The Descent of Alvin E. Collins

by Alvin E. Collins (February 17, 2013)

I grew up in the college town, Orangeburg, South Carolina, where my father Goler L. Collins Sr. (1914-1966) was an administrator at South Carolina State College. My mother Lawrie Cornelia Strawn Collins (1917-living) was secretary to the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. My parents, my brother Goler L Collins Jr. (1945-living) and I moved to South Carolina from Springfield, Missouri, where my father was principal of Lincoln School.

In the summer we would always return to Missouri to visit the grandparents. My paternal grandparents Sylvester F. Collins (1877-1964) and Clyde Della Boyd Collins (1891-1960) lived in Jefferson City, Missouri where my grandfather was head of the Psychology Department at Lincoln University. My maternal grandmother Ruth Lawrie Endicott Strawn (1895-1967) lived in St. Joseph, Missouri. My maternal grandfather Dr. Estil Y. Strawn (1887-1951), a surgeon, died when I was a year old.

While in St. Joseph, a cousin of mine Alexander Endicott Strawn Jr., three years younger than me, was, also, visiting our grandmother. I fondly remember the apricot trees in our grandmother’s yard. Alexander, being a child at the time, thought that his middle name came from the apricot trees and that ENDICOTT was just simply a corruption of the word apricot.

Ruth Endicott Strawn

Grandmother Ruth Endicott Strawn was born and raised in St. Joseph, Missouri and was a graduate of Bartlett High School and Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. She taught school prior to marriage.

Joseph Aaron Endicott, Jr., 1855-1916

Ruth’s father Joseph Aaron Endicott Jr. (1855-1916) [1] [2] was principal of Lincoln Elementary School in St. Joseph. He attended the normal school in Leavenworth, Kansas. Joseph Endicott was the son of Joseph Endicott Sr. (1825/27-1902) [3] [4] and Mahala Mosby Endicott (1833-1918) [5] [6]. Joseph Endicott Jr. and his sister Alice were born in slavery in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri. [7] [8].

Alice Endicott Vann (born 1859)

Alice was a school teacher in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) [9]. She had a daughter Grace Vann Collazo (1899-1974) who supplied me with bountiful information.

Grace informed me that her mother and my great grandfather (siblings) were slaves in name only, were treated as family, and were owned by their uncle. Though there is nothing in writing definitively verifying the master/slave blood relationship, I put full credence in Graces statement, because she obtained the information firsthand from her mother who was one of the slaves.

Albert Endicott

I concluded that Albert Endicott was the uncle who owned them. After painstakingly examining the 1860 Missouri slave schedules and comparing it to the index of the regular Missouri census schedules for all of the Endicotts in Missouri in 1860, Ludlow Endicott in Platte County [ 10 ], and Albert Endicott in Clay County [11 ], were the ONLY two Endicotts in Missouri in 1860 who owned slaves. I feel comfortable in concluding that Albert was the uncle who owned them since he resided in Clay County, where the mulatto Endicotts lived. With this in mind, I concluded that Joseph Endicott Sr. (1825/27-1902) was the mulatto half- brother of Albert Endicott who was the benign slave owning uncle of Joseph Sr.’s children, Joseph Jr. and Alice. Therefore, Joseph Sr., and his white half- brothers Albert, Lewis Jr., and Ludlow, were all sons of Lewis Endicott Sr. (1793-1858). Lewis Endicott, Sr. (1793-1858)

Lewis Endicott Sr.

died intestate on December 28, 1858. [ 12 ]. Albert Endicott and a nephew in law, William Adams, spouse of his niece Martha Adams, were the administrators of the estate. [ 13 ]. On November 14, 1859, during the October term of the Probate Court of Clay County , Missouri, an auction was held at the courthouse door, in which the slaves of Lewis Endicott Sr. were sold to the highest bidders. Joseph Endicott Sr.

The first slave on the list was ONE NEGRO MAN NAMED JOE aged about 30. This was without a doubt Joseph Endicott Sr. His wife and children were not on the Bill of Sale, perhaps since they were slaves in name only. JOE did not go anywhere but back home. He was retained by William Adams, who purchased him from the estate for $1200.00. [ 14 ] The auction was probably just a formality of law. Half of the other slaves were retained by the administrators.

Joseph Endicott Sr.

