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John Mullins and
Mahala Collins

Mahala Collins Mullins Cabin on Newman Ridge 1940s - R C Mullins on right

Mahala Collins Mullins Cabin on Newman Ridge 1940s - 4 Children R C Mullins Standing on Right

Mahala Mullins Collins - Showing Legs Affected by Elephantitis - Which Accounted for Her Size

Mahala Mullins Collins - Showing Legs Affected by Elephantitis - Which Accounted for Her Size

John MULLINS- son of 'Irish Jim' Mullis and Clara Martin, b.1823 in Hawkins/Hancock Co., TN. m. Mahala COLLINS, d/o Solomon Collins and Gincie Goings (aka Goins), ca. 1840. They lived on Newman's Ridge above Vardy, in Hancock Co., TN. Mahala is probably the most famous Melungeon individual. She was extremely obese, as a result of Elephantiasis, and was considered the best bootlegger in the Appalachians, though it is said that family members actually made the liquor (apple and peach brandy were their specialties), and she only sold it. One humorous event, that was actually documented, was when a judge sent a sheriff up the Ridge to arrest 'Haley'. Well, he could arrest her, but, because of her size, there was no way they could get her down the treacherous ridge. After giving up, the sheriff went back to the judge. When the judge asked him where she was, the sheriff replied, "She's catchable, but not fetchable".

Many stories and tales have been made up about Mahala, many of them far-fetched and untrue. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish truth from fiction. When Haley died, it is said that they had to build a coffin around her bed (or out of her bed), and take her out of a space in the wall, where they were about to build a chimney. I've heard that this was untrue, but I'm not sure. She's buried in a family plot near their cabin, which still stands today, up on Newman's Ridge. This is not their original house. They had a house that was burnt down by Confederate raiders, ca.1863, who came looking for 2 of her sons, probably Larkin and Jim, and 1 son-in-law, Howard Collins, Union soldiers that were home on leave. The story goes as follows:

Howard Collins' wife, Jane Mullins, saw the bushwackers coming up the Ridge, and screamed to her husband, who picked up his gun and took a shot at them. They fell back a little to size up the situation. Meanwhile, Haley's boys escaped over a low bluff. The raiders came to the bluff, but didn't get to get a shot off. Howard Collins sprained or broke a finger while escaping, but they got a shot off at the raiders, and got safely away. The sons escaped, but the house was burned, along with most of their possessions. They let the family take their burning bed clothes, but fire broke out in them again. A light blanket of snow was on the ground, and the children were barefooted. Old John was so mad, he loaded up a muzzle with about all it could hold. Then, as the raiders were leaving through the Blackwater Valley below them, he fired at them from the bluff. But, in his anger, he left the ramrod in the gun, and loaded it so heavily, it burst at the end of the muzzle. The ramrod, however, flew all the way across the valley, and stuck in a rail fence, near where the Becky Hurley house was, a short distance west of Vardy Church.

I've also read somewhere (unfortunately, I cannot find these notes) that John Mullins was something of a 'Johnny Appleseed', and planted many apple trees in the areas surrounding the Cumberland Gap (VA, TN, KY, poss. NC), but I don't know how true that is, as I've only read that once. John and Mahala had 20 children, 4 of who died in infancy. Those children are:

Howard Collins and Daughter - Docia Collins

Howard Collins and Daughter, Docia Collins

1. Jane MULLINS b. 1841, m. Howard COLLINS s/o Simeon Collins and Frankie Bunch. Children of Howard Collins and Jane Mullins;

i. Lambert Collins

ii. Monroe Collins

iii. Docia Collins

iv. Cora Collins

v. Kyrie Collins

vi. Carrie Collins

vii. Monleys Collins

viii. Laura Collins

2. Sally MULLINS b 1842 d about 1924 m. Gilbert "Gib" DAVIDSON (aka Jeb) s/o George Goins. Children of Sally Mullins and Gilbert "Gib" Davidson (Goins);

i. Willie Davidson b about 1867 m. (1) Nance Gibson d/o Keener Gibson and Betty Unknown; m. (2) Lindy Moore.

ii. Sarah Davidson b about 1869 m. Cainey Collins s/o Runnel Collins (Runnel was s/o Robin Collins). They moved to Texas.

iii. Laura Davidson b about 1873 m. Richard Gibson s/o Will Gibson and Patsy Williams. Moved to Texas.

3. Millie MULLINS-b.1846, described as "queer", never married. Died around the age of 20.

4. Larkin MULLINS-b.1844, m. Sarah "Aunt Toney" COLLINS.

5. Jim MULLINS-b.1846, Union soldier, moved to middle TN (Stewart Co.?) One source (IGI) says he m. Susan KENNEDY.

6. Burton MULLINS-b.1847, Union soldier, died at Camp Nelson, KY.

7. Eli (Elbe) MULLINS-b.1848, m. Eliza SEALS, dau. of John SEALS.

8. Richard MULLINS-b.1850, Lived with Nance (LAWSON) DULIN (DALEN?). He was murdered somewhere out west (poss. Oklahoma)

9. Jeremiah (Jerry) MULLINS-b.1853, m. Lydia CANTOR, dau. of Tom CANTOR, in TX.

10. Mary Ann MULLINS-b.1854, m. Haines MISER.

11. John MULLINS-b.1855, m.1.Julia Ann GIBSON, 2.Maggie LOVINS

12. Reuben MULLINS-b.1856, m. Elizabeth GIBSON

13. Ollie, m. Olive MISER (see #1,5,2 above)

14. Calvin MULLINS-b. ca. 1860, m. Coose LAWSON, dau. of Rose LAWSON

15. 4 more children died in infancy

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