Collin McKinney: pioneer, patriot, namesake of Collin County

Collin McKinney: pioneer, patriot, namesake of Collin County

Collin McKinney, Home, McKinney Texas

Collin McKinney, a significant figure in Texas history, is a name synonymous with the spirit of independence and the pioneering drive that shaped the state. 

Born on April 17, 1766, in New Jersey, McKinney’s journey to becoming a key player in Texas’ fight for independence is marked by resilience and dedication to his adopted homeland.

McKinney’s early years were spent in New Jersey where he grew up in a large family, the second of 10 children born to Scottish immigrant parents. In 1780, the family moved to Kentucky, then to Tennessee in 1880 where Collin McKinney established himself as a successful merchant and land surveyor. 

His migration to Texas in 1824 — where he first settled in Texarkana — marked the beginning of his significant contributions to the region. As a delegate to the 1836 Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos, McKinney, then 70 years old, brought a wealth of experience and wisdom to the drafting and signing the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico.

Following independence, McKinney continued to serve his community and the fledgling Republic of Texas. He was one of five men who participated in framing the Constitution of the Republic of Texas and later served the Republic of Texas in the first, second and fourth congresses. 

His work as a surveyor was key in the early development and organization of the new republic, helping to lay the groundwork for future growth and settlement.

In 1846, as Texas transitioned from a republic to a state, Collin County, along with Dallas, Denton, Hunt and Grayson counties, were carved out of Fannin County. Collin County, named in honor of McKinney’s significant contributions, quickly became a hub for settlers, drawn by its fertile land and strategic location.

The county seat, originally named Buckner, was later renamed to McKinney to further honor him.

Collin County’s early years were characterized by its fertile land, attracting settlers who established farms and ranches. 

The establishment of the Houston and Texas Central Railway in the 1870s was a turning point, significantly boosting the local economy by facilitating trade and transportation.

As Collin County continues to grow and evolve, the spirit of independence and community service exemplified by 

McKinney’s impact extended beyond politics and into community development. He was a prominent figure in establishing the Church of Christ in Texas, further highlighting his dedication to both civic and spiritual leadership.

“When secession forced to tear Texas apart before the Civil War, McKinney in his 90s, gave fiery speeches against the secessionists who were inflicting some of the worse violence ever seen in the state,” a Collin County History Museum video reported.

McKinney, a citizen of the Confederacy, passed away at the age of 95 on September 8, 1861, leaving behind a legacy of leadership, resilience, and community service. 

Collin McKinney’s legacy is preserved not only in the county and city that bear his name but also through various historical landmarks and educational initiatives. His life and contributions are observed on his birthday, April 17, now known as Collin McKinney Day.