Monday: Map Day!

That was fun!

I enjoyed our recent look at early Mequon pioneers and Jonathan M. Clark neighbors (but not kin) Cyrus Clark and Sarah