Census Records for the In-Between Years: 1838

UPDATED, July 24, 2021 with another spelling and additional info on early settler S. McEvony-McEvery-McEvany.

The Second Wisconsin Territorial Census

The second Wisconsin territorial census, taken in 1838, is the only Wisconsin territorial census we have not yet discussed here at Clark House Historian. If you need to catch up, at the end of this post is a list of our previous discussions of Jonathan Clark, Mary Turck, and their family on the federal, territorial and state censuses enumerated between 1836 to 1855.

By early 1838, several new counties—Dodge, Jefferson and Washington—had been created from the original, larger, Milwaukee and Brown counties, although the new counties were still “attached” to Milwaukee county for judicial purposes.1 This means that the 1838 territorial census of the newly-created Jefferson, Dodge and Washington counties was the responsibility of the Milwaukee county enumerator, Sheriff Own (sic) Aldrich.

The filmed images for the second Wisconsin territorial census, enumerated in 1838, are available online as FHL film no.1,293,919 , aka DGS film 7,897,817 (Item 2, following the 1836 census. The 1838 census begins at image 118 of 532). Here’s the first page of the Milwaukee county census (including the attached counties of Jefferson, Dodge and Washington):

Wisconsin Territory. Territorial Census 1838 for Milwaukee County, page 1. FHL film no.1,293,919 , aka DGS film 7,897,817, item 2. Image 216 of 532

As you can see, the 1838 territorial census is another “head of household” census, much like its 1836 predecessor. The sheriff had to make his own census “forms” on plain paper. Milwaukee’s sheriff Aldrich recorded data in nine columns, from left to right:

  • Name of Master, Mistress Steward, Overseer of other Principal person
  • Name of Township or Division
  • Heads of Family
  • White Males
  • White Females
  • Colored Males
  • Colored Females
  • Total Amount
  • Remarks

For the “Name of Township or Division,” enumerator Aldrich thoughtfully added the Town and Range numbers of each “family.” This is really useful information for anyone interested in the development of a specific location, or tracing the whereabouts of folks living in the county. It’s especially useful, as it places individuals and families in a precise place, even if they had not purchased the land they were living on in 1838.

Washington County’s First Enumeration

So without further ado, here—complete on one page!—is the enumeration of Washington and Dodge counties, Wisconsin Territory, in May, 1838:

The first two lines at the top of page 23 are the enumeration of the last two households, of a total of 104, in Jefferson county. The enumeration of Dodge county follows: 10 households comprising 17 white males and 1 white female (presumably Mrs. Philander Baldwin). All of the Dodge county residents were living Town 9 North, Range 15 East,

And comprising the final 15 lines of page 23—there they are!— all 64 inhabitants of the newly-formed Washington county. There were 37 white males and 27 white females, living in 15 households of 2 to 10 persons, spread across three townships:

Town 11 North, Range 22 East [Town of Port Washington]

  • Wooster Harrison, 3 males, 2 females
  • John Gordinur (?), 1 male, 1 female
  • George E. Graves, 4 males, 2 female
  • Jehul Cass, 4 males

Town 10 North, Range 21 East [the old Town of Grafton2]

  • Saml Drake, 2 males, 1 female
  • John McDonald, 2 males, 1 female
  • Saml McEvony (?), 2 males
  • David Patrick, 2 males, 4 female

Town 9 North, Range 21 East [Town of Mequon]

  • Isaac Bigelow, 5 males, 5 females
  • Jas Woodworth, 2 males, 1 female
  • Peter Turk [sic, Turck], 3 males, 5 females
  • Stephen Loomar [sic, Loomer], 2 males
  • John Weston, 2 males, 4 females
  • J. Manley, 1 male, 1 female
  • Danl Smith, 2 males

Notes on the Washington County Settlers of 1838

Most of the settlers’ names are clearly written and easily transcribed. A few have characteristic abbreviations: Jas for James, Saml for Samuel, Danl for Daniel. At least two have unsurprising phonetic variations on their typical spellings: Loomar for Loomer, Turk for Turck.

A few names were harder to transcribe, and I looked at the federal land patents to see how some were spelled there (although not all of these early settlers obtained federal land patents). Here are the questionable transcriptions:

  • In the Town of Port Washington, “John Gordinur” is a mystery; perhaps he is a relative of—or variant name for—the “Peter Gourdin of South Carolina” that patented several parcels in this county in 1837 (with the very early patent number 21.)
  • In the old Town of Grafton, I’m not sure how to transcribe the surname of the man after John McDonald. It looks like Sam[ue]l “McEvery,” but the History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, Wisconsin…Illustrated (Chicago, 1881), page 316, mentions “S. McEvony” as one of the names on the first Poll List of Washington County in 1840. I surmise that S. McEvony on the 1840 poll list and this man on the 1838 census are one and the same person, so I transcribed his surname as McEvony.

    UPDATE, July 24, 2021: In his published diary, My path and the way the Lord led me, Rev. James W. Woodworth mentions seeing this man in later years. The diary entry for June 5, 1872 (p 313) relates “S. McEvany, one of the earliest settlers in this county, who moved from here into a distant part of this state seventeen years ago called on us to-day. He is 67 years of age.”

