EDWARDAUSTIN, farmer, banker and
manufacturer, is one of the foremost business men ofEffingham County,and
has been a resident of southeastern Illinoisfor nearly thirty years. He was born in
County, Ill., August29, 1842, and is a son of Seneca
and Julia A. (Burnett) Austin. His father wasborn in Orwell, Vt., December 21, 1798, and was of Englishdescent.
The Austin family of which our subjectis a member
was founded in Americasome time prior to the War of the Revolution,
in which some of its membersparticipated. The family at first was located in Connecticut,but
subsequently removed to Vermont,when that State was called a new country,
just opening for settlement. SenecaAustin was a lawyer, editor, minister and farmer. He was twice married, hisfirst
wife, whom he married in Vermont,dying when young. He afterward removed
to Cincinnati, where he married MissJulia A. Burnett, a daughter of Isaac G. Burnett, a prominent and influentialcitizen,
who was for fourteen years Mayor of Cincinnati. Mrs. Austin was bornin Dayton,
Ohio, August 29, 1812. Four children wereborn
of their union, of whom Edward, the subject of this sketch, is the eldest.The second is William, who married Miss
Mary Barbee and now resides in Emporia, Kan.The next in order of birth is Mrs. Mary
A. Stevens, a widow, now residing inEffingham. Calvin, the youngest, married Miss Sarah Brooks and is a well-knownbusiness
man in Effingham.
Soon after going to Cincinnati, Mr. Austin attended the LaneTheological
Seminary of that city, and was ordained a minister of thePresbyterian Church. Soon after his marriage with Miss
Burnett, he removed to Illinois, probably about 1841, and located in Hancock
County, where he served as pastor of achurch.
Not being satisfied with his new home, in 1845 he returned to Cincinnati, which was hisplace of abode for eight
years. In 1853 he purchased a farm in Kentucky, directly opposite Cincinnati, for which he paid $35 per acre.There
he carried on farming successfully until his land, by its proximity tothe metropolis, increased in value until
it was worth $1,000 per acre, and, itbeing too valuable for agricultural purposes, he sold the same and returned
to Cincinnati. He made hishome in Walnut Hill, in the
immediate neighborhood of the Lane TheologicalSeminary, which he had formerly attended. In 1863, with his family
he returnedto Illinois and located on a farm in what isknown
as North MuddyTownship,
Jasper County.In the spring of 1866, he removed to Effingham
County, living with hisson Edward on a farm adjacent
to Effingham, which is his son's presenthomestead. There he resided until his death, which occurred in 1881, at
the ageof eighty-three years. His wife had died in Delhi, Ohio,May 8, 1873, while there on a visit. Edward
Austin accompanied his parents to Cincinnati from Illinoiswhen a child of three years. He attended
school in that city and spent severalyears on the farm in Kentucky, later returning with them to Cincinnati. On
the17th of October, 1861, his marriage with Miss Susan L. Winter was celebrated inCampbell County, Ky. Mrs. Austin
was born in Cincinnati, November 23, 1841, andis a daughter of William and Nancy A. (Digman) Winter. Six sons and
threedaughters have graced the union of Mr. and Mrs. Austin. Harry B. married MissNannie Houston and is carrying
on a planing-mill at Effingham, which is hishome; Charles E., who is unmarried, assists in the care of his father'sextensive
business interests; Cornelia resides at home; Frank G., who marriedMiss Emma Smith, resides in Effingham, being
a Director and Manager of theEffingham Canning and Wood Package Company, of which see the sketch elsewherein this
volume. The younger members of the family are Julia, William W., WalterG., Calvin P. and Gertrude.
Mrs. Austin, with several of herchildren, holds membership with the Presbyterian Church. Our subject is a Republicanin
politics but has never been willing to accept any public office, except thatof a member of the School Board, in
which position he has done much to advancethe educational interests of the community where he has made his home.
He hasalso been a liberal contributor to churches and religious institutions.
Mr. Austin is an enterprisingbusiness man and is identified with nearly all the important enterprises of thecity.
In addition to his interests in the canning factory, he is an equalpartner with Calvin Austin in the planing-mill,
and is a half-owner in theEffingham Electric Light Plant, which company will soon be incorporated. Heowns one-third
of the stock of the First National Bank of Effingham, of whichhe has been Vice-President since its organization.
He is a large shareholder,and President of the Effingham Milling Company, of which W. H. Dietz ismanager. These
mills have a daily capacity of one hundred and twenty-fivebarrels. Our subject is a stockholder and Director in
an extensive furniturefactory, known as the Effingham Manufacturing Company, which was started in1889, largely
through his influence.
On the northeast corner of Jeffersonand Banker Streets, Mr. Austin is just completing a fine business block andopera
hall, which has a ground floor of one hundred and twelve feet front on Jefferson, and is one hundred and eight feet deep
Theopera hall is 48x95 feet. There are three storerooms on the first floor and theFirst National Bank is to occupy
the corner. The upper floor is convenientlyarranged for offices, and the whole building is fitted up with all modern
cityconveniences and the apartments are all rented in advance of completion. Thestructure is substantially and
elegantly built, with fronts of pressed brick,the rear and partition walls being of hard brick, and the whole may
well beconsidered an ornament to the city.
While residing in Jasper County,Mr. Austin owned and operated a stock-ranch
of eighteen hundred acres, which hehas since sold, reserving only one hundred and sixty acres. He has a fine farmof
six hundred acres adjacent to Effingham, where for ten or twelve years hecarried on dairying extensively, and where
he is still engaged in generalfarming and in breeding and raising pureblood Jersey cattle, of which he keepsa fine
herd. In 1889 he started a livery stable in Effingham, which is wellstocked and the leading one in the city and
which he still owns.
In 1890 Mr. Austin was one ofseveral public-spirited citizens who set on foot a movement looking to theestablishment
of a college at Effingham, and was one of the most liberal contributors that end. The result is the model Austin
College and Normal Institute,
now in successful operation, of which see a sketchelsewhere in this work. In recognition of the liberal contributions
of the Austin brothers, Edward and Calvin, the institution
bears their family name. Edward Austin has beenPresident of the College Board of Trustees since the inception of
the project,and has been a potent factor in producing the flattering result which is nowthe pride of the citizens
of this county. In fact, to the enterprise andliberality of the Austinbrothers the recent rapid growth and improvement
of the city must be largelyattributed, which fact is conceded by all well informed and fair-minded people.They
are possessed of large means and are able and willing to make judiciousinvestments that will benefit the community
at large as well as themselves.They are the acknowledged mainstay of the college, which they carried throughthe
critical period of its existence until it is now on a paying basis.
Mr. Austin has a large, substantial and tasty residence, which he erected in 1890, and which is not surpassed forelegance
of proportion or richness of finish by any residence in the county,unless it may be by his brother Calvin's newly-built
mansion in Effingham.Having a decided taste for flowers from childhood, Mr. Austin has erected acommodious greenhouse
adjacent to his residence, heated by steam, and there has many thousands of plants and flowers, from which he supplies
the citizens ofthis and adjoining counties with liberal and beautiful gifts of rare flowersand foliage.
Record of Effingham, Jasper and Richland Counties Illinois,ContainingBiographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative
Citizens, Governors ofthe State, and the Presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), p.
195.Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.