William H. Austin biography

WILLIAM H. AUSTIN, at one-time mayor of El Paso, in which office he made a creditable record, is now an extensive operator in real estate, developing some of the best residence portions of the city, so that his efforts are peculiarly advantageous to the city in its upbuilding and permanent improvement. He was born in Carroll county, Missouri, in 1858. His father, Archibald Austin, a native of Virginia, was a relative of Stephen F. Austin, famed in Texas history and in whose honor the city of Austin was named. The family came from the vicinity of Lynchburg, Virginia. Archibald Austin married Lucy R. Newman and removed to Carroll county, Missouri, at an early day. Being of southern birth and training, he was naturally drawn into the fierce contest that existed along the Kansas-Missouri line when the attempt was made by one faction to introduce slavery into the territories and by the other to prevent this. As a result of the troubles and Mr. Austin’s pronounced views on questions of the state, he lost his life, being killed in 1861. His widow in later years came to Texas to live with her son William, and died in El Paso in 1886. She was a sister of E. S. Newman, Tom Newman, the well-known pioneer and businessman of this city, and of H. L. Newman, the banker and real estate dealer.

William H. Austin spent much of his youth in Leavenworth, Kansas, until eighteen years of age, when in 1875 he went to Fort Worth, Texas, where he secured a position in the well-known pioneer banking house of Tidball, Van Zandt & Company. At another period he was with the First National Bank, also one of the early financial institutions of the county, established by Captain Loyd. In those two institutions, he received a thorough knowledge of and training in the banking business. In the spring of 1881, he decided to come west and take part in the development of El Paso, just then in the early states of progress and improvement brought about by the prospective completion of a transcontinental railroad. He arrived in the city on the 21st of March, 1881, before the completion of the railroad, coming in by way of Deming.

In April, 1881, Mr. Austin in connection with C. R. Morehead took part in the establishment of the State National Bank, the pioneer bank of El Paso, and was made its cashier with Mr. Morehead as the president. Mr. Austin, however, was the real manager and head of the institution. He continued with the State National as cashier until the later part of 1886, when he became interested in another local national bank. later he became a partner in the bank of H. L. Newman & Company, of which he was cashier. Eventually, he retired from the institution and the bank became the Lowdon National Bank. Mr. Austin’s next step in the business life was as a real estate operator in El Paso and for several years he was in partnership with the Newmans, the firm for some time being the Newman-Austin Investment Company. The firm is now Austin & Marr, his partner being his son-in-law, James L. Marr. They constitute the leading real estate firm of the town with a large clientage, and a business large in volume and importance makes the enterprise one of value to the city. Mr. Austin is extensively interested financially in various fine business properties, and the firm is the exclusive representative in the somewhat remarkable real estate development now taking place in the East El Paso district as represented by the East El Paso Town Company, also in the upbuilding of Altura Park, a select residence district. Mr. Austin is also interested in the Golden Hill addition. These are all in East El Paso, where the largest development of the city is now taking place and where its growth is now centered. Through the efforts of Mr. Austin, unsightly vacancies have been transformed into fine residence districts with all modern equipments and improvements, and his efforts have been of practical and permanent good.

In official lines, too, Mr. Austin has rendered valuable service to the city, especially during his mayoralty, extending from 1893 until 1895. In other ways, too, he has co-operated in measures for the benefit of El Paso, and his labors have been far-reaching and beneficial.

Mr. Austin was united in marriage to Miss Sue Maude Mason of Warren county, Tennessee, who has long been one of the prominent women in the social life of El Paso. They have three daughters: Lucy, Maude and Lillian, and the first named is now the wife of James L. Marr. Fraternally Mr. Austin is connected with the Elks and the Pioneer Association, and also with the Chamber of Commerce, the Miners’ Association and other local organizations. He is animated by a public-spirited interest in El Paso and its welfare that is most commendable and at the same time has so directed his private business affairs as to gain a place among the successful men of the city.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 547-548.