By Don Newsom, TSB Contributing Writer
Deaths and new beginnings highlight the historical events during the first week in April.
In 1841, President William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia one month after his inauguration. He was the first U.S. president to die in office.
In 1846, Collin County, along with Denton, Hunt and Grayson, were created from Fannin County. It was named for Collin McKinney, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Each county created from Fannin is approximately the same size with the center and county seat of each being about 15 miles from the county line, or about 30 miles from each other. This was at the suggestion of Collin McKinney so that citizens could travel to their county seat, which from 1846 until 1848 was Buckner, located near the current Third Monday Trades Day, and back home in one day from anywhere in the county.
In 1848, the First Christian Church, McKinney’s first church, was established by J. B. Wilmeth. The initial meetings of First Christian were held in Wilmeth’s blacksmith shop, but later moved to an upstairs room of his home.
In 1870, a Methodist Church was organized in Celina by the Reverend John Noble.
In 1871, the community leaders of Celina approved the construction of its first school, a small wooden structure in the neighborhood of the Jeff Malone residence. In 1906, a two story brick school building was completed near the original school. In 1915, this school was destroyed by fire. In 1916, another two story brick building with a basement was finished and school began in it. This school was torn down and a new one completed and dedicated in April of 1943. This building currently houses the CISD Administrative Offices.
In 1873, J. B. Plemmons started a bus line in McKinney, the first in the state of Texas.
In 1882, the Mt. Olive Baptist Church was started in the White’s Grove community, west of McKinney and north of present FM 720. Although the church is no longer there, the Williams Cemetery, often referred to as the Mt. Olive Cemetery, still exists.
In 1884, the Allen Cemetery, another historic county landmark, located on McDermott east of present Highway 75, was established.
In 1902, two relatively new, but important, service companies in McKinney, McKinney Electric Light and McKinney Ice and Coal consolidated.
In 1917, the Order of the Eastern Star # 93, which is still a functioning organization, began meeting. The same year, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany, saying, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Two days later, the U S Congress approved a declaration of war.
In 1921, the McKinney City Hospital, located south of the downtown on College St. was dedicated.
In 1943, construction finished on the Ashburn Hospital in McKinney. The hospital later became a part of the Veterans Administration complex located off Highway 5, north of 380. It is now a part of the Job Corps complex.
On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 39, was shot to death as he stood on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The killing sparked a wave of riots across the country.
In 1972, under the direction of Don Hayter, St. Paul held its first elections. All residents over 18 years of age, and living in St. Paul for at least 6 months, were eligible to run for office. The town’s first elected mayor was Mr. Darryl Gumm, who served from 1972 to 1974. St. Paul is now part of Lucas.
Photo: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Don Newsom is an avid historian and a former Superintendent of Schools for Celina ISD.