William Collins’ Demise

The more that I delve into my ancestry and family history, the more unique stories, or old, family tales, that I run across. This history encompasses valiant lawmen, outlaws, murderers and just plain, folks that all helped to tame this rough and tumble State we now call Texas!

William Collins Demise

William Collins was one of my maternal GG Grandfathers and before the Civil War moved his family from Jackson County, Alabama to Dallas County, Texas, along the Trinity River. In 1862, one of his sons, Van, joined the 6th Texas Cavalry with my G Grandfather, Levi Sanders, who in 1858 had married Williams daughter, Susan. Another son Robert, as we’ll find out later, turned out “wrong”.
In 1864, William sold some cattle, it is unknown if they were his cows or not, and was paid in gold. Remember, at that time, Texas was mired in our Country’s Civil War and cold, hard gold was an extremely scarce commodity. William’s neighbors found out about this and:

1. Either hung him, as a means of torture, to get him to tell where the gold was hidden and went a little too far with their efforts and killed him.
2. Or, hung him as a cattle rustler.

My choice is the former.

Now for a real interesting twist. At the time of William’s demise, one of his neighbors was the Shirley family, recently moved to the area after being “burned out” in Missouri for their Southern sympathies. One of the Shirley siblings was Myra Belle Shirley, better known later as Belle Starr, the noted female outlaw!

Back to Robert Collins. Family stories indicate that in 1864 he was forced to enlist in the Confederate Army, and as quick as he could, deserted. Since he couldn’t return to his home, he probably high tailed it to the Indian Territory. Later he joined the Belle Starr gang and even returned to Dallas County and killed some of the men that had hung his Father, William.

Another interesting twist to this story was that in 1873, Belle and her husband, Jim Reed and their gang, robbed a wealthy Creek Indian, who was said to have stolen a large sum of gold from his tribe. Torturing the Indians, they tied ropes around both the Creek and his wife’s neck and “hung” them multiple times until the gave up the location of the stolen hoard.

I wonder where they learned this trick?