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Peter Audrain - Our Founding Father

Written by Carrol Geerling

 

The Inevitable Peter Audrain

We know positively that Pierre (Peter) Audrain was born in France, that he was married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1781, lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and went to Detroit with General Anthony Wayne becoming the leading clerk Of the new territory, and holding many offices there. We know that he was as comfortable with the English language as he was with his native French, writing either impeccably and well enough to be an example held up for his time period, which bespeaks a fine education in his early life. We know that he had a large family and lived to a ripe old age, useful to the last. Beyond this, he has managed -- perhaps purposefully -- to leave few clues behind. 

Clerk of everything from time immemorial

The early stories of Detroit Governer and Judges records, p 182; Farmer's History of Detroit and Michigan, Detroit Tribune, 20 Aug 1905,Gateway, March 1910, p 36), say that Peter Audrain was born in France in 1725 and came to Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. One family legend states that he came as a secretary to Pierre DuPonceau. It is known that one of his sons was named for this man, so there may be a kernel of truth in this tale. <ém>(Pierre Etienne DuPonceau (3 Jun 1760-1 Apr 1884) was a lawyer and author who had been born at Ste.- Martin, Ile de Re, France. (one of the pieces of land Peter Audrain patented in the Philadelphia area [Aleppo township] he called "Isle de Re") Duponceau was said to have obtained his education at the grammar school at Ste.-Martin aquiring a thorough knowledge of English and Italian from soldiers of those countries quartered in the town. His family desired him to be a priest, and he became a regent in the Episcopal college at Bressuire in Poitou. At the end of 1775, he abandoned the idea of becoming a priest and went to Paris, earning his living expenses by translating and teaching, and then he became secretary to the philologist, Count de Gebelin. Shortly afterward he was introduced to the Baron Steuben, who was in need of a secretary familiar with the English language to accompany him on his approaching journey to America. He was immediately hired for the job, and they embarked from Marsailles, landing at Portsmouth, N. H. 1 Dec. 1777. He served with Baron Steuben for two years, until ill health forced him to retire to Philadelphia. In 1781 he was appointed secretary to R. R. Livingston, then head of foreign affairs. After the war he studied law, and became eminent in his profession, dying in Philadelphia in 1844.)

There is a "Peter Odern" aboard the ship Tyger from Rotterdam, last from Cowes, arriving at Philadelphia 19 November 1771. (Pennsylvania Immigrants, by Rupp, p 397) He is mentioned in the diary of Albert Gallitin, a distinguished United States Financier and Statesman who was born in Switzerland and came to the United States in 1780, settling in Pennsylvania in 1786. (Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol 3, p 351)
Peter Audrain took the oath to support the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, becoming a citizen of the United States, 2 October 1781. Again he is listed as Peter "Odern" with the preceeding ship cited. (
Egle , Names of foreigners who took the Oath of Allegiance to Province and State of Pennsylvania, p 498) After living "for a time" in Pittsburgh, he "came to Detroit about 1796". In Detroit he was appointed prothonotary and judge of probate and nearly all the early records of settlement are in his beautiful clear handwriting. He was justice of peace, registrar of the land office, secretary of Michigan Territory "and held nearly all the important offices of a clerical nature in the town." In the year of 1819, at the age of 94, he was deemed incompetent of continung in public office. He died 6 October 1820.

In the National Archives, there is a "bond and authorization from the Continental Congress to the master of the schooner LYDIA" which reads:

Know all Men by these Presents, that we, Cladius Paul Raquet, merchant, and Peter DeRussy, mariner, of the city of Philadelphia, are held firmly bound to Michael Hillegas, Esqr. Treasurer of The United States of America in Congress assembled, in the penalty of 20,000 Spanish milled Dollars, or the money equivalent thereto, to be paid to the said Michael Hillegas, Treasurer as aforesaid, or to his successors in that office. To which payment well and truely to be made and done, we bind ourselves, our heirs, Executives, and Administrators, jointly and severally, formally by these Presents. Sealed with our seals and dated the 15th day of June in the year of our Lord 1782 in the sixth year of the Independance of the United States of America.

