Austin is named for its founder, Nicholas Austin, the first person to settle on Lake Memphremagog. He was born in England in 1736, a member of the Society of Friends (also known as Quakers). He was a Loyalist, and left New Hampshire during the American Revolution to come to Canada. Some sources suggest that in 1783 he crossed the northern part of Vermont, which was still uninhabited, to reach the future site of Newport. There he purchased a canoe from the Amerindians to continue his explorations. He was attracted to the western shore of the lake, and began to explore systematically. He was particularly impressed by the beauty and potential offered by the promontory which he named Gibraltar Point. He applied to the colonial authorities for land, built a cabin near an Indian portage and began to clear the land. With 54 associates, he obtained letters patent for lots in Bolton Township. In the winter of 1793, he returned to New Hampshire for his wife and children. He brought them back, along with furnishings and provisions, in three ox-drawn sleighs. He and his family, and the other 54 colonists, were thus the first to settle in the township in the years 1794, 1795 and 1796.
Over the years, four hamlets sprung up:
- Peasley's Corners, on the site of the present intersection in the village.
- Head of the Bay on what is now called Sargent's Bay, where commercial activities (flour mills, a wool carding mill, saw mills and a general store) flourished.
- Thompson's Hill, which later came to be called Millington, where Alexander Thompson, an associate of Nicholas Austin, built the first watermill in Township of Bolton, and
- Bolton Forest, near Orford Lake.
For a more complete history, consult the brochure entitled A History of Bolton Township and the Municipality of Austin, published by the Cultural Committee in June 2001. It is also available in print form at the town hall.