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March 21, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: The Austin Family, Part IV


Buckingham County, North River – Photo by Joanne L. Yeck

For Sale: Estate of Archibald Austin

Advertisements for the sale of plantations in Buckingham County frequently offer interesting details about life in the 19th century. This advertisement, which ran in the Richmond newspapers, in the spring and summer of 1843, was for the estate of Archibald Austin. It is striking that his widow, born Grace Richardson Booker, is referred to as Mrs. Grace Austin, rather than Mrs. Archibald Austin. (Grace was a Booker of the Booker Gold Mine.) Additionally, it reveals that, by mid-century, many of the oldest cultivated lands in Buckingham County may have been worn out and, that progressive planters, like the Austins, were already revitalizing their tracts by planting clover and plaster. This advertisement ran in Richmond’s The Whig:


THE undersigned will sell the Tract of LAND, of which the late Archibald Austin, dec’d, died, possessed, and upon which his widow, Mrs. Grace Austin now resides, in the county of Buckingham, containing about 966 acres. This land is located about 8 miles from the Court-house, 7 miles from the landing at Hardwiksville (Wingina) on the James and Kanawha River Canal, seven or 8 miles from an excellent Manufacturing Mill, and 1 ½ miles from the Slate River Academy. The north fork of Slate River and Austin’s Creek run entirely through this tract, affording 127 ½ acres of excellent bottom land; eighty-five acres of which on north river, are now in fine condition to produce Tobacco, Wheat and Corn. The flat land on Austin’s Creek is sufficiently fertile to produce grain of every kind without any aid whatever, and with judicious cultivation might be made rich enough to produce Tobacco of a very fine quality. All the cleared high land was originally a very superior quality, and is susceptible of a very high degree of improvement as is very apparent from the fact, that some 40 or 50 acres of the oldest and most worn parts of the tract, have, within the last few years been converted by the use of Clover and Plaster alone into rich and productive Tobacco lots. Between three and four hundred acres of the high land is now in original growth, one hundred acres of which is first rate Tobacco land. There is on the tract a great abundance of excellent plant land. The improvements are an excellent two story Dwelling House, entirely new, large and commodious, having two rooms and a passage above and below stairs, and a wing; a new Stable, Granary, Threshing Machine, two framed Tobacco Barns, all built of the very best materials, and all out-houses necessary for so large and establishment, in excellent repair. This land is well watered and situated in a healthy, agreeable, intelligent and moral neighborhood. A more particular description is unnecessary, as it is presumed all persons wishing to purchase will view the land and judge it for themselves.

The undersigned will also sell another Tract of Land adjoining the above, containing between 12 and 1300 acres. There are several Creeks running through this tract affording some three or four hundred acres of land, of very fine quality, which produces good crops of Grain, Grass and Tobacco. The Tobacco raised on this land at all times commands the highest prices, much the largest portion of this land is yet in original growth, heavily timbered with Pine, Oak and Chesnut (sic). As all the persons interested in the above tracts of land are desirous to remove to Missouri, the undersigned will sell them upon the most liberal and accommodating terms. – The lands will be shewn to persons wishing to see them by Thomas Austin, or either of his brothers living on them, or Dr. James M. Austin, who resides at Buckingham Court-house.

GRACE AUSTIN, Executrix and



Executors of A. Austin, deceased.

The Enquirer will copy.


The move to Missouri was either postponed or never happened. In 1850, Grace Austin still resided in Buckingham County with her son, Thomas, and her daughters, Frances and Grace. Dr. James M. Austin lived at Buckingham Court House.

Land tax records indicate that some or all of the land was transferred to the children and/or husbands of the Austin family, including the Wrights and Twymans.

Click here for more about Slate River Academy.

Was the Manufacturing Mill mentioned Fallsburg Mills? Click here to learn more about that property:

For Sale: Fallsburg Mills

Fallsburg Mills: Part II

Coming Next: Slate River Lands for Sale!


Leave a Comment
  1. L Campbell / Jan 26 2023 9:02 pm

    Note that the advertisement says that the house is “entirely new, large and commodious”. This fits well with a lawsuit by William Shepherd, who stated to the Buckingham Circuit Court that the heirs of Archibald Austin had engaged him to build a large new dwelling house, as the previous one was small and in a ruinous state when Archibald Austin died in 1837.

    There was some sort of confusion about who was to pay Shepherd the money, so he sued the estate and won. In 1845 he was awarded the sum of $510.40 plus interest from the 13th of January 1840, which is likely when the house was completed.

