THOMAS BENTON COLLINS, one of the leading business men of Arlington, is numbered among the veterans of the Civil war, and is a worthy representative of a family who have valiantly aided their country in the m any struggles in which it has been engaged. His paternal great-grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier. He was born in Ireland, and after coming to America took up his abode in Virginia. His son, Barbe G. Collins, was a native of that commonwealth, and at the inauguration of the war of 1812 he raised and commanded a company, taking part in the battle of New Orleans. His son and the father of Thomas B. Collins, Archibald W. Collins, was born in Kentucky in 1806, was taken by his parents to Tennessee, and in 1832 located in Jackson county, Alabama. He, too, enlisted in the defense of his country, serving as a solider in the Florida Indian war. He married Eliza Reid, the daughter of J. B. Reid, and a descendant on the maternal side of John Slavin, a native of the north of Ireland. After coming to America he settled in Virginia, and his descendants afterward located in Kentucky. The Slavins were an old an prominent family in the north of Ireland. Mr. And Mrs. Archibald W. Collins became the parents of five sons. One of the sons, William Joseph Collins, was a veteran of the Civil war, having served as a member of Company I, Forty-first Tennessee Infantry. He came to Texas from Alabama in 1874, and died at Arlington on the 6th of February, 1905. R. W. and M. R. served with General B. Forest.
By the second marriage of the father to Malinda Reid, sister of his first wife, there were two sons and two daughters, T. B. and J. S. and Eliza M. and Mary A. T. B. also served in the Confederate army under General Bragg.
Thomas B. Collins, the eldest of his parents’ five children, was born in Jackson county, Alabama, on the 23d of September, 1838, and was reared to the life of a farmer boy, receiving his education in a primitive log cabin school house. In 1859 he came to Texas, first taking up his abode in Grimes county, and when after Lincoln’s inauguration in March, 1861, it became known that there would be war between the states he began drilling a company in that month, and upon the declaration of war enlisted in company C, Captain D. W. Shannon, Fifth Texas Cavalry, Colonel Tom Green’s Regiment. His first service was in New Mexico and Arizona, participating in the battles of Val Verde, Glorietta and Peralta, and staring east form that country he walked form El Paso to San Antonio, and thence going to Austin joined the Texas troops at Hempstead. Journeying on to northwester Louisiana, he engaged in the campaign against Banks in his first attempt to ascend the Red river in 1863, following which he took part in a number of skirmishes in northern Louisiana, and they were then ordered to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to cover Price’s retreat out of Missouri. Returning south they fought Banks’ army at Alexandria, and later took part in the battle of Mansfield, in which Banks was defeated, also in the battle of Pleasant Hill early in the spring of 1864, and in the same spring the company returned to Houston, serving in the Trans-Mississippi department until the close of the war, being disbanded May 28, 1865. During his service in the army Mr. Collins was made commissary sergeant of his regiment, and near the close of the war became its commissary captain.
At the close of his long military career Mr. Collins returned to Grimes county, and in 1866 went again to this native state of Alabama, where he remained until 1874. While there residing in October, 1867, he was married to Miss Hannah J. Sims, the daughter of Nathan Sims, a farmer. This marriage took place at Estelle’s Fork, where Mr. Collins was engaged in mercantile pursuits and his return to Texas in 1874. He then took up his abode at Poortown, Dallas county, where he opened a store and conducted the same for two years, removing thence to Tarrant county and locating on farm at Arlington, which he long owned and conducted, but during the greater part of the time has made his home in town. In alter years he sold his farming interests, and is now a member of the Arlington Real Estate company, of which he is a manager, and of which Hon. W. B. Fitzhugh and F. R. Wallace are the other members. This firm does a general business in real estate, loans and insurance, and has done a good work in attracting attention to the advantages of Arlington as a residence city and also to the agricultural value of the surrounding country.
Mr. Collins has also taken an active part in the political life of his community, having for two years served as mayor of Arlington, and is also an ex-county treasurer, elected as such in 1892 against three other candidates by a majority of one thousand five hundred and four votes and re-elected in 1894 without opposition in his own party by a majority of nineteen hundred and nine votes. He declined a third nomination, thus establishing a precedent for limiting the term of office of country treasurer by one man to two terms. He has ever been a staunch supporter of the Democratic party, casting his vote in support of its men and measures at each succeeding election, his first presidential vote having been given to John C. Breckenridge.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Collins have been born eleven children, four of whom are deceased, A. S., Joseph and two infants, and those living are W. B.; Mackie, the wife of J. D. Swain; Georgia, the wife of G. W. Goodin; Thomas W., James M., E. S. and Ethel. Mr. Collins has long held membership relations with the Camp of U. C. V. at Arlington, of which he is serving as adjutant. He is a member of the Primitive Baptist church.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 103-104.