Austin, George A. (History - 1829)


Janet Schwarze





----Source: 1891 History of Clark & Jackson Co., Wis.

George A. Austin, 1829

GEORGE A. AUSTIN, now living retired in the city of Neillsville, is one of Clark County's best known citizens, and one who in former days took a prominent part in advancing the farming and dairying interests of the county, in the latter branch of agriculture being a pioneer. He was born in Otsego County, N. Y., March 12, 1829, son of David and Olga (Downing) Austin. The father, David, was a native of Rhode Island, who removed from that state to the State of New York, and was employed as a pilot and lumberman on the Susquehanna River. Later, he took up farming in Otsego County, and was thus engaged until 1844, in which year he removed to McHenry County, Ill.

Five years later he met his death in a great tragedy, being one of the passengers lost on the steamer Phoenix, which was burned in Lake Michigan. He was then between 50 and 60 years of age, having been born between the years 1790 and 1800, the exact date not now being known. He left twelve children, his family being equally divided between sons and daughters. The sons were: Caleb, Pursell, George A., William, Cornelius and Andrew. The daughters: Mary Ann, Caroline Marie, Angelia, Addie, Malinda and Harriet. Angelia, who married a Mr. Canfield, is now mayoress of Warren, Ill. David Austin was a man of broad understanding and liberal ideas, one who did his own thinking, but was not intolerant of the opinions of others.

After his death his wife made the difficult overland journey to Portland, Ore., where she subsequently resided for many years, dying at the home of her son, Cornelius. She was born in Cork, Ireland, daughter of Asel and Polly (Lyons) Downing, her mother's father, Mr. Lyons, being a Revolutionary soldier, who was killed on the field of battle.

George A. Austin was educated in the district school and, subsequently, studied law, beginning the practice of that profession at Woodstock, Ill. He was not quite 32 years old when the Civil War broke out, and participating in that patriotic sentiment which animated most young of the North, he enlisted May 24, 1861, in Company A, Fifteenth Illinois Infantry, being assigned the rank of corporal. His military service covered four and a half years, and after rising to the rank of lieutenant of his company he was captured at Etawa and sent to the Confederate prison at Columbia, S. C. His rank saved him from being sent to Andersonville, the authorities of which prison were afraid of Northern officers who were prisoners organizing the men to effect escape. After three years' service he re-enlisted in a battalion, composed of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Illinois Regiments, being made quartermaster in the latter regiment, with which rank he was subsequently mustered out. During his military career he saw much hard and dangerous service, taking part in the Missouri campaign, then going up the Tennessee River to participate in the Battle, of Shiloh, called by the Confederates, Pittsburg Landing, and subsequently taking part in the siege of Vicksburg and other noted battles or military operations. Though he was never wounded he had many very narrow escapes, as is evidenced by the fact that the overcoat he wore at the second battle of Champion Hill had twenty-two bullet holes through it. At the close of the war he was sent on the expedition organized to drive the French out of Mexico, but the death of Maximillian and the subsequent departure of the French army from that country caused the expedition to be halted business, accordingly buying the hotel known afterwards as the Hubbard House, and which occupied the site of the present Merchant's Hotel. At that time pine stumps were to be seen in the main street of the town and the principal guests of the hotel were lumbermen.

Kellogg Hubbard also bought ninety-five acres of land in Section 15, Pine Valley Township-lot 9 and lot 8. The tract was covered with timber and there were no buildings on it. Mr. Hubbard built down by the river a frame barn, 30 by 40 feet in size, and a frame house, all of hewed timber and shaved shingles. He conducted the hotel for many years and always resided in it, but also in later years engaged in farming. He saw the days when he had to pay 16 a barrel for flour, and 60 for pork. His supplies were hauled from Sparta at 1.25 to 1.50 per hundredweight. He was about to engage in the lumber business when his career was brought to an end by death, which occurred when he was 45 years old, in about 1866. His wife lived to the age of 86, dying in 1914. All their children were born in Pennsylvania. Kellogg Hubbard was a popular man in his day, being a good host, and generous hearted, often helping newcomers who arrived in the county destitute. His father, Lucius, frequently visited him and lived in Pine Valley Township a number of years, but finally returned east, where he died. Edward F. Hubbard, in his boyhood, attended the log schoolhouse, located between the Gates and Crothers' farms on the edge of Neillsville, and later the frame schoolhouse in Neillsville. When older he engaged in logging, working on the drive every year, and after the timber was exhausted here, went to the Chippewa River. He was foreman of the camps for many winters. He then took up agricultural work on his father's farm, and now farms fifty-three acres, having forty acres of pasture land lying to the north. The frame of his barn was built by his father, Edward F. building a silo, 14 by 30 feet, of cement blocks. He is successfully raising Holstein cattle and Clyde horses. Mr. Hubbard has been chairman several times of the township side board and has served as assessor. He is a member of the Farmers' Creamery Association of Neillsville and of the Odd Fellows' and Woodmen's lodges. Mr. Hubbard was married, July 4, 1877, to Julia Evans, who was born in Wisconsin, Dec. 7, 1855, daughter of David Evans, a pioneer settler of Pine Valley Township, who drove into the township, in early days with two yoke of cattle and two horses. Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard have two sons, Leslie and Hugh. Leslie, who was formerly employed as a butter-maker here, later became connected with the Bowman Milk Company, and is the head man in their bottling plant near Chicago. He married Amelia Ketle and has two children, Mildred and Charlotte. Hugh, is engineer with the Bowman Milk Company, in their plant at Bigfoot Prairie, Ill. he married Minnie Hanson and they have one child, Lyndon.


**Additional note: George A. Austin is reported to have attended the Fourteenth Annual Wisconsin Dairyman's Association which was held in Richland Center, Wis., January 26, 27 and 28, 1886.



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