Richard E. Collins, present assessor of Shasta county, has given one of the most efficient and business-like administrations of his office that the county has ever enjoyed, and his own ability is reflected in the work of the office. His entry into the position was most auspicious and indicative of his great popularity as a citizen of the county, for his election was by a great majority in a county of the opposite political complexion to his own. Mr. Collins is a true son of the west, possessed of the grit and progressive characteristics of a Californian, and his career from the time he was thrown on his own resources at an early age to the present has been honorable and worthy of the highest esteem.
Mr. Collins was born at Weaverville, Trinity county, California, in 1873. His father, Richard Collins, was numbered among the pioneer gold seekers of the Pacific coast. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, and came thence, about 1847, to America, working for a time at Detroit, Michigan, and at Beloit, Wisconsin. In 1850 he went via the Isthmus of Panama to California. He mined in Tuolumne county until 1852, and then moved to Weaverville, Trinity county, where he became quite prominent as a mine owner and operator. In 1861 he went back to visit his native land, and while there was married to Miss Catherine Collins, with whom he returned to California about a year later. He died in this state in April, 1903. He was a member of the Old Settlers’ Association of Trinity county. His wife survives, with her three sons, Richard E., Morris and William.
Mr. R. E. Collins, the eldest son, had what education he was privileged to enjoy in the public schools at Weaverville, but he is practically self-educated, for at the age of fourteen, on account of reverses in his father’s mining operations, he was compelled to leave school and assist in the placer mines. At the age of seventeen he started out for himself, and followed mining in Trinity and Shasta counties. He acquired several good stakes, but lost them by a continuation of his operations along the same line. On account of ill health he gave up mining on August 1, 1900, and then took a position as superintendent of freight for the Bully Hill Copper Company. On September 1, 1902, he resigned this position in order to enter the political campaign as the Republican nominee for the assessorship. Shasta county was then a Democratic stronghold with a normal majority of six hundred, but the personal popularity of Mr. Collins broke down party lines, and he was chosen to the office by about five hundred votes more than the opposing candidate. Since entering on the duties of this office many improvements have been made in the methods of handling the business, and he has given universal satisfaction to all concerned, so that his outlook for further political preferment is very bright should he desire such.
Mr. Collins is a prominent Mason, having membership with the blue lodge, the chapter, the Knights Templar, and the Mystic Shrine, Islam Temple at San Francisco. He is Past Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, is a Past Grand of the encampment Odd Fellows, and has membership with the Native Sons of the Golden West.
In June, 1903, he married Miss Estella Simpson, a daughter of Thomas and Eliza (Mattheson) Simpson, pioneers of Shasta county and now living at French Gulch. Mr. Simpson is a former hotel man, but of late years has followed mining in Shasta county.
Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.