Born Catherine Cooper, Kate Cooper Austin was born on July 25, 1864 in LaSalle County, Illinois Austin's family moved to Hook's Point, Iowa when she was six. At the age of eleven, Austin lost her mother and had to raise her seven brothers and sisters. Due to having a bitter taste of life, Austin learned how to read as it became one of her amusements.
It was in Hook's Point, Iowa that she married a young farmer, Sam Austin, in August 1883. Around the same time, her father discovered Lucifer, an anarchist/free love journal published by Moses Harman. Austin and her entire family were influenced by Hamon's writings, but it was the Haymarket Riot of 1886 and the ensuing reaction which brought Austin to anarchism.
Her devotion to liberty made her an anarchist; her hostility to patriarchy made her a feminist. She was too much the former to join the organized women's movements of her day, and too much the latter to ally with mainline political anarchists—most of them men—whose devotion to liberty often stopped short of women's liberation.— Miller, Howard S. Kate Austin: A Feminist-Anarchist on the Farmer's Last Frontier
A member of the American Press Writers' Association, Austin wrote for many working-class and radical newspapers. She also contributed to Lucifer and to anarchist periodicals such as The Firebrand, Free Society, Discontent, and The Demonstrator. Austin's interests included sexual reform and the economic status of working people. In 1897 and 1899, Emma Goldman visited Austin at her home in Caplinger Mills, Missouri, where she gave several well-attended lectures.
In 1890, Austin and her husband, Sam Austin, both moved to Caplinger Mills, Missouri, about twenty miles away from the nearest railroad station. Austin did not feel any type of isolation, as country life was her ideal. Since Austin joined the American Press Writers Association, her work increased as she came in contact with many well known radical writers and lecturers of her time, keeping her busy reading and writing. She enjoyed it, as it was an important part of her education. In 1902, Austin died on October 28 of consumption in Kingman, Kansas, leaving behind nine children aged between 19 and 10. Austin's body was sent back to Caplinger Mills, as a funeral was held for her with the largest crowd that ever attended a funeral in that district. Austin is buried north of Caplinger Mills in Hackleman Cemetery.
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