06 August 2016

Appleton P. Collins, Macon City Physician

100_4225Appleton P. Collins was born November 1835 in Macon, Georgia to Charles Collins and Sophia Rossetter.  Appleton graduated from medical school right before the Civil War broke out.  He enlisted 17 May 1861 into Company B of the 2nd Battalion, Georgia Infantry.  Dr. Collins was discharged from that company 1 September 1862 when he was approved to be an assistant surgeon for the Confederate States Army.  His six-page compiled service record file may be viewed online at Fold3.

After the war, Dr. Collins was appointed City Physician for his home town of Macon.  Richard W. Iobst, in Civil War Macon, details the work of the young doctor (1999, Mercer University Press. Pgs. 437 & 438):

The City Council directed Dr. A. P. Collins, the City Physician, to organize a smallpox hospital in July [1865].  With his own money Collins bought suitable furniture including bunks, mattresses, bedding, and cooking utensils to serve a hospital of sixty beds, reporting "The hospital supplies did not cost the city one farthing not even hauling to the hospital." Colonel White, then Commandant of the Post, had allowed Collins the use of an army ambulance to carry smallpox cases from the city to the hospital.  Collins, under the authority of the Mayor and City Council, employed three hospital attendants...By December, through careful management, Collins and his staff had spent only $60 of public money to purchase provisions.  Only two cords of wood were provided by the city because, Collins explained, "I have managed to surmount it [the scarcity of wood] by making the convalescent patients and attendants go to the rear of the hospital and cut old logs and brush." After being forced to turn over the ambulance to the Freedmens Bureau on 27 November Collins used his own team to carry smallpox cases out of Macon to the hospital free of charge to the city.

Since the hospital was organized Collins had admitted and treated about 300 smallpox cases, 275 Blacks and twenty-five whites, treating all of these with medicine, food, nursing, and bedding, and had not received pay or compensation for one third of those he cared for...

Appleton P. Collins married Susan Campbell, daughter of Edward Dorr Tracy, Jr., 15 October 1879.  Dr. Collins was almost 44 years of age, and Susie was just 21.  The couple would have two daughters, the youngest born just a few years before the doctor's death.  This daughter, Sophia Rossetter Collins, would live to be 103 years old.


Dr. Appleton P. Collins died 8 December 1886, just days after his 51st birthday.  The following is from 9 December 1886 Macon Telegraph (full obituary available online at GenealogyBank).


Another Prominent Citizen of Macon Passes Quietly Away.
The death of Dr. Appleton P. Collins occurred yesterday morning at his residence on Madison street at 3:30 o'clock.

His death was not wholly unexpected.  For several weeks he had been confined to his bed by a partial stroke of paralysis, and though everything was done that medical skill and loving, watchful care could do, all hope for his recovery fled a few days ago.

Dr. Collins was fifty-one years old on Sunday, November 28th, and was born in Macon.  His school days were spent here, and though he did not receive a collegiate education, his unusually bright and active mind gave him an advantage that made him the peer of many who had gone through all the books.

When the war broke out he had just graduated with distinction from the Medical College of New Orleans.  The Macon Volunteers, of which he was a member, left Macon for Virginia, and he followed them two weeks later to join them at Norfolk.  A year later he was assigned to one of the hospitals at Richmond as surgeon.

After the war he returned to Macon and was made city physician at a time when the great small-pox epidemic prevailed.  At one time he had about 1,000 cases under his care.  When his term expired he concluded to retire from the practice of medicine, having a sufficiency to live upon.  He made two trips to Europe and extended his travels to the Holy Land, in which he took a great interest.

…About six years ago he married Miss Susie Tracey, who survives him with two children.

His funeral takes place this afternoon from Christ Church, and he will be buried with Masonic honors.

One final note:  Appleton P. Collins' last will and testament is available in the Georgia Wills and Probate Records database at Ancestry.


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