Astonia & Gamble
Astonia (also called Austonia) was located about one mile west of the present Rankin. The community was first established in 1876 by Thomas F. Alston, who built the first house there. He was born in Alabama Aug. 22, 1836, to N. K. And Winiford (May) Alston, who died on the old home place in Alabama. N. K. And Winiford had six other children: George W., Eugenia, Antinet, (who married Dr. Loggins, a resident of Ennis), Gilly (who married Thomas Loggins), Mattie (who married William Whitworth, and lived in Sweetwater, Nolan County, Texas) , and Nathanial K., resident of Beaumont, Texas.
When he was twenty-one, Thomas Alston left home, traveled from the Brazos to the Red River and located in Ellis County. F. H. Rankin was his only neighbor, when he first arrived. The only other settlers were C. W. Davis, six miles away, and Mr. Wright, who lived a distance of Twelve miles. Thomas first married Emma Kellum, daughter of Thomas Kellum, who settled in Navarro County. They had one child, Emma, who married William Johnson, a son of Captain Johnson, of Austin. Emma died December 24, 1864, while Thomas was away in the army.
In Feb. 1868, Thomas Alston married Laura Moore, daughter of Samuel and Sarah Moore. They had seven children, six of whom were Thomas (b. 1874), Arrie (b. 1877), Samuel (b. 1879), Wilson (b. 1881), Kinbro (b. 1883) and Sarah (b. 1885). Their first child died at birth and is buried in the Astonia Cemetery. Her stone reads "Infant daughter of T. F. & L. J. Alston, born and died February 20, 1872."
There was a Union church building, shared by the Methodist, Christian and Baptist and forty students attended school in the church building. When funds were raised for a new school, Bonepart Rankin donated five hundred dollars. The school was built in 1878 just west of the Lodge Building in Rankin and was called Rankin Chapel School.
Astonia received the first postoffice of the area in 1879. It was located in Thomas Alston's general store and he became the first postmaster. In 1886, Cobe Goodwin settled between Onion Creek and Chambers Creek near Astonia. He became postmaster and the name was changed to Gamble; however it soon reverted to the original name of Astonia.
In 1878-79, the Chambers Creek Masonic Lodge No. 499, with a membership of twenty met on the upper floor of the building that still stands at Rankin. The Lodge served the communities of Rankin, Astonia, and Avalon.
The U. S. Postal files reveal that March 7, 1900 marked the end for the Astonia post office and the post office was moved to Rankin, a mile to the east. At that time, Astonia had a population of ten, several businesses, three churches.
In the 1980's, the community appeared on maps as Austonia, but only the Austonia church and cemetery remained in the area. The only landmark today is the old Astonia Cemetery.
"AUSTONIA, TX." The Handbook of Texas Online. Lisa C. Maxwell
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