Biography of William Livingston Austin

William Livingstone Austin was born November 9, 1830, at Trincomalee, Ceylon Island, East Indies, the son of Dr. William Austin, of the Queen’s Own Regiment and a hero of Waterloo. His mother was daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel William Morris. When the subject of our sketch was an infant in arms, his mother, en route homeward with the regiment, touched at the island of St. Helena, and being fatigued while visiting the great Napoleon’s last quarters, was placed upon the bed of the departed hero. Thus W. L. Austin had the honor of sleeping on Napoleon’s bed. His uncle, Robert Austin, surgeon of the frigate Shannon, was in the memorable contest with the Chesapeake off Boston Harbor. After the battle the Shannon towed the Chesapeake to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Austin’s father was stationed, and he assisted Surgeon Robert Austin in caring for the American and English wounded. His sister, Mary Austin, married David Ross, grandson of Lord Ross, who was killed at Baltimore. The subject of this sketch was educated at Fulham, London, for four years, and completed his studies at Lennoxville, Canada, under the tutorship of Sir Jaspar Nicolls, B. A., University of Oxford. William L. entered commercial life in Montreal, Canada, at the same time that his father was living at Sherbrook, side by side with Jefferson Davis, these gentlemen being stanch friends. On leaving Canada young Austin went west with gun and dog in search of hunting and adventure, and found himself after twelve months in Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri. Here he taught school for two sessions, and at length embarked in commerce with John Cummins, late of Paris, Texas. On January 4, 1854, in the same town, he married Miss Susan Elizabeth Keller, a Virginian, closely related to the Prices of Missouri. By this marriage he has two children, Myra (Mrs. Allen) and Mary Ross Potter, widow of Warren Potter, late assistant postmaster of Kansas City. Mr. Austin devoted many years to commercial enterprises, representing prominent business firms in New York, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Kansas City. He was a commercial tourist, and has ridden out of St. Louis before the days of railroads. In the spring of 1873, while traveling near Okmulgee, his camp was burned and his property destroyed, whereupon Captain Severs employed him in his store, and he remained at the Creek capital for five years. Afterward he opened business in Shawneetown, and there traded for a year and a half, until 1880, when he became accidentally involved in a shooting scrape in Muskogee one night, and was shot in the leg. The scuffle resulted in his being taken to Fort Smith and put to such heavy expense that it broke him up in business. Since then he has traveled for various business firms through the Indian Territory. Indeed, since youth, he has been more or less associated with Indian people, preferring the natural life as exhibited by them to the artificial life of society. They have always treated him with hospitality, while he, in his humble way, has assisted them so far as lay within the limits of his power. In 1878 and 1879 Mr. Austin accompanied the Creek delegation to Washington, D. C. His family is located at McAlester, Choctaw Nation. His wife is greatly admired, being regarded as a model of refinement and amiability, while Mr. Austin himself is a gentleman of rare education, though not the less a sportsman, devoted passionately to the rod and gun.


Indian Territory,

O'Beirne, Harry F. and Edward S. The Indian Territory: Its Chiefs, Legislators, and Leading Men. St. Louis. 1898.

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