In 1875, forty years after the founding of Elgin, Amasa Lord and Thomas Bradford published the city's first and only really comprehensive local history. Subsequent compilers repeated the contents of their little volume but made few additions, and much has happened over the years. In this attempt to record these changes, the author shares the thoughts of the earlier publishers in their preface:
We have endeavored to make the following History of Elgin not only interesting but accurate-not only useful to the reader at the present time, but to some future historian who shall continue the narrative. We have taken much pains to give facts and dates correctly, and yet some errors will doubtless be discovered ... and some additions made which will be valuable.1Authors whose publications have contributed to this book are listed in the bibliography, but there are countless others-newspaper reporters, long-time residents with good memories, census takers, city clerks, church secretaries, custodians of all kinds of documents and pictures-who have been of assistance. Any mention of some would be unfair to others. To all go my deep appreciation, especially to the staff of the Gail Borden Public Library, who have been patient with my constant attendance and requests for materials. Errors of fact and interpretation are of course my own.
Events in Elgin over the past one hundred and fifty years may be only dimly known, but they are imbedded in the condition of the community today. The purpose of a history is to extend our vision, to reveal the unseen past which has shaped the present. This broadened local view is inseparable from what was happening elsewhere. For all of its individuality, Elgin has reflected the changes and continuities, the achievements and failures of the national experience. This book about one small city is therefore also a history of America.
© 2000 by E. C. Alft and ElginHistory.com. All Rights Reservered.