The next paragraph is the authorization, or license, to attack, subdue, seize and take all ships, vessels and goods belonging to the King and Crown of Great Britain. It is signed by James Trimble, C.P. Raquett, Peter DeRussy, and Peter Audrain. A second page of the document is a physical description of DeRussy, who was about 27 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, and black haired. The names of Audrain and Trimble do not appear on the list of names at the bottom of the page; this was the side which appeared when papers were folded and stored.

Evidently Peter Audrain’s first task in America was joining his friends in privateering, harrassing the British on the seas. There exists the possibility that he was recruited in France for this purpose.

The marriage of Peter Audrain to Margaret Moore was recorded at Christ Church (Episcopal) Philadelphia, (Records of Christ Church, Philadelphia, Marriages 1709-1800, Collections of the Genealogical society of Pennsylvania. p 4430) 20 Feb 1781. They were married by Rector Reverend William White. Their first two children were baptized there, on the same day in 1784:

James Hutner Audrain b. 29 Dec 1781
Elizabeth Frances Audrain b 14 Nov 1783
Maria Caroline Audrain b 17 Sep 1785 was baptized 16 Sep 1787

     On 25 Sep 1780, Peter Audrain, merchant of the city of Philadelphia, purchased 100 acres of land from Joseph Penrose of Bensalem Township. Seven years later he sold this land and another 89 acre tract. Their next children were born in Pittsburgh.

Peter Duponceau Audrain b 26 November 1787
Margaret Audrain b 24 Jan 1790
Francois Audrain b 10 Nov 1791
Frances "Fanny" Audrain b 13 Jul 1793
Peter Audrain b 13 Apr 1795

 

and their last child was born in Detroit:

 

St. Clair Audrain b 6 May (ca 1797)

 

An early map of the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows him as the owner of lot #1, facing the Monongahela River, between Springfield and Grant Streets (1787). Minute Book I, p 17, (Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol 41 p 138) documents the grand jury sworn in during June session, 1798, which included Peter Audrain. This was probably Allegheny County’s first grand jury. He appears on 1791 Tax list, Allegheny County, Pitt township: Peter Audrain, amount of tax: 1.6.6. (Pennsylvania Archives series 3, Vol XXII, p 683) The names he gave to the parcels of property he owned in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, were: "Betsy’s Retreat", "Caroline’s Fancy", "Kensington", and "Isle de Rhe."

A trip to New Orleans in 1793, as part of his trade activity with Bartholomew Tardiveau and DeLoziere, is mentioned in the history books. At the end of the month of April  "he returned by sea to Pittsburgh."

The French Minister to the United States, Edmund Genet, was reported (see The "Appalalachian Frontier") to be "endangering American neutrality by fitting out privateers to prey on British shipping in the conflict between France and England." Genet and George Rogers Clark were raising a volunteer army to oust the Spanish from the Louisiana Territory. The Spanish governor of Louisiana, Baron de Carondelet was working with general James Wilkinson, trying to detach the West from the United States, to be an independent ally of Spain. "As a French immigrant, a western American trader and a democrat" J.B.C. Lucas was a "likely candidate" for involvement. "Moreover, almost every business associate of his in the West was involved. The Beauvais family, the Pittsburg trader Pierre Audrain, and John Edgar of Kaskaskia, all friends of Lucas, seem to have been involved with Genet and Clark. Pierre Tardiveau, another friend was interpreter to Clark." (Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine Vol 36,p 13 & 89)

This footnote to history hints at Peter Audrain’s associations with several of the moving forces in the Mississippi Valley, adding credence to the tales of his travels and dealings on the Missisippi River.

