|Birth: ||1834, England|
History of Knox County Illinois 1912
One of the best known citizens of Abingdon is Thomas Austin, who for over a half century has been actively identified with the business interest of the town. He was born in Norfolk county, England, on the 21st of March, 1834, and is a son of Thomas and Mary A. (Wells) Austin, natives of the same county, where they spent their entire lives. Thomas Austin, Sr., was a blacksmith by trade, as was his father, James Austin, and two of his brothers, while he in turn also reared three of his sons to the same vocation.
Thomas Austin, after finishing his education in the common schools, entered his father's shop, where he learned his trade. He had long been strongly attracted toward America, with its many advantages and innumerable opportunities, and on the 21st of January, 1855, he took passage on a sailing vessel for the United States. He landed at New York early in March, having spent forty days on the Atlantic. His destination was Lockport, Illinois, where he had several relatives living, among them a brother of his mother's, who was a distiller and a prominent business man of the town. He took up his residence with his uncle on the uncle on the 8th of March, 1855, and soon thereafter became his business partner, but owing to a disagreement on June 20, 1856, he severed his connection with his relative and went to Morgan county. After remaining there for a short time he started on a trip through Iowa and Nebraska seeking a location for a shop. Not finding anything to suit him, he was on his way back to Lockport, when Jonathan Latimer, whom he met on the train, prevailed upon him to come to Abingdon. He did so, finding employment as a blacksmith with Latimer & Shaffer, who were wagonmakers. On the 20th of July, 1857, Mr. Austin opened a blacksmith shop in Abingdon, which he has ever since operated.
On the 30th of October, 1862, Mr. Austin was united in marriage to Miss Eliza J. McElrea, who at that time was residing in Indian Point township. Mrs. Austin was born in Warren county, Illinois, but is of Irish extraction, her father having been a native of the Emerald isle. Three children were born of this marriage, but one of whom is now living, Anna M., the wife of Charles Harshberger, of Abingdon.
In December, 1853, while still a resident of the mother country, Mr. Austin joined the Odd Fellows lodge, but has never affiliated with the organization since coming to the United States. Mrs. Austin is a member of the Congregational church, but his religious views do not conform to those of any creed, although he contributes toward the support of the churches and various charitable organizations. In politics he is a democrat in national issues, but casts an independent ballot at local elections. He served for two years as mayor of Abingdon and for an equal period as county supervisor, while for three years he was on the local school board, refusing to serve for a longer period. He also acted as alderman for a year. Mr. Austin has always been a wide reader of both philosophy and history and is one of the well informed men of his community. He has ever been voted for his remarkable memory, and is generally regarded as having a more vivid recollection and better knowledge of Abingdon's early history than any other living citizen. It is customary for those in doubt about any fact of early local history to refer the enquirer to "Tom" Austin, feeling confident that the desired information can be obtained there. During the long period of his residence in the United States, Mr. Austin has never had occasion to regret transferring his allegiance to the younger country, having here met with a fair degree of success.
Eliza J McElrea Austin (1844 - 1914)
Anna M Austin Harshbarger (1863 - ____)*
Plot: Section IX
Created by: Jim Ferris
Record added: Dec 18, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 82128990