Benjamin F., Isaac and James Austin

Benjamin F. Austin was born 1840 in Onondaga County, New York, probably the son of John (b. 1805) and Eliza (b. 1806).

Benjamin’s parents were both born in New York and presumably married there. In any case, John and Eliza left New York sometime between 1847 and 1848 by which time they had settled in Michigan. By 1850 Benjamin was living with his siblings and parents on a farm in Lebanon, Clinton County. (Cornelius Austin, who would also enlist in Company I, Third Michigan, was also from Lebanon, Clinton County.)

Benjamin was married to Mary Prentice (d. 1860) in late 1859 or early 1860.

By 1860 he was working as a lumberman and living in Robinson, Ottawa County, Michigan next door to the Isaac Johnston farm where his brother Ira Austin lived and/or worked. Sometime during the latter part of 1860 Mary died in Robinson.

Benjamin stood 5’7” with gray eyes, black hair and a dark complexion and was 21 years old and probably living in the Spring Lake area of Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with his brothers (?) Ira and James Austin, and his cousin (?) Cornelius. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County. )

By late June of 1862 he was sick in a hospital in Bottom’s Bridge, Virginia, suffering from fever, ague and consumption. He soon recovered, rejoined the Regiment and was wounded on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. He was subsequently sent to a general hospital, and although still absent sick he was reportedly promoted to Corporal on October 20, 1862.

Benjamin remained hospitalized until he was discharged on April 9, 1863, at the Convalescent Camp, near Alexandria, Virginia, for accidental loss of his fore and middle fingers of his right hand. According to a statement he gave after the war, he lost his fingers while digging a ditch on March 20, “that one David E. Taylor [of Company I] was using the axe, while he was pulling out roots, that the axe in the hands of said Taylor cut off [his fingers]. . . .”

Following his discharge Benjamin returned to Grand Haven, Ottawa County and reentered the service in Company A, Twenty-seventh Michigan Infantry on May 15, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Ravenna, Muskegon County, and was mustered on May 16; he listed his occupation as sailor. (One Cornelius Austin, probably the same Cornelius who had served in Company I, Third Michigan, also enlisted in Company A, Twenty-seventh, but on March 24 in Clinton County.)

It is unclear when Benjamin joined the Twenty-seventh -- the regiment was actively engaged in the Wilderness and Spotsylvania and North Anna battles during May. Benjamin was reported on detached service in August and absent sick from September of 1864 until February of 1865. He quite possibly rejoined his regiment by the spring of 1865 and participated in the Appomattox campaign, the occupation of Petersburg and lee’s surrender. The regiment moved to Washington in late April and participated in the Grand Review on May 23. He was mustered out as a Corporal (promoted probably on June 1, 1865) along with the regiment on July 26, 1865, at Delaney House, DC.

After the war Benjamin returned to Michigan and by 1865 was probably living in Grand haven, Ottawa County when he applied for a pension.

He married his second wife New York native Effie Jane Post (1849-1921), on September 3, 1866, at Grand Rapids; they had four children: Joseph (b. 1867), Jennie (1868-69), Addie (b. 1874) and Mertie (b. 1878).

By 1870 (?) he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and son in Robinson, Ottawa County (his brother James Austin and his family lived nearby). He was living in Greenbush, Clinton County in 1876, but by 1878 had settled in Edgewood, Gratiot County, where he worked as a farmer for many years.

Benjamin was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Hamilton Township in 1880, and in Edgewood in 1883 drawing $4.00 per month (pension no. 57,258) and $12.00 by 1904.

He was still residing in Edgewood in 1888 and 1890, and in fact probably lived most of his postwar years in Edgewood, working as a farmer, although he may have been a member of Grand Army of the Republic Loomis Post No. 2 in Quigley, Branch County.

Benjamin died of cystitis on December 14, 1904, probably at his home in Ithaca, Hamilton Township, Gratiot County, and was buried in Hamilton cemetery.

His widow was still residing in Hamilton Township in 1905 when she applied for and received pension (no. 600369), drawing $90.00 in 1921.

Ira Austin also known as “Astin”, was born 1843 in Lysander, Onondaga County, New York, probably the son of John (b. 1805) and Eliza (b. 1806).