In 1794 he appeared as a prothonotary "taking most of the testimony in the investigation" of the Whiskey Rebellion. The moderates throughout the western counties of Pennsylvania worked to pack the meeting at Parkinson’s Ferry with their delegates to head off the fire eaters who hoped to swing the meeting to open military hostility. The "delegation elected in Pittsburgh was made up of Brackinridge, Lucas, Lucas’ good friend and fellow Frenchman, Pierre Audrain, General John Wilkins and George Wallace." Baldwin, in Pittsburgh, Story of a City, notes on page 163: "The French element of Pittsburgh, while negligible in numbers, furnished a surprising number of prominent citizens. Albert Gallitin, a French Switzer... resident of Fayette Co., entered Congress as a representative of the district comprised by Allegheny and Washington Counties, Peter Audrain, the Chevalier Dubac, Barthelemi Tardiveau, the Tarascon brothers, and James Berthold were Pittsburgh merchants."

"The ubiquitous Peter Audrain" was also a candidate "for the office desired by Fredrick Bates" (Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol 30 p 24) Bates evidently was successful in gaining this position, and the emnity continued between the Bates family and Peter Audrain. "Audrain’s neat and clerkly hand is on most of the documents concerning Detroit from the time he accompanied Wayne from Pittsburgh where he had been the friend of Marie and Gallitin before the Whiskey Insurrection, to the last hour of his official life as clerk of the Detroit court..." John Marie was a Genevan emmigrant, born in France 1727-8, who lived in Pennsylvania in 1808 with the family of Felix Brunot the elder. The Diary of Albert Gallatin (p 68) notes that he spent Christmas Day, 1787, "Fait Noel avec Odrin et Breckinridge chez Marie." (Christmas party with Audrain and Breckinridge at the home of Marie) A footnote adds that in 1794 "Pierre Audrain (Odrin) made an affadavit in defense of Judge Brackinridge in relation to his course at the meeting at Braddock’s field." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol 21 excerpts the Journal of Andre Micheau, who was in Pittsburgh 27 July - 14 August 1793, and on page 31 refers to Peter Audrain as "A Frenchman who has resided in America for fourteen years and whose business consists in shipping supplies of flour to New Orleans..."

John B. C. Lucas, who was born in Normandy, France, commented, "I learn that Mr. Tardevaux has gone down to New Orleans with Audrain and Luzeries." (Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine Vol 21, p 221 & 222)[Chevalier Pierre Charles de Hault de Lassus de Luzieres, who later settled at Nouvelle Bourbon, Upper Louisiana, and whose son was the last Spanish governor of the district]. He was engaged with Tardiveau and Audrain in a scheme to remove a considerable number of Gallipolis colonists to a new location in Upper Louisiana. All three were in New Orleans in April 1793. Andre Micheaux was in Pittsburgh from July 27 until 14 August 1793, and who wrote in his journal (p 31) "A Frenchman who has resided in America for fourteen years and whose business consists in shipping supplies of flour to New Orleans told me that he would give me Letters for Illinois addressed to the Commandant of the Post of St. Louis. He is at present settled in Pittsburgh and his name is Pierre Audrain. This Audrain is said to be in partnership with one Delousiere who was exiled from France for having been concerned in a plot to deliver Havre to combined English and Spanish fleets. This Louisiere is at present absent from Pittsburgh." Audrain had left New Orleans late in April to go back East to collect his colonists." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol. 11 p 122, notes that the Peter Audrain's home is located at Smithfield and Cherry Streets on a 1795 map of Pittsburgh.

The journal of his trip to Detroit with General Anthony Wayne began in Pittsburgh in June 1796 and continued until their preparation to board keel boats for the cross to Detroit from Fort Miami. He was named prothonotary of Wayne County by Anthony Wayne, and served as Judge of Probate in Detroit 1796 - 1809. After the death of General Wayne in December 1796, General John Wilkins moved in April 1797 to remove Audrain from the office of quartermaster (Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine Vol 29, p 89) appointing Matthew Ernest in his stead. (Mrs. Ernest was Catherine, the daughter of John Wilkins Sr.)

His other offices there were:

1798 - 1804 City Registrar
May 1803 Prothonotary, Clerk of Court general quarter sessions of the Peace, Recorder, and Judge of Probate
1802 - 1805 Secretary of Detroit
1802 Court of Common Pleas clerk
1805 Detroit Justice of Peace, Commissioned 28 September
1805 - 1807 Secretary to Governor and Judges
1806 - 1809 First Secretary Land Board
1806 - 1821 Land Office Registrar
1807 District Court Clerk

(Farmer’s History of Detroit and Michigan, Vol I)

In Detroit, he was shown as a member of St. Anne Catholic Church. His Tomb stone was in the cemetery of that congregation.

