According to traditional sources, Benjamin Austin was born in June 1756. Thus, he would have been a middle child in the large family of Joseph and Abigail Allen Austin of Suffield, Connecticut. However, we still seek more clarity regarding his origins and path to Albany.
During the 1770s and 80s, a number of Benjamin Austins served the Revolutionary cause - some quite notably. We are cautious here in our zeal to connect this future Albany cartman to specific wartime activities. At this time, we do not think this individual served within New York parameters. However, he does seem to have filed a pension application for service in the New York line. He is said to have witnessed the surrender of Burgoyne in 1777.
By the late 1780s he was in Albany as Presbyterian records identified him as a sailor and a slooper in 1788 and 1790.
The first Federal census in 1790 found two "Benjamin Austin" named households elsewhere (Dutchess and NYC) in New York State. In 1799, the first ward assessment listed only the modest real and personal property of one "Benjamin Haskins." But he was accounted for in the exact location as Austin's listing on the next census. In 1800, his household was enumerated on the first ward census. Subsequent censuses account for the aging of his family.
Beginning with the first edition in 1813, Albany directories identified him as a cartman living at 82 Beaver Street. In that year, his was one of four Austin addresses listed in the Directory.
Benjamin Austin lost his wife in December 1842. He died in February 1844 at the age of 87. Both were buried in the Presbyterian plot of the municipal cemetery. The newspaper remembered him as "a soldier of the Revolution."
Sources: The life of Benjamin Austin is CAP biography number 7172. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.
first posted 6/10/14; updated 1/10/15