He may have been free in 1850, because, in the Clay County Missouri slave schedules for the slaves of Lewis Endicott in 1850, there was a male slave in Joseph Sr.’s age bracket who was mentioned as a FUGITIVE FROM THE STATE. This probably was Joseph Sr. A master could not manumit a slave at will. There was a huge amount of red tape at both the state and local levels in the state of Missouri .[ 15 ]

There were many laws against free black people restricting their movement into and within the state. In order to remain in the state of Missouri, the manumitted slave had to obtain a license from the County Court costing anywhere from $300.00 to $1000.00. Otherwise, the freed slave would have had to leave the state [ 16 ]. This may have been what happened in the case of Joseph Endicott Sr. Neither he nor his master/father Lewis Endicott Sr. may have been able to afford to pay for the bond. It must also be taken into consideration that Clay County Missouri was very strong in pro slavery sentiments and the status of free blacks probably would not have even been recognized. If Lewis Sr. had freed Joseph Sr., some slave trader might have kidnapped him, destroyed his manumission papers, and sold him down the river. Therefore it was just convenient for him to leave the state. This was most certainly the reason why Albert held the family of Joseph Sr. in PROTECTIVE SLAVERY. If he had freed them, they would most likely have been kidnapped and sold.

Mahala Mosby

By 1851, Joseph Sr. was living in Missouri because he and his wife Mahala Mosby became the parents of their oldest known child, Eliza. Both, Eliza and Mahala were recorded as having been born in Missouri. [ 17 ] Mahala was not known to have had any white ancestry. She was , most certainly, a slave of the Mosby Family of Clay County, Missouri. Some of the white Endicotts intermarried with the Mosbys. In 1863, Joseph, Mahala and the children moved across the Missouri to Quindaro, Kansas. Joseph bought several pieces of property and became quite a well to do farmer. The children had private tutors and were taught by Eben Blachley, a founder of Western University in Quindaro and his wife. Mahala was a staunch believer in education. Whereas Joseph felt that the children should stay home and work on the farm. Joseph and Mahala was a very spiteful pair and divorced in 1889. She claimed that he did not properly provide for her, and he claimed that she treated him with extreme cruelty and abandonment. [ 18]

In Mabel McCloskey’s book SOME DESCENDANTS OF JOHN ENDICOTT GOVERNOR OF THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY, she mentions Lewis Sr., Lewis Jr. and Albert. She also mentioned that Lewis Jr. had other children. Mabel and I evidently used the same sources of information viz. the 1850 and 1860 census schedules for Clay County , Missouri and the estate settlement of Lewis Endicott Sr. In the 1830 and 1840 census schedules, only the heads of households were mentioned by name, there is no way she could have known the names of the other children.

Mable was very meticulous in her documentation. She accounted for each generation from Lewis Endicott Sr. (1793-1858) back to Governor John Endicott ( 1588-1665). Below is her documentation substantiating each generation:

  • Governor John Endicott (1588-1665) to Dr. Zerubabbel Endicott (1635-1684)—will dated 1659
  • Dr. Zerubabbel Endicott 1635-1684) to Joseph Endicott (1672-1747)—will dated November 1683
  • Joseph Endicott (1672-1747) to Joseph Endicott (1711-1749)—inheritance record
  • Joseph Endicott (1711-1749) to Thomas Endicott (1737-1831)—entry from bible belonging to Joseph and Ann Endicott published in 1735 at Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Thomas Endicott (1737-1831) to Joseph Endicott (1761-1827)—will probated 1831
  • Joseph Endicott (1761-1827) to Lewis Endicott (1793-1858)—estate settlement—Woodford County, Ky.

I recall my grandmother Ruth Endicott Strawn (1895-1967), telling me that her grandfather Joseph Endicott Sr. was a very fair complexioned , tall , lean, craggy looking old man bearing a strong resemblance to Jed Clampett in THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. One evening when we were watching an episode, she commented on Jed saying , “ Alvin, that’s how my Grandpa Endicott looked”.