  • Almost all the names in the Town of Mequon are familiar to me from published histories, early censuses, and many other documents. I hope to write more about each family in the near future. One less-familiar name on this 1838 census is “J. Manly.” I couldn’t find a J. Manly in the History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, but there is a George Manly there, another name on Washington county’s first Poll List. George Manly was also an early county road supervisor, in 1844. Perhaps J. Manly was just an error by the 1838 enumerator, and it should read George Manly?

There are a few other curiosities in this short census return. For example, all the early histories and memoirs list the two original white settlers in Washington county as Isham Day and Daniel Strickland. James W. Woodworth said they emigrated to the Mequon area in the winter of 1836 (History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, p. 477). Both men are found in Milwaukee county on the 1836 territorial census3, in Washington county on the 1840 federal census—near Jonathan M. Clark—and both patented land in the area shortly after settlement. But where are they in 1838? Perhaps their shanties were too far off the enumerator’s path? Or perhaps they were each rooming with one or another of the “Principal persons” enumerated on this 1838 page?

Meet the Turck Family

This is the first Wisconsin census recording Peter Turck and his family. Peter Turck was a New Yorker of Dutch heritage; his wife Rachael Gay descended from a long line of English– and Dutch–Americans. The Peter Turck family will play an important role in the development of Washington and Ozaukee counties and the city of Milwaukee. We will have much more to say about them in future posts.

In late-summer 1837, Peter Turck (1798–1872), Rachael (Gay) Turck (1799–1841), and their seven children made the journey from their home in Palmyra, New York, to the western New York port city of Buffalo, and from there via steamboat through the Great Lakes to Milwaukee. They arrived on the muddy shores of that village in August, 1837. By August 27, 1837, they had settled 16 miles north of Milwaukee, on Pigeon Creek in Washington county.

When the second Wisconsin territorial census was enumerated in May, 1838, Peter Turck was living with his family in a “log shanty” that he had built; he would soon erect the first sawmill in the county. The 1838 census reports a total of eight persons in the Turck household, three males and five females. The three males were most likely father Peter Turck and sons Joseph Robert (1823–1902) and young James Byron (1833–1913).

But something is amiss. There should be six females in the home, not five: mother Rachael (Gay) Turck and daughters Mary (1820–1881), Adama/Adamy (1825–1908), Elizabeth (1828–1913), Rachel Gay (1830-1918), and the youngest, little Sarah (1835-1877). Is one of the daughters living elsewhere? Was the enumerator confused by mother and daughter sharing the same name? Another mystery…

Where’s Jonathan?

And speaking of mysteries: where is Jonathan M. Clark? If he is on the 1838 Wisconsin territorial census, I can’t find him. He was last seen leaving the army at the end of his enlistment, on September 19, 1836. He does not show up in the records again until December 12, 1839, when he files for the patent on his first 80 acres of Section 3, T9N, R21E, at the government land office in Milwaukee. What was Jonathan doing during those “missing” three years, two months and twenty-three days?

Census Link Roundup

As promised, here is a collection of links to our earlier Clark House Historian posts covering the federal, territorial and state censuses from 1836 through 1855.

The Clark family—and the nation—will undergo some serious difficulties in the decade following 1855. More on that in upcoming posts.


  1. For more on how this unfolded in old Washington county (the parent county of current Washington and Ozaukee counties, see our earlier post, Where are we?. For more on the development of all the Wisconsin counties, you can find good info and more links at this FamilySearch Wiki site, and an amazing interactive map of the evolution of the Wisconsin counties at this Newberry Library site (seriously, click the link and play with the maps, it’s a fabulous resource).
  2. The Town of Grafton originally included all of the current Towns of Grafton and Cedarburg. See our earlier post, Census Records for the In-Between Years: 1847, for more details about the developing towns in Washington and, later, Ozaukee counties. In particular, see the excerpt from the History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, Wisconsin…Illustrated. Chicago, 1881, page 222
  3. Isham Day and “Strickland” are found on page 3 of the 1836 Wisconsin territorial census for Milwaukee county. Isham Day’s family (p. 3, line 2) consists of 1 male over 21 years of age and 1 female over 21 years of age, presumably Isham Day and wife Emily Bigelow. But if my information is correct, Isham and Emily Day had at least 1 child by the time the 1836 census was enumerated; where is their son James Day?. The 1836 “Strickland” family (page 3, line 6), comprises 1 male over 21, 1 female over 21, 2 males under 21 and 2 females under 21. I still have work to do in organizing the Strickland family genealogy, but my current theory is that this 1836 group is the family of Daniel Strickland, wife Matilda. and children George W., Thomas A., Abigail and girl unknown. It’s very likely that the second female under 21 could be the Sarah Alice/Allise Strickland that wed Cyrus Clark (no relation to JMC), in Washington county, March 1, 1841.

3 thoughts on “Census Records for the In-Between Years: 1838

  1. Pingback: The Clark Family in 1860 | Clark House Historian

  2. Pingback: Meet the Neighbors: Cyrus Clark and Sarah A. Strickland | Clark House Historian

  3. Pingback: Sarah and Cyrus: part 3 | Clark House Historian

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