The story of Francis "Frank" Collins is a story of making every tidbit of information count and building as much on preponderance of the evidence as anything. It is a work in progress. It's starts with my attempt to trace the ancestry of my husband's grandmother, Catherine Constance Collins. I have described this is the blog post on her. I started with a wrong birth date, three different Father's names, two different possible birth countries and places (both specific places wrong! one country right). I finally visited my husband's cousin and we went through the photos and things his mother (Catherine's daughter) had left. I found some photos of family in Ireland, the actual birthplace (Williamstown, Galway, Ireland) and in her address book I eventually noticed a name in an address I had never heard, "Leatra". I googled Leatra and found "Collins of Leatra" a family reunion planned for that year. I got in touch with them and found they were the descendants of Catherine's brother, I had found her family. I asked for the name of whoever was most interested in the family history and got acquainted with him via email. He sent me the family data he had which gave me Catherine's parents and grandparents' names. He also sent me a copy of "Leatra Lessons, The Magazine of the Leaatra School Reunion" a magazine or pamphlet published in 1997. It was full of history of the school and the area and had many pictures. Reading it thoroughly I found on p. 31 a list of every tenant living in Leatra in 1852 with the number on a map of where they lived, on p. 32 the names of everyone living in Leatra in the 1901 Census with the same corresponding numbers showing the plot of land where they lived. In 1852, Francis Collins lived on #10. in 1901 Michael Collins and family (including "Kate") lived on #10. I felt that I had found Michael's grandfather, Catherine's great grandfather. I noticed that he also leased land in Islands East where a number of names that eventually became a part of the family also lived (Connolly, Trears, Kearns).
Searching for anything related to Francis I found a lease made on 2 Apr 1839 for a house and offices at Williamstown for the term of the lives of his two eldest sons, Thomas Collins and Patt Collins.In the Irish Petty Court Session Records I found several records of "Frank Collins, landholder of Lettera, Parish of Templetogher" involving various disputes with neighbors in 1856, 1860 and 1861. At some point after this I went back over my notes from the microfilm of the Parish records of Templetogher which I had borrowed from the LDS Library. Here I found in the listing of deaths, "1861, Sep 25, Frank Collins, Leatra". And 1859, Dec 8, Mary Collins , Leatra".
The names Francis, Thomas and Patrick appear frequently in the family. In fact I suspect that Francis' name was actually William Francis as that is the name the frequently appears. I believe that John had a son named William Francis born in 1850, he then named a son the same. John's grandson, Patrick named a son William Francis. Michael's other two sons gave a son the middle name of Francis. Francis' son Thomas had a son William as well. Among the next generation there were two Williams and one Francis (and I have not necessarily been able to trace the complete families of everyone). The names Patrick, Thomas, John and Michael all appear frequently as well (Michael is my husband's middle name, Patrick is his brother's middle name). Perhaps this is not conclusive but until more data comes along it is at least a start.
Based on the ages of his sons my estimate of the birth date of Francis is 1785, this would have made him about 76 when he died. He was called a landholder in the Petty Court Sessions so he was relatively well off. Hopefully I will be able to find more about him and find his parents!