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Emily Austin of Texas, 1795-1851

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  • Posted April 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A MEMORABLE WOMAN

    As stated in the Introduction "Biography as a form of analysis seeks to understand the relationship between the normal and the unusual in the life of its subject."
    If, considering the date and place of her birth, one hazarded a guess as to what would be normal in the course of Emily Austin's life it's safe to say that no one would have come close. She was a Southerner born and bred in Austinville, Virginia. There she was surrounded by family, including her brother, Stephen, who was two years older. Austinville was beautiful, nature at its finest, very little like the Gulf Prairie of Texas where she was to spend most of her life.
    When Emily's father's mining business experienced reversals Moses Austin closed his business at New River mines, and moved the family to Spanish territory just south of St. Louis, later known as Missouri. The family would face financial difficulties again beginning in 1814 with an economic depression in the lead industry. With the death of Moses Austin, the family appeared to have been separated, but in 1822 Emily "wanted to move to Texas and reassemble the Austin family there." Thus, her Texas life began.
    In later years she more than proved her mettle with the founding of Austin college, and the organization of a Texas railroad. Through thorough research and assiduous reading of correspondence the author gives us a very close look at the remarkable Emily Austin, what teachings formed her and how she developed into the fascinating personality that played such a large part in Texas history.
    - Gail Cooke

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