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Mapping Collin County: Project aims to document county's history before it's too late
Collin County has a rich and vibrant history. From the Muncey Massacre in Plano to the Palace Barbershop - a McKinney business that has been in continuous operation for 121 years - county residents have experienced a lot since settlers first appeared in the area.
To help ensure this history is not forgotten, the Collin County Historical Commission is conducting a survey to catalog historic places and events before it is too late.
"About the time all the development started between McKinney and Frisco, we realized that this county was going to be paved over and we had to capture the history while we could," said Loydell Seward, a member of the commission. "We cannot stop the paving and get in front of the bulldozers, but we can document the history."
The commission sought volunteers who recorded historical events and places, which were then entered on an interactive map housed on the county website. The map makes it easy for people to find locations of cemeteries and historic houses, while also including additional attachments that go into detail on many of the entries.
"The county commissioners wanted to distinguish our county from others," said Jim Ryan, director of the Historic Asset Survey Project. "We are the only county in the state doing this on a countywide basis."
Ryan noted that with the county's tremendous population growth - 455 percent from 1980 to 2012, according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments - many new residents may have no idea of the historical significance of areas they pass by each day.
"A community is known by its history and we are trying to provide information to existing residents to show them what their community looks like," he said. "We also are trying to give an introduction to people who are planning to come down here - especially larger corporations that are trying to get a picture of how the county has evolved."
There are about 300 locations on the map thus far, but there is still much work to be done, Seward said, adding that there are currently no historical sites listed in Allen and only two in McKinney.
"When I go into these places like Allen and McKinney, I tell them they are not on the map," Seward said. "Look at Josephine and Farmersville, they are on the map.
"There is no city in this county that has as much documentation of their historical places as McKinney, but they haven't bought into our project. One of these days they will and we will have a solid map."
Ryan said the high number of entries from the county's smaller cities and communities show that while they are not near the size of Plano and McKinney, they have contributed greatly to the county's growth.
"You start looking at Farmersville [which has nearly 30 entries] and the map tells the story of how the downtown area developed," he said. "All of these people made contributions to the growth of the area."
Many of the volunteers have interviewed older members of their communities who have shared stories from their childhood. Seward said these stories are often not written down anywhere, and unless they are documented now, they will be lost forever when the people who remember the stories die.
One of the areas Ryan said he was glad has been documented is the site of the Muncey Massacre, located at 2210 Pecan Lane near Oak Point Park in Plano.
According to documents linked from the GIS map, the location was the site of a 1844 raid by Native Americans that killed five settlers and resulted in the disappearance of two more. The raid was the final to occur in what is now Collin County (the area was part of Fannin County until 1846).
The dead settlers are buried along Rowlett Creek, Ryan said, adding that he has attempted to get the city of Plano to purchase the land and make the area a memorial to no avail.
Ryan and Seward are still looking for volunteers to help with the project, adding they don't ever expect the project to be "finished" since history is always occurring.
Anyone who believes they have a historic site that should be added to the map should contact Ryan at email@example.com or Seward at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sites that will be considered include historic homes and buildings, event locations and cemeteries, Ryan said.
To access the map, visit maps.collincountytx.gov/historical.html.
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