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Brackenridge Family History

Family Homesite

In 1852, John Adams Brackenridge moved his family to Jackson County, Texas. He could see the business prospects and was hopeful the Texas climate would benefit his health. He opened a mercantile store in the county seat, Texana. Business boomed in this area, and Brackenridge’s mercantile business and his wealth increased. He purchased the Joseph H. Rector League where he selected the site of his plantation home. Mr. Brackenridge built a two-story plantation home on a knoll shaded by a mott of oaks overlooking to the east the thickly wooded Navidad River bottom. In front of the house, the ground sloped off gently. The house was located 3,000 feet from the Navidad River. (The riverbed has now been covered by Lake Texana).
 
A cistern was used to catch rain water that drained off the roof into gutters. The cistern is estimated to be approximately 19' deep and 19' wide. The Brackenridge cistern held about 32,000 gallons of water. (Some say the size of a cistern indicated social status). This was the largest structure ever recorded in Texana. The top of this enormous cistern is still visible at the homesite, but LNRA has covered it with a steel grate. (The grate is for your safety, but allows you to see inside the cistern and appreciate the size and man-hours required to build this structure). 

Near the cistern is a picture of the plantation home and a brief history of the well-known pioneer and philanthropic family that were among the first to settle in Jackson County, Texas. The plantation house was sold and moved to Edna in the 1880s to be converted to the Emerald Hotel, which was in operation until it was destroyed by fire in 1899.
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Family Cemetery

The Brackenridge Family Cemetery wears a mantle of consecration that makes you want to step a bit lighter than usual. It was almost hidden in the tangled mass of vegetation before LNRA cleared the area outside of the wall surrounding this cemetery.
 
John Adams Brackenridge selected this site when his daughter Lillie died in 1856. A double row of cedar trees were planted leading from the Brackenridge Plantation Home to this burial ground. (Two of the original cedar trees and several smaller cedar trees that have come up from seed can be seen along the nature trail). The second burial in the cemetery was John Brackenridge himself in 1862. When Isabella died in 1886 (then living with her son, George, in San Antonio), she was brought back to this cemetery to be buried with her husband. It was George who had the enormous monument and stone wall erected around the cemetery grounds. The monument is four feet square and ten feet high. (This is one of the largest single blocks of granite that had ever been quarried in Texas at that time). On the four sides of the granite block there is a brief history of each member of the Brackenridge family.
 
When the monument was moved from the railroad station in Edna in 1916, it was a wet year and the massive object had to be moved on log rollers by oxen. This journey required two weeks.
 
The four-foot high gateless stone wall around the cemetery is about 150 feet square and two feet thick. George stated, “If I had built a gate, someone would use it for a cow pen, and I don’t want cattle walking over the graves.”
 
Lavaca-Navidad River Authority maintains the exterior, but it was the family’s wish that no care whatsoever should be taken of the interior grounds.
 
The funerals of George (1920) and his sister Mary Eleanor (1924) necessitated extensive arrangements, with a train chartered to carry the mourners to Edna. They were met by their chauffeurs who had driven down ahead of the train.  The townspeople of Edna put on their best front and the finest cars were polished and loaned to take care of those folks from out-of-town who did not send their own vehicles. It was a very solemn occasion for all. The cemetery is located in the park along the historic trail and may be viewed by peering over a 4 foot high wall that completely surrounds the gravesites.
 
Brochures are available at the Brackenridge Park Office with additional information.
 
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