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The View from Puncheon Creek: Who was Shepherd Collins?


Down the road a piece from my house lays the main fork of Puncheon where the fork I live on merges into Puncheon Camp Creek. In the crotch of the forks rests a rounded knoll and in that knoll are housed the last traces of Shepherd Collins. Though unmarked and little known, Shepherd is not alone on this hill side cemetery. He is joined there by his wife and several other family members. Shepherd’s immediate family are I find as follows; 

1. SHEPHERD COLLINS was born 1805 in Kentucky. He married POLLY COLE FINNIES. She was born 1806 in Kentucky.

Children of SHEPHERD COLLINS and POLLY are:
2.i. JOHN COLLINS, b. 1834, Breathitt County, Kentucky; d. February 1886.
3.ii. HIRAM COLLINS, b. 1836, Perry County, Kentucky.
4.iii. SALLY COLLINS, b. 1839, Kentucky.
5.iv. FEREBY COLLINS, b. 1840, Kentucky.
v. SUSANNAH COLLINS, b. 1843, Kentucky.
vi. DICEY COLLINS, b. 1845, Kentucky.
vii. ADAM COLLINS, b. 1851, Kentucky.

Shepherd Collins was Polly’s second husband, Polly first married Elijah Finnies and they had a son named Richard. Polly was the daughter of Richard Cole and Sarah Yates. But who was Shepherd Collins? No one seems to know. I suspected he was in either Vardaman or Valentine’s line but find him not to be. It is as if he had no parents. We know he had to be born to someone so what broke the record of who they were. One way is if both his parents were Native Americans. I think this just might be the case. Shepherd was said to claim as much. Many of his grandkids applied for Indian compensation but none prevailed that I am aware of. So much for Natives being treated fairly. To answer the title question at this time is next to impossible. My speculation is that Shepherd Collins was born a full blood Native who at some point passed for a white man using the English name of Shepherd Collins. I know he emerged from out of the shadows and melted back into them. Maybe it is just as it should be, maybe this man of mystery prefers his burial site unmarked. Lonesome old unmarked graves on a hillside might be best allowed to fade from our collective memory. Be that so, it is still hard for me to watch the past slowly die from neglect.



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