County's roots run deep, established by brave and hardy pioneers, visionary
leaders, strong men and women of faith and conviction, and even a few
scoundrels and outlaws, weaving a rich and storied past that even the
explosive urbanization and growth of the last twenty years can't completely
bury. And though the county is rapidly evolving into a diverse and modern
mecca for both Texans and not-yet Texans, it remains uniquely historic
and unapologetically traditional.
Collin County and its county seat, McKinney, are named
after one of the first settlers here: Collin
McKinney (1766-1861). A land surveyor, merchant, politician and lay
preacher at various times in his life, McKinney was born in New Jersey
and had lived in Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas before he moved to northeast
Texas in 1830-31, a time when the area was part of Mexico but under an Anglo-American
When the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos
approved the Texas
Declaration of Independence, McKinney was six weeks shy of his 71st
birthday. Being the oldest delegate to the convention and one of five
men asked to help draft the declaration, McKinney received the pen used
to sign the document, presented by the 58 other delegates on March 2,
Four days later, The
Alamo fell to Santa Anna's army after a 13-day siege with all of its
defenders killed in the final assault. The battle became a rallying cry
that spurred Texans to defeat Mexican forces at the Battle
of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
In 1840, McKinney moved with family members to a part
County that grew out of the Peters
Colony, which was eventually subdivided into a separate county (as
was Grayson County)
and named in his honor on April 3, 1846. The county's population at the
time totaled about 150, a scattering of family-run farms that raised wheat
and corn. The town of McKinney - 32 miles northwest of Dallas - was made the county seat in 1848 and
also named after the statesman, though the 120-acre town site wasn't donated
and platted out for another year.
Local historians point to isolated instances of violence
between early white settlers and Native American tribes in the 1840's,
mostly attributed to nomadic tribes, not resident natives like the Caddos.
two separate attacks were chronicled in 1842 and 1843. By the 1850's,
however, most Caddos moved away from local white settlements to the Brazos
Though Collin County residents voted against secession
from the Union in 1861 by more than a 2-to-1 margin, once Texas joined the
Confederacy some 1,500 residents enlisted to fight for the South.
Reconstruction in Collin County belied some violence
in the form of the Lee-Peacock
Feud, which ebbed and flowed from 1867 to 1871 in the common corners
of Fannin, Grayson, Collin, and Hunt counties. Bob Lee, a former Confederate
officer, aroused the enmity of Lewis Peacock, a supporter of the Union
authorities. There was killing on both sides. Lee was waylaid and killed
in 1869, and a systematic hunt for his friends and supporters brought
more bloodshed. When Peacock was shot on June 13, 1871, the feud ended.
Like most Texas counties, the arrival of the railroad
led to the first major growth spurt for Collin County. In 1872, when the
first tracks connected McKinney and Plano to Houston, about 900 small
farms were scattered over a 851-square-mile area. In 1880, outlaw Sam
Bass purportedly committed one of Texas' first train robberies in Allen.
By 1920, rail lines crisscrossed the county, and more
than 6,000 farms harvested millions of bushels of corn and wheat - and
about 49,000 bales of cotton -- out of the dark soil of the Blackland
The 1920's also brought more roads and easy access to
Dallas and Fort Worth via State Highway 289, which roughly paralleled Old
Preston Road, a cattle path also known as the Shawnee Trail, once
a well-traveled route for native tribes, cattlemen and settlers. The county
population topped 49,000 and McKinney grew to 6,600. The Great Depression
marked a decline in farms and population for the next 40 years. From 1930
to 1940, the numbers of farms dropped to 4,771. Unemployment here stood
at 19 percent.
Flood control and advances in mechanization
in the following decades kept farming alive though the numbers
of farms continued to shrink: 3,166 in 1950; 2,001 in 1960 - with
a corresponding drop in population.
By 1980, though dairy farming had remained
an important part of the county's economy, light industry and
Dallas' expansion northward triggered a new period of growth
that has yet to slow down. Plano saw the first mercurial growth
spurts, but Allen, Frisco and McKinney have undergone phenomenal
growth of their own, while former sleepy small towns like
Prosper, Celina, Anna, Melissa, Fairview, Lucas and Murphy
grew by 16 to 28 percent between 2005-2006 alone.
*Estimates from the U.S. Census & the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
And today Collin County is the sixth most populous,
and still the fastest growing, large county in Texas. But even with all this
change, and with more and more people and businesses moving into the county
from other parts of Texas and the nation, we still maintain our ties with
our roots through the Collin County
Historical Commission and other local guardians of our history.