52 Weeks – 52 Ancestors – Week 3
Joseph Austin –
This week I’m stepping back to Emma, my third great grandmother with a focus on her husband, Joseph Austin. In week 1 of this challenge, I wrote about Emma, a slave born in Georgia between 1837-1844. She had a son, Henry with a “Dutch Sea Captain” and after freedom traveled to Alabama to find kin, so the family verbal history goes. Verbal history is always iffy and more than likely changes over the generations. Henry was a mulatto and DNA of a male descendant gives some credence to the verbal history of Dutch ancestry. The part that Henry traveled with his mother from Georgia to Alabama is just part of the story.
By 1870, Emma is living in Township 4, Range 8, Town Creek, and Lawrence County, Alabama and is listed as Joseph Austin’s wife (1900 US Census states they have been married 32 years and making it about 1868). Joseph is head of the household until 1900 records. The following children, Henry, Harriett, Charity, Charley, Missy, Willie and Babe (later known as Cora) lived in the household. The children always used the Austin surname with the exception on Emma’s first child, Henry. One point of surprising interest as it pertains to the family verbal history is some of the other children were born in Georgia, Charity, Harriett, Missy and Charlie from 1862-1869. Questions arise about the verbal history for it may have been more than Emma with her son, Henry leaving Georgia after freedom. Did Joseph and Emma meet in Georgia or after her arrival in Alabama? How did a young recently freed woman travel with children? Did Joseph and Emma have children together before marrying or are there other fathers involved (later records state Charlie’s father was born in AL and Joseph was his stepfather)? When did the family arrive in Alabama? Where did Joseph and Emma marry, Georgia/Alabama or is there any documented proof? Some questions will be answered by research and others may not be answered. In 1870, there are five children born in Georgia with the youngest one, child not named that is one month old. Later records show his birth as in May. So it is fairly safe to say with the 1870 Census in this area taken place on 11 July 1870, the Joseph and Emma family recently settled in Town Creek. By the 1880 US Census, the family lived in Town Creek with two additional children, both born in Alabama, Willie and Babe (Cora) Austin.
Joseph Austin was born in Virginia about March 1820. No record has been found where he was in the military and it’s fairly certain or rather assumed that he was a slave yet somehow ended up in Alabama from Virginia. Looking at records prior to 1870 and during slavery days, there are a number of Austin families in Northwest Alabama. William Austin, Thomas Austin and Daniel Austin were a few of the planters/farmers in the Lawrence County area that more than likely owned slaves, considering the amount of land possessed by them. Thomas Austin was born in Virginia in 1807 and in the 1850 Census lived in District 5, Franklin County, Alabama; not too far from Lawrence County. He has a few things in common like born in Virginia, with Joseph and could have a tie to my Austin Family. Joseph apparently led in the household as a farmer, shared his surname, perhaps from a former owner with his wife and children living there along with those he fathered with his wife, Emma. Henry was listed twice in the 1880 US Census twice as Henry Austin. Once Henry is listed in the household where he lived with his mother, Emma and stepfather, Joseph along with his siblings. He is again listed as a laborer in the household of Mr. Pullman, his employer.
Joseph from 1870-1900, records appears to have been a farmer as a sharecropper or living on a tenant farm in Town Creek. By 1900, he is living in the home of his stepson, Charlie and biological son Willie or William. Joseph was eighty years old and probably could no longer maintain a farm by himself with his wife Emma. The children were grown and began their own families. In the 1910 Census, there is no record of Joseph Austin and Emma is living with Charlie, listed as a Widow. No death certificate is found for Joseph. He left his legacy with the Carroll/Cal Austin branch of our family for his son Willie had fifteen children with the Austin surname. Thank you, Joseph Austin for marrying Emma the slave girl from Georgia and raising the children along with giving them your surname. He not only shared a bloodline, he contributed more than we can possibly know.