his residence in this part of the state covers fifty-six years and he is therefore well acquainted with its history and people. Mr. Collins always has been a pioneer in installing the latest improvements. He built the first modern house, the first successfully operated silo and was the first man in the county to have a milking machine which would milk four cows at the same time. His importance as leader in agricultural developments is well established by these signs of progressiveness. He has now passed the seventy-sixth milestone on life journey and can look back upon an active, useful and honorable career.

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

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