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Collins, Jason, Captain (1817-1907) | Maine Maritime Museum Manuscript Collection Online Catalog

Name: Collins, Jason, Captain (1817-1907)

Historical Note:

Captain Jason Collins was born on February 22, 1817 in Gardiner, Maine to James and Betsey E. Tyler. He married Hannah Louisa (b. 1821, daughter of Nathaniel Kinneston) in Maine. They had children Anna Augusta (b. abt 1849), Blanche (b. 1854), James E. (b. abt 1858), Della H. (1859), Eugenia (b. 1860) and Wallace (b.1860).

Captain Collins was hired as a cook at the age of fourteen on the Hope (Schooner) by Captain John Collins his uncle. He voyaged to Mexico and South American ports on the Adventure (Schooner) the following year as sailor with his Uncle. Captain Collins sailed on the Corinthian (Brig) for Captain Sampson in the “coastwise trade.". Moreover, he worked aboard the Powhattan (Ship), Europe bound, for Captain Thompson.

At the age of nineteen, Captain Collins was hired as a fireman on the New England (Sidewheel steamer). He worked in the engineer’s department on this vessel as well. The New England (Sidewheel steamer) traveled from Gardiner to Portland to Boston. Later Captain Collins became assistant engineer of the Huntress (Sidewheel steamer) and was promoted to chief engineer four years later.

In 1849, he was chief engineer on the Independence (Sidewheel steamer) for Commodore Vanderbilt.  The Independence (Sidewheel steamer) voyaged from New York to San Francisco with a crew of sixty officers and men. Later the Independence (Sidewheel steamer) traveled from San Francisco to Nicaragua with passengers. On February 16, 1853 the Independence (Sidewheel steamer) ran into a coral reef near California.  Not only did the vessel start leaking, but she caught fire. Captain Jason Collins stated,

“The men from Maine, forty in number, were all saved; but, of the five hundred passengers, only two hundred and twenty-five escaped with their lives.”

Captain Collins was assigned first engineer on Atlantic Coast steamers.  In 1861, he was in command of the Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer).  The Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer) was chartered by the government for the Burnside Expedition to Hatteras.  The 24th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment right wing and Gilmore’s Band voyaged from New York to Annapolis on this vessel.  The regiments disembarked while the 4th R. I. Volunteer regiment boarded and then sailed on to Hatteras.  The Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer) was the “flagship” of the first division and followed gunboats.  This vessel transported troops, even during battles.

Captain Collins returned to Boston on the Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer) in June of 1862 and began passenger service back on the Kennebec. The Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer) was later chartered for the Banks Expedition to New Orleans in 1862.  The vessel transported troops, supplies and dispatches.  Captain Collins was superintendent of the Star of the East (Sidewheel steamer) construction in 1865.  The vessel was built in New York at the cost of $180,000.  He took command of the Star of the East (Sidewheel steamer).

Captain Collins returned to Boston and resumed Kennebec service until 1870 on the Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer). In 1889, Captain Collins supervised the building of the Kennebec (Sidewheel steamer) and became Master of this vessel. Both steamers made trips twice a week to Boston.

Not only was Captain Collins an owner and director of the Kennebec Steamboat Company, but he was also the President of the Boothbay Steamboat Company and a director in the Merchant’s Bank of Gardiner. He died on August 29, 1907 and is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Gardiner, Maine. His wife died on March 29, 1893 and is buried at the same cemetery.


1.  http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com. 6 March 2012.

2.  Kingsbury, Henry D. and Simeon L. Deyo, eds. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine: 1625-1799-1892. New York: H. W. Blake and Company, 1892.

3.  The Centennial of Gardiner:  An Account of the Exercises at the Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town, June 25, 1903. Gardiner, Maine: 1903.

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