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Murder was the case: Historic crimes reenacted at Heritage Farmstead Museum
Frank and Jesse James are remembered mostly for committing robbery and murder across the Midwest in the decades following the Civil War.
However, what is lesser known is the ties the two men had to Collin County. Their cousin, Tuck Hill, lived in McKinney, and his house still stands near downtown. The James brothers also conducted a raid in 1865 in McKinney, and Frank was once thrown in jail on the McKinney square.
The two men's history in Collin County will be one of the featured stories Friday night when the Heritage Farmstead Museum presents "Murder and Mayhem: True Crimes of Collin County."
"No one is talking about the true crimes that happened in Collin County," said Hillary Kidd, the museum's curator. "It is a part of our history, even though it may be a little darker and seedier part. ... We try and focus on the more historical things that many people may not know about."
The timing of the event -- the weekend before Halloween -- is no accident, Kidd said, saying she wanted to give people another entertainment option outside of ghost tours and haunted houses.
The event also ties into the museum's goal of bringing more adults to events at the farmstead.
"Last year we celebrated our 25th anniversary and even though we have been here, we still get people come up to us every day and tell us they had no idea we were here," Kidd said. "We are trying to have more of a presence in the community."
On Friday, members of the North Forty Storytellers will present the story of the James brothers, as well as five other true crime stories revolving around Collin County.
Other stories include Bonnie and Clyde; Ezell Stepp, the last man hanged in Collin County; the Gainesville hanging where 40 Union sympathizers were hanged during the Civil War; the murder trial of Hunter Farrell; and the murder trial of Candace Montgomery, the Wylie woman who was accused of the ax-murder of her friend in 1980.
The museum also has a special Halloween event planned for its younger patrons. On Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, children ages 8 and younger can go trick-or-treating at the museum. In addition to receiving candy, the children will also learn a little about the history of Plano, said M'Lou Hyttinen, the museum's executive director.
"We are teaching them farm life while mixing trick-or-treating and history," Hyttinen said. "We will have activities set up where children can feed the chickens, learn to wash clothes and milk cows."
The lantern-lit Murder and Mayhem tours begin at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and cost $20 per person. The Fun on the Farm Trick-or-Treat tickets are $5. Tickets to both events can be purchased in person at the museum, 1900 W. 15th St., or online at www.heritagefarmstead.org.
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