    Joseph and Mahala Endicott had seventeen children, several of whom died in infancy. The names of ten are known.
  • 1. Joseph Aaron Endicott, Jr. (1855-1916)
  • 2. Joseph Aaron Endicott Jr.- He was principal of Lincoln Elementary School in St. Joseph, Missouri. He attended the normal school in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was a strict disciplinarian. My grandmother stated that when she and her brother and sister were doing arithmetic at the dining room table, he would pop their fingers with a ruler whenever they got a problem wrong. Joseph Jr. gave himself the middle name Aaron because he wanted a middle name. He was a very active civil rights worker frequently making speeches and writing articles. During the eighth grade graduation exercises at Lincoln School where he was principal, a prominent man in the state delivered the address. The man told the graduates that they would have been better off in slavery. Joseph was so angered by that remark that he complained to the school board . As a result, he lost his job .After teaching for a while in the small town of Maryville, Missouri, he resumed his principal position back in St. Joseph, Missouri. Joseph was a census taker for St. Joseph, Missouri for the year 1900. Probably in a rush to get to the next household, he failed to include his younger daughter Ruth, MY GRANDMOTHER, in his own house hold!! However, she is included in his household as his daughter in the 1910 census. Also, in his will, dated January 24,1916, Ruth is mentioned as his daughter.
  • 3. Eliza Endicott Pennington (born 1851)
  • 4. Willis Endicott (born 1853-dead by 1870)
  • 5. Alice Endicott Vann (born 1859)- School teacher in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) , and mother of my invaluable informant Grace Vann Collazo (1899-1974)
  • 6. Violet Endicott (born 1862-dead by 1870)
  • 7. James Endicott (born 1863)—A.M.E. preacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • 8. Mary Ellen Endicott Ross (born 1866)
  • 9. Eben Endicott (born 1869)
  • 10. Benjamin Franklin Endicott (1874-c.1915) Left home to join a circus [ 19 ] He added MORELLO to his name. He became involved with Eastern mysticism. His letters to his niece Ruth contained a lot of philosophy. Sometime around 1915, he vanished from the face of the earth, never to be seen nor heard from again.
  • 11. Minirva Endicott (born 1876)

According to my grandmother, Minirva was a wayward young lady. Minirva, according to the Chicago City directory, was living in Chicago, Illinois in 1900. She is listed as the widow of Eben Endicott. She told a big lie. Because Eben was her brother and Eben was living at the time. In 1892, Minirva was sent to reform school by her own mother, Mahala Endicott, for stealing $10.75 from her purse. [ 20 ]

Thus is the saga of the ENDICOTT FAMILY from my maternal grandmother Ruth Endicott Strawn (1895-1967) back to my 9 greats grandfather John Endicott (1588-1665) Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.


  • 1. Birth date came from the 1870 and 1880 census schedules for Wyandotte County, Kansas.
  • 2. Death date came from the will of Joseph A. Endicott.
  • 3. Birth date came from the 1870 and 1880 census schedules for Wyandotte County, Kansas.
  • 4. Death date came from the estate settlement of Joseph Endicott Sr.
  • 5. Birth date came from the 1870 and 1880 census schedules for Wyandotte County, Kansas.
  • 6. Death date came from the death certificate of Mahala Endicott.
  • 7. Biography of Joseph A. Endicott in the St. Joseph, Missouri newspaper THE STANDARD
  • 8. Kansas (Wyandotte County) state census schedules for 1865
  • 9. Per daughter Grace Vann Collazo
  • 10. 1860 slave schedules for Platte County, Missouri
  • 11. 1860 slave schedules for Clay County, Missouri
  • 12. Tombstone inscription of Lewis Endicott Sr. in cemetery in Barrie, Clay County, Missouri
  • 13. Bill of sale of the slaves of Lewis Endicott Sr.
  • 14. Record of whom the slaves were sold to
  • 15. MISSOURI’S BLACK HERITAGE by Lorenzo J Green, Antonio Holland and Gary Kremer-p. 49
  • 16.
  • 17. 1870 census schedules for Wyandotte County, Kansas
  • 18. Wyandotte County, Kansas—Petition of Divorce, filed August 3, 1889—no. 5777.
  • 19. Oral statement from Ruth Endicott Strawn and a post card in Frank Endicotts hand writing dated June 24,1913 that he sent her from Barrie, Ontario, Canada, stating that he was traveling with a circus
  • 20. Wyandotte County, Kansas—court document dated August 18, 1892
Published Works
  • Missouri’s Black Heritage, Revised Edition (Volume 1)
  • Authors: Antonio F. Holland, Gary R. Kremer, Lorenzo J. Greene
  • Originally written in 1980 by the late Lorenzo J. Greene, Gary R. Kremer, and Antonio F. Holland, Missouri's Black Heritage remains the only book-length account of the rich and inspiring history of the state's African American population. It has now been revised and updated by Kremer and Holland, incorporating the latest scholarship into its pages.
  • Some descendants of John Endecott,: Governor of Mass. Bay Colony. Author: Mabel McFatridge McCloskey