Moses Austin founded lead industry before turning hopes to Texas

Handbook of Texas Online

   Moses Austin, founder of the American lead industry and the first man to obtain permission to bring Anglo-American settlers into Spanish Texas, son of Elias and Eunice (Phelps) Austin, was born in Durham, Connecticut, on October 4, 1761. 
   He was in the fifth generation of his line of Austins in America. Abandoning his father’s occupations of tailor, farmer, and tavern keeper, Moses at age 21 entered the dry-goods business in Middletown, Connecticut, then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1783 to join his brother, Stephen, in a similar undertaking. 
   In Philadelphia he met and in 1785 married Mary Brown, by whom he had five children, three of whom lived to maturity: Stephen Fuller Austin, who accepted and successfully carried out Moses’ deathbed request to prosecute “the Texas Venture,” Emily Margaret Austin, and James Elijah Brown Austin. Moses extended his business to Richmond, Virginia, where he established Moses Austin and Company. 
   In 1789 he secured a contract to roof the new Virginia capitol in lead, and, since the state promised to pay 5 percent above market price if the contractor used Virginia lead, Moses, again in partnership with Stephen, gained control of Virginia’s richest lead deposit. 
   He brought experienced miners and smelterers from England to improve the efficiency of his operation, and the resulting expertise and industry he introduced into the lead business established the American lead industry. 
   Austin founded Austinville (Wythe County) at the lead mines in 1792 after he moved to the mines. 

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