The Lost Town of Collins…
Collins Township Lost Towns:
The Lost Town of Collins…
Location: Ten miles Southwest of Hutchinson.
Collins was a settlement like the rest of the settlements in McLeod County, established to serve the needs of the early settlers in Collin Township. Collins had a store, creamery, and a school. The store served as a community center from the early times until it closed in the 1950s. Not much is known of the early years in Collins but it is known that Frank Lhotka was operating the store when purchased by Dennis Joseph Provo and his wife Emma Lhotka Provo in 1911. Emma Provo was the sister of Frank Lhotka. Dennis and Emma Lhotka Provo operated the store for forty years. It is believed that Abner Jarrett started the store in 1873 and the history of Collins is tied into the history of Stewart and Heatwole.
The Collins Store was located between Stewart to the south, Lakeside to the northwest and Heatwole to the northeast. Living quarters for the family were in the store. The Provos were parents of Evelyn Provo McGraw Burich and the grandfather of Ronald McGraw of Hutchinson. Evelyn tells of the feeling that the home was like one continual happy open house. Evelyn recalls helping to set up an ice cream booth outside the store in the summer. Sunday afternoons neighbors would gather at the store to enjoy ball games, trapshooting and horseshoes behind the store. Hunters would stop by the store for a lunch of crackers, cheese, sardines and candy bars. Collins Store had gaslights and a coal furnace until the REA Service was available. Ice, cut in the winter at Eagle Lake, was packed in sawdust and used in the summer. She recalled that at times the creamery operator and the school teacher roomed and boarded at the home. Many winter evenings were spent playing cards and checkers on the store’s counter. Supplies for the store arrived at Collins by team and wagon from the train depot in Stewart. When the motor vehicles became reliable, groceries were delivered by trucks. With the popularity of the motor vehicle gas pumps were installed in front of the store. The Collins Creamery was built in 1903 by C. Madsen. The creamery was a branch of the Hutchinson Produce Company and later it affiliated with the Heatwole Creamery and operated as a weigh station until the predominance of the bulk tanks and bulk truck tankers caused the closing of the Collins Creamery. In the fifties the store was closed and the buildings were demolished and a home stands on the property.