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The Collins Letters

(Letter requesting information from Ireland as to the marriage of John Collins and Bridget McMahan, the adoptive parents of Joseph John Collins).

Naas.     Ireland.     Dec 30th 1890

Dear Rev Father

On receipt of your letter I placed the parochial register in the hands of the Clerk & he succeeded in making out the entry of John Collins' marriage to Bridget McMahon -- a copy of which duly authenticated & stamped I send herewith --

For his trouble & service the Clerk gets payment which Mrs. Collins if convenent will kindly send him through me.

Faithfully yours in C+
J. Morris P.P.

(A poem from Joseph John Collins to his mother)

Battle of Legaspi
Jan 23, 1900

The sun shone bright on old Mayon.
We sailed into the bay
Twas on the Venus there we rode
Just at the break of day.


The soldiers crowded on the decks
And leaned against the rails
We ate cornbeef and old hardtack
In this we never fail


We saw ahead of us a town
Close by the beach it lay
While waved at flag upon a hill
Still farther up the bay.


The dusky rebels scowled at us
From behind their breastworks high
They loudly boasted to themselves
They'll never take Legaspi


We crowded into little boats
Till they would hold no more
With steady hands to row
We started for the shore


Close to the shore we pulled
With speed we didn't stop
When from the Stashvilla (?) deck there came
A boom, boom, pop -- pop --- pop


To be the first one on the shore
Was each ones great desire
We plunged into the waters edge
To face a wicked fire


We formed a line upon the beach
And raised our rifles true
We introduced the Philippines
To our brave boys in blue


We gave a yell then to the charge
O'er beach and bog we pushed
Through swamp and mud and undergrowth
Right to their trench we rushed


We saw them run across the streets
And found them on the sands
In a stone house and second trench
They made a finale stand


We forced the house and stormed the trench
While bullets filled the air
They ran and left within that trench
Their wounded to our care


We drove them out we followed on
Thro water shoulder deep
Still waved there flag upon the hill
So high and rough and steep


Right up the hill the boys did charge
Twas a brilliant sight to see
We hauled their saucy standard down
And spiked their battery


Then far below us from the boats
Came a noise to our ear
Twas three long Americano cheers
They were good Yankee cheers

(A letter from Joseph John Collins to his mother)

Donsol Sept 2, 1900

Dear Mother

I received yours of July 23. informing me of Thresa's death from the way the letter read you have sent one before but I have not received it yet. I am more than sorry to hear such bad news. being so far away from home if I had only been home to see her it would not grieve me so much. I have been praying for her recovery every since I first heard she was sick. I was working when the boat came in with the mail and Danfield got my mail when he handed me two letters he said Joe D. I think you have got some bad news. I never thought it was about Tres. But I am glad she died a good death. I hope God will only spare me to return home again in safety to see all especially mother. The natives here are getting better every day. they started to come in on Aug 21 and the river is full of boats with hemp every day the Major has been to manila trying to use his influence to go to China but I think he got dissappointed he is expected in today.


he has got a little launch and sent a Gattlin gun but I don't think he will have any use for them now. We hear very little about China here but most of the fellows want to go I have sent 2 pkgs of pictures also a few in a piece of bambo the ones in the bambo you can have mounted in card board for a small sum all the fellows are in good health and are very sorry about Tres. I will have to close as I want to get this away on the boat . Let me know when you receive this also the pictures. I will pray for Thresa every night.

Soldier Boy

answer soon.

(envelope postmarked Manila, P.I. Sep 6, 4 PM, 1900)
Jos. J. Collins
Co D. 47 inf 08V
Donsol P.I.

Sept 2 1900 (in pencil)
Mrs. B. Collins
#1427 Parrish St.
United States of America

Obituary of Theresa Collins

(on company stationery)

We are the Boys that fear no noise, altho' we are far from home;
We are members of Capt. A. C. Hart's Co. D, 47 Reg., Squad 11.

