Jonathan and Mary, together.

This document is probably the earliest record we have of Jonathan M. Clark in old Washington County, Wisconsin. It is the handwritten marriage license that Jonathan obtained in early 1840. Transcribed, it reads:

    To whom it may concern Marriage Being intended Between Jonathan M Clark and Mary Turck and application being made to me for a Marriage license by the above named Clark I therefore being satisfied by the oath of the party applying of the legality of said the aforesaid marriage union do hereby license and authorise the same

     Granvlle March 13 1840

                                         Andrew Smith Justice peace

Though Washington County had existed for almost four years, its legal functions were still the responsibility of Milwaukee County, and Justices of the Peace—or other legal officials—were scarce. Fortunately for Jonathan and Mary, Granville Township, Milwaukee County, was the next township due south of Mequon. It should not have been too stressful or time-consuming for Jonathan to travel to Andrew Smith, J.P., for the appropriate license.

And it must not have been too difficult for Mr. Smith to make the return journey. Only two days later, on Sunday, March 15, Jonathan M. Clark and Mary Turck were wed by him in Washington county. Jonathan was 27 years old, Mary was 19. The Tuesday, March 24, 1840, issue of the Milwaukee Weekly Sentinel announced the news:


[…] At Washington, on the 15th inst., by Andrew Smith, Esq., Mr. Jonathan M. Clark to Miss Mary Turck, both of Washington county.

The original handwritten marriage certificate also survives. It reads:

      This is to certify that on the 15th of March AD 1840 I Andrew Smith Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Milwaukee performed the sacred Rite of Marriage Between Mr Jonathan M Clark and Miss Mary Turck of Both of Washing [sic] County Wisconsin Territory

Andrew Smith

Presumably, they were married in Mequon Township, perhaps at the nearby home of her father, Peter Turck. Or had Jonathan already built a first home by March, 1840? More clues to follow.

The images of the March 13, 1840, license and March 15, 1840 marriage certificate come from a valuable collection of early area marriage documents that are not indexed in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s database. In addition to the imbedded links in this post, the digital images are available online at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Milwaukee County Marriage Certificates link. This can be a very useful source if you are searching early Milwaukee-area marriages, but be warned that the indexing is not always accurate and a successful search may require some “creative” name spellings.

The image of the March 24, 1840, Milwaukee Weekly Sentinel announcement can be found on page 3 of that issue, available online through (pay site).

Updated April 24, 2016 to include transcription and link to image of March 15, 1840 marriage certificate.