Because of the work of a historical committee, the life of Collin McKinney will be remembered as one that played a significant role as a pioneer of Texas. With his 250th birthday approaching, plans are underway to honor his legacy and spread the word about his contribution to the framing of Texas.

McKinney should be included with the ranks of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin in terms of Texas history, according to one county official.

“He was an absolutely amazing man,” said Eric Nishimoto, Collin County public information officer. “If not for his definite humility, his name would be as well-known as someone like Davy Crockett. We have discovered that back in his time, he was beloved in Texas. But over the course of time, people have forgotten about him.”

The namesake of the city of McKinney and Collin County will be featured in a historical exhibit at the  Collin County Historical Museum at 300 E. Virginia St. in downtown McKinney. The displays will be unveiled to the public at 10 a.m. April 16 and feature topics surrounding McKinney’s life, including his ancestry, as well as life in Texas’ early days.

“The centerpiece of the exhibit is a model of Collin McKinney’s home that is being created in 1:12 scale,” said Mary Carole Strother, a volunteer at the museum and author of a children’s book about Collin McKinney. “His home was originally located in Finch Park.”

The committee was formed three years ago to plan a birthday celebration to honor McKinney.

“What we realized in our research is that most people had no idea of his impact and influence,” Nishimoto said. “Back in that day, those who are considered the pioneers of Texas looked to Collin McKinney as a mentor.

“His influence started with the convention in 1836 as one of five drafters of the Texas declaration of independence,” Nishimoto said. “And not only that—he stayed to set up the Texas government by establishing the Texas Constitution. He was so well-thought-of after his work that they presented him with the quill and ink well after the signing.”

According to Nishimoto, McKinney did not arrive in Texas until he was in his late 60s and was here to establish the oldest Church of Christ in Texas. In his younger days, he was an Indian fighter, businessman and lay preacher.

Upon his arrival in Texas, McKinney and his family ran a business on the Red River before the flood of 1842 destroyed it.

“That’s when he started showing people how to get to North Texas,” Nishimoto said. “He made 11 trips on horseback to bring people to the area. He was 80 years old on his last trip.”

McKinney’s life spanned 95 years from April 17, 1766, until his death in September of 1861.

“In his boyhood he lived through the American Revolution, and he was here during the battle of the Alamo and the fight for Texas independence,” Nishimoto said. “He died at the beginning of the Civil War. In that lifetime, he witnessed incredible change.”

According to the committee, it is important that people be given a sense of who he was, and understand the impact McKinney had on the Texas of today.

“This year we are focusing to make sure everyone knows who he is, and we want to develop an ongoing presence,” Nishimoto said. “We want to do him justice. This is a good time to celebrate a man who should be well-known.”