Location: South Carolina
David, Henry, and John Collum were brothers from South Carolina. They were the 2nd great grandsons of the Immigrant John Neil McCollum. The Collum brothers shared a bond. They called it “the ties that bind”.
Submitted by James Ernest Collum from Jones County, Mississippi
The Ties That Bind
By Faye Collum Fairely
David, Henry, and John Collum were brothers from South Carolina. They were the 2nd great grandsons of the Immigrant John Neil McCollum. The brothers were not close in years, but events and life made them close when they were young. Whether the incident was a playful brawl, or a serious conflict with an enemy, the Collum brothers shared a bond. They called it “the ties that bind”. They could not have known that in many years to come, fate would reunite their blood line for all eternity!
Life was full of struggles and hardships. Each member of the family played a part in completing the operation of the unit. From the smallest member to the oldest, each person had a job to do. Family units from that time period were totally different that any family today. There were no vacations, family game nights, movies, or videos. There was no electricity, no running water, and no vehicle to ride in. None of today’s modern conveniences were available in those days. The children learned early in life how to feed the chickens, gather eggs, milk the cow, draw water from a well, cut firewood for heat and fuel for cooking. They kept the yard swept with brush brooms, to keep it smooth; there were no lawn mowers. The laundry was done in a large cast iron wash pot. The clothes were boiled in the pot with lye soap made at home. It took several people to get the laundry done. Water had to be drawn, gather firewood for the fire; the clothes had to be rinsed afterwards, and placed on a fence or line to dry. For a large family, it took an entire day to do the laundry. All this work was in addition to the regular daily chores; it is no small wonder that our ancestors aged faster than we do today. They were not without entertainment in that era; they enjoyed swimming and fishing in the summer. Winter weather offered snow ball fights, and sliding down slopes in the snow as sports. These activities were only enjoyed after home chores were done. The three brothers, David, Henry, and John were familiar with every aspect of hard work.
The oldest of these three brothers was David; he was born in 1774. Another famous man was born the same year; John Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed) was also born in 1774. Both of these men started scattering seeds across many miles. Like Johnny Appleseed, the “seeds” of David were many, and spanned over many miles. A man’s education did not have any impact on his ability to marry and find work. David’s eight children were born in several different states. Employment in that era was mostly limited to trapping, farming, and blacksmith. David was a farmer, and having so many children was an asset to finding work. The only drawback to that career was to relocate quite often. David’s children grew into men and women who followed the lead of their prolific predecessors.
The second of these brothers was Henry. This brother was the most difficult to find information on. My research has been ongoing for more than thirty years, but I could not locate anything concerning my 5th great uncle Henry. I was ecstatic when I researched one of his descendents back and discovered it was my uncle Henry! When he was a young man, somehow, for some reason, he added an “s” to his name. In the 1770’s it was unusual for a man to be educated; typically only the girls were afforded that luxury. For that reason, it is possible that surnames could have been changed over generations, simply from being misspelled. Henry was born in 1779. Like his brothers, Henry led a difficult life with many adversities. Sharing a birth year with Francis Scott Key was not something he boasted about, but by the same token, Francis never mentioned Henry either! The world still enjoys music composed by Francis Scott Key, but there are many descendants who were impacted by Henry Collums and his mark in history. Henry grew into a fine upstanding Christian man and married. Only three children were identified, but it was through his oldest child that I managed to locate Henry. Like the other residents of that era, Henry moved around like a nomad, finding work where it was available.
The third of these brothers was John; he was born in 1780, and was influenced greatly by his older siblings. Like his brothers, he grew into a mature young man, and chose a wife to make a mark in the world. Like his brother David, John shared a birth year with a famous “Chapman”. Nathaniel Chapman was a very famous physician who founded the American Medical Association, and the Journal of the Medical Sciences. John was not especially impressed by Nathaniel Chapman; after all, they both wore diapers at the same time! The children of John were many, but they did not live in the same areas. All the siblings of all the brothers were scattered throughout the southern states, and rarely heard from each other through all the years of child rearing. Keeping in touch at that time was not an easy thing to do. As it is today, it is easy to slip into a lifestyle and the people of yesterday seem to be forgotten.
It was quite possible that David, Henry, and John never saw each other after they were grown. They spent each day caring for the family, and trying to make things better. They taught the children to have strong faith in God, and to raise their families with the same principles. Unlike today, children were taught to cleave to their family apart from the parents. For this reason, most of the siblings of yesteryear did not keep in touch after they were grown. The result of this was the anonymity of each other, even if the relatives ever crossed paths. David, Henry, and John were the ancestors of many offspring, who never knew each other.
Many miles, many generations, and one hundred forty eight years later, a direct descendant of David Collum was born in Texas in 1922. David’s 4th great granddaughter, Kathleen Collum married a man named James Howard Watkins. James H Watkins was a West Point Cadet who was featured on the cover of Life Magazine on November 3, 1941. Watkins was a member of MG US Air Force, in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Because of his most admirable service to our country, he was selected to be interred in a most honorable memorial in San Antonio Texas. Fort Sam Houston Memorial Cemetery is the final resting place for James H Watkins and his beloved wife Kathleen Collum.
Another descendant of David Collum was born in 1936. Thomas Gene Collum was born to John Lihue “Slim” Collum. He was the 3rd great grandson of David Collum. Thomas Gene’s military service included the U.S. Air Force; he received a Bronze Star Medal in Vietnam. He lived in Mississippi when he died, and was transported to San Antonio Texas for interment in Fort Sam Houston National Memorial Cemetery. Thomas Gene had a son named Thomas Dean, who is also interred in Fort Sam Houston Memorial Cemetery. A precious granddaughter of Thomas Gene, Jennifer Leigh, is also interred with the honors deserved of a Veteran’s family members.
The second brother, Henry Collums, is not without pride for his descendants. His 3rd great grandson, Jim Kurg Collums was born in Mississippi in 1909. Jim was a LT Col in the U. S. Army. He served his country with pride, and was selected to spend eternity in his honorary place in Fort Sam Houston Memorial Cemetery. Jim Kurg was married to Helen Billings. Jim’s wife Helen, and their beloved daughter, Charlene, are resting together in blissful harmony with thousands of heroes who served our country.
A sister of Jim Kurg, Ruth Collums, married a man named Boyd Crocker. Boyd was TSgt in US Army World War II. His service earned him a proper place at the Fort Sam Houston Memorial Cemetery. He and his wife Ruth Collums share eternity among many heroes.
The third Collum brother to complete this story is John Collum. His 2nd great grandson, James William Collum, was born in Georgia in 1908. His devoted service as CCS US Navy, World War II, earned him a place among his comrades in arms in Fort Sam Houston Memorial Cemetery. This man was plagued with much grief and torment after his service to our country; sadly, he took his own life.
After many years, the blood line of the famous Immigrant John Neil McCollum has been reunited. They did not know each other in life. It is not known if they knew each other in their military service, but there are three brothers represented in this most honorable Memorial to many heroes. Eleven members of this family are resting in peace in San Antonio Texas in this beautiful awe-inspiring place of honor.
Fort Sam Houston National Memorial Cemetery is the eternal resting place for more than 150,000 heroes in San Antonio Texas. Among these heroes, are eleven recipients of the Coveted Congressional Medal Of Honor. The families who rest here are among the most prestigious Americans. They fought for our country, they sacrificed with no thought of consequences. These heroes are some of the selective few who really know the ties that bind!