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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Book Reviews
Moses Austin: His Life. By David B. Gracy II. Foreword by Mary Austin
Perry Beretta. (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1987.
Pp. xx+303. Foreword, acknowledgments, preface, maps, illustra-
tions, photographs, notes, bibliography, index. $24.95.)
Less than six months before his death, Moses Austin arrived in San
Antonio on December 23, 182o. It was his first and last visit to the fu-
ture Lone Star State. The father of "The Father of Texas" is the subject
of David Gracy II's new, exhaustively researched biography. One hesi-
tates to proclaim any biography as definitive, but Gracy's work should
stand the test of time. It is difficult to imagine that anyone else in the
next several decades will attempt a second look at Moses Austin's life.
The ancestors of Moses and Stephen F. Austin were Puritan emi-
grants to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the late 163os. Richard Aus-
tin, the first of the clan and the great-great-grandfather of Moses,
settled near Boston. A century later, Elias Austin left the Bay Colony
for a new life in Connecticut where Moses, the youngest of his nine
children, was born in 1761.
As a young man, Moses Austin found employment as a tailor and be-
came part owner of a dry goods business. Gracy discounts the tradi-
tional view of Austin entering the lead mining business during his resi-
dence in Middletown, Connecticut. Instead, Moses first left home to
join an uncle in business in Philadelphia. Within a year he moved from
Pennsylvania to Richmond, Virginia, where he founded a branch of
the parent company, which he soon transformed into a separate entity
under the name of Moses Austin and Company.
In Virginia, Moses joined with his brother Stephen to first lease and
then own Lead Mines Tract at Bald Hill, Virginia. Neither of the broth-
ers had any experience in mining, but through hard work and political
connections they were able to amass a small fortune. Moses, however,
was consistently a "plunger." He could never rest easy with limited af-
fluence and success.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 29, 2016.

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