John Austin, participant in the Long expedition, soldier, alcalde, and signer of the Turtle Bayou Resolutions, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on March 17, 1801, the son of Susan (Rogers) and John Punderson Austin. His middle name was Punderson, but apparently he dropped it before coming to Texas. As a youth he went to sea as a common sailor and joined the Long expedition in New Orleans in 1819. He was taken with other members of the expedition as a prisoner to Mexico, where after his release he contacted Stephen F. Austin, who had just received his grant from the Mexican authorities. Apparently the two men were only distantly related, if at all, but they formed a close personal friendship, and John Austin, after a brief trip to the United States in 1822, joined Stephen Austin at San Felipe and aided him in settling his original colonists.
On January 26, 1824, he made his bond as constable of the district of San Felipe de Austin. With financing mainly from Stephen Austin, he bought a cotton gin on Buffalo Bayou in July 1825, and a few months later he formed a partnership with J. E. B. Austin, younger brother of the empresario. The partnership was expanded to include a mercantile store in Brazoria, where both men continued to live until J. E. B. Austin's death in 1829.
John Austin's business interests grew to include cattle and shipping enterprises as well as the gin and store. He became port officer in 1831, alcalde of Brazoria Municipality in 1832, and delegate to the Convention of 1832. He also participated in the Anahuac Disturbances, was one of the group that returned to Brazoria for the cannon that occasioned the battle of Velasco, commanded at the battle of Velasco and received Gen. Domingo de Ugartechea's surrender, and later signed the Turtle Bayou Resolutions. Austin was subsequently elected brigadier general of the militia. He died at Gulf Prairie on August 11, in the same cholera epidemic in which his two children died. His wife, Elizabeth, survived and married Thomas F. L. Parrott in 1834. She turned over the upper league of John Austin's 1824 two-league grant to his father. On August 26, 1836, she and her husband sold for $5,000 the lower half of the John Austin league on Buffalo Bayou to Augustus C. and John K. Allen for the proposed township of Houston.
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Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). James A. Creighton, A Narrative History of Brazoria County (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Commission, 1975). Lois A. Garver, "Benjamin Rush Milam," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 38 (October 1934, January 1935). David G. McComb, Houston: The Bayou City (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969; rev. ed., Houston: A History, 1981). Edna Rowe, "The Disturbances at Anahuac in 1832," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6 (April 1903). Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Texas Collection, July 1962. Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 24, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 27, 2016