Audubon family.

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Artist and naturalist

John James Audubon was born in 1785 on the island of Santa Domingo, the illegitimate son of a French sea captain, Jean Audubon, and a Creole woman. The future artist exhibited a love of nature even in his youth, making more than 200 drawings of French birds. Audubon came to America in 1803 to oveseer his father's property in Pennsylvania and escape the draft in Napoleon's army. He hunted, fished, and collected bird specimens on the property. At this time he met Lucy Bakewell, who lived on a neighboring farm and whom he eventually married. Audubon attempted to establish himself in business, first with members of Lucy's family, then with Ferdinand Rozier, another French immigrant who was sent by Audubon's father to help his son.

Audubon and Rozier opened a general store in Louisville, Kentucky in 1807. Audubon married Lucy the following year and brought her to Louisville. He remained keenly interested in nature and art and began his series on American birds during this period. The store, however, did not prosper, so Rozier and Audubon moved the business to Henderson, Kentucky in 1810. The partners contemplated another move soon thereafter, so they traveled to Saint Genevieve, in what is now Missouri, to scout the area. Rozier elected to stay there, but Audubon wished to return to Henderson, so the partnership was dissolved.

Audubon opened a store of his own in Henderson in conjunction with his brother-in-law, William Bakewell, and continued to observe and draw birds. He was plagued by business reversals and was arrested in 1819 for failure to pay his debts after a sawmill in which he invested heavily closed. He evaded the charges only after pleading bankruptcy. In the 1820's the Audubons moved to New Orleans. While Lucy worked there as a teacher, her husband went to Great Britain to publish BIRDS OF AMERICA. They traveled back and forth between England and America for several years, as Audubon established first a European and then an American reputation as the foremost naturalist of his day. Audubon spent his last years in New York, where he died in 1851. Lucy returned to Kentucky with her granddaughters, Florence, Harriet, and Maria Audubon, as well as with other family members.

From the description of Audubon family papers, ca. 1805-1938. (University of Kentucky Libraries). WorldCat record id: 12678089

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Audubon family. Audubon family papers, ca. 1805-1938. University of Kentucky Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Audubon, Florence. person
associatedWith Audubon, Harriet. person
associatedWith Audubon, Jean. person
associatedWith Audubon, John James, 1785-1851. person
associatedWith Audubon, Lucy Bakewell (Mrs. John James), 1788-1874. person
associatedWith Audubon, Maria Rebecca, 1843-1925. person
associatedWith Bakewell, William. person
associatedWith Rozier, Ferdinand. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Henderson (Ky.)
Art, Modern
Birds in art
Business records
General stores


Active 1805

Active 1938

Related Descriptions


Ark ID: w69975pd

SNAC ID: 21986369