By Brandi Smith
Welcome to Van Alstyne
The tale goes that Collin McKinney was given the pen he used to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence. At 70, he was the oldest member of the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. McKinney’s true pioneer story started long before the convention, but it ends right where ours begins: in Van Alstyne, Texas.
“You have a lot of history here”
The town, which now boasts a population of more than 3,000, had very humble beginnings. It truly began with a community called Mantua, located just a few miles southwest of what is now Van Alstyne. Mantua had been founded in 1854 as a site for a seminary. The school set the tone for the town; gambling, horse racing and liquor sales were all prohibited.
Within a couple years, Mantua’s population grew to roughly 300. But when Houston & Central Railroad came calling in 1872, asking for $1,000 to put a railroad through the town, the rail company was denied. Instead, it purchased neighboring property located in Van Alstyne, named for Maria Van Alstyne, the widow of the railroad’s treasurer and stockholder, William Van Alstyne.