JOURDANTON - GRUENE, Texas – First up on this trip to some of Texas’ towns with unique names is Jourdanton, about an hour’s drive south of San Antonio.
Inside the locally owned Jourdanton Hardware, patrons almost always get the town's name right. Just about everyone else does not.
"The ones we usually hear are 'Jordan-ton,'” said Michelle Higginbotham, a lifelong Jourdanton resident.
On this day, the hardware store got a call from an out-of-town caller who came up with another pronunciation.
"'Jordan-town,' which is totally wrong,” store owner Deanna Burns said.
"I would ask them, how would you pronounce journal? You’d say 'jer-nal.' So why would you say it any way other than 'Jer-danton?'” Higginbotham said.
That is not the end of the story, however. Residents have an added unique twist to the name.
"It’s only two syllables if you grew up here,” said Lynn Ellison, Atascosa County Court at Law judge. "If you want to emphasize all three syllables, then it's 'Jour-dan-ton.' If you grew up here, it’s 'Jourd-n-ton.'"
Syllables aside, there is plenty of history in the community. The town is named for Jourdan Campbell, who didn’t actually live in the town. He lived in Campbellton, which is also named after him.
Now to the picturesque, well-known but often mispronounced Gruene. Those who live and work here say it happens all the time.
"Like, every day. Every single day of my life,” said Desiree Roberts, who works at the General Store.
“You mean, 'Gru-wen?' I think it’s very green and beautiful,” said Bonnie Cohen, a visitor from New York.
Like many Hill Country towns, the odd spelling is the result of the nifty vowel usage of the German language. In a town that is usually full of visitors from across the country, it can be a tough place to pronounce.
The town was founded by Henry D. Gruene in the 1800s. While the name in German would be pronounced "Grue-wen," it has taken on the English translation of "green."
Overall, the town has embraced its interesting spelling.
"It is confusing,” Gruene Hall owner Pat Molak said. “It’s a good play on words. 'Gruene beans,' or whatever you want to call it, you know. Some of our restaurants serve 'Gruene beans.'"
Click on the unique Texas town names below to learn about their origins.