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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
James William Collins

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 460-463 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Portrait of James William Collins

Portrait: James William Collins

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When on the 15th of January, 1923, death claimed James William Collins, Little Falls lost one of her best known and most respected citizens. For about two years previous to this he had been ill and confined to his home, and the end came shortly after a general collapse suffered a week or so before his death. He was born in Little Falls, on the 9th of October, 1870, and, was the son of the late Dennis and Margaret (O'Hearn) Collins. The father was born in Ireland, but lived most of his life in this city, coming here with his parents when he was only a boy. He was one of the city's most prominent men and a leading business man, having conducted a grocery store at No. 600 East Main street for many years prior to his retirement in 1900. The mother was a native of the Empire state, her birth having occurred near Fort Covington. Her brother, Michael, was a veteran of the Civil war.

James William Collins was educated in St. Mary's school of this city, following which he entered Niagara University, where he pursued a lengthy course in both classical and theological subjects. After he returned from the university he was associated with his father in the grocery business until a period of ill health forced the latter to retire in 1900. At that time he and his brother, Edward F. Collins, took over the business, which they ran for some years under the firm name of Dennis Collins' Sons. Some fourteen years before his death Mr. Collins and his brother sold out to Kearney & Nash, who now conduct the business at that location, and from that time on Mr. Collins devoted himself to the management of his extensive real estate interests.

In politics Mr. Collins was a republican and for two terms was a member of the board of public works, being president of the board for one term. He became deeply interested in this work and gave to it earnest, conscientious effort. During the World war Mr. Collins was active in each of the Liberty and Victory Loan drives and gave his active support to the work of the Red Cross. Throughout his life he was interested in the work of St. Mary's parish of this city as a member of the church, a third degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the Holy Name Society, while his position in the business life of the city made him an influential member of the Little Falls Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Collins was a man of many likeable characteristics with a wholesome love of fun. Baseball, the theatre and golf were sources of much enjoyment to him and he long held membership in the Little Falls Country Club.

On the 27th of November, 1901, Mr. Collins was united in marriage to Miss Julia Sweeney, daughter of the late Patrick and Ellen (Carey) Sweeney, both of whom were natives of the County Kerry, Ireland. They came to this country as young people, however, and passed away in Little Falls, where they made their home following Patrick Sweeney's retirement from active life as a farmer. Their daughter, Mrs. Collins, was born in the town of Manheim, New York, where she obtained her early education in the public schools, later attending the high school at St. Johnsville, from which she was graduated. Mrs. Collins is a member of St. Mary's church of this city and takes a deep interest in all the work of the parish. Philanthropic work has been her especial hobby and in addition to being one of the guiding spirits in St. Mary's Charitable Society she has served on the local board of associated charities for three years and belonged to the Child Welfare Board of Herkimer County. Her political affiliations are with the republican party. Mr. Collins is survived by his widow and two children, a son and a daughter, namely: Mary Catherine, born in Little Falls, on July 7, 1911; and Dennis James, also born here, on November 26, 1912. A brother and two sisters of Mr. Collins are living: Edward F. Collins and Miss Louise Collins of this city, and Mother Mary Margaret of the Order of St. Joseph.

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