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History of McKinney Texas


The history of McKinney, one of the oldest towns in North Texas, dates back over one hundred and fifty years to 1841, when the first settlers arrived in the region from Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Collin County got its name five years later, when the state’s first legislators, meeting under the Constitution of the State in 1846, created Collin, Denton, Hunt, and Grayson counties out of the territory that had been named Fannin County, an area that encompassed most of Northeast Texas.

The original county seat was established in Buckner in 1846, but just two years later, the seat was moved three miles eastward to a more central location, and was renamed McKinney. Both the county and its seat were named after Collin McKinney. The town was originally incorporated in 1849, and was re-incorporated on May 28, 1859.

In 1848 the U.S. Post Office Department changed the name of the new county seat from Buckner to McKinney.  McKinney’s first postmaster was Joel F. Stewart in 1848, the first merchant was John L. Lovejoy, and the first newspaper in town was the McKinney Messenger, published by James W. Thomas in 1858. McKinney’s first church was organized in 1848 by J.B. Wilmeth, who had also created Collin County’s first church two years earlier. The initial meetings of the First Christian Church of McKinney were held in the Wilmeth blacksmith shop, and were later moved to an upper room of the Wilmeth house. McKinney was also the home of James W. Throckmorton, the 11th governor of Texas, who later served in the United States Congress. Other frequent visitors to the town were Jesse and Frank James and their James Gang, who came to McKinney to visit their cousin "Tuck" Hill, whose historic house still stands just west of downtown.

The railroad came through McKinney in 1872. The first City Hall was built in 1882 on S. Kentucky St., the second built in 1909. The first McKinney fire company was organized in 1878, and electric lights were introduced in 1889.

In 1850, the population of Collin County was 1,950. By the turn of the century, it had topped 50,000, while today (2008) nearly 750,000 people call the county home. Land value has increased proportionally as well: the taxable value per acre in 1849 was a mere 68 cents; by 1872 it was up to $5.75 an acre, and in 1923 that number had jumped to $25-50 an acre.

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