Benjamin Grier Collins


Coming to Conway and Hiring to Franklin G. Burroughs

Instrumental in Many Business Ventures That Succeeded

(Editor’s Note: The following obituary is taken from The Horry Herald, Conway, SC, August 22, 1929, H. H. Woodward, Editor, who wrote the article. Mr. Collins and Mr. Woodward were great friends and for years were the only two known Republicans in the Count;y. Miss Mitchelle Collins who resides in the old Collins home over the Gully says, “Papa always spoke of Mrs. Mayo as Old ;Mrs. Mayo and she died at 47. That was the way then. Today that’s young!” Others have told of Mr. Collins’ manner of beginning a statement, “I’m a liar,” he’d say--as “I’m a liar if I ever heard that before!”)

The funeral rites of Benjamin Grier Collins took place here on Thursday, August 15th, the officiating ministers being the Rev. G. E. Edwards, Presiding Elder of Marion District and the Rev. Mr. Dugan, pastor in charge of the Conway Methodist Circuit.

The funeral services commenced in the Conway Methodist Church of which Mr. Collins had been a most faithful and useful member for all of the time since the establishment of the church many years ago. Interment was in the Methodist Church cemetery in the corner of a lot of land to which Mr. Collins had title and which bounds the church property on one side. Between the lot on which he was buried and the adjoining property had been erected sometime ago a brick retaining wall and this will separate the church lot and burying ground from the business section of Conway. Thus Mr. Collins was placed near the center of the town that he helped to build and in which he lived a long and useful life, doing much good for those with whom he was associated and always working for the general good of the entire community.

He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Laura Collins and ten children as follows: Mrs. Ola B. McWhite, Mrs. D. Allen Spivey, of Conway, Mrs. Janie Cooper, of Mullins; Miss Mitchell Collins of Conway; Mrs. Naomi Register of North Carolina: Mrs. Ruth Stansel of this State; and Mrs. A. C. Thompson of Conway; and his sons, Messrs. A. Thurman Collins, Harry S. Collins and Malcolm W. Collins, all of Conway. Mr. Collin was married when young to Miss Laura Jane Cooper who survives him. He came to Conway in early manhood just after the close of the civil war. The place was a mere village at that time. Deep sand covered the roads which would and twisted between giant oaks and pines from the edge of the lake and river to and over the hills and valleys which now make up a town that is large and rapidly growing. There were only a few wooden shops and just a few years before that time the late Franklin G. Burroughs had come down from the State of North Carolina, adopted Conway and Horry as his home and had established on the hill beyond the deep gully, a country store with turpentine stills and in this business employed more or less men.

Was an Orphan

Mr. Collins was an orphan. He had been reared in the poverty of an humble country home of a man and his wife who had taken pity on the fatherless boy and had given him a home where they lives on the banks of the Pee Dee river at what has since been known as upper Topsaw. The site of the place where Mr. Collins spent his youth with the family who adopted him has long since rotted and decayed, and since that time Russell Cooper a dirty farmer of the old school of farming cleared up more than a hundred acres of the rich lands lying in the tract on which stood the humble little home in which Mr. Collins spent his boyhood days. Old Russell has long since passed away at a great age and the house which he built on this same tract is now fast going into decay; the lands are lying out or were practically that way some time ago when the writer saw them. It is in an isolated section of Georgetown County and near the place there is living only a few people. The situation there was different during the lifetime of Russell Cooper who became the purchaser of the land about thirty years ago.

Poverty to Riches

Going back to the time when Benjamin Grier Collins arrived here in search of work. He was then a very young man and he had been taught the habits of thrift and temperance in all things which he practiced throughout the long life that was allotted to him. He applied to Franklin G. Burroughs for a position and was hired as a driver of one of the turpentine wagons at the wages of fifty cents per day. The young man kept his own quarters for the time and he accomplished his own cooking and washing. In the course of time his position was advanced. Mr. Burroughs found that young Collins was a real good business man and after a few years he was taken in as a member of the partnership of Burroughs & Collins. He remained in this partnership and helped in the establishment of stores at Cool Springs, Socastee, Port Harrelson, Bayboro and Nixonville, all of which places became thriving branches of the parent store which was located where the Conway Hospital now stands, and was known throug about half a century as the Gully Store. It was the largest business in the county for all that time. With the branches which extended through the wide territory of a big county, it was worth a huge sum of money and in the course of the business which it conducted the company acquired large acreages of land.

Was Incorporated

About the year of 1895 the co-partnership business was changed to a corporation, the Burroughs & Collins Company and under the charter then obtained it has been continued; the stores at other points in the county were wound up and closed. All of the business was conducted from the Gully Store in Conway which Store, the parent of all the others, had from time to time been enlarged and improved. In the year 1910-11 the large brick building which now houses the Burroughs & Collins Company was erected by H. P. Little and the entire business of the company, including the real estate offices and the large stock of furniture, hardware, drygoods and notions were moved down town on the eastward side of Main Street where the offices are today. It was soon after that time when Mr. Collins sold and disposed of his entire stock in the large business, and since that time he had not been connected with the business which he helped to found and which still bears his name. In the course of his long life and active business career he acquired large private interests. After the sale of his interest in the company, he devoted his attention to other concerns in which he had large interests.

Big Boat Line

He and his firm were the founders of the Waccamaw Line of Steamers which plied the Waccamaw River for a quarter of a century and afforded to this county the only means of transportation for her varied and sundry products, and without this advantage the county would not have made the wonderful progress which marked her through all these years. When Mr. Collins first engaged in business here there was no bank. The town and the county needed an institution of that sort and it was Mr. Collins and his firm in which he was largely interested that put up the funds for the establishment of the Bank of Conway. It is remembered that the bank was operated first in a small office in the rear of which were the offices of Johnson & Quattlebaum, leading attorneys of the time. This little bank was just across the street on the corner opposite the Commercial hotel, at that time operated by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hardee. The widow of the latter survived her husband and ran the first Conway hotel for years and years afterward and died there ten years ago or more. From the small wooden quarters in the offices of Johnson & Quattlebaum, the bank grew under the skillful management of D. Allen Spivey, one of the sons in law of Mr. Collins. In the course of time the bank building which now houses the Peoples National Bank on a prominent corner resulted from the first efforts at making a bank, and the institution is now one of the largest in this section of the State. Mr. Collins was a director at the time of his death. It is understood that Mr. Collins, who was connected with the bank for many years in an active way, was still interested as a large stockholder in the institution at the time of hs death. He was interested in the Kingston Hotel and in ;many other business enterprises of the town. He never forgot the poor and needy. His church was his first thought. Deeply religious he was a friend and guild of young churches everywhere. He gave liberally to the church and many charitable institutions. His estate would run more than half a million dollars and his last will and testament it is understood divided his property among his ten children after a life estate in his widow. Whether this will has yet been admitted to probate could not be learned.

The deceased was born on October 6th, 1845, and was therefore very near his eighty-fourth birthday.

The active pall bearers at the funeral were all grand-children of the deceased: Bayliss Spivey and Collins Spivey, Ringnald Thompson, A. C. Thompson, Jr., and Ben Thompson of Conway and Jack Stansel of Lumberton, N. C., the honorary pall-bearers were: F. A. Burroughs, H. L. Buck, J. C. Spivey, H. W. Ambrose, C. H. Snider and J. H. Marsh.

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