Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Radtke trains telegraph operators in the 1940s

From Elgin Courier 8-5- 1943

Jack Abrahamson told me some time ago that N R Radtke, who was the telegraph operator in the Elgin Interlocker tower, did a lot of training of young men in his spare time. I just ran across this article in the Courier which fills out this story.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Elgin Schools in 1916

                                                       Elgin Courier 4-27-1916

Friday, March 25, 2016

Four milliners in 1914!

In 1914 Elgin had four milliners selling Easter bonnets. ( 1911 population was 1707). All the ladies wore hats in those days.

Easter Eggs Galore

The following is from Elgin Etc. Stories of Elgin, Texas, published by the Elgin Historical Association in 2008. Many Elgin memories are recorded in the 233 page compilation. It is available for sale at the Elgin Depot Museum for $20. A second volume of stories is contemplated. Think about what you might contribute.

Easter Eggs Galore 

by L B Harden

Because our house was the largest, we naturally ended up with most of the family gatherings.  The house was a 13-room farm house that had been remodeled several times since World War II.  It had been a four-plex which had been rented to Camp Swift families during the war.  The house was within the city limits and sat on almost an acre of land, just right for kids and large gatherings which it saw many times.
            My two sisters, their children, and my mother liked to come to the country from Austin for visits and the kids seemed to get along fine.  Rick and Tammy were two when we moved to Elgin and decided to start the tradition of the Easter Egg Hunts.
            The hunt started as an event for the two children and then got out of hand.  We bought a couple dozen plastic eggs, boiled another dozen or so, had little candy eggs and decided to hide them over the entire yard.  The kids had a ball hunting and then re-hiding the eggs.  This kept them busy while the adults had a very nice visit without the children under foot.
            The next year I bought a lamb for both of my children.  They had fun with the little lambs, the egg hunt, the barbecue and family pictures that followed.  What started as a single little Easter Egg Hunt had started to grow – and this was only the second year.  I had also forgotten that when the Austin folks went home, the lambs had to stay.
            The next year the sheep were waiting when the Austin folks arrived for our annual egg hunt.  The sheep had their own area now because they were getting bigger and more aggressive so they weren’t quite as gentle with the kids.  We had our usual egg hunt, barbecue and pictures and the kids would visit the sheep’s field for a visit, but when the day was over the sheep were still in Elgin.
            Next year as the hunt grew so did the number of children in the family so that before long the hunt had grown so that the children and adults formed teams to hunt and compete in the Easter games.  That continued for almost 20 years.  Eventually we ran out of children and the hunt ceased, but the sheep stayed.
            One Easter I planned to hide clues in town so children could find plastic eggs filled with candy and prizes.  This was the unofficial start of the Elgin Community Easter Egg Hunt.  For the next few years I would post clues leading to the eggs hidden somewhere in town for the children.  One year I was followed by a car and the occupants saw where I hid the eggs and later brought their child back to collect the prizes.
            The next year was the start of the official Easter Egg Hunt for Elgin.  Sue Reinhardt and I had talked the Lions Club into giving us a small budget to buy plastic eggs and some candy.  The little park in the downtown area was picked for the hunt that year.  We bought several dozen eggs, some candy, and Sonic and the Dairy Queen had donated some prizes.  We hid the eggs and a couple of hundred children quickly picked them up.
            Next year the downtown merchants donated prizes, the city helped by letting us use the big city park and donated time for mowing, etc.  We scattered the eggs and they were quickly picked up by about 500 children.  Before long, all the merchants were asked to donate.  HEB and Wal-Mart, both in Bastrop and Taylor, donated prizes, the City of Elgin and Elgin Police Department helped because we were now up to trash cans full of plastic eggs, candy and prizes.  Sue was still helping, but we had acquired a staff of volunteers plus the members of the Lions Club.  The hunt was now a major budget item.
            The crowd was now numbered several thousand and the eggs and prizes were now thrown on the ground by the bags full and the kids very quickly picked them up.

            After 20 years the Lions turned the Easter Egg Hunt over to the city which now runs it.  Sue and I were tired.  It was fun and my privilege to have been given the opportunity to give this to the children of Elgin.  My thanks go out to everyone that helped put on this hunt through the years.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Brickyards - the Irish Connection

Just as St Patrick's Day approaches I discovered that at least two of the important figures in the Elgin brickyards were Irish immigrants.

Michael Butler (1842-1909) sailed from Ireland to New York City in 1866. He moved around a bit and by 1869 he had settled in Dallas and established his first brick plant. He then moved to Austin in 1878, having sold the Dallas plant to his brother Patrick. The Austin plant thrived on the clay from what is now Auditorium Shores. (The clay was transported across the Colorado River in buckets on a tramway!) His son John Frances Butler, who studied ceramics engineering at Ohio State University, discovered the clay deposits along Sandy Creek. He persuaded his father to buy the land and moved there to establish Elgin-Butler Brick. The plant began operation in 1901.

Thomas O'Connor came to America in 1869, just a few years after Butler. He, too traveled around and ended up in Austin and then Elgin in 1882. O'Connor, who was a master of several trades, set up his brickyard in Elgin itself (across the railroad from Central Avenue and downhill towards W 2nd St). Many early Elgin buildings are made from his bricks.

Friday, January 08, 2016

WH Carter drives horses to Kansas in 1880s

This is, so far, the only evidence I have found on a drive (although it is horses and not cattle) in which an Elginite took part. I would love to hear from readers about any other people who participated in cattle drive from (or through) the Elgin area. 

Below is an excerpt from Carter's 1946 obituary in the Elgin Courier for March 7, 1946:

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas 1915

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The 1958 "Cinderella" team

Pictured: Harry Krenek, named to Class A All-stars and Coach James Lyda, named Coach of the Year in Texas high school athletics. The Cinderella team.

‘Twas the week before Christmas 1958. Everything in Elgin focused on the Wildcats. It was the first and last time Elgin Football made it to State. They played against a formidable team (White Deer produced 3 All-Americans through the years) but did not prevail in the end. They DID, however, rack up a first Bi-district championship, first Regional Championship, first Quarterfinals win, and first Semifinals win.

Fans made reservations to ride two charter buses to Sweetwater.  Cost:  $9.00 per person. Some fans even went by plane. Walter Puckett was a friend of Bobby Ragsdale of Austin who had Ragsdale Aviation.  Walter arranged with Ragsdale to supply a DC-3 for Elgin fans who wanted to save time and fly to the game.  After the town found out about it, they could have filled three planes, but only one was available.  Cost was $26.00 per person.  The plane arrived in Sweetwater at approximately 5:30 p.m. and left immediately after the game.

The team left on Friday in a chartered bus and stayed in Abilene that night in a motel.  That was the first time many had ever stayed in a motel.  Some remember that they were fed fried chicken and toast.

For the stay at homes there were loud speakers on Elgin Main Street through which a play by play account of the game was transmitted by long-distance phone by a professional radio announcer. Pretty high tech, eh?