William Jones Elliot Heard was born in Tennessee in 1801, the first of Stephen R. and Jemima M. Heard's nine children. Sometime in the 1820s Heard moved to Alabama where he married America Morton. Heard received a land certificate from Stephen F. Austin in 1830 and in 1832 settled here on 2,222 acres he acquired from John C. Clark, one of Austin's "Old 300" settlers. The area's rich soil prompted early settlers to name their town for the biblical Egypt and later to refer to Heard's property as "Egypt Plantation. "
On April 21, 1836, about a month after Egypt Plantation had narrowly escaped destruction at the hands of the advancing Mexican army, Heard commanded Company F in San Houston's army at the Battle of San Jacinto.
After the war, Heard built a cotton gin at Egypt Plantation and raised cattle, cotton, corn, and sugar cane. He registered his first cattle brand in 1837. In 1840 he joined Colonel John H. Moore in a campaign against the Indians in the upper Colorado River area. In 1846 Heard was elected chief justice of Wharton County. He died in 1874 and was buried in the Masonic cemetery at Chappell Hill in Washington County. A red brick residence built here by Heard in 1849-54 had by the early 1990s housed six generations of his family.