Collin McKinney was born in Hunterdon County in 1766 the second of ten children. Over the course of his long life he was a land surveyor, merchant, politician, and lay preacher. His father fought in the Revolutionary War, and the family eventually moved to Kentucky.

In 1826, McKinney settled in the Red River Colony in Northwest Texas. Ten years later, McKinney was one of five delegates from the Red River Colony to the Convention of 1836 which called for Texas to declare its independence from Mexico. He was one of five appointed to draft the Texas Declaration of Independence, and at age 70, he was the oldest to sign it. 

McKinney died at his home in 1861 in Collin County - named after him. A historical marker erected by the Texas Historical Commission honors McKinney who lived over 95 years under the flags of four nations (United States, Mexico, Texas, Confederacy at the end).