Family History

Audrain Family History


We know positively that Pierre (Peter) Audrain was born in France, that he was married in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1781, lived in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, 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. We know that he had a large family and lived to a ripe old age, useful to the last.

Beyond that he is a man of mystery. He touches the fringes of history a dozen times, a shadow beside such figures as George Rogers Clark, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Anthony Wayne. He is almost -- but not quite -- there in the history books, 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 country, when Missouri emerges from the wilderness.

His involvement in politics is unquestioned. He was a good friend of Pierre Duponceau, the French lawyer who aided the Marietta Ohio settlers in obtaining an additional grant of land from the government and who was a sometime legal advisor to Albert Gallatin, the Swiss financier who, along with James Madison, was a close advisor to President Thomas Jefferson during his administration. Henry Adams in his biography of Gallatin states "What Hamilton was to Washington, Gallatin was to Jefferson", a strong but accurate statement.

Peter Audrain held political offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and also in Detroit while living in those places. He was influential in trying to avert open hostilities in the "Whiskey Rebellion" when Congress attempted to impose a tax on distilled spirits from the west. He was a business partner of Pierre Menard of St. Louis and made numerous trips there and to New Orleans. He was also probably at least aware of, if not involved in, the efforts by George Rogers Clark and Edmund Genet, the French minister to the United States, in trying to detach the West from the United States to be an independent ally of Spain.

As his children grew to adulthood they too were involved with events of their times. His eldest son, James Hutner Audrain, was involved with William Wells, his great uncle by marriage and Indian agent at Fort Wayne, in trying to abrogate the treaty negotiated between  William Henry Harrison, then Governor of Indiana, who secured from the Piankeshaws their claims to tracts deeded to the United States by the Kaskaskias in the preceding year. This treaty was the source of a good deal of worry and controversy. He set up a business in Fort Wayne making fence rails and was involved along with Wells with the Miami Indian Chief Little Turtle.

After the War of 1812, in which he served, James moved his family to St. Louis where he had obtained a letter of introduction to Pierre Menard through his father.


Note: Some of the above material is paraphrased from "Peter Audrain - Our Founding Father" by Carrol Geerling. [email protected]  The complete text can be seen on the next page.

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