Monday: Map Day!

Milwaukee Street Map, 1859

In our most recent Clark House Historian posts, 1861/1862: Moving Time and Fred Beckmann, Sr., we began to look investigate how in 1861/62, Mary Clark and her children left the Clark farm in Mequon and moved in with her widowed father Peter Turck in Milwaukee. Before getting down to the nitty gritty of the various homes occupied by the Clarks and by Peter Turck during the decade of the 1860s, I thought I should make a quick answer to the question: who lived and farmed the Clark farm from about 1861 to 1868?

Well, it turns out that the answers to that question are more complicated, and the evidence more sparse and in need of interpretation than I anticipated. So we are going to pause our investigation of the “who was Mary Clark’s tenant farmer?” issue for a moment, as I sort through maps and census schedules and consult with Clark House museum director Nina Look and others.

On the street where you live…

Meanwhile, I thought today’s Monday: Map Day! item should be a street map of Milwaukee from about the same time that Mary Clark and the children moved to the city in 1861/62. You may remember our post featuring the 1854 Panoramic Map of Milwaukee. I find that map really interesting and informative in a general way, but it has one shortcoming: none of the streets are labeled. That’s not very useful if we are trying to follow the Clark family’s progress from place to place in the 1860s and beyond. So how about this map?—

It’s another historic map from the American Geographical Society digital map collection at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee’s online library. It’s the Map of the City of Milwaukee, 1859 by H. F. Walling. The map has been scanned and is viewable in two parts, upper and lower. Click each image for a look at the high-resolution map:

Walling, H. F., Map of the City of Milwaukee, 1859 (northern part, southern part),  University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeAmerican Geographical Society Digital Map Collection. Copyright notice here, presented in this post as a public domain item and/or under fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law.

As usual, click the maps, zoom in and out and scroll around and enjoy the details. Notice how large portions of the city have been shaded in contrasting colors, pale blue, green, yellow and pink. These areas are the political divisions, or wards, of the city. The specific wards are indicated by large roman numerals. When they first moved to the city, Mary Clark and family found a home in the seventh ward, right in the heart of the city (red rectangle):

Walling, H. F., Map of the City of Milwaukee, 1859 (northern part), detail showing Seventh Ward. Click to open larger map in new window

The family’s new home in 1861/62 was at 474 Jefferson street. Jefferson is an important north-south street that runs right through the heart of the city. In 1859, the Milwaukee Court House stood at the center of the ward, on Jefferson, just north of Oneida, and one block west of St. John’s Cathedral. The historic cathedral is still there. The old court house and jail have been replaced and relocated, and the adjacent Juneau Square is now called Cathedral Square Park, an urban greenspace (with free Wi-Fi).

Walling, H. F., Map of the City of Milwaukee, 1859, detail showing Jefferson street area in Seventh Ward. Click to open larger map in new window

Changing coordinates…

The Milwaukee city street names and numbers were thoroughly revised in the 1930s. Various other street names had already changed in the decades preceding that major revision. This makes finding old locations tricky, but the Milwaukee Historical Society has an excellent online site to help us navigate those changes. Unfortunately, the MHS street name/number conversion guide from the 1930s does not have a new address for old 474 Jefferson street. It’s possible that by the time the name and number changes were made, the “474 Jefferson” of the 1860s no longer existed as a street address; it may have been renumbered before the 1930s, or absorbed into a larger building or tract of land.

But the 1930 street number conversion guide does give nearby addresses that we can use to locate the approximate site of the early 1860s Clark-Turck home. According to the online conversion guide, old 470 Jefferson is now 794 North Jefferson, and old 479 Jefferson is modern 811 North Jefferson. The two addresses appear to be on either side of the cross street now known as East Wells; in 1859, it was Oneida street. And, since the Clark-Turck house at 474 Jefferson was an even number, that should put it on the east side of Jefferson, meaning the Clark-Turck house was probably on or near the southeast corner of old Oneida and Jefferson:

Walling, H. F., Map of the City of Milwaukee, 1859, detail showing possible location of Clark-Turck house, 474 Jefferson, in 1861/62. Click to open larger map in new window

In 1861/62, having left rural Mequon for Milwaukee, it appears Mary Clark, her children, and her father Peter Turck first made their home near the southwest corner of Juneau Square. The house was close to the court house and jail—convenient for Peter Turck’s legal and real estate practice—and surrounded by the shops, churches, and schools of the lively center of 1860s Milwaukee.

In future posts, as we trace the movements of the Clark family from about 1861/62 until the early 1880s, we will refer to this and other maps for a sense of where the family is living, and what that may tell us about their economic situation and their place in the community.