Detroit became the seat of Michigan Territory government in 1805, but the "entire settlement burned to the ground that same year." The fire on June 11, 1805 began in a stable and spread rapidly. Following the fire, "Mr. Audrain, with many others, occupied small houses below Mr. May’s." A later newspaper article comments that the Audrain home was "where the Pingree shoe factory is." There is evidence that the Audrain family left Detroit for at least a while after this fire. Peter Audrain is named the "first settler at Vallonia" (Indiana Magazine of History, Vol X, p 258). Vallonia , Indiana, was located on the east fork above Muscatuck River in South Central Indiana. Vallonia was on the direct line of travel between the settlements of Vincennes and Detroit. Vallonia, the oldest town in Jackson County, in what was later Driftwood township, got its name because of its location in a valley. Tradition holds that there was a French settlement made in Vallonia in the later part of the 18th Century, which would make it the second oldest town in the state. (ibid, Vol X, p 257) Peter Audrain settled with his family near Vallonia in 1805, and with him the first authentic settlement of the County begins. (History of Jackson County, Indiana, p 381)

There is a letter from Peter Audrain to J. B. C. Lucas, written from Detroit 12 Apr 1803, in which he congratulates Lucas on his 1802 election to Congress. Carrying the letter was Paymaster Lieutenant Pinkney. At the time he was writing letters to Lucas from Detroit, Peter Audrain was receiver of public moneys. Later he served as clerk of the commissioners on Land claims, and as a member of the board. These letters are written almost entirely in English. (Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine Vol 21, p 255)

On 8 May 1812 he subscribed 8 shillings, acting with other Detroit residents to buy powder "in case of emergency". The emergency occurred, and Detroit was recaptured by the British. Peter Audrain’s house was "plundered of everything valuable and he and his family moved to the McCarty farm a mile below the city until the war’s close." He was a prisoner of war, but permitted to be at home mostly, on parole. In 1813 he is named as one among the group of Americans who went to save prisoners of River Raisin Battle. (Catlin, Story of Detroit, p 160)

He is remembered as part of the Detroit Saga:

He became well versed in the English language, but was better educated in French. He wrote a beautiful hand and was one of the best pen-men of the age - and nearly all of the profuse old records are in his beautiful handwriting, so perfect as to sometimes be taken for print. He distinguished himself by his assiduous accuracy and punctuality. In that critical period residing right at the frontier of intolerant and arrogant Britishers, he was a fearless patriot, always on the alert to bring any disloyal subjects and to notify officials of suspicious conduct of would-be American citizens. He was only removed from these offices when he became too old to perform the duties required of him.

...As a matter of course, the inevitable Peter Audrain. Who had been clerk of everything from time immemorial was the clerk of this court. He continued to hold the office until September, 1819. Many evidences of his work remain, but the records, especially in the latter part of his term, were carelessly kept or wholly neglected. (Farmer’s History of Detroit and Michigan, p 186)

He was 94 years old at this time, if the dates given for him in these records are correct. The 1820 Detroit census lists one male over 45 years, 1 female over 45, 2 males 26/45, 1 male 16/26 (over 18 years old), and 1 male under 10. He died 6 Oct 1820. The "finely sculptured stone covering the grave of Audrain" is mentioned among the "ashes and tombs of generations of the French race, including some reinterred from Ste Anne, north of Jefferson Avenue 200 feet west of Griswold." (Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, Vol XXVI, p 271)

In 1873 Audrain Street in Detroit was named for Peter Audrain. (Farmer’s History of Detroit and Michigan, Vol I)

