Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Corsicana, Texas – Home of Collin Street Bakery and the Fruitcake

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While I happen to love fruitcake, I know a lot of you don't. Like it or not, though, we are familiar with the iconic can and its contents. We've heard the stories about people using them for doorstops, sinkers on stringers and boat anchors. My family even had the running white elephant gag gift at Christmas of the dreaded fruitcake. We drew names and everyone held their breath wondering if they'd be the unlucky recipient. All great fun, but did you ever wonder about Corsicana and the people who started the town?

Well, it just so happens when my husband and I were into genealogy researching a few years back, we discovered his g-g-g-g-grandfather was the founder of that little town.

Hampton and Mary Clark McKinney

Hampton McKinney, owned a large farm in Madison County, Ill., just across the river from St. Louis. They didn't have luxuries for they were not to be had, but they always had plenty of everything for Hampton seemed to be in better financial condition than any of the rest of the family. Besides being a farmer, he was a local Methodist preacher and belonged to the Methodist Church South. He never followed this profession as a means of livelihood, but he loved to preach and gave his services for the simple love he had for the work. He loved to read and was a constant reader of the Bible. He always held family prayer in his home every morning as long as he lived. He was a quiet man and took no interest in politics.

Hampton and his brothers, Jubilee and Jefferson McKinney, had visited different parts of Texas on a prospecting trip, and decided Navarro County was the best place to locate. They left Illinois in the summer or early fall of 1846 - a big party of them, Hampton and his family had three or four wagons and a large carryall drawn by two horses for his wife and the younger children. His brother, Jefferson, his wife and five children, had two large wagons. His sister and her husband and their several children had one big wagon called a Prairie Schooner. It had a different shape and was much larger than the other wagons. His daughter had just married and they came to Texas on their honeymoon, so needed only one wagon. There were several young men and girls in the party who were cousins. The only things they brought were what they would need for the trip - tents, beddings, dishes and cooking vessels. It took two or three months to finish the journey.

Prairie Schooner

 Hampton was the first settler in Corsicana and had the first residence, a one room log house. Afterward, when the town of Corsicana was founded in 1848, he lifted his certificate and put it in Johnson County; however, he reserved a good part of the town property for his own use.

After a time, he moved two little cabins with a hallway between and a shed at the back down to where the court house is now located. The family lived there until he built the first hotel called the McKinney Tavern. It was for many years the only hotel in Corsicana. It had two big rooms down stairs with a long gallery in front, two other rooms at one corner and a long ell back for a dining room and kitchen back of that. The upstairs was one big room. There were big fire places in the rooms but no stoves except the cooking stove. In fact, they had the first cooking stove ever brought into Corsicana, and probably the first one in the county.

Hampton McKinney, died in 1857 of pneumonia, at the age of sixty years. His wife, Mary, died in 1883/84. Many descendants still live in and around the town today.

Thanks for stopping by today. As always I love hearing from you, so if you have time, leave a comment and say howdy!


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  1. Carra--I love fruitcake. I write something about fruitcake every Christmas. But I have never had a Collin Street Bakery Fruitcake.
    How wonderful your ancestor was the founder of Corsicana.
    Yes, fruitcake has been the butt of jokes forever, and I do think they're funny. But most fruitcake has some desirable attribute, in my opinion.
    I found the funniest uTube video years ago but cannot find it again. Hunters with their rifles using fruitcakes as targets. Title of the clip? "Can a Fruitcake Stop a Speeding Bullet?" Yes...everytime. I love that.
    Your vintage photos are great--love those, too.

  2. I'm not a fan of fruitcake, but the stories amuse me no end. What a remarkable history.

  3. I am amazed that large families lived in a one room home. I know some slept on pallets, but think of getting up in the night and o stepping on someone.☺ Nice post.

  4. Carra, I really enjoyed reading about the history of Corsicana, it's fruitcake, and how the town began. I take it the Methodist preacher was a relative since you mentioned how you were into genealogy. I could have misunderstood that part.
    I like some fruitcake, but not all of them. I like it when the cake part is moist and there aren't a bunch of raisins. My mother was a fruitcake connoisseur. She used to make them, herself. Sometimes she would just put nuts and gum drops in it. Honestly, those were my favorite, but I think they weren't technically "fruitcake."
    All the very best to you, Carra.

  5. Now here I was expecting a recipe for their world famous fruitcake or cheesecake (which is my family's favorite). Loved the history lesson, though. Do you know how it came to be named Corsicana? (I don't, I was just wondering if you did).

  6. For those who don't like traditional fruitcake, you should give their pineapple fruitcake a try...yummy!


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