Thursday, April 12, 2007

Byron G. Austin - update 8/29/2016

Byron G. Austin was born in February 10, 1840, in Wayne County, New York, probably the son of either Isaac (b. 1814) and Harriet (b. 1814) or Alfred/Alferd (b. 1812) and Eliza (b. 1812).

New York natives Isaac and Harriet were married presumably in New York where they resided for some years before moving west, as did New Yorkers Alfred and Eliza. Sometime between 1842 and 1844 Alfred moved his family to Michigan, and by 1850 had settled in Boston, Ionia County. Sometime after 1848 Isaac and his family settled in Michigan and by 1850 they were living on a farm in Berlin (now Saranac), Ionia County; Byron was attending school and living with the Henry Perry family in Boston, Ionia County while two other Austin children (possibly belonging to Isaac and Harriet) were living with the Andrew Eddy family in Berlin, near Isaac’s farm.

By 1860 Byron was working as a farm laborer along with 18-year-old Isaac Austin (probably Isaac senior’s son) in Saranac, Ionia County, living with and/or working for the Hickson Eddy family; nearby lived Isaac and Harriet. Alfred and Eliza and their children were still living on a farm in Boston.

Byron stood 5’9” with gray eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion, and was 21 years old and still living in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.) Byron was discharged on July 28, 1861, at Arlington Heights, Virginia, for an inguinal hernia on the right side supposedly caused by the forced march to Bull Run on July 18 to 21.

Many years afterward, Byron stated that on July 21, “he was detailed to go for water for his company at the battle of Bull Run and while returning with the water his orderly sergeant [probably David Crawford] met him and handed him his gun and said the regiment was in full retreat and loaded with canteens filled with water he started on a run to overtake his regiment. It was over rough and uneven ground [and] he accidentally stepped into a hole and fell. He felt something give way in his groin, accompanied with a smart pain, which proved to be hernia or rupture. While encamped at Georgetown Heights near Washington, DC, he contracted chronic diarrhea or dysentery which brought on piles. . . .”

After his discharge Byron returned to Michigan and possibly went back to work for Hickson Eddy. Some years later one Elmore Eddy stated that he and Byron spent much of the time together between 1862 and 1867, and that during that period of time Byron was frequently sick with chronic diarrhea and piles.

In any event, Byron was living in Berlin (Saranac), Ionia County, when he applied for a pension (n. 394,769) in June of 1863; by 1910 he was drawing $10.00 per month.

He married Michigan native Margaret J. Young on February 1, 1868, in Orange, Ionia County.

By 1870 Byron and Margaret were living in Berlin; also living with them was 3-year-old Albert Eddy.

Byron remained in Ionia County until about 1873 when he moved to Sheridan, Montcalm County, where he lived until 1878 when he moved to Laingsburg, Shiawassee County. By 1880 Byron was working as a barber and living with his wife in Laingsburg, where he remained until about 1885 when he returned to Montcalm County, settling in Howard City, although he was apparently residing and working as a barber in Lansing in August of 1883 when he joined the Grand Army of the Republic Charles Foster no. 42 in Lansing (he was suspended from that post in December of 1884 and dropped in April of the following year).

In 1863 he applied for and received a pension (no. 394769).

He was reportedly living in Howard City in 1888 and 1890, and was probably a member of Grand Army of the Republic Jones Post No. 252 in Howard City; he was also possibly a member of Grand Army of the Republic Curtenius Post No. 192 in Laingsburg, Shiawassee County. Byron resided in Howard City until about 1892 when he moved west, settling in Thurston, Washington state. He lived there until 1897 when he moved to Lewis County, Washington. He then moved from Lewis County to Tacoma in 1906.

For many years Byron worked as a barber.

In 1909 Byron and his wife were living at 4628 J Street in Tacoma.

Byron was still living in Tacoma when he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 13, 1910. He was buried in Tacoma cemetery on September 15.

In 1910 his widow applied for a pension (no. 953052), but her claim was rejected on the grounds that the soldier did not serve the minimum of 90 days in the military to qualify for a pension, although he in fact did receive a pension himself.

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