Between the lines of History

Europe responded to the ideal of human liberty for which the Colonies were striving in 1776. France, especially, approached Benjamin Franklin with offers of help. In March and April of 1777, the first Secret Aid ships landed about 30 volunteers at Portsmouth, aboard three ships, the Beaumarchais, Mercure and Amphitrite. A few stragglers and four Royal Engineers reached Philadelphia in June from the West Indies, as Lafayette and his eleven officers arrived from Charleston in July. More than half of these men were rejected by Congress and had their expenses paid back to France. The last Secret Aid Volunteers to arrive came on the Flamand in December 1777, sent by Beaumarchais. Among these were Von Steuben, and his interpreter, Duponceau; the latter of whom remained in America and became a noted lawyer in Philadelphia. This same Duponceau was known to be a friend of Peter Audrain’s: he named his son "Peter Duponceau" after him. (the index to 1800 Pa. census, lists Peter L. Duperaux, in the city of Philadelphia) See Foreign Volunteers in the Revolutionary Army ( Concise Dictionary of American History, 1961, p 830).

On the Sea...

The crew of the Sucess was seized 15 July 1777, and imprisoned at Forton Prison, England...

31 May 1779 ... To our trusty and Well beloved, our Commissioners of the sick and Wounded, their deputies, the Keeper of Forton Prison and all others whom it may concern, by His Majesty’s Command...

Peter Audrain (...along with a list of other names...) , now confined in Forton Prison near Portsmouth (England) in our County of Hants on suspicion of High Treason for having acted contrary to the Faith and allegiance due to us, and for having been guilty of several illegal excesses upon the High Seas; And whereas upon humble application to us, and for diverse causes... we have thought fit to extend Our Grace and Mercy to them to grant them Our Pardon and to discharge them from their said Imprisonment on Condition of their being exchanged by an equal number of our Subjects taken by the Rebels and carried into the parts of France. Our Will and Pleasure therefore is that you cause the aforementioned Persons to be delivered over to such Person or Persons as shall duly be authorized to receive them. And for so doing This shall be Your Warrant, Given at the Court of St. James’ the 31st day of May in the 19th year of our reign. (Forton Prison Documents, and Mariners of the American Revolution, p 5)

Gallipolis and the Scioto Company

In 1790, 400 "gullible Frenchmen" who had bought land from Joel Barlow the Paris agent of the Scioto Company, settled at Gallipolis on the bank of the Ohio River, above the mouth of the Big Scioto in the Northwest Territory. The disturbances of the French Revolution had driven many families from their native country, and five or six hundred emmigrants, including doctors, lawyers, officers, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, farmers, and gardners among others, had been eager to flee to the promise of this new land. They sailed from Havre de Grace in February, 1790, in five ships chartered to convey them to Alexandria, Virginia, having already paid the fees to acquire the deeds to the land at the Paris office. The Scioto Company turned out to have been a group of land speculators with 5,000,000 acres laid out along the Ohio River east of the Scioto, after the ordinance of 1785, proposing to sell to intending settlers at as high a price as possible. The emigrants learned all too quickly that the Scioto Company had made no pretense at all of meeting its payments to the government, and that the lands purchased from the Treasury Board had reverted and been sold in 1787 to the agents for the directors of the Ohio Company. They were then promised that other lands would be secured for them, and that the site of Gallipolis would be surveyed into lots, houses erected, with defenses against the Indians, with wagons and supplies provided to convey the colonists to Ohio. Many of them did not believe these promises would be kept and moved to New York, Philadelphia, and other areas. The others went on to the Monongahela while boats were prepared. Finally, in October 1790, they reached their destination. Four rows of 20 cabins were erected plus two rows of huts of hewn logs, a story and a half in height "for those of the superior class". A Catholic priest was in residence, and soon retail stores opened and business proceeded. During the spring of 1791 they suffered numerous Indian attack alarms. The commander of the militia was instructed to raise up to 20 rangers, with the same pay and rations as regular troops, but two months later the Governor discharged them with the announcement that if the people wanted military protection they would have to pay for it. Sargent, as acting governor, asked for troops from Fort Washington to defend Gallipolis, but General Wilkinson did not give necessary orders for two months, leaving the settlement not properly guarded. Negotiations with the Ohio Company for the land they claimed were fruitless, and they petitioned Congress for 20,000 acres to be divided among the 300 French emigrants who remained at Gallipolis. Other grants were later made to other colonists opposite and below the mouth of Little Sandy River in Kentucky. One of the three earliest Post Offices established in the Northwest Territory was created here, in 1794. In 1803, Gallia County was founded, with Gallipolis as the County Seat. By 1811, Gallipolis was a village of 300 inhabitants, boasting a tavern keeper, two blacksmiths, two tanners, three storekeepers, three master masons, and six or seven carpenters. By all counts, these intrepid French settlers had been an important immigrant group to the Old Northwest in the early period. (Bond, Civilization of the Old Northwest, 1934, p 15, 249,280, 380, 421; Ellet, Pioneer women of the West, p 245; Rice, Barthelemi Tardiveau, a French Trader in the West, 1938; Dunn, True Indian Stories, 1909, Melish, Travels, Vol II, p 116)

