The City of Elgin was created by the Houston and Texas Central Railroad on August 18, 1872, and named for Robert Morriss Elgin, the railroad’s land commissioner, following the practice of naming new railroad towns after officers of the company. The original plat placed the train depot in the center of a one square mile area.
The City of Elgin owes its existence to a major flood of the Colorado River in 1869. Originally, the railroad was to have run from McDade, 10 miles east of Elgin, southwest to the Colorado River at a point somewhere between Bastrop and Webberville, then to Austin following the river.
Many of the original residents of the new town of Elgin came from Perryville, or Hogeye as it was nicknamed, located two miles to the south. The community was known by three different names. The post office was officially named Young’s Settlement, and the churches and Masonic Lodge carried the name Perryville. The name Hogeye was given to the stage stop at the Litton home where the community dances were held and according to legend, the fiddler knew only one tune, "Hogeye," which he played over and over as the crowd danced on the puncheon floor.
Robert Morriss Elgin
In 1885, a group of citizens met in Elgin to organize a new north-south railroad which would run from Taylor, the rail head for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas ("Katy") Railroad 16 miles to the north- through Elgin to Bastrop- the county seat, 16 miles to the south. The Taylor, Elgin and Bastrop Railroad was formed in 1886 and began building the line. That same year the "Katy" Railroad acquired the line and continued the construction onto Houston. Thus, Elgin became the beneficiary of 2 major rail lines with 8 passenger trains daily.
By 1890, the population of Elgin had reached 831. While Elgin was growing during the next few years, many new businesses were started. The construction business, brick making, farming, and nearby coal mines brought many new citizens of diverse backgrounds to the area.
The year 1900 produced a bumper crop of cotton, and Elgin prospered. The population had increased to 1,258. The city incorporated in 1901, electing Charles Gillespie, building contractor, Mayor; J.D. Hemphill, Marshal; W.E. McCullough, J. Wed Davis, Ed Lawhon, Max Hirach, and F.S. Wade Aldermen. Local law enforcement was established to enforce newly established civil and criminal codes. By 1910, Elgin was enjoying a period of great prosperity as families from out on the prairie and surrounding communities moved to Elgin and built homes- many of which still surround the Historic Downtown District.
Elgin rapidly became the most important agricultural center in Bastrop County. Five cotton gins and a cotton oil mill were in operation at the same time. Three manufacturing brick companies in the area gave Elgin the title, "The Brick Capital of the Southwest."