Dr. William T. Collins was born October 7, 1838, in Chicopee, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Union Army in September 1861 and served with the Bedan Sharpshooters at the rank of Major. He lost a leg at the Second Battle of Bull Run and was discharged in February 1863. In 1865, he received a medical degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
From 1878 to1887, Collins practiced medicine in Grand Forks, Dakota Territory. He served as mayor of Grand Forks from 1882 to 1883, and was the first President of the University of North Dakota Board of Regents from 1883 to 1885. Collins also served in the Dakota Territorial Legislature in 1887. He was married twice and had two sons by his first wife. Dr. William T. Collins died October 1, 1906, in Santa Monica, California.