The Historic County of Collin
A Collin County Texas History
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Collin County Texas, a History
Collin is one of several counties created from Fannin County in April of 1846. It was named for Collin McKinney, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Each county created from Fannin is approximately the same size, with the center and county seat, of each being about 15 miles from the county line, or about 30 miles from each other. This was at the suggestion of Collin McKinney so that citizens could travel to their county seat, about 15 to 20 miles, and back home in one day from anywhere in the county.
The original county seat was Buckner but was changed to McKinney in March of 1848 because the county seat had to be within 3 miles of the geographic center of the county and the people were not given at least two locations to vote on. The town of Buckner no longer exists, but it was approximately where the current "Third Monday Trade Days" is located (See our McKinney page for link to the Trade Days.).
There have been 5 courthouses for Collin County. The first two were modest wooden buildings. The third, in the McKinney town square, was opened in 1876. Its construction is of native limestone and it had a mansard roof and tower caps. The remodel in 1927 removed the tower caps and added a third floor and basement. This is basically what is seen today and was completed in 1927. This version of the courthouse remained in service until 1979. Though no longer a court facility, the building is in use as a performing arts center.
The current Collin County Courthouse is at 2300 Bloomdale Rd. There are several Sub-Courthouses throughout the county.
Collin County Railroads.
Railroads were of vital importance to the county. Many towns were born on the routes that the rails took. Other towns actually moved to where the railroads were. Of course, the railroads caught the attention of the "less than desirable" as well. Sam Bass and his gang robbed the Allen Texas Train Station in 1878. This is reported as the first train robbery in Texas. Read more about railroads in Collin County here.
Moving people was important in the early days as well. While the railroad could move the produce, mass transit of people between towns was not something that was economical for the steam trains. Beginning in 1908 and ending in 1948, the Texas Electric Railway Interurban filled the need.
Villains and the Historic Collin County Prison.
With the "less than desirable" came the need for a place to contain them. Many counties had a jail. Collin County had a prison! In McKinney is the historic Collin County Prison. Built in 1880, the prison has had such noted guests as Frank James, Ray Hamilton and Charles "Tex" Watson. In 1979, after 99 years of service, the prison closed as a penal institution.
Interestingly, there were only three legal hangings in Collin County before the state took over capital punishment. The first was Stephen Ballew in 1870, followed by Shack Culwell in 1882. The last person to be executed was Ezell Stepp in 1921. Mr. Stepp was convicted of the killing of Hardy Mills and was hung from a board spanning two upper windows of the prison.
The historic prison is located on Kentucky Street, 1 block south of the Square on South Kentucky St. in McKinney. As part of the preservation of historic places, the third floor has some of the old cells in place.
Flag and Logo.
The county Logo was created by Steve Jarvis while he was designing the Government Center in 1978. Steve created the logo by converting the Texas Flag into a stylized letter "C" and placing the words "Collin County" in the opening of the "C".
To create the Flag, the Logo, without the words, is placed in the center of a light blue flag. This design was adopted by the Commissioners Court on September 11th of 1978.
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