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Lost Creek - Austin Reunion

John Austin moved into Tennessee and located a plantation in Hickory Valley around 1807 or 1808. John’s first recorded property tax was in 1811. John’s brother, Nathaniel Austin, moved into Tennessee sometime prior to 1817. Nathaniel paid taxes on 175 acres in 1817, and through the next few years, accumulated 1200 acres in an area known as Lost Creek which is located approximately 7 miles southeast of the city of Sparta, Tennessee. A cemetery for the John and Nathaniel Austin families was established and located on the Nathaniel Austin plantation on a knoll approximately 150 yards west of the plantation home of Nathaniel Austin. The first family member buried in the cemetery was probably Rachael Denny, first wife of John Austin. Rachael was believed to have died in 1818. Jackson Austin, 5 year old son of Nathaniel, was the first documented family member to be buried in the cemetery in 1823. The last family member to be buried in the cemetery was James Frazier, son of Susan Austin, and grandson of Nathaniel. James was buried in 1916. Eleven-year-old Clifford Holman was the last person buried in the cemetery. He was no relation to the Austin’s, but was living on the remaining acreage of the plantation at the time of his accidental death in 1939. Clifford’s parents were given permission to bury their son on the grounds. Perhaps the most tragic time for the Austin family was the loss of three of Nathaniel Glenn Austin’s children within a thirteen-month time period. Nathaniel Glenn was the youngest son of Nathaniel. Four-year-old Nathan was buried on July 7, 1854, followed by 6-month old Susan on September 7, 1854. On August 27, 1855, another daughter, 3-year-old Isabelle was buried in the family cemetery. A typhoid epidemic devastated the population in the area during this time frame, but it is not known that these children died of this disease. Upon his death, Nathaniel Austin Willed the remaining plantation property to his daughters, Susan Frazier and Elizabeth Austin (who never married). His Will also stipulated that his grandson, James Frazier and wife Catherine remain and manage the property, and that the plantation was to support both his daughters and the James Frazier family. On April 8, 1888, Susan and Elizabeth conveyed the title to the one acre cemetery tract to a committee of Austin’s for the perpetuation of the cemetery “to be used forever as a family grave yard.” Susan Frazier died in 1889. It is assumed that Elizabeth Austin Willed the remaining plantation property to her nephew, James Frazier upon her death in 1896, since he was living there at the time. Since James had no heirs, he must have Willed the property to another Austin line upon his death in 1916, if indeed he was the owner. The Plantation, with the exception of the cemetery, was sold out of the Austin family in 1924. The Lost Creek Austin Cemetery Association was formed in 1964 by a group of Austin descendants in order to preserve the cemetery. The State of Tennessee granted them a charter to operate as a perpetual and nonprofit Association on August 16, 1978. On August 21, 1978, a trust fund was set up to be used solely for the maintenance and beatification of the Austin cemetery. Recognition must be given to the late Bess Austin Machtley, who was the prime mover in 1964 to restore the cemetery, and in forming the association. A monument was prepared and erected in 1971 to honor the deeds and perpetuate the memory of John and Nathaniel Austin families. Bess Machtley speculated that James Austin, 2nd son of Nathaniel, may be buried in this cemetery. Written by: Ralph Leroy Austin (deceased), Oct 1991.

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