McKinney has a unique, rich and diverse spirit in part because of the history that shaped it. Over the years, the city leadership’s vision in preserving our history has intentionally crafted a town that offers the best of the old with a vibrant present and a very promising future.
McKinney’s history includes many stories about the people who lived here, the work they did and the places they called home. This page offers a short overview of our beginnings. There are many additional resources available through the McKinney Public Library, and our resource list offers some suggestions. We encourage you to research and learn more about the history that makes McKinney truly unique by nature.


The area we now call Collin County was originally settled by pioneers offered free land by colonizers like William S. Peters and associates. Colonizers were hired by the state of Texas to introduce settlers into this area, which was at first was called Peter’s Colony. The offer typically included up to 640 acres of land, a gun and help to build a cabin. The Peter’s Colony settlers came in 1841.
Settlers arrived in wagons pulled by oxen or horses and braved the threats of weather, wild animals and native Indians for the promise of free land and a better life. They found that life here in the fertile land was rich but hard. Some left, abandoning their claims, but many stayed on and still more came, establishing farms, communities, and commerce.


Fannin County originally encompassed most of northeast Texas. In 1846, Collin County and several other counties were created out of the original area, and each was about 30 miles square. The Texas legislature decreed that a county seat had to be within three miles of the center of the county so a rider could get from the edge of the county to the county seat and back home in one day. Collin County was named for Collin McKinney who was a pioneer and land surveyor who helped draft and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836.

The original county seat of Collin County was a town called Buckner, but the legislature’s decision that the county seat needed to be within three miles of the geographic center of the county meant it had to be in a different location. Two locations were put to a vote: what is now McKinney and a location near Sloan’s Grove which is in Fairview today. Heavy rains and swollen creeks prevented Sloan’s Grove voters from reaching the polls on voting day, and McKinney was voted to become the county seat. Although residents believed the new county seat would be named Buckner, the Texas Legislature named the town McKinney for Collin McKinney. The state legislature passed an act establishing McKinney as the county seat for Collin County on March 16, 1848.

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