Filed Under Walker County

Millie Collins, The Woman at the Cabin

Descendants of the Samuel Calhoun family shared the black and white photo of a woman standing before a cabin who is referred to as Millie Collins. It is identified in a 1979 rendition of the Calhoun Plantation that she lived in her own cabin which is in the background of the photo. [1] In addition, notations on the back of the photo indicate she served as a caretaker for the Calhoun family over several generations, first for the two youngest children Ella and Louis Calhoun, and then for two granddaughters including Catherine Calhoun, daughter of Louis who was named after her grandmother. [2]

“Millie Collins born before 1863 – nursed Aunt Ella and Louis Calhoun – then lived to nurse Mother and Aunt Catherine (Millie had her own cabin facing the road according to the Samuel Calhoun Plantation Home Rendering in 1979.) Given to us by Aunt Catherine Christmas ’77.”

Further research to locate the whereabouts of Millie following the death of Samuel in 1871 and his wife Catherine prior to 1880 resulted in locating her under the Louis Calhoun household in the 1900 census although identified as “Millie Ashley.” Also discovered was a son Marshall along with three other boarders.[3] Millie is located with her son Marshall but under his own household in the 1920 census [4] and once more in the 1930 Census with a younger son Lumen under his household [5]

Due to the lack of records that have accurate dates of birth, her year of birth changes among each of the census she is found in. If she was in fact born in1850, the earliest year recorded found in the 1880 census, we can then identify her as a ten year old slave in the Samuel Calhoun 1860 census [6].

Beginning in 1872 Millie began to have her own children including Eliza (1872), Owen (1874), Pracilla (1879), Jo (1879). Marshall (1880), Sealy (1881), Lumen (1889), and Plinny (1900.) [7]

Unknown at the time is if her cabin remained unchanged as her physical home on the Calhoun Plantation, and whether who she was listed under for record purposes was the only change which actually occurred. The discovery of the 1900 Census and the death certificate for her daughter Pracilla Ashley Vinson helped to recreate the life story of Millie, her children, and the Calhoun families she took care of. Prascilla’s family records helped us determine that Millie lived to be 90 years old at the time of her death in 1940. [8]

Efforts are ongoing to locate others who lived and worked on the Calhoun Plantation who have not yet been identified but are among those recorded on the Schedule II Slaves Schedules of Samuel Calhoun for the years 1850 and 1860. [9]

Images

Millie Collins, also known as Millie Ashley
Millie Collins, also known as Millie Ashley Millie Collins at her cabin on the Calhoun Plantation, date not specified. Source: “Millie Collins, date unknown, Calhoun Family Archive” - Not to be replicated or further used without the express written consent of the Calhoun Cemetery Association.
Millie Collins photo, back.
Millie Collins photo, back. The photo reads as: “Millie Collins born before 1863 – nursed Aunt Ella and Louis Calhoun – then lived to nurse Mother and Aunt Catherine (Millie had her own cabin facing the road according to the Samuel Calhoun Plantation Home Rendering in 1979.) Given to us by Aunt Catherine Christmas ’77.” Source: “Millie Collins, date unknown, Calhoun Family Archive” - Not to be replicated or further used without the express written consent of the Calhoun Cemetery Association.
Calhoun Plantation Rendering
Calhoun Plantation Rendering A rendering of the plantation recreated in 1979. Source: “Samuel Calhoun Plantation Home Rendering, 1979, Calhoun Family Archive” - Not to be replicated or further used without the express written consent of the Calhoun Cemetery Association.
Millie and the Calhoun Family on the front porch.
Millie and the Calhoun Family on the front porch. Back of photo text: “Reproduction of (unclear) Aunt Catherine. Has old Calhoun home in Walker County Texas. Louis Calhoun (My Grandfather is seen standing second from the left).” Source: “Front porch of old Calhoun home, date unknown, Calhoun Family Archive” - Not to be replicated or further used without the express written consent of the Calhoun Cemetery Association.
1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules for Sam Calhoun." Page 1.
1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules for Sam Calhoun." Page 1. The individuals listed beginning on line 17 are the enslaved people of the Calhoun Plantation in 1860, the list continue onto page two where we have located Millie on line 7 or 8. Source: “1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules for Sam Calhoun.” Page 2, Line 7 & 8. Ancestry.com, accessed April 21, 2024. https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/92425917:7668?_phcmd=u(%27https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7668/?name=_calhoun&count=50&residence=_walker-texas-usa_3014&successSource=Search&queryId=78f15169-480c-43b1-afdb-4fd17135cb40%27,%27successSource%27)
1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules for Sam Calhoun." Page 2.
1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules for Sam Calhoun." Page 2. The listing of individuals is a continuation from page one, we can identify two ten year old females on lines 7 & 8. If the 1850 birth year is accurate according to 1880 Census records we have identified Millie on this schedule. Source: “1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules for Sam Calhoun.” Page 2, Line 7 & 8. Ancestry.com, accessed April 21, 2024. https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/92425917:7668?_phcmd=u(%27https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7668/?name=_calhoun&count=50&residence=_walker-texas-usa_3014&successSource=Search&queryId=78f15169-480c-43b1-afdb-4fd17135cb40%27,%27successSource%27)
1880 United States Federal Census, Line 24
1880 United States Federal Census, Line 24 1880 is the first and only year we find Millie identified as the widowed head of household, along with four of her children. Source: 1880 United States Federal Census: Schedule I.” Entry for Millie Ashley, her own household, Line 24.” Ancestry.com, accessed April 20, 2024. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6742/images/4244803-00151?pId=8139389
1900 U.S. Federal Census
1900 U.S. Federal Census The record is of the 1900 U.S. Federal Census for the household of Louis Calhoun, son of Samuel and Catherine Calhoun. Millie Ashley is listed, along with her son Marshall, as boarders of the residence. This item confirms Millie was caretaker to Louis Calhoun as the photo of her has indicated. Source: “1900 United States Federal Census: Schedule No. 1” Entry for Millie Ashley, Louis Calhoun Household, Line 7. Ancestry.com, accessed April 20, 2024. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7602/images/4118569_00615?pId=44449206

Metadata

Rebecca Mendoza, “Millie Collins, The Woman at the Cabin,” East Texas History, accessed May 26, 2024, https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/391.