John James Audubon Dies

John James Audubon, naturalist and artist famous for his drawings and paintings of North American birds, died on January 27, 1851, in New York City.

He was sixty-five years old.

Audubon was born in Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue, now Haiti. Audubon's mother died shortly after his birth and while still a young child, he and his half-sister went to live at their father's home in Le Port Launay de Couëron, France. Encouraged by his father's wife, Audubon pursued his interest in drawing birds native to the wetlands near his childhood home on the Loire River estuary.

At eighteen, Audubon immigrated to the United States to avoid military conscription and to manage a plantation near Philadelphia. For the next two decades, he made several unsuccessful business ventures. Encouraged by his wife, Lucy, he continued drawing birds. His fascination with birds eventually inspired him to journey as far south as the Florida Keys and as far north as Labrador, Canada. From 1810 to 1819, the family lived in Henderson, Kentucky, a town located along the Mississippi flyway, an important migratory route for birds.

Audubon made some excursions out West where he hoped to record Western species he had missed, but his health began to fail. In 1848, he manifested signs of senility, his "noble mind in ruins." He died at his family home on January 27, 1851. Audubon was buried at the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery and Mausoleum at 155th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. There is an imposing monument in his honor at the cemetery.

Audubon's final work was on mammals, the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, prepared in collaboration with his good friend Rev. John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina. Bachman supplied much of the scientific text. The work was completed by Audubon's sons and son-in-law and published posthumously. His son John did most of the drawings.