The Pioneer Club met on April 7 in Melissa, and Liza Forster, club member, welcomed guest speaker Mary Carole Strother. Forster, incidentally, was dressed the part as she was clothed in pioneer attire made by club member Sue Hixon.
Strother is a retired school teacher/library media specialist who is interested in Collin County history and has written a book about Collin McKinney. Strother said she wants everyone to “know the history and pass it on.”
“As library media specialist, children would come to the library wanting to learn about Mr. Collin McKinney and the only book we had was really thick and too hard for the elementary children to read, so I decided I’d write one with the basic facts that children could hopefully enjoy,” added Strother.
She shares her love of preserving history and educating people because if it isn’t passed from generation to generation, the history gets lost. Strother told Pioneer Club members that there is a need to equip the younger generation with the history so they can be the “keeper of the story.”
Collin McKinney was a surveyor, owned a trading post, grew wheat and corn, had horses and mules and became a judge. More importantly, he was a very respected and trusted individual and one of five men tasked with drafting the Texas Declaration of Independence and a drafter of the Texas Constitution. McKinney was presented with the quill and inkwell used by all the signers, and they remain in the family even today. McKinney died at the age of 95 and is buried in the Van Alstyne cemetery.
On April 23, from noon to 4 p.m., people may visit the cemetery and hear about his life, as well as others buried there. A tour guide will take visitors to seven graves, where at each grave an individual will give an oral history of that patron. The tour is free; however, your name must be on the list to take part in the tour.
RSVP to Dusty Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org and include names of everyone who will be on the tour and the time of the tour in which you wish to partake. Tours are limited to the first 20 per tour and will be conducted at 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
McKinney’s house was built in Van Alstyne and later given to the city of McKinney where people could tour the home. It was then relocated to Finch Park until 1980 when it burned to the ground destroying all the artifacts within. A small replica of the house has been built and was shared with Pioneer members. A larger version is being made.
Additionally, Forster and Strother have worked together to transform the old post office to celebrate Collin McKinney. You may see the display any Thursday, Friday or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the summer months. On Saturday, April 16, there will be a big celebration in honor of his 250th birthday and everyone is invited to attend.