James Madison Austin

James Madison Austin, farmer, was born on August 21, 1828, in the county of Madison, Ala., to Pleasant and Mary (Smith) Austin, one of their family of two sons and three daughters. In the case of Mr. Austin the oft-abused phrase, "self-made man", seems to have a true illustration, for his rise in life has been accomplished through his individual efforts, and by a constant, earnest industry. His boyhood days were spent in the State of his birth, and at the early age of fifteen years he began life for himself as a farm laborer, continuing for three years, then moved to Mississippi and followed the same occupation, returning to Alabama on a visit at the end of about one year. Mississippi again became his residence a short time after, and from here he enlisted in the Mexican War, becoming a member of the Second Mississippi Riflemen, but only served from January to July, 1848, when he again went to his old home in Alabama. Here he continued to reside until 1852, then removed to Arkansas and settled at Gaines Landing, on the Mississippi River with in Chicot County, and for some time was engaged in supplying steamboats plying on the Mississippi River with cordwood. After seeking to improve his education by attending school for some time, he embarked in the grocery business at Gaines Landing, but two years later purchased a wood yardin Mississippi on the Mississippi River, which he continued to successfully conduct for one year. His next adventure was to purchase some land of the North American Land Company, but after following the plow for about three years, he sold his land and again entered mercantile life, being thus engaged for a year or more. In 1862 the Federal troops made a raid upon his store and carried away all his goods, after which he moved to Drew County, Ark., and followed farming near Bayou Bartholomew, and here purchased a large farm, in 1872, and is now the owner of 390 acres of as good land as there is in the county, 225 acres of which are under cultivation, and devoted to the raising of corn, cotton and small grains. On his farm is a fine steam grist-mill and cotton gin, and a part of his land is in Desha County and part in Drew County. Mrs. Austin also owns a good farm in Drew County, of which thirty five acres are under cultivation. He was in the army during the latter part of the Civil War, but was not in active service. Mr. Austin has been married three times, first October 5, 1855, to Miss Eliza J. Wylie, a native of Arkansas, and a daughter of one of the pioneers of that State. She died in 1859 in Chicot County, leaving a daughter, Mary Frances, now the wife of Alfred L. Pounders, a farmer of Drew County. His next union took place in Drew County, in November, 1867, to Miss Mattie Fitzgerald, a native of Arkansas, who died in 1870, having borne one child, a daughter named Katie, who died in childhood. His marriage to his present wife took place in Drew County, December 6, 1872, she being a Mrs. Susan J.L. Smith, widow of Tilman M. Smith, and a daughter of Jonathan P. and Elizabeth L. (Alexander) Davis, the former's death occurring in in Arkansas in April 1862, and the latter's in March, 1874. Mrs. Austin was born in Kentucky July 22, 1839, and by her former husband became the mother of two children: Mary L. (wife of H.L. Henry, a merchant of Drew County), and Alice D. (wife of Thomas B. Chester, also a resident of Drew County). Mrs. Austin is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and in his political views Mr. Austin is a Democrat. He was accidentally shot in the arm near the elbow in 1854, at Gaines Landing, and in June 1867, was way-layed and shot a second time, and for many years both his arms have been comparitively useless to him. He inherits Irish and Welsh blood from his parents, and his father was a native of Smith County, Ga., born in 1808. He was reared and educated in his native State, was a physician by profession, a Jacksonian Democrat, and for years was bailiff of his township. He died in Alabama September 1, 1844. His wife was born in South Carolina, a daughter of Hughey Smith, and died in Drew County, Ark.,in 1869, having removed to this State in 1858. They were married in Alabama, and became the parents of five children, only two of whom are living: James M. and Prudence E. (widow of Jerry Ledbetter, in Texas). Those deceased are: John O.T., Cynthia N. and a daughter who died in infancy.



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