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Identifier: WH17


The collection contains Ira Austin’s legal and business papers, and those belonging to his wife Harriet, his children, and his brother Clement Austin. A few personal papers are included, among them correspondence and a treatise on temperance.

The collection also contains many Boulder and Gilpin County land deeds and legal papers, some of which chronicle Austin’s land and mine ownership and his diverse business interests. Some legal papers do not belong to Ira Austin or his kin. Austin evidently played a role in the Central Mining District’s legal system; he is referred to as Judge of the Appellate Court, and President of Central District in recorded miner’s meeting minutes in the early 1860s. The miners' meeting minutes shed light on how early settlers participated in establishing a government in Colorado's Central Mining District. The minutes, legal notes, and deeds contain names of many Gilpin and Boulder County pioneers.

Letters and documents relating to the formation of the Colorado Coal and Gas Light Company (of which Ira Austin was a founder) describe the company’s efforts to secure a contract with Denver Mayor Amos Steck to install and provide gaslights to the entire city of Denver.

An oversized "Known List of Land and Lots" provides an alphabetical list of landowners and a legal description of properties in Boulder in 1877.


The series contains business, real estate and mining papers detailing Ira Austin's assets in Illinois and Colorado. Some business papers of apparently unrelated people are included.

SERIES 2 FAMILY 1861-1917 BOX 2

The series includes a few business and personal papers belonging to Ira Austin's wife Harriet Austin, Ira's brother Clement W. Austin, Clement's wife Elvira, and Ira and Harriet Austin's children Schuyler Austin and Julia E. Austin.


The series contains a Known List of Land Lots for 1877 detailing land ownership in Boulder, Colorado.


  • TBD


The collection is open for research.


The Ira Austin Papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


Ira Austin was born in Bristol, Ontario County, New York, on May 30, 1807. His father, Levi Austin, was a native of Western New York and a farmer who cultivated fruit and vegetable crops. Ira Austin moved to Illinois in 1838 and purchased a 160-acre farm in Will County. He lived in Illinois until March 1849 when he left for California, traveling overland with a six-mule team, 13 wagons, and 42 men. He succeeded as a miner at Placerville, Eldorado County, California, and returned to Illinois in 1850 with enough profits to purchase more land in Illinois, bringing his total land ownership to about 1100 acres.

In 1860, Ira Austin left for Colorado, outfitted with eight wagons, milling and mining machinery. Austin probably earned his honorary title “Captain” from his role as leader of the wagon train. He arrived in Boulder, but proceeded to Gilpin County with his mill and settled at Lump Gulch where his family joined him in l864. Ira Austin was a Gilpin County commissioner, and was twice elected to the Colorado State Legislature. In November 1870, the family moved to Boulder where Austin spent his later years operating a planing mill and farming fruits and vegetables.

Austin continually diversified his business interests, and in 1866 he invested in 1400 acres of coal rich land near Erie, Colorado. He later sold 800 acres to the Boulder Valley Railroad Company and eventually became president of the Boulder Valley Railroad, and the Boulder Valley Telegraph Express Company.

Ira Austin married Harriet Benjamin (b. 1810, daughter of Amos Benjamin of Bristol, New York) in February 1831. They had three children, Schuyler D. (circa 1837-1901), Julia E. Austin (circa 1843-1922), and Helen A. Austin (circa 1848-1926). A granddaughter, Hattie H., who was born about 1862 in Illinois, also lived with the family. Hattie (later Hattie Sturman of California) was probably Schuyler’s child. The Austin children lived with their parents until at least 1880, according to U.S. Census records. Schuyler worked as a farmer and in Gilpin County as a miner. The family often had domestic helpers living with them whose occupations as listed on census records included farm hand and housekeeper. Clement Austin, Ira Austin’s brother, also lived in Boulder.

Ira Austin died in Boulder in 1893.


2 Boxes

1 file folder


The papers were purchased from John VanMale Bookseller in Denver, Colorado on July 13, 1933.


Number of Boxes: 2 (.75 linear feet)

Oversize: 1 file folder




Abby Hoverstock

April 2009


Ellen Zazzarino

January 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States