    Thus, it appears as if the current house at Westfield is about 50-some years newer than was thought. It is not known whether Shepherd incorporated the original house into the new, maybe it’s the “wing” spoken of in the ad. The old house is only mentioned in a bill for re-roofing it in 1819 and putting stone supports under it to level the floors.

    The 966 acres appears to have consisted of ~ 325 acres bought from Thomas & Mary Saunders in 1809, 542 acres from Thomas Whitlock in 1811, and 96 1/3 from the heirs of Joseph Scott in 1811-12 and 3 acres bought from William Moore / William H. Perkins in 1815.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 28 2023 6:21 am

      Keep posting these informative comments!

  2. Joanne Yeck / Nov 4 2022 1:16 pm


    Terrific quotes from the Austin files. I sure hope searches for the Austin family lead people to your comments!


  3. L Campbell / Nov 3 2022 8:50 pm

    Update: I located a letter on reel 30 of the Austin Twyman papers from Grace Austin’s attorney answering a January 9 1855 letter from Iverson Twyman asking how to proceed with probating Grace’s estate. There was also a summons dated 19 Jan 1855 in Buckingham county Court summoning the executor and heirs of Grace Austin to court to answer a lawsuit against them by their brother Bernard Gaines Austin.

    • Joanne Yeck / Nov 4 2022 5:54 am

      Thanks, Les.

      • L Campbell / Nov 4 2022 8:49 am

        I know no one is coming looking for the Austins. Of the 11 children I’ve found, most died young/unmarried or had children who died in infancy.

        That being said, I’ve read probably 7000 pages of microfilm in the last two months and if these people were even marginally famous, there would be at least a Netflix documentary about them.

        The letters between siblings read like a Faulkner novel.

        “Well, I see brother is coming back home and we all know what that means. Before he arrives, we need to form a phalanx against him so that it will be ‘war to the knife and knife to the hilt’ when he arrives.”

        Who talks like that about their family?

        “Only twelve years after Papa died leaving a good estate (Note: he left an estate worth about 40-50 thousand dollars, or $1.6 million in today’s money) and we’ve had to sell 43 (slaves), 200 acres of land and are 4000 in debt. What is to become of little Grace? Shall she remain uneducated? She was Papa’s favorite. Mother must resign herself to moving off the land and selling it all”.

        From a former slave: “They was all well educated but kind of dissipated; most of them lost everything they had…”

  4. L. Campbell / Jul 2 2022 9:13 pm

    I believe I have located at least evidence for the date of Grace Booker Austin’s death. In examining Buckingham County property tax images on microfilm at the LDS website, familysearch dot org, I noted that Archibald Austin Est (estate) was listed each year following his death, enumerating enslaved persons, livestock, carriages, clocks, watches, gold and silver, etc. (these are the un-indexed images, so they can’t be searched using the LDS name search, you have to examine them page by page).

    These listings changed little over the years until 1855. On 09 May 1854, Archibald Austin’s estate was listed with 12 slaves, 6 horses, 74 cattle, 1 carriage, and 3 watches. The other Austins on the property tax list were John, Thomas, Archibald Jr, James, and James, Jr.

    In 1855, (date not given, although the entries were signed off on and verified on 04 Jul 1855), there were a couple of new entries under “Archibald Austin Est” that weren’t there before. Gracey Austin Estate listed 1 slave over 16, 4 horses, 78 cattle, 1 carriage and zero watches”…a couple of the Austin males, Thomas and James Jr. had watches that they did not have in 1854. This represented most of the inventory of Archibald Austin estate listed in previous years, which Gracey would have had use of during her natural life or until she remarried.

    Also new to the property tax list were daughters Gracey & Francis, both of who were over 21 in 1855, and were listed in the 1850 US census with their mother Grace and brother Thomas, and in 1860 living with Dr. Iverson Twyman. Gracey & Francis were taxed for 6 slaves 12-16.

    To me, this information seems to indicate that Grace R. Booker Austin had died and distributed some of her slaves to her children. Since there is no will to be had, the property tax records are about the best we can do, and if I had to guess, I would say that Grace R. Austin died sometime between 09 May 1854 and 04 Jul 1855.

    I did not find her listed in the death records for Buckingham county, and her estate listing never appeared again subsequently to that single year, 1855.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jul 3 2022 6:51 am


      Many thanks for your detailed addition to the Archibald Austin Estate. Here’s hoping another Austin researcher finds it useful.



  1. Buckingham Notables: The Austin Family, Part V | slate river ramblings . . . .

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