Ira’s parents were both born in New York and presumably married there. In any case, John and Eliza left New York sometime between 1847 and 1848 by which time they had settled in Michigan. By 1850 Ira was living with his siblings and parents on a farm in Lebanon, Clinton County. (Cornelius Austin, who would also enlist in Company I, Third Michigan, was also from Lebanon, Clinton County.) By 1860 he was working as a farm laborer in Robinson, Ottawa County, and living with and/or working on the Isaac Stanton farm (near by lived his brother Benjamin who would also enlist in Company I).

Ira stood 6’1” with gray eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 18 years old and probably still living in Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with his brothers (?) Ben and James Austin, and his cousin (?) Cornelius. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County. )

Ira was present for duty from March of 1862 through October, and was wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13, 1862. He was subsequently absent wounded in Chestnut Hill hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from January of 1863 through April – in fact William Cobb of Company I also noted in a letter written on April 21 that Ira was still in Chestnut Hill. In May he was on detached service with the Veterans’ Reserve Corps where he remained through August. However, he eventually returned to the Regiment and was present for duty in September and October.

Ira reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Hamburg, Livingston County, and was absent on veteran’s furlough for thirty days from December 30, 1863. He probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February and was promoted to Corporal on April 1, 1864. He was listed as missing in action on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia, and was transferred as a Corporal and a prisoner-of-war to Company I, Fifth Michigan Infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864 and was mustered out as a prisoner-of-war on June 20, 1864.

There is no further record, and no pension seems to be available. It is likely that Ira in fact died in prison.

James Austin was born March 11 or 12, 1836, in Onondaga County, New York, probably the son of John (b. 1805) and Eliza (b. 1806).

James’ parents were both born in New York and presumably married there. In any case, John and Eliza left New York sometime between 1847 and 1848 by which time they had settled in Michigan. By 1850 James was living with his siblings and parents on a farm in Lebanon, Clinton County. (Cornelius Austin, who would also enlist in Company I, Third Michigan, was also from Lebanon, Clinton County.)

James was married to New York native Julia A. (1837-1904), probably in New York, and they had at least three children: George (b. 1861), Lorna (b. 1865) and Robert (b. 1866). By 1860 he was living with his wife Julia and working as a laborer in Ottawa or Grand Haven, Ottawa County.

James stood 5’10” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, was unable to read or write and was 25 years old and still living in Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with his brothers (?) Ira and Ben Austin, and his cousin (?) Cornelius. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County. )

According to Joseph Rounds of Company G, while the Regiment was engaged in a picket skirmish at Charles City Cross-roads on or about June 29, 1862, several companies were formed behind a rail fence and a shot from the enemy cannon struck the rails in turn striking James in the left side fracturing three ribs and breaking his collar bone, “causing blood to run out of [his] mouth and nose” and knocking him unconscious. Rounds further stated that while James was unconscious, “he was run over by [a] piece of artillery causing a compound fracture of the left ankle.”

James was initially hospitalized in the Regimental hospital near Yorktown, Virginia, and eventually transferred to a general hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which he entered on July 6 or 7. By late summer of 1862 James was probably suffering from an injured foot and hospitalized in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In late July he informed an agent for the Michigan Soldiers’ Aid Association that he believed he would soon be discharged, and in fact, he was discharged for talipes valgus (clubfoot) on August 7, 1862, at the general hospital in West Philadelphia.

After his discharge from the army James may have returned to Lysander, New York but soon found his way back to Michigan where he worked as a mechanic and farmer for much of his life. He was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Robinson, Ottawa County in 1870 (Ben Austin lived nearby) and in Nirvana, Mecosta County in 1886, in Newaygo County in 1888, in Troy Township, Newaygo County in 1890, and at no. 5 RFD in St. Johns in 1905 when he testified in the pension application of his younger brother Benjamin. (He may also lived at one time in Lake County.)

By 1904 James had learned to read and write, and the following year he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. James was a Protestant, and received pension no. 387,815, at the initial rate of $2.00, increased to $15.00 by 1907.

He was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 4244) on April 8, 1904, and he was living at the Home in 1907. He was also a member of GAR Grisson Post No. 156 in St. Johns.

James was taken sick on November 18, 1910, and died a widower of pneumonia, at 7:35 p.m. on November 20, 26 or 27, 1910, at the Home. His body was sent to St. Johns for burial in Mt. Rest cemetery.