Original Family Narrative* (OFN)

(exactly as written, probably before 1901, by one of
Thomas P. Austen’s nine children, not named within)

Pearce Mill, Pine Twp., PA (c.1925)

My Grandfather, Chas. Austen, was born in Kent County England. His ancestors were the Old Brittons that came to England hundreds of years ago, their descendants are in Derbyshire, England. Elizabeth Collins and Richard Mears are cousins of my father, Thos. P. Austen. They are in Derbyshire, England. Dudley, in Derbyshire, England is the post office. Mrs. Charlotte Hale is a sister of my Grandmother and at one time lived in Wiltshire. When Grandfather Austen became a young man he enlisted in the English Army. My great Grandfather bought him a lieutenancy in the Army and Navy, four and one half years in the army and four and a half years in the navy. His uncle Charles Austen, was a captain of a Man of War, and at the time that the Spanish Armada intended to invade England, the Man of War that Grandfather was Lieutenant on was sent out to reconnoiter. They met the Spanish Armada and had to retreat, as the Spaniards were too many for them. After the Armada was destroyed in the English Channel, Grandfather was appointed in the Army. This gave him access to the Royal family and admitted him to the Palace in King George IV time. He there met Princess Adelaide and Charlotte. Princess Adelaide was mother of the present Queen Victoria.

Grandfather has danced with all the Princesses in King George IV time. He was admitted to all the festivities of the Royal family. At that time his position in the army gave him prestige. He was their escort frequently then with his squad of men. After Grandfather Austen left the army, his father purchased the right to live in the castle on Castle Gate Manor, for one hundred years, it was called the Pepper com. Right. It was a large sheep range, and they had some thousands of sheep. After four years he became dissatisfied and sold out, sold his right to the castle, sold all his immense herds of sheep and went to St. Albans, there he stayed four years, then went to Litchborough, and two years time started for America.

Grandfather Austen married Sarah Pearce in 1813, of Bourne, England, whom he met at a fair some twenty eight miles from Bourne. He was in company with his sister, Susan, at the time Sarah Pearce was accompanied by her twin brother Richard Pearce, and a friendship grew between them which resulted in their marriage. In the meantime an intimacy sprang up between Richard Pearce and Susan Austen, and in time they were also married. The two couple stood up and were married at the same time, they were married in the Marybone Church, which was called the Queen’s Church, and Royalty attended their wedding. Grandmother, after being married to Grandfather, went to his father’s house, and Susan went to Richard Pearce’s house, and stayed eight days, and then packed up all their belongings. Grandmother had two eight horse wagon loads of household goods. The horses had bells on them that played tunes such as, God Save the King, etc. Likewise, Susan had as many household goods as my Grandmother, and it was arranged to meet on a certain long bridge that crossed a river that ran near Bourne, and when they met to pass all the teams were stopped and a great time was held. Bottles of wine were broken and faith was pledged again and again. My Grandmother and Grandfather went to Castle Gate Manor, and Susan and her husband, Richard Pearce, took lodging in London. My Grandmother and Susan were left at their homes and Grandfather Austen and Richard Pearce, Susan’s husband, came to America to find homes for them there. They were four weeks on the ocean on a sail ship, they landed in New York, this was in the year 1820.

They took stage in New York for Philadelphia, took stage from there to Pittsburgh, where they became acquainted to a Mr. Robt. Davis, who had a brother-in-law by the name of Wm. Cochran who was the owner of four hundred acres of land that the government owned, or rather Wm. Cochran had charge of this land, on Pine Creek, twelve miles from Pittsburgh on the Butler Turnpike Road. Wm. Cochran offered to sell them land at fifty cents per acre and they bought fifty acres a piece from him. Grandfather’s land was on the east side of the creek and the land of Richard Pearce was on the west side of Pine Creek. On the Pearce property was an old log cabin and a mill site, he chose that as he was a miller by trade, he commenced at one and repaired the mill and mill-dam and mill-race course. On the Grandfather Austen property there was not a building at all, but fine pasture land for cattle and sheep, he built a log house, or took out timber for a house. In the fall of 1820 they both disposed of all their property, all started for America on the 10th March, 1821, they set sail from London Docks for America, they were nine weeks on the ocean, had a tempestuous voyage, ran out of provisions, was in a storm off the Bay of Biscay, landed in New York about the last of April 1821, took stage for Philadelphia, there Richard Pearce purchased a team of horses and a light wagon and sent on ahead, in two weeks time Grandfather Austen’s family, which consisted of five persons, himself, Grandmother, Susan, Charles and Thomas, his children. Grandfather bought a team of horses, and Mr. Toogood and family of wife and two children, bought the wagon, they put all their goods on this wagon and started for Pittsburgh, they were one month on the way, arrived in Pittsburgh in the month of June 1821, they then went out to Pine Creek and found things just about as they had left them. Grandfather found it very hard work to farm and was much discouraged and was on the point of going back to England several times. Between the Austen and Pearce families they always lived happily, never had any falling out. Both Richard Pearce and Grandfather Austen had never done much labour work in England, however, they both lived to a good old age and were gathered to rest, and both are buried in the old grave yard at the Cross Road Presbyterian Church, where they and their families were wont to worship.

*A shorter version was done sometime later emphasizing the Pearce Family. See comments by British historian R. J. Penhey in abbreviated form (also available in a full 3-part series), Austen family historian Caroline Pinkers,  and Richard Pearce’s great-great-grandson Larry Pearce to follow in this series.


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