Setting the Record Straight

Peter Audrain is a man of mystery. He touches the fringes of history a dozen times, a shadow beside such notables as George Rogers Clark, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Anthony Wayne. He is almost -- but not quite -- there in the history book, when the United States becomes a country on its own, when Detroit is claimed by America, when the Louisiana Purchase doubles the size of the infant America, when Missouri emerges from the wilderness.

That he was an educated man before he came to America is evident in his letters to J.B.C. Lucas, written in perfect English with only passing notes in their native French. As early as 1781 he held clerical offices in Pennsylvania. As Detroit became american, he held every clerical office of importance in that Michigan territory.

His adventurous spirit shines through his journeys on the ocean during the Revolutionary War, during his ride to Detroit across the wilderness, by his boat travels to St. Louis, New Orleans and back to Pittsburgh in the primitive conveyances of the 1790s. He is named as the first settler of Vallonia.

His enterprise is documented by his association with Albert Gallatin, Secretary of State of Thomas Jefferson, and his association with Pierre Tardiveaux and Pierre Menard in a milling business for which his business trips on the Mississippi River were made.

J.B.C. Lucas, his good friend and fellow immigrant from France, was "suspected of involvement" in support of George Rogers Clark in the Americanization of the Louisiana Territory. Pierre Menard, his partner, was also implicated. Since Peter Audrain stood close beside these men, surely his name is written in invisible ink beside theirs. In the 1790s he was giving letters of introduction to be presented to the Commandant at St. Louis, indicating that he was well known to this commandant. Evidently in his trips west, the French village of St. Louis was one of his stopping points.

Pierre Menard remained an Audrain supporter even after Peter’s death. He supported James H. Audrain, Peter’s son, after a bankruptcy incident in 1824.

The Bates brothers of Virginia, also early politicians of Pittsburgh, mentioned Peter Audrain time after time in their accounts. Later, in Michigan territory, Fredrick Bates lost office after office to Peter Audrain. Finally, Bates moved on to Missouri Territory, where he became the second Governor when the State of Missouri was formed. At the same time, Peter Audrain’s son James H. was serving in the Missouri Legislature. Another of the Audrain sons was a pioneer in the Indian Territory south and southwest of Missouri. In the next generation, a grandson went west in the Gold Rush. The adventurous spirit of Peter Audrain lived on.

And yet, his substance remains just a shadow on the edge of history. A daughter wrote of their experiences when Detroit was recaptured by the British in 1812. Peter Audrain, a man in his 80’s, is pictured as a vigorous defender, and indeed, after the american control was reestablished, he went on to serve another eight years in clerical posts. His energy and health must have been phenomenal.

Who, then, was this man before he emerged in the late 1770’s? All we know at this point is that he was born in France, perhaps about 1724. That would leave over 50 years of his life hidden from view. That a good education was a part o those years is all we know for certain. In studying the better known life of Pierre DuPonceau, one wonders if we should consider that he also received his first education in Ste-Martin, learning there to be comfortable in the English and Italian languages from the soldiers of those countries who were quartered there.