Corp, R. P. Rollins No. 4, R. S. Shaw
No. 1, J. J. Collins  "   5, F. C. Baldwin
 "    2, J. C. Clare  "   6, M. F. Danfield
 "    3, G. J. Coles  "   7, Thos Barbrette

(letter in pencil)

Donsol Nov 2, 1900

Dear Mother

I have in the last week received 5 letters from you 3 of them was letters that had went to L. company in mistake one was the first letter that you sent after poor Thresea death it seems that Eliza does not make her D plain enough I will send you the envelopes so that you can see the mistake. well, to begin with I am in the best of health so are the rest of the fellows although I have just went through the worst experience I ever went through in my life it was a typhoon that last just 8 hours talk about the big winds in Ireland tell Mom that was not in it. It happened on Oct 31 it had been drizzling rain all day but about 7 PM the


wind began to blow like fury and the rain came down in torrents the house began rocking and the roof that is only made of nifa (?) leaves began to leak. we had to spread our ponchos. (gum covers) over our bunks and just lay there every once in awhile something flying through the air would strike the building we all so thought our time was up and many a fellow prayed that night that had not prayed for a good while. at 12 Oclock it started to slacken and the fellows that had left /\ the quarters to go to a stone building during the storm all came back thinking the storm was over but it was to good to be true about 1/2 hour after another started from the bay that last till 3 Oclock in the morning it happened that there was an inspector in the town and he did not do much inspection the next day. there was about 30 houses blown completely a sail boat

(letter ends here -- remaining pages missing)

(letter to Joe Collins from his friend Murphy on hotel letterhead)

American and European Plan
Near Beach
Open All Year

Private Office
The Biscayne Hotel
C. A. Murphy, Owner and Prop.
147 South Kentucky Avenue
Atlantic City, N. J.

Febr. 16, 1922

Dear Friend Joe

How about you? Haven't heard from you for quite a while did you get my last letter & contents?

Well Joe however we will be up this Saturday & will stay over night at the Hotel Lorraine & trust we will see you then. Now, Joe, John wants you to do him a favor & call up the Penn Salvage Comp. & find out if they have any more of those Sanitary Toilet Seats if so, would you please go down & buy John one more of them. They are Oack & cost $2.00. If you wish too you can ask James for the Money & we will pay him when we get these.

heard you made the Mission & wish you lots of success. I know it did you no harm.

How are you any way? Is your cold alright again. We are all doing fine & you wont know Mr. Steube if you see him, he looks so well & feels fine. Takes his Beauty Sleep every night after Supper & made wonderful Changes on him. The Pres of the Household also looks splendid & keeps in grand humor.

Well we had quite a little Snow (?) again since last night & intend taking the Mashine if the Roads will permit us to do so. Otherwise will come up on the 9 oclock Train but stop off at Van Sciver's first. However will see sometime Saturday & trust you will be able to get that T. Seat for John then. If you cant get the one with piece out get a round one (solid) as I know it will be cheaper there than here.

How are your sisters Joe. Hope there both well & dont forget to be good to them. Give them our best Wishes.

I think I told you all I know & feel as though you owe me a letter, so good life until w see you & best Wishes from each of us & a No. 1 kiss from Linda, who will be along with us Saturday & I guess will sleep with you & be glad to do so if you want her too I remain as ever

Your Friends

The Murphy's

(envelope postmarked Atlantic City, N.J., Feb 17, 4 AM, 1922

The Biscayne Hotel
C. A. Murphy, Owner and Prop.
147 South Kentucky Avenue
Fourth Hotel from Beach Atlantic City, N. J.

Mr. Joseph Collins
1427 Parrish Str
Phila, PA

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Copyright © 2011 Ellen Wilds, all rights reserved. Redistribution and/or reuse terms of license. Disclaimer for this document: "The Collins Letters are published here with the permission of Frances Collins Delaney and transcribed by Ellen S. Wilds, December 1999. The materials published here are presented "as is", without warranty of any kind to the extent permitted by applicable law, and without any promise of validity and/or accuracy."