IN A DROUGHT BUT OUT OF BONDAGE
Remarkably, Texas has five different communities called “Egypt” (including a “Little Egypt”), a name selection believed to have been made in reference to emancipation, the biblical manna, or drought depending on which particular Egypt heads the discussion. In the case of Wharton County’s Egypt, both manna and drought were inspirations to the community once known as Mercer’s Crossing in the early 1800’s. Established near a travel route along the Colorado River, Mercer’s Crossing was able to supply the region with corn during a severe drought, apparently the only one able to do so at the time, inspiring the surrounding settlements to start calling the community “Egypt”. Subsequently, the name change stuck. Today, Wharton County’s Egypt archives its interesting heritage in several historical locations, including the 1849 Heard Northington Home and the 1900 Santa Fe Railroad Depot, both under the stewardship of the Egypt Plantation Museum. The home, residence of six generations of the Captain W. J. E. Heard family and descendants of Stephen F. Austin’s second colony, was constructed on the east bank of the Colorado River near the busy Mercer’s Ferry crossing along the Atascosita Trail. Fellow entrepreneur Major Andrew Northington ran a stage coach along the route and, as a consequence of frequent visits between families, betrothed his son to Heard’s eldest daughter, creating a dynasty of sorts. A Northington was also partially responsible for the construction of Egypt’s Santa Fe Depot, conveying property and funds for its construction. The depot was relocated to the plantation property in the 1950s for use as a ranch office. Currently, guided tours are offered for groups of 25 or more by advance reservation.