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 Profile of Collin McKinney

Collin McKinney

Collin McKinney, the man for whom the town of McKinney and its surrounding county were named, was born April 17, 1766, in New Jersey, one of ten children of Daniel and Mercy Blatchley McKinney. When Collin was a young boy, his family moved to a sparsely populated area of Kentucky, where Collin grew up amid regular raids by neighboring Indian tribes attempting to reclaim their lands.

On February 10, 1794, Collin married Amy Moore. The couple had four children: Ashley, Jimmy, Emeline, and Polly. The two middle children died in infancy, and their mother passed on in 1804.

Collin married again the next year to Betsy Coleman, with whom he had seven more children: William C., Amy and Margaret (twins), Anna C., Samuel Leek, Eliza S., and Younger Scott. In 1805 Collin was named a Magistrate, a post he would hold until he moved to Texas.

In 1818, Collin moved his family to Tennessee, where he was hired to manage the estate of Senator George Washington Campbell, when the Senator was appointed Minister to Russia. In this post, Collin began to meet and befriend influential people of the region, and in 1831, when he moved to Hickman’s Prairie on the Red River, he was acknowledged as the political helmsman for his large section of the Red River District. A few years later, Collin and four other representatives to the convention meeting at Old Washington-on-the-Brazos were drafted by Judge Richard Ellis to write a declaration of separation from Mexico. That document became known as the Declaration of Independence, and it bears Collin McKinney’s signature. He later went on to serve the Red River District in the First, Second, and Fourth Congresses of the Republic.

From 1844 to 1846, Collin served as a guide for people settling in North Texas from Kentucky and Arkansas, making the trip eleven times on horseback. Around 1846, Collin moved his family again, this time to an area near Anna, Texas, and in 1846, the county was renamed Collin County. Two years later, his legacy was further cemented when the county seat, recently moved from Buckner, was named McKinney in his honor.

He served under eight different governments in his life: he was born a subject of King George III, and later became a citizen of the Colonial Government of the 13 Colonies; the United States; Mexico; the Provisional Government established by the Texans in 1835; the Texas Republic until annexation; the United States again; and finally the Southern Confederacy.

Collin died on September 8, 1861, at the age of 95, and he is buried in a marked grave in the cemetery at Van Alstyne.  (Pictures and more here)

In his book about the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, The Men Who Made Texas Free, Samuel Houston Dixon wrote, "Mr. McKinney was a man of most admirable character. He possessed a spirit of progressiveness which dominated his life. No one of that group of pioneers exercised a more wholesome influence over those with whom he came in contact than Mr. McKinney. He lived a life worthy of emulation and was held in high esteem."

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