Collis ancestry

Spend some time this long weekend trying to decipher Collis ancestors. Jesse Richardson Collis’ parents are going to take a little work. And this gets into the area where there’s a lot of copied family trees in, but does anyone have the right information – or – is everything copied from the same wrong source? So, let’s take it backwards. From my cousin, here’s a picture of Jesse’s mother labeled Rittie Collis.

According to, Rittie Collis is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Union County, GA. She was living with Jesse during this time frame and they were in the Northern part of Georgia in Murray and Fannin Counties. Union County is in north Georgia, adjacent to Fannin County. According to the headstone, she died October 18, 1890.

So, these seems to agree with each other. She’s not that old in her photograph, but it’s unknown when the photo was taken. Rittie is a pretty unusual name also. Is it short for Henrietta or Harriette? Rittie can also be a surname.

In the 1880 Census, Ritta (or possibly Rittie) was shown as the mother of the head of household (Jesse) and was 67 yo, born in North Carolina with parents born in Virginia.

Ritta or Rittie…I don’t trust census takers. But, I’d say they’d be pronounced the same way, so I go with Rittie born in about 1813. So far, so good.

So, now ten years earlier in the 1870 census, we have Jesse (20 yo) and his wife Elizabeth (18 yo) living with “Rachel” who is 67 years old in Fannin County, GA. So, who is Rachel Collis? You’d assume this would be Jesse’s mother living with him. Can you blame the census taker for writing Rachel when he was told Rittie? And this lady was born about 1803. I don’t know.

They can’t be found in the 1860 census. Jesse would have been 10 yo and they were somewhere between North Carolina and Georgia.

In the 1850 census, Jesse (2 yo) {I don’t know why this is 2 years off from the later censuses} is found with his siblings and a head of household of Susan Collis (40 yo) in Cleveland County, NC. One would assume that Susan was their mother and their father was not around. So, this is the third name (Ritta/Rittie, Rachel, Susan) and a third year of birth (1813, 1803, 1810) for Jesse’s mother. The one constant is that this person could not read or write (according to the census). I don’t know how this plays into the name and birth year differences. And I don’t have a father’s name (other than Collis) who was no longer around in 1850.

The other confusing thing is that there is also a (Rev.) James and Susan Collis in the area that lived into the 1880’s at least. Different family though.

So, I’ve sent a couple of emails to people who might have some information on this family. I think I’m going to revise the tree I have to change the mother’s name to Rittie and delete any father and his family at this time.

Some things to try:

Look for all Collis in Cleveland County, NC in both 1850 and 1840 to try to locate the right family for the father. However, the 1840 census only has head of household name.

How to look for Rittie? Born 1803/1810/1813 in NC, married before 1838, parents born in Virginia. As more records become available, maybe more information will be available.


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