Edna, county seat of Jackson County, was platted in 1882 by Lucy Dever Flournoy and the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway (NYT&M) as a townsite occupying eight hundred acres in the Robert Guthrie League, which had been granted to Lucy Flournoy's grandfather by Stephen F. Austin in 1824. The town was named for Edna Telfener, whose father, Joseph Telfener, and grandfather Daniel E. Hungerford were building the NYT&M. Telfener had unsuccessfully negotiated with the business leaders of the county seat, Texana on the lower Navidad River, six miles southeast of Edna, for a cash bonus to build the rail line through Texana, then the only town in Jackson County. After Texana's leaders declined his proposition, Telfener negotiated a grant of right-of-way and half interest in a townsite with Lucy Flournoy, who operated a boardinghouse in Texana. Six months after the first train entered Edna in July 1882, the voters of Jackson County authorized its designation as county seat. Between 1882 and 1884, there was an exodus not only of people but of buildings from Texana to Edna. By the mid-1880s, Texana had become a ghost town. Its rapid disappearance represented the most dramatic instance along the Gulf Coast of the confrontation between pre-railroad-and railroad-era towns. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Jackson County was home to such legendary Texan cattle kings as the Ward brothers and the West brothers.
Downtown Edna is strung out in a linear fashion along Main Street, the old U.S. 59 that parallels the tracks of the NYT&M. South of the tracks, the elite residential sector of late-nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century Edna, the street grid pivots in a southeastwardly direction. Streets throughout the town were named for tree species and elite families. Live oak trees lining Edna's residential streets strongly shape space here as they do in other railroad towns of the Coastal Bend.
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