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EGYPT, TX (WHARTON COUNTY)

EGYPT, TEXAS (Wharton County). Egypt, on Farm Road 102 eleven miles northwest of Wharton, is the oldest community in Wharton County. John C. Clarkqv was there in 1822, and Egypt is located on his league. Robert Kuykendall's land was below Egypt, and Thomas Rabb's was above. These three men were among the first of the Austin colony settlers. The land along the Colorado River was the favorite hunting ground of the Karankawa Indians, and Clark, Kuykendall, and Rabb were noted Indian fighters. The area soon became safe enough for others to move into because of the efforts of these men. The original settlement was started in 1829, when Eli Mercer established a plantation and ferry on the Colorado River at the San Felipe-Texana crossing. The road from Matagorda to Columbus crossed the San Felipe-Texana road a mile or so from the river, and the community developed at this junction. The town was originally called Mercer's Crossing, but during a severe drought the area supplied corn to surrounding settlements, and people began to refer to it as Egypt.

In 1832 William J. E. Heard started Egypt Plantation on the 2,222 acres he purchased from John C. Clarkqv and built his home in what is now the center of Egypt; in 1992 it was still occupied by his family. The Republic of Texas opened a post office in November 1835 with Eli Mercer as postmaster. By 1840 four different Texas mail routes were passing through Egypt. The fertile soil has made Egypt an agricultural center since its beginning; Mercer produced some of the first sugarcane in Texas, and Heard had a cotton gin in 1836.

In February of that year Capt. Thomas Rabb recruited a company of men in the Egypt area. They became Company F of the First Regiment of Texas Volunteers. They were at Gonzales when Gen. Sam Houston arrived, and they made the long retreat across Texas. Under Capt. W. J. E. Heard at San Jacinto, they formed the center of the Texas line and captured the Mexican cannons. During the Runaway Scrape many of the people from west of the Colorado gathered in Egypt, hoping that Houston and the Texas army, which was camped just above Egypt, would keep the Mexicans from crossing the river. During the republic days many prominent Texans lived in Egypt, including William Menefee, who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence; Dr. John Sutherland, Alamo courier; and Eli Mercer's son-in-law, editor and inventor Gail Borden, Jr. Gen. Thomas J. Rusk and the Texas army established temporary headquarters at Egypt in May 1836 as they followed the retreating Mexican army. The republic opened Post Colorado at Egypt in 1837.

In 1839 a stagecoach line, operated by Andrew Northington, served Egypt. By 1840 a general store was well established. Egypt had originally been in Colorado County, but in 1846 it became part of newly established Wharton County. When the first election was held a general store was the polling place; in the 1990 primary election, the general store at Egypt was still the polling place.

In 1848 some enterprising people in Egypt built a railroad. The wooden rails were made of hard live oak, and the cars were pulled by horses. It operated between Egypt and Columbus. A school district was established in 1854 and operated until 1958, when it was consolidated with the Hungerford Independent School District. Just before the Civil War Captain Heard's son-in-law Mentor Northington built a new cotton gin, which the family operated for over 100 years.

In 1881 George H. Northington and Green C. Duncan built a large general mercantile company in Egypt. The store became the business and social center for a large area of the county. It stocked everything from seeds, farm implements, clothes, and groceries to caskets. The post office moved to the new store when it was built and remained there until 1981, when a new brick building was constructed a block down the street. During the 1930s and until the beginning of World War II a quarter horseqv racetrack was in operation in Egypt. On race days large crowds of people from all over South Texas attended the races. The Cane Belt Railroad was built through Egypt in 1901. The line was sold to the Santa Fe in 1902, and in 1991 service was discontinued and the tracks were removed. The estimated population of Egypt in 1990 was twenty-six. In 1992, 300 registered voters lived in the area served by the Egypt post office. The population remained at twenty-six in 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Colorado County Historical Commission, Colorado County Chronicles from the Beginning to 1923 (2 vols., Austin: Nortex, 1986). Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). Ira T. Taylor, The Cavalcade of Jackson County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1938). Annie Lee Williams, A History of Wharton County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1964).

Barbara L. Young

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Barbara L. Young, "EGYPT, TX (WHARTON COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hne08), accessed August 01, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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