Clarks and Turcks, 1863

Still together, in Milwaukee

In our earlier posts 1861/1862: Moving Time and Monday: Map Day! we followed Mary Clark and her children as they left the Clark house and farm in Mequon and moved to Milwaukee, sharing a home with Mary’s twice-widowed father, Peter Turck.

The next edition of the Milwaukee City Directory was for the year 1863. By the time Mary’s only son, Henry Clark, celebrated his 20th birthday on February 21, 1863, the nation had been immersed in the violence of the Civil War for almost two years, with no end in sight. That summer, Henry—a resident of Milwaukee’s seventh ward—would register for the Union’s first nationwide military draft.

Page 47 of the Milwaukee City Directory for 1863 gives Mary’s address as:

Clark Mrs. Mary, 474 Jefferson.

This is the same address as found in the 1862 directory. (In 1863, there is no other “Clark, Mary” listed in the directory as there was in 1862.) It is almost certain that all the unmarried Clark children are at 474 Jefferson with their mother. Besides Henry, there are six girls still at home. Libbie, the oldest, is 18. Jennie, the youngest, is only 5 years old.

Peter Turck

On page 246 of the directory we find Peter Turck—misspelled, not for the first time, as Turk—still living with Mary and the family at 474 Jefferson.

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James B. Turck and family

Mary’s younger brother, James Byron Turck (b. 1833), married Miss Sarah Ann(e) Ashby in Milwaukee in 1856. She was born in Ramsgate, Kent County1, England in 1834. By 1863, James and Sarah had three children, Fenton Benedict (b. 1857), Josephine Katherine (b. 1858)2, and James Byron, Jr. (b. 1862).

As in 1862, in 1863 James was still working as a bookkeeper. The 1863 directory names his employer, the wholesale boot and shoe dealers Page & Crosby. Directory page 185 lists their business address as 147 East Water Street. Water Street remains a major north-south thoroughfare in the Milwaukee business district, running more or less parallel to the east bank of the Milwaukee River.

One of Page & Crosby’s co-owners, Thomas Page, lived a few blocks north and east of the Mary Clark and Peter Turck house, on the east side of Jackson Street, between Biddle and Martin. His partner, Francis Crosby, lived a bit south and east of the Clark–Turck home, at 308 Jackson Street4.

James B. Turck lived north of his sister and father, in Milwaukee’s First Ward, on the south side of Pleasant Street between Marshall and Astor Streets. This may be the same house he lived in in 1862— on “Pleasant, east of Cass”—or perhaps another house, just a few doors east of that residence.

Walling, H. F., Map of the City of Milwaukee, 1859, detail showing parts of the first and seventh wards, with approximate locations of homes mentioned in this post.
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(1) Mary Clark–Peter Turck residence, (2) James Byron Turck residence,
(3) Thomas Page residence, (4) toward Francis Crosby residence (off map)

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  1. Kent County, England, is also the home of Mequon’s prolific Bonniwell settler family. I wonder whether the Ashby and Bonniwell families may have known each other back in England; I have not yet found any evidence to show that they did. In fact, I know very little about Sarah Ann(e) Ashby and her relatives.
  2. Full disclosure: Josephine Turck (later Baker) was my great-grandmother. She was an internationally known grammarian, and an author, publisher, dramatist, orator, patron of the arts, suffragist and occasional actress3. She was, by all accounts, a remarkable, successful, and characterful woman (though not much of an actress).
  3. I am fully aware that modern English style considers “actress” sexist and old-fashioned; actor is preferred. This is correct but, having read hundreds of pages of Josephine Turck Baker’s prescriptive instructions in the use of Correct English, I know that she would be appalled to be referred to as an “actor.” So actress it is.
  4. Francis Crosby’s residence at “308 Jackson” has no exact modern equivalent. The most likely nearby address, based on the 1930s street re-numbering guide, is probably 420 North Jackson. The houses on this part of Jackson Street are long gone, replaced by the ramps and overpasses of Interstate-794.