The Schepis Permanent Collection – Andrew Jackson Grayson

About the artist…

Andrew Jackson Grayson (1819–1869) was an American ornithologist and artist.

Grayson was the author of Birds of the Pacific Slope (1853–69), which he considered to be a completion of John James Audubon’s Birds of America.

Grayson was born August 20, 1819, in what is now Grayson, Louisiana, on the Ouachita River, where his father had a cotton plantation. His father invested in his education and sent him to St. Mary’s College in St. Louis, Missouri. There, they discouraged him from studying art.

After his father died, Mr. Grayson used his inherited funds to invest in a small store. Ignoring it for the most part, it went out of business fairly quickly. After meeting frontiersmen in his college years, he developed an insatiable urge to move west. After he married his wife, Frances J. Timmons, on July 21, 1842, they decided to move to California. They had a child in 1845, Edward B. Grayson, and moved to St. Louis to begin the journey. In April 1846, Grayson led a party of migrants out of Independence, Missouri. Other groups joined along the way. At Fort Bridging, a conman, L.W. Hastings, persuaded one of the groups to take a shortcut through a mountain pass. They ended up being the Donner Party.

The party Grayson led reached Fort Hall, Idaho. In between there and California, Grayson lost half his group. In late 1846, they reached San Francisco. From this point he worked tirelessly on sketching birds of the West ultimately creating a critical group of work we now have.

Interestingly, two bird species and several other taxa have been named in honor of Grayson. They are mainly from the Revillagigedo Islands and other islands offshore Pacific Mexico. As with much island fauna, several are endangered or extinct:



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