Stephen Fuller Austin (1793-1836)

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Stephen Fuller Austin was born 3 Nov 1793 in Wythe County, Virginia "at the lead mines in Southwestern Virginia", in what is now known as Austinville. His father apparently had an interest in lead mines in Virginia. He was the second child of Moses Austin (1767-1821) and Maria Brown (1768-1824), their first child only lived one month. On 8 Jun 1798 when he was four, his family moved to land that would later become part of the Louisiana Purchase, later still part of the Missouri frontier. His father Moses bought the site of Mine a Breton and had a lead-mining operation in Bellevue, in what was later Washington County, Missouri. In 1813 Moses lobbied the territorial legislature to create the county of Washington, and to locate the county seat at the town of Potosi in Washington County, a town he had established.

When he was ten, his family sent Stephen to school at the Bacon Academy in Connecticut. He returned home, and then went to Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky from where he graduated in 1810. Stephen served in the Missouri Territorial Legislature, from 1814 to 1819. He was appointed by the Arkansas Territorial Governor, James Miller in 1820 as Judge of the First Circuit Court serving Lawrence County for a term of three years. He only evidently served at the first session, for in August of that same year he was in Natchitoches, Louisiana where he studied law.

The Economic Panic of 1819 led his father to embark on a scheme for the colonization of Texas, then part of Mexico. In 1821 Moses obtained a grant from the Spanish-controlled Mexican government. His son reluctantly agreed to help his father in this scheme, but Moses died soon thereafter on 10 Jun 1821, while his son was still in Louisiana. Stephen persued his father's idea and started a colony there in 1822 with several hundred families on the Brazos River, after gaining recognition from the newly-independent Mexican government.

He attempted to get the Mexican government to make Texas a seperate state within Mexico. When this attempt failed, he advocated that Texas declare itself a seperate state without waiting for the approval of the Mexican congress. For this he was thrown into prison but released in 1835.

When the Texas Revolution broke out, he went to the US to obtain assistance. He lost to Sam Houston for Presidency of Texas, but served briefly as Secretary of State in 1836. Stephen Austin died 27 Dec 1836 in Austin, Texas.

He was first buried at Peaches Point Plantation in Columbia County, Texas; but was reburied in 1910 in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas.

Primary sources

  • Arkansas Gazette, Jul 14, 1821 : "Died — A few days since, in the vicinity of Mine au Breton, Mr. Moses Austin, one of the oldest American emigrants to this country. This gentleman had been very extensively engaged, during many years, in working the Mines au Breton, of which he was one of the first proprietors, but relinquished them some time back, as well as his residence in Missouri, for an object of higher importance."

Secondary sources

  • "Early Lawrence County, Arkansas Records 1817-1830" by Desmond Walls Allen, 1995 transcribed here
  • "The Descendants of Richard Austin of Charlestown Massachusetts 1638, unpublished manuscript,", Edith Austin Moore, LDS Film#0873972#2. Transcribed here
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