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George Austin, Page 194
GEORGE AUSTIN, one of Sheboygan County's leading citizens, who now resides on section 7, Lyndon Township, is a native of Medina County, Ohio, and was born April 26, 1827. In a family of four sons and five daughters, he was the third in order of birth. Six of the number are yet living: William, a farmer and miller of Monroe County, Wis.; Eleanor, widow of Chauncy Aiken, who was a cooper and farmer; George; Caroline, widow of Truman Strong, and a resident of Winfield, Kan.; Henry, a farmer of Wisconsin; and Emeline, wife of Charles B. Briggs, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work.
The father of this family, Freeman Austin, was born in New York, educated in the common schools, and became one of the pioneers of Ohio, when the Indians were still living in that State. He was early inured to hard work, and commenced life for himself when quite young. He was a man of firm convictions and in politics was an old-line Whig. In 1849, he came to this State, and bought two hundred and forty acres of unimproved land in Lyndon Township. He married Elizabeth Johnson, and here the worthy couple spent their last days.
Mr. Austin of this sketch spent his boyhood in the Buckeye State, and was educated in the common schools and academy. On attaining his majority, he started out to earn his own livelihood. He had no capital save a young man's bright hope of the future and a determination to succeed. In 1847, accompanied by his brother William, he started for Wisconsin. They took passage on a vessel which was to have landed at Milwaukee, but on account of a storm they were carried on to Chicago, which was then a mere hamlet on a wet prairie. They went to Rockford, Ill., and thence to Janesville, where they set out an orchard, having brought the grafts and roots with them from Ohio. After a short time spent in Fond du Lac County, they came to Sheboygan County, where they located in 1847. Mr. Austin entered one hundred and sixty acres of wild land, and in the midst of the forest began the development of a farm. He built a log cabin, 18 x 22 feet, with a "shoak" roof, which was held in place by weights. The brothers kept "bachelor's hall" through the winter, and in the spring went to Fond du Lac County, where they engaged in cutting hay. In the fall of 1847, they returned to Ohio, but in the following spring we again find them in this county. Indians still lived in the settlement, and deer were frequently shot. A bear was also killed, and wildcats were frequently seen in the immediate vicinity of Mr. Austin's home.
In June, 1853, Mr. Austin wedded Miss Annie Smith, a native of England, and they became parents of two sons, one yet living, Henry E., who was born November 16, 1855, and follows farming and stock-raising on the old homestead. He married Ida peck, a native of this county, and they have two children, George F. and Frank. In politics, he is a stalwart Republican. In 1864, George Austin was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife. On December 23, 1867, he married Jennie Graves, a native of New York. She is a cultured and refined lady, and her friends through the community are many. They reside on a valuable farm of two hundred and eighty acres, in a beautiful residence, which is supplied with all the comforts of life, and is the abode of hospitality.
During the excitement concerning the gold discovery in California, Mr. Austin went to the West to make his fortune on the Pacific Slope. He started from his father's home with a two-horse team, went to Waukesha County to meet Joseph Putney, and on the 27th of March, 1850, commenced the long journey across Iowa, Nebraska, and the plains of the West, reaching his destination on the 7th of August. For three years Mr. Austin remained at the mines, and was quite successful. He came home by way of the Isthmus of Panama, bringing with him $2,000.
Mr. Austin has been a life-long supporter of the Republican party, but has never sought political preferment for himself, although he has served as School Director for a number of years. He has also been Supervisor for many years, and was Assessor for three terms, a fact which shows the confidence reposed in him by his fellow-townsmen. He has also been frequently sent as a delegate to the county conventions of his party. Socially, he is a Master Mason, belonging to St. John's Lodge, No. 14, A. F. & A. M.; and to Harmony Chapter, No. 10, R. A. M., of Sheboygan. The poor and needy find in Mr. and Mrs. Austin faithful friends, and their support is ever given to those enterprises which are calculated to prove of public benefit, and advance the best interests of the community. Their lives have been exemplary, and their success is the reward of their own efforts. For eighteen or twenty years Mr. Austin has been sadly afflicted with rheumatism, which at the present time confines him to his room and chair, but he bears his affliction with fortitude and patience.
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