Notes of Mary Hollister Stacey:



21 January 1993


Both my grandmother Collins and my grandfather Collins were teachers. I have no idea where or how they met. Grandpa Collins was the only one of the family of six who lived to maturity who left New England for the Wild West in Wisconsin. Grandfather Collins came to Wisconsin to become established and then sent for his family. By that time there were three tots. My mother was the oldest. Uncle Linn was a year and a half younger than mother and Uncle Fred was three years younger than mother. So, when grandfather sent for grandmother she came as her mother had come across the Atlantic with three little children. However these tots were much younger. I am sure that mother was not five years old at the time. Somehow they came most of the way on the Great Lakes. Mother remembered a storm on the lake one night. Grandma sat all-night with her three babies clasped in her arms.

Grandpa taught in country schools for a few years but he was studying medicine and later became a country doctor. I don't know what happened to his old account book. I do wish that I had it. He made house calls for 50 cents and went out to the farms and delivered babies for 5 dollars.

I think that six years elapsed before the arrival of the third son, Edwin, and another period of six years before the arrival of Uncle Will. Then in less than two years Aunt May arrived and the family was complete. Uncle Fred died when he was 21. He had tuberculosis. I don't know how the father managed to send him to Colorado where they hoped he would be cured. I imagine my mother who had started to teach at the age of 15 helped a great deal. When it was apparent that he would not get well he wanted to come home. They continued on to Milwaukee (no trains to Mukwonago). I believe Uncle Linn had to purchase a rough pine box somewhere because that was the only way the railroad would carry him. On arrival in Milwaukee Uncle Linn contacted a family friend who insisted on buying a casket.

Uncle Eddie also died of tuberculosis. I think that he was 30 years old. Again the family collected their shekels and send him to Colorado. I am not sure how long he stayed but he realized that he could not get well and insisted on coming home to die. Aunt May, who married young, told us that she was pregnant at the time of his death. He knew that the end was near and asked her to leave the room because he didn't want horror, in her condition to lead has his death.

The third death (untimely) in the family was that of my grandfather. This was before my birth but I do not know whether it was before Uncle Eddie's. Grandfather still practicing medicine lost a patient and was not sure of the cause of his death. The family wanted an autopsy. During the autopsy Grandfather was cut by one of the instruments he was using. He thought nothing of it and did nothing to stop infection. Blood poisoning started. He had his arm amputated but that did not stop the infection and it resulted in his death.

Notes on the life of Alura Collins Hollister, written by Mary Hollister Stacey, June 1, 1993

(Some quotes from Cousin Florence)

"They never knew if he landed in the USA (this refers to my great grandfather) but Grandmother Cassey (Great-Grandmother) was sure he did and they came here to look for him. The brother died shortly after they came. (I have no idea how my courageous great grandmother supported her family in a new strange land. Careers for women were not so plentiful at that tune and I imagine she had no special talent. But on the other hand, I am sure that there was more concern for a mother with little children at that time and no doubt someone helped. At any rate all except the boy survived.

"Grandma told us often of one thing that always remained in her mind. It seemed as if their home was right near the loading pier and as they were going on board Grandmother Cassey remembered some small thing which she wanted to take with her and sent Grandma back to the house to get it. And when Grandma came running back the boat was just leaving the pier and a sailor picked Grandma up and tossed her to another sailor on board ship. I can hear her now when she said 'so you see, Flodie, how near I was to never having come to the USA.' I wish that I had asked her more about Scotland. She didn't remember too much for she was 6 years old when she came. The brother was older. I don't know his name.

"I have no idea where they docked. Perhaps they came to Boston because I imagine that it would have been quite a task for my great grandmother to bring two or three little children from New York to New England.

"She also told me of sitting on a shed roof to watch the sun go down on Sunday evening. You see their Sunday stared for them on Saturday at sundown and they couldn't play or make any noise, so of course they waited for the Sunday sunset. They were Scotch Presbyterian. Grandma never cooked food on Sunday but she did make tea. I remember cold roast chicken and baked beans and the wonderful sour cream pie. At supper time on Sunday it was bread and mild and mama never ate that because she didn't like milk."

"I don't know how Grandmother was supported, only, Grandma always spoke of the kindness of an Uncle Watt. What he was to them, I don't know. Grandma told me that when she was about 9 years old of holding wool for a weaver and she was paid 10 pennies a day."

This is all that I had from Florence. It isn't about my mother but it does give some background„ I'll send this on and write more very soon of the things I remember that Mother told me and also my own memories.

Emma Spaulding, who was John Bradford's great aunt, wrote me shortly before my mother's death that grandma had England relatives that she tried not to let mother know when they wanted anything because out of her small salary mother would supply the needs of the rest. I really think that Grandpa died before Uncle Eddie. I think that he died before either mother or aunt May had any family,

To the day of her death my mother had a gay youthful laugh. However, she told me that when she was just a little girl some of the New England visited in MIukwonago,. Mother took so much care of her two brothers that one of the relatives said that she looked as tho she had the cares of the world on her shoulders. I think that mother was able to bear a heavy load and not feel sorry for herself. Thus she kept her happy laugh.

Mother went to teach her first school when she was fifteen, 1 do not know what preparation she had had at that time. Of course, the teachers were probably just one jump ahead of the students. She was 35 when she and dad were married so she gave a good many years to the teaching profession. Somewhere along the way, she was able to attend and graduate from Whitewater Normal School. (Now called "Whitewater Teachers' College, I believe). She taught for a number of years in Milwaukee Schools. She was well liked in college and also in her teaching profession.

Mother then told of her long walks to school while teaching in the country. Whenever we had deep snow she would remember climbing over fences to get to her schools. Of course, even when I was teaching in the country it was usually necessary for the teacher to go to school early in order to start a fire in whatever kind of stove was provided. I also remember splitting wood for the stove and I feel sure that did so also.

Two very special days in my childhood showed me how well-liked mother had been and how much she had given up when she married a farmer. Of course, dad was a dear and their marriage was very successful. But she was so gay and happy one day when she had invited all of her college classmates to come out to the farm. Several of them were living in Milwaukee and all seemed to have more of this worlds goods than my folks ever had but mother was very much in the center of the group. Before my brother, Clark, was taken ill, mother used to go every year to Whitewater for the alumni gathering. She was a member of one of the very earliest classes to graduate.

The other special occasion eras the visit ore Professor Chamberlain. He was professor of geology when mother was in college and layer headed the department at the University of Chicago for a number of years. Later his son took his place there. He was at the university of Chicago when he visited in our home. He had come to a lake resort near Mukwonago for rest and study. We all went wandering across the fields with him and he told us about glaciers etrc. Really this was quite a treat.

Notes added by Marian Parks Altschuh, May 30, 1993:

Mary questions where Grandfather Collins account 'bok got to. Gloria and I found it in Boulder when we cleaned out the house at 1504 Pine St. where Louise and William Penn Collins lived. The pages of the book had been used as pages in an album. They were all covered with newspaper and magazine articles and pictures that someone wanted. There was no way to remove them, I am not sure at this time whether Gloria took it to California or I brought it to St. Louis.

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