ELGIN, TEXAS. Elgin is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 290 and State Highway 95, fifteen miles north of Bastrop in north Bastrop County. In 1871 the Houston and Texas Central Railway built through the area and established a flag stop called Glasscock. The name was changed to Elgin, in honor of the railroad's land commissioner and surveyor, Robert Morris Elgin, on August 18, 1872, when the town was officially platted. Elgin was incorporated and received a post office the following year, and a Baptist Sunday school began meeting in a private home. Much of the community's early population was drawn from nearby Perryville, which the railroad had bypassed.
In 1879 Elgin was described as a "thriving depot town" of 400. It had a newspaper, a gin, and a gristmill. Three years later Methodists erected the first church building in town. In 1884 Elgin had five general stores, two druggists, three cotton gins, and a saloon; that year Thomas O'Conner started a brick-making enterprise that eventually led Elgin to adopt the epithet "Brick Capital of the Southwest." In 1886 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad came through, adding to Elgin's business as a shipping point for cotton, wool, and livestock. By 1890 the community had a population of 1,100 and supported two hotels, a broom factory, two doctors, a dentist, and the Elgin Courier. The next year oil was discovered five miles southeast of town, but the strike was not large. Coal proved better for the economy, when the large coal belt nearby was mined in the early twentieth century.
Elgin grew slowly but steadily through the twentieth century, from 1,258 in 1904 to 4,846 in 1990. By 1940 it was not only the center of a farming community but the site of two big brick and tile plants. Elgin enterprise was stimulated during World War II by the proximity of the army training facility Camp Swift. A third brick company was established in the town in the mid-1950s, lured by the high-quality clay deposits in the area. In addition to the brick plants, a local sausage factory processed thousands of pounds of beef and pork a week; Elgin Hot Sausage continued to enjoy a widespread reputation. Other industries included cottonseed milling, feed and grain processing, and hydraulic press manufacturing. By the 1980s proximity to Austin had begun to attract commuters to Elgin. In the mid-1980s the Elgin Courier was still being published, the sausage had achieved wider fame, and two brick and tile plants were still in operation. Elgin was also the site of a furniture plant and a leather works. In 2000 the population was 5,700.
Bastrop Advertiser, April 20, 1972. Elgin Historical Committee, Elgin: A History of Elgin, Texas, 1872–1972 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1972). Bill Moore, Bastrop County, 1691–1900 (Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1977).