Elliott, also known as Elliott's Ferry and Elliott's and historically linked with Cayce's Ferry and Red Bluff, was on the Colorado River a few miles west of the future site of Bay City in north central Matagorda County. During Stephen F. Austin's colonization of the area, the surrounding Bay Prairie was crossed by settlers traveling from Columbia (later West Columbia) or Brazoria to Texana and elsewhere, and very early a ferry is said to have operated across the Colorado there on the Thomas Cayce league. From late 1836 to early 1837 an army post of some thirty or forty soldiers, captained by Andrew Neill, was stationed at Cayce's Ferry. The post, known as First Colorado Station, Post Colorado, or Station Colorado, guarded the ferry, assisted official travelers, and facilitated communications between the temporary capital at Columbia and the military post near Texana. The army installation at Cayce's Ferry appears to have been dismantled by early 1837, when the Republic of Texas capital was moved from Columbia to Houston (see CAPITALS).
In 1839 English immigrant George Elliott bought land in the H. H. League survey to the north of the Thomas Cayce league, either at or near the site where Cayce's Ferry had operated, and settled in the area with his wife and son. He was working as a blacksmith in 1848, when he was joined by his nephews William and John Elliott. By the following year he had applied for a permit for a toll ferry across the Colorado. This ferry was an important link, especially before the Civil War, in the route used by shippers to move cotton to the then-navigable Wilson Creek and Tres Palacios River, which gave access to Matagorda Bay and ports such as Palacios Point (later Portsmouth). In 1863 Elliott's Ferry, as it was then called, hosted a Confederate encampment. Around 1869 a cemetery and a small log church located north of the ferry and known as Red Bluff served the Elliott's Ferry population. The Red Bluff church was the forerunner of Bay City's First United Methodist Church. In the early 1870s Dolph Phineas Moore built a general store at Red Bluff.
In 1872 the community at Elliott's Ferry received a post office called Elliott's. By 1884 Elliott's, which at that time shipped cotton and hides, had a population of fifty, a gristmill, a general store, two blacksmiths, a district school, and Methodist, Episcopalian, and Christian churches. The church and store at Red Bluff may have become part of the community of Elliott's when in 1885 the Elliott's post office was moved north from its site about two miles south of Red Bluff to Moore's general store at Red Bluff. Moore became postmaster and served until 1893.
By 1890 Elliott's reported a population of seventy-five, and two years later it had a population of ninety and at least seven businesses. In 1893 the post office changed its name to Elliott, and in 1896 it was moved to Bay City. Though the ferry probably continued to operate until at least 1898, by 1902 a contract had been awarded the New York-based American Bridge Company to construct a crossing over the Colorado about two miles northwest of Bay City; when completed, the bridge eliminated the need for a number of small ferries across the river, including the ferry at Elliott.