Plano, Texas: The Early Years   [back to issue]

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  • by Tom Keener  
    This is the final story in a series on primary resources for Collin County history.  
    The histories of Allen, McKinney, Frisco and Plano parallel each other. Pioneers of these communities traveled in "companies" as they migrated by wagon or horse to Collin County from the border states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri.  
    Upon arrival in Collin County, adult family members separated to take full advantage of land grants. Hence, a brother might locate in the Allen area and another took his family further south into the Plano area. Future generations married friends in these towns, enhancing bonds between these communities. George Anderson of Plano married Hazel Williams of Allen. Frisco native James Marion, nephew of the late Carl Marion of Allen, married Allen native Margie Boyd. Constable Bell of Plano is a cousin to the Bolin family of Allen and McKinney. The list of family connections is quite lengthy.  
    Thus, the advent of the stagecoach and mail service, Civil War, the railroad and resulting flourishing cotton trade in Collin County, and World War I and II, meant that both Plano and Allen were impacted in a similar fashion. Consequently, Plano, Texas: The Early Years is a valuable resource for students of Allen’s history.Created by committee with a number of contributors, four of the principal researchers and writers were Frances Wells, Shirley Schell, Mozelle Campbell and Maribelle Davis.  
    Ms. Davis comments, "We began work around 1970 and finished in 1984. Fran Wells interviewed over 200 families. Fran said these were some of the happiest years of her life. Fran and Shirley Schell were meticulous for detail, insisting on documenting and researching all information. They are highly educated and followed the scholastic method. In addition, my library training guided the process. With his computer knowledge,  
    Dr. Chris Parr organized a com-prehensive index."  
    Published in 1985, the final product reflects a highly impressive history of Plano. Beginning with its geologic history, the book proceeds to provide genealogical information on pioneer families and cemeteries. The next section addresses agricultural operations. The lifestyle of farm workers is described. "Rise at three-thirty, breakfast at four and work at sunup and work for 14 hours…for a $1.50 a day plus room and board," said Henry Coit.  
    The Civil War, both on the home front and military front, is depicted with utmost documentation. Information on Collin County’s participation includes troop move-ments, regimental organization and battlefield details. Letters, diaries and official war records are cited. One of Catherine Coit’s letters to her husband, Henry, comments, "Then this awful war like a dreadful mountain rises up before us, filling us with terror and dismay and Beverly family suffered the heaviest losses, five sons."  
    Shirley Schell of Plano compiled information about the stage and mail service. On July 1, 1854, Robert Burney of Bonham began mail and stage service on the line that traversed Allen and Plano, connecting Dallas to McKinney. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the U.S. canceled its contracts with the stage and mail line, Fredrick Sawyer and Company. Although service was greatly reduced and was frequently tardy, there is evidence that the Confederate States of America continued a nominal level of mail service during the Civil War. After the war’s conclusion, stage and mail service rebounded, flourishing until the advent of the railroad when the stage line ceased to operate.  
    This book provides sections on schools, churches, medical history, early merchants, social life and saloons. Chapters on African-Americans yield stories from slavery to emancipation and June 19th celebrations. A rare photo of the black baseball team is featured.  
    Plano, Texas: The Early Years is an important resource for Texas history and regional history students and is available for review on the second floor of the Allen Public Library, all Plano libraries and the North Texas History Center.  
    It can be purchased at each of the Plano library branches.  
    Tell me your story at 214.509.4911 or  
    Tom Keener is the cultural arts coordinator with Allen Public Library.

    All rights © Moonlight Graphics 2014