In 1879 Elgin was described as a "thriving depot town" of 400. By 1884 Elgin had five general stores, two druggists, three cotton gins, and a saloon. 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. This strong business heritage remains a part of Elgin's economy. Five of the City's oldest businesses, 4 of which are still in operation are:
- Elgin Butler Brick 1873
- Southside Market & BBQ 1882
- Elgin Courier 1890
- Elgin Cotton Mill 1906
- Meyer's Elgin Sausage 1949
In 1866, Michael Butler arrived in New York with aspirations of discovering great opportunity in the United States. Like many Irish immigrants, he traveled west from New York to Wisconsin and Missouri seeking opportunity and acquiring different skills along the way. With time, Mr. Butler honed his craft as a brick mason as he continued to move westward and eventually south to Dallas, Texas.
Mr. Butler built his first brick manufacturing plant in 1870, then sold it to his brother Patrick only three years later. In 1873, Mr. Butler moved to Central Texas where he founded Butler Brick Works, one of the first great mercantile establishments in the area and the predecessor to Elgin-Butler Brick Company. After being passed through four generations of Butler family members, Elgin-Butler Brick Company remained family-owned until it was sold in December 2005.
Michael Butler built a successful brick business, but also established a heritage of civic involvement and accomplishment, which is still followed by Elgin Butler Company management today. After being passed down with pride and care through many generations, Elgin Butler Company remains loyal to the principles on which it was founded. The Elgin Butler tradition of employee dedication continues. Their employees are experts in product knowledge and general industry information.
Southside Market & BBQ has a long history of community involvement and deep roots in Elgin. As the story is told, a man by the name of William J. Moon owned some property on a small farm-to-market road in Elgin back in 1882. The Moon’s slaughtered beef and pork and sold it house to house from the back of a wagon. This practice lasted until 1886 when the Moons set up the first Southside Market in town on Central Avenue.
Records show that Lee Wilson took over the business in 1927. Wilson was in and out of business until the early 1940's. He sold Southside to Jerry Stach and Van Zimmerhanzel in 1944. The two men joined in various partnerships after purchasing the business, including a long-time partnership with Jerry's brother, Edwin. Eventually, Jerry bought out the other interests and ran the market for almost twenty-five years, selling it to Ernest and Rene Bracewell in 1968.
Since that time, Southside Market has been managed by three generations of the Bracewell family, and it still sells the original Elgin Hot Sausage, which is made today just as it was in 1882. They also carry an exceptional variety of meats and sides and their meat market is a great place for fresh cuts of choice meat. In addition, Southside offers wholesale distribution, nationwide shipping, deer processing and full service catering.
The Elgin Courier has been reporting Elgin news since 1890. Miles Hill, Elgin's first lawyer founded the Elgin Courier. A year after its establishment, the Courier was purchased by S.T. Cain and moved upstairs over O'Connor's store where the paper was published for the following ten years. The paper was pasted on through various owners until in 1901 when J.O. Smith and his father, Dr. W.C. Smith purchased the paper. The son became sole owner shortly thereafter and continued building the paper over the next 46 years. Smith grew the Courier from a small operation into one of the most modern and well equipped plants found in any small Texas town. Many young men learned the printer's trade in Smith's plant. Some established papers of their own elsewhere. Others joined the dailies in some of Texas' larger cities.
Elgin's cotton gins first started operating in July of 1878, when Silas Chatfield built the first gin and grist mill. Elgin Oil Mill was organized in 1906, with Charles Berg serving as manager. Later E.O. Lundgren, Sr. became owner-manager of the business. Though the operations are now permanently closed, the Cotton Mill is historically known for serving Elgin for quite some time.
In the late 1800s, Henry Meyer hitched a ride from Germany to the United States, bringing his recipe for smoked sausage all the way to Texas. Around 1915, Henry taught his son, Rudolf Karl George (R.G.) Meyer, the secrets of his mouthwatering sausage. The famous sausage was smoked in a little smokehouse right on the Meyer’s property. He began selling to Central Texas communities which started the wholesale end of the business. In 1959, R.G.’s son, F.W. (Buddy) Meyer, took over. Buddy continued to build the family business, and Meyer’s sausage became legendary throughout the state of Texas. Finally in 1989 Gregg and Gary Meyer became the fourth generation of sausage makers to carry on the family tradition and opened and in 1998 they opened Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse BBQ restaurant.
Today, it’s still high quality meats, special blends of spices, natural casings and that hickory smoke flavor that make Meyer’s sausage so incredibly tempting. But most say the success of Meyer’s Sausage Company and Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse is based on one not-so-secret ingredient: 75 years of family pride and four generations of tradition.
Meyer's products continue to be sold in grocery stores throughout the Central Texas area and can be shipped nationwide at www.meyerselginsausage.com or by calling 1-800-MRS-OINK. All of Meyer’s delicious meats are made at its sausage plant in Elgin.