Simcoe's senior Business Man
and one of our most highly respected citizens died suddenly.
Had passed the venerable age of 84 years
On Saturday afternoon last,
about two o'clock, Mr. Jonathan Austin quietly breathed his last.
He had been up and about the day
previous, taking an interest in the gardening operations at his house
and feeling well and comfortable.
Shortly after midnight he was
taken ill and medical aid being summoned, the termination of his long
and useful life at an early moment, was pronounced. He lingered as told
above until the following afternoon, then peacefully drifted from time
Mr. Austin had for years been a
singularly interesting link with the early history of our community. Born
on the Austin homestead in Woodhouse, 4 Dec 1821, he came to Simcoe when a
mere lad of 12 years, and from that time he had been a resident of the
His father, Solomon Austin, was
the eldest son of Solomon Austin, to whom Governor John Greaves Simcoe
granted 1,200 acres of land in Woodhouse in 1793, and who was the pioneer
settler of that township.
Solomon Austin, the younger,
accompanied his father when he made his tour of inspection to locate his
lands. They traveled through the forest on foot from Newark or Niagara to
the reservation of Chief Joseph Brant. who directed them their course to a
stream, now the River Lynn, which they followed to the lake. From that
point they made a circuit along the Bay shore to Big Creek, up Big Creek
to a point above the present village of Delhi, thence south easterly to
their old trail and down to Lynn Valley, where they decided to locate.
The details of this pioneer tramp
through Norfolk Mr. Jonathan Austin had at his finger's ends and delighted
to relate as he had it from his father. This trip was made in 1793 and Mr.
Jonathan Austin's first hand knowledge of it certainly took us back
further into pioneer days than any person now remaining.
When Mr. Austin came to Simcoe to
live it was to be apprenticed as a painter to Hatch & Farnham, cabinet
makers, Mr. Farnham afterwards becoming his brother-in-law through his
marriage with his sister Elizabeth. Other sisters were Mrs. Nathan Pegg,
Mrs. William Shand and Mrs. Henry Paskins.
In 1849, brothers. Jonathan and
John S. Austin established a large carriage making business, which was by
them conducted most energetically for a number of years. Later John S.
withdrew from the firm and his place was taken by John Scott.
Subsequently, Mr. Austin sold his interest to Mr. Scott.
Meanwhile, Mr. Austin had become
interested in the drug business, and it was with this establishment that
he was connected, together with his younger son, ex-Mayor Charles A.
Austin, at the time of his death.
Mr. Austin married in July 1843
the lady who now survives him as his widow. She was Miss Harriett Beemer,
daughter of Philip Beemer. In 1893 Mr. and Mrs. Austin celebrated their
golden wedding anniversary. The celebration was one of the largest of its
kind ever held in the community, something like 400 guests being present.
Mr. Austin's family consisted of
two sons and two daughters. The elder son is Mr. James B. Austin of
Washington, D.C., the younger Charles, mentioned above, Mrs. W. O, Foster
of St. Thomas is a daughter. The other daughter, Mrs. Arthur J. Clark of
Port Arthur, died years ago.
Mr. Austin was a prominent
official and consistent member of the Simcoe Methodist church for 45
years, having joined in 1861, under the ministry of Rev. James Preston. In
politics he was, as his family has ever been, a staunch Liberal.
The funeral on Monday afternoon
was largely attended by the people of the community, the stores of the
town being shut at the time as a mark of respect to the deceased.
pallbearers we Messrs. A. J. Donly, G. F. Counter, Joseph Brook, Daniel
Matthews, J. Thos. Murphy and Ebon Edmonds.
His mortal form was laid away in
beautiful Oakwood, to the establishment of which he had contributed
greatly and over whose Board of Directors he presided for 21 years.