Robert Morriss Elgin
Click on photos to enlarge. Left: Robert Elgin at age 41. Taken in 1866 at the Lone Star Gallery in Galveston. Middle: Grave at Glenwood Cemetery, Houston. Right: Elgin in his later years.
Robert Morriss Elgin, Land Commissioner for the Houston and Texas Central Railway conducted the auction of the town lots in De Leon on July 7, 1881 for the H&TC’s affilated Texas Central Railway Co..
Elgin (pronounced “L-gin” as in “begin” the Scottish pronunciation, rather than as in “cotton gin”) was born in Smith County, Tennessee on September 24, 1825. Smith County (county seat Carthage) is east of Nashville. The family came to Texas in 1841 in a train of covered wagons during the days of the Republic when Robert was 16 year old. The family settled in Washington County near Brenham.
As a young man, Elgin served as Deputy County Clerk of Washington County. During the Mexican War he served with the American forces under General Zachary Taylor. Following the war, Elgin moved to Austin where he became Chief Clerk of the General Land Office. During the Civil War, he served with Company A, Texas Cavalry. In 1865 when the Radical Republicans took control of the state, they expelled anyone who had previously held a state position. Elgin then moved to Houston and assumed the duties of Land Commissioner for the Houston and Texas Central Railway Co. Over the years he became one of the leading citizen of Houston.
In 1871 and 1872 when the Houston and Texas Central was constructing a branch line from Brenham that would be the first railroad connecting to the Texas capital, a new city named Elgin was established about twenty miles east of Austin on railroad land a short distance from the existing community of Perryville (also called Hog Eye). It was only one of a number of cities in Texas named for officials of the Houston and Texas Central or the Texas Central railroads. A few of the cities and communities are Bremond, Kosse, Allen, Morgan, Comyn, Gorman, Cisco, and Hico.
Elgin’s wife was Pucilla (maiden name unknown). They had at least one child, Willie Shelby Hill Elgin (Oct. 1865-Sept. 11, 1868). Robert Elgin left the H&TC in 1891 to enter private business. He served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas and Grand Commander of Knights Templars and was a member of the Episcopal Church. He died on July 9, 1913 and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas.
Also buried in Glenwood is Paul Bremond who assumed the presidency of the Houston and Texas Central following the Civil War. He returned the railroad to full operating condition including changing the rails to standard gauge, rebuilt restored its finances, expanded it north to the Oklahoma border and then westward to San Antonio and Austin.