 

The Lament of a Father

My dear Compatriot: (Peter Audrain addressed J.B.C. Lucas on 23 Oct 1804, writing in French)

It is with an aching heart that I write to you of the loss of one of my daughters who was seduced and deceived by an Officer (Lieutenant Pinckney, Paymaster of this district). This scoundrel was introduced into my family a little over two years ago and treated hospitably; soon he showed a certain familiarity and special attention for my daughter, Maria. Questioned by my wife, he declared that his intentions were honorable, but made constant delays...that he could not get married without the consent of his brother or at least not before settling up with him.

My daughter, 16 years of age, unfortunately developed a deep affection for him and through her confidence in him and her inexperience became his unfortunate victim and became the mother of a child who died about two months after it’s birth. The Seducer was absent at the time and was enjoying the diversions of the Federal City (this was last winter) and on his return did basely deny having made any promises but only offered to make pecuniary compensation which was refused with horror. In the fear of being prosecuted, he spent money lavishly on the only two lawyers we have here.

I lost my daughter who fled from here three days ago and up to the present time it is impossible to ascertain what has become of her. Wife ill over it and has gone to Michilimackinac for her health, and she returns any day and I dread it for I fear very much that the escape of her daughter will be her death stroke.

Had I not four other young children who need me for their support and their education, I would leave this country, where almost every object recalls to me a beloved daughter, lost forever.

Peter Audrain

 

Margaret Moore Audrain... Another "shady" character

That she maintained her own convictions is certain, that she bore 9 children, and lived in polite society, as well as on the frontier, and endured through the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. It has been said of her that she was of English descent, and that she died in an accident. Nothing is known of her before she married Peter Audrain 20 Feb 1781 in Christ Church, Philadelphia. This was probably her family church, since he was most probably a Catholic. She had her first three children baptized at Christ Church, also probably her decision, and not Peter’s. She evidently maintained her own religion, and on 23 Jan 1825 signed as one of the first members of First Presbyterian Church, Detroit. For the most part, her children also shared her religious views.

We know that she had three young children in eastern Pennsylvania then moved with her husband to Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, establishing a household there, where she surely entertained many of her husband’s influential friends, and bearing five additional children. Probably in the spring of 1797, she moved her family to Detroit, where her last child was born.

In 1805, the Audrains lost their home to fire, and moved to Vallonia, Indiana. Back in Detroit, they saw their house occupied when the British reestablished their control there, and they again lost all of their belongings. Her husband died in October, 1820. When his estate was probated 23 Sep 1823, the surveyer reported that his property was Lot 16 in the plan of town, NE corner of the Lot on Jefferson Avenue, thence along the line of Abraham Edwards S 25 degrees E 150 feet to a post thence S 74 degrees W by land owned by Francis Audrain 51 and 3/10 to post thence N 25 degrees W 142 feet to post on line of Jefferson Avenue, containing 7404 feet square, and an old out house and stable, all of which is valued at $1500, with 1/3 set off as dower for Margaret Audrain. Scale plan of house includes a first floor dining room, second floor bedroom 13x20 finished: bedroom 22X20 unfinished. The personal estate of the late Peter Audrain was evidently sold at auction at Detroit on 20 Nov 1821, after Robert Abbott, administrator, represented 21 Aug 1821 that the estate is insolvent and insufficient to pay all debts.

Although there is no documentation, it appears that the widowed Margaret (Moore) Audrain took yet another journey, to Missouri to live with her children who were there: James H. Audrain, her oldest son, and her daughter Margaret, who had married Samuel Wells and was left a widow in July 1830. She was granted dismissal from her Detroit church 14 Jul 1830. In the records of Dardenne Presbyterian Church, on highway N, in St. Charles County, Missouri there is the report of the membership of the "Widow Margaret Audrain" on 4 Nov 1830, with the notation that she died in 1833. This description does not fit anyone except Margaret Moore Audrain. The homes of both of her children, James and Margaret, were in the vicinity of this church, and the record does not indicate where she was buried. No tombstone has been located for her in the church cemetery, and the family burial grounds of the Audrains and Wells in St. Charles County, Missouri no longer exist. Although she survived her husband by only 13 years, she was probably much younger than he, since she bore her children between 1781 - 1797.

 


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