Collins, James H.
Born: 1799-06-XX Washington County, New York
Died: 1854-07-08 Ottawa, Illinois
Born in Cambridge, New York, James H. Collins was a lawyer, farmer, and railroad director. He grew up in Vernon, New York, where he attended school and, at age eighteen, began to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1824. In the autumn of 1833, he moved from New York to Illinois, settling on a farm in Kendall County roughly sixty to seventy miles southwest of Chicago. The next year, after suffering frostbite during the winter and deciding that he was not cut out for farming, he formed a legal practice in Chicago in partnership with John D. Caton, who had studied law under Collins in Vernon. Around this time, Collins also became one of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad's board directors. After his partnership with Caton dissolved in 1835, Collins formed a new partnership with Justin H. Butterfield, which lasted until roughly 1845. Butterfield & Collins became a successful law firm, managing many cases of note. Collins was an abolitionist, and successfully defended fellow abolitionist Owen Lovejoy in 1842 in a prominent case involving charges that Lovejoy had harbored a runaway slave. After dissolving his partnership with Butterfield, Collins practiced on his own until 1853, when he formed a partnership with E. S. Williams, who had studied law under Collins and Butterfield. As of 1850, Collins lived with his wife and six children in Chicago and owned $1,200 in real estate. He died of cholera while attending court in Ottawa, Illinois.
John Moses and Joseph Kirkland, eds., The History of Chicago Illinois (Chicago: Munsell, 1895), 2:157-58; A. T. Andreas, History of Cook County Illinois (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884), 425; Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Carroll County, ed. by Charles L. Hostetter (Chicago: Munsell, 1913), 1:113; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Ward 1, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 139; Gravestone, Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, IL.