William Eggleston, one of the early settlers, petitioned to establish a post office in 1883. The name Elgin was selected by Gene Gailey who blindly pointed to Elgin, Illinois, in an open postal guide.
About three years later, a site for the town was established when the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley Railroad extended its branch from Albion to Oakdale. A plan was made in June; and on July 4, 1887, a village was dedicated and lots were available for purchase.
Elgin, with a population of 421, was incorporated in 1889.
In 1895 a fire burned one block of buildings, including the Elgin State Bank, with a loss estimated at $15,000. An even more disastrous fire in 1909 started in the chimney of a restaurant. Fought only by a bucket brigade, it destroyed almost an entire block in less then two hours with a loss of $125,000.
According to an 1894 copy of the "Elgin Advance" newspaper (now the "Elgin Review"), Elgin had one church for both Methodists and Prebyterians ". . . using the building on alternate Sundays." A Union Sabbath School was held every Sunday, with a prayer meeting during the week. The Methodist Church organized in 1880, Lutheran in 1893, and Catholic in 1899. The Park United Church of Christ organized in 1885 in rural Elgin.
Bessie Seeley Sward wrote that School District 18 was organized in 1873. The first building was a soddy ". . . made from the readily accessible materials--sod, clay, and native timber." All furnishings were homemade, even the blackboards, which were painted black. School was held for two months in the summer and three months in the winter. By 1883 a frame schoolhouse was built; it also served as a church and a place for civic and social functions. A two-story, four-room building was erected in 1890, and a two-year high school course was established. The eleventh grade was added in 1906 and a twelfth grade in 1911.
Open air street dances, held from 1934-1954, with name bands such as Jimmy Barnette, Paul Moorhead, etc., are fondly remembered by the people of Elgin. Attendance of 1,000 or more was common.
In 1947 a tornado hit Elgin, doing much damage to main street.
A hailstorm in 1984 caused loss to property and crops in the area.
" St. Maur," or the Seymour Plantation, is a well-known landmark in Elgin. This mansion was doubled in size in 1906 and again in 1917. Purchased and restored in 1972 by Louis and Gayle Ganskow, the home, now known as the Plantation House Bed and Breakfast, is owned and operated by Kyle and Deb Warren.
The oldest, continuous family business today is Elgin's chapel mortuary. Established in 1892 by W.E. Brooks, it is currently owned by Brooks' grandson, Richard B. Huffman.