Class photo of Riverdale School circa 1926. Helen Collins Lott is on the back row on the right. 

Today, we will look at John Collins and his connection to John Wesley Hardin, as well as wrap up the history of the family of Joseph and Artie Collins which resided in the home until 1906.

As owner of the Collins House, John C. Brooke was able to conduct several personal interviews to verify the connection between John Wesley Hardin and the Collins family.  

Among those interviewed by Brooke were a former president of the Goliad Historical Commission, a local Goliad historian and members of the Collins family residing in Victoria.  

These interviews along with books written about Hardin were the sources of information which Brooke wrote about in his paper on The Collins House.

According to Brooke, Hardin was related to the Collins family by marriage, and family lore speaks to Hardin having spent time at the Collins home, perhaps as a result of his friendship with John Collins. 

The relationship is further bolstered by Hardin in his auto-biography referring to John Collins as his cousin’s husband and his partner.

It is indeed a fine testament to the life of Artie and Joseph Collins that neither they nor their children were adversely affected by the shenanigans of some of the Collins men folk.  

As previously mentioned, the Collins children grew up to be responsible, productive and law-abiding adults.  

The children were preceded in death by their parents Artemisia Holliday Collins and Joseph Collins, who died in 1913 and 1896 respectively, both buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Goliad.

The children raised in the Collins house were:

• James, born 1868 and died in 1917 “of fever” and buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Goliad.  

• Robert, born 1872. He eventually settled in Starr County and died in 1913. 

• Lemie, born 1873, became the wife of W. B. Pettus, who owned a mercantile store in Goliad and was a local banker. W. B. and Lemie eventually moved to San Antonio where she died in 1956.  

• Custus Lee was born 1875 and eventually settled in Natrona County, Wyoming. “Lee”, as he was known, died in 1945 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Goliad.  

• Roberta Holliday, born 1878, married and became Roberta Howard and lived in Childress County. Her husband served as county judge there. Roberta died in Childress in 1953 and is buried there.  

• The last Collins child was Helen, born 1885 in Goliad and lived in the Goliad area until her death in 1957. Helen married J. B. “Happy” Lott. The family story about their marriage in 1904 is quite romantic.  

One day during Helen’s lunch break, Happy arrived in his surrey with fringe on top to take her to lunch.  Instead of lunch, they decide to go to the Methodist church, where they were married!  

After their honeymoon, they moved into the Collins house with the widowed Artie, where they were said to be inseparable until Artie’s death.  

In 1906, the home and property were conveyed by Artie and the other heirs of Joseph Collins to Helen.  

Happy Lott, so named for his wonderful sense of humor was one of the best educated people in the community and felt strongly about others obtaining the opportunity for education.  

Helen was interested in education as well and devoted several summers to attend schools like Sam Houston and Sul Ross State University to finally become a teacher in 1912.  

Helen taught for many years, in several areas of Goliad County, including Comanche Peak, Riverdale and Berclair.  

The Lotts used the Collins house as a “town house”, dividing their time between it and a ranch house which Happy had inherited.  

In November of 1916, they sold the Collins house to W.M. Neyland.

Contact Shelley Parks at sparks@goliadcountytx.gov.

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