The original spark to my curiosity about my family tree was ignited by my mother’s family. The Austins have always intrigued me. They are a proud people. They are an attractive people. Growing up in a town as small as Ponchatoula, everyone knows, and has always known, everyone. As a little girl, when older people would pose the question, “Who are your people?”, simply saying the name Austin would immediately grant me some from of recognition. Apparently, my own grandmother- Patsy Ann Austin, was well known and loved in this small town. EVERYONE, that I’d ever mentioned the name Austin to, knew who Patsy Ann or Patsann (as they would pronounce it) was.
My mom has told me stories throughout the years about her family. When trying to explain how we’re related to who, though, I’ve never really been able to connect the dots of how these random people we speak to in grocery stores, hug at family reunions, and stop by during holidays, are actually connected to me. Naturally, when I started this journey, I began with the oldest relative I could name off hand, and travelled back in time from there.
My mom knew very little about her grandmother’s grandparents. Whenever I’d question who they were, she’d tell me about the picture she’d seen in Christine’s house as a little girl. It was an old black and white picture of a fair skinned woman and an extremely dark man. Mama and Papa, is what she says they used to call them. She knew that her’s grandmother’s mother’s name was Carrie, and her husband Doug. My mom, to this day is still under the assumption that the photo she saw was of Doug and Carrie. Since I was most into the Austin name, I dove, first, into Doug first.
After breaking down and subscribing to Ancestry, I discovered Douglas Austin was the son of Gussie and Cube Austin. Finding out about Cube has been an intersecting journey in itself. Of course the journey into Cube, for me, starts at the end of his life which I am still unsure of. The latest information I have on Cube is that he and Gussie lived in 7th Ward Tangipahoa, or Ponchatoula. Together, they had 5 living children- Ernest, Doug (my grandfather), Robert, Herman, and John. Doug went on to have several children, one of which who was Christine Austin, who had several children, one which being Patsy Ann Austin, who had three children, of which being Safonia Brown, my mother.
1900 is the only census I’ve discovered who mentions Cube Austin. The fact that I couldn’t find more about his parents became a challenge for me, that I gladly accepted. The journey into Cube’s life has been exciting. Who was this mystery man? Where did he come from? Was he really an Austin or was he someone who was escaping another life and assumed the name Austin? These are all the things I’ve wondered while I’ve retraced this man’s steps in this world.
According to Gussie and Cube’s marriage certificate, Cube’s parents were Saul and (I assume) Merma Austin. Cube was born around 1860. Based on all that I’ve discovered on Cube, his life was tumultuous at best. He was a logger in the 1880s, working in the Bayou Sorrel, which is how he met Gussie Knight. Gambling, was Cube Austin’s vice, as I stumbled across several instances of altercations involving dice games taking place from Plaquemine to Ponchatoula.
Gussie Knight was born to William and Rosalie Knight of St. Mary Parish around 1869. According to census records, William was of Indian descent and Rosalie was listed as a mulatto. William and Rosalie had 4 children in the 1870 Census: John Knight, Assalie Knight, Carmalite Knight, and Ann (Gussie) Knight. The family relocated to Terrebonne Parish in 1880, where William Knight, Mary Knight, and Ella Knight were listed as Gussie’s younger siblings.
While I am unsure of Cube’s death, I am now sure that Gussie was remarried to a man name E. Hartman Pines who was listed as living with the Austin Family (minus Cube) in 1910. Gussie Austin continued to live in Ponchatoula until January 2, 1944 when she died as Gussie Pines.