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A Guide to the Henry and Hettie Austin Papers

Finding aid created by Alice Oben

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
January 2013

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Austin family
Title: Henry and Hettie Austin Papers
Dates: 1871-1940
Bulk dates: 1876-1903
Abstract: Collection of letters by members of the Austin family and newspaper clippings documenting pioneer life in DeLand, Florida.
Extent: 0.2 Linear feet. 1 box.
Identification: MS 319
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

Henry Austin and his wife Hettie, both originally from New Albany, Indiana, settled in Florida in the 1870s in the area that is now modern-day DeLand. Austin arrived in 1875 and built their homestead near Lake Beresford. Hettie followed in 1876. The family operated a general store with Austin's nephew, John Cannon, and also grew a variety of different crops including oranges and pineapples. Henry Austin died in 1904. His wife Hettie lived into her eighties and was often cited in local newspaper stories about the early history of DeLand.

Scope and Content

The letters and newspaper clippings in this collection document homesteading in central Florida in the last quarter of the 19th century. The Austins were involved in establishing orange groves and pineapple fields in the vicinity of Lake Beresford, west of DeLand. They frequently wrote to family, describing how they were progressing and encouraging others to move to Florida. Letters in this collection deal with many topics, and include notes about Henry Austin's and John Cannon's reconnaissance of DeLand, Fort Reid, Orlando, Maitland, Titusville and other places in 1875.

The bulk of the information in the letters revolves around the day to day life and hardships of planting and commerce. Letters tend to be lengthy and detailed. Early letters give accounts of clearing land, planting orange trees, soil conditions, natural surroundings, and suitable crops. Others tell of the progress made on Austin's homestead as well as the increasing activity in the area, with Austin describing how the county was filling up. A letter to Hettie Austin from Miami in 1898 includes a description of troops awaiting departure to the Spanish American War. It also describes the festivities that took place in Miami on the Fourth of July 1898, and the involvement of the troops in these festivities.

A family history by Hettie Austin discusses her project to get subscriptions from settlers to establish a local church. These subscriptions would eventually result in the first public building in DeLand.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Henry and Hettie Austin Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

This collection was acquired by purchase from Gregory Beyhmer in 2012.

Contents List

1 Partial family history by Hettie Austin (see newspaper clippings)
1 Newspaper clippings
1 Brother (unnamed) to Henry Austin. Jan. 25, 1871
1 Notes of John Cannon's and Henry Austin's first travels in Florida (?). 1875
1 Henry Austin to his sister. Feb 13, 1876
1 Henry Austin to his sister. July 2, 1876
1 Henry Austin to his sister. August 27, 1876
1 Henry Austin to his sister. Sept. 20, 1876
1 Henry Austin to sister Lizzie. Oct. 4, 1876
1 Henry Austin to his sister. Dec. 28, 1876
1 Henry Austin to his sister. Dec. 19. 1878
1 Henry Austin to sister Lizzie. Dec. 7, 1879
1 Henry Austin to his wife Hettie. Oct. 17, 1881
1 Letter to Hettie Austin (?) Miami. 1898
1 Harry B. Austin to Miles M.V. Wilsey. June 6, 1900
1 Henry Austin to his daughter Nell. Sept. 10, 1900
1 Henry Austin to his daughter Nell. June 2, 1903

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

De Land (Fla.) -- History

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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