August 6, 2008 Edition

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Postscript shared regarding
Austin Cemetery, family

John Bland

Old Walnut Ridge's Austin Cemetery and the new adjoining park were featured in last week's TD. As was stated, the cemetery gets its name from the Austin family, a pioneer Lawrence County family who bought land in the area.

Francis Elliott Austin married Nancy Catherine Thorn, who was left a widow with six children at age 33. Nancy Catherine Austin became known as "Grandma Austin" to all in the community and was a key figure in the lives of many.

She was not, as the article stated, the grandmother of Bob Cox, Archie Cox and Catherine Cox Ponder. She was actually their great-grandmother. She was also the great-grandmother of Bob, Archie and Catherine's brother, Ed Cox, who lives in Wichita, Kans. Other living great-grandchildren of "Grandma Austin" are Bill Tolson of Walnut Ridge and Trudy Kerlin of Franklin, Tenn.

Trudy's grandfather was B. Austin, the only son of "Grandma Austin." B.'s daughter was Lois Austin Companiotte. Both Lois and daughter, Trudy, have been instrumental in the efforts to maintain the cemetery and develop the park.

Janeil (Mrs. Bob) Cox of North Little Rock also shared that three of "Grandma Austin's" grandchildren are still living. They include Billy Joe Davis of Walnut Ridge and J.T. Davis and Mary Mabel Jones, both of Michigan.


It is exciting that the library will be moving soon to its spacious quarters within the Lawrence County Community Building. The building is a former furniture store building that was donated to the county by Bob and Paula Hutcherson. Having the library back downtown should add greatly to downtown activity, which is important to the effort to reinvigorate the downtown area by the new "Downtown Walnut Ridge" organization.

The building and downtown have already seen increased activity through the use of the very spacious and attractive community room, also located within the former Hutcherson building.


Karen Williams of Flower Basket is also coming up with creative ideas to generate activity and business. Her latest is a well-attended Webkinz Carnival that was held Saturday at her business. Karen has used her talents to head up the downtown Iron Mountain Festival, and she is now working on plans for a "Dickens in the Park" Christmas event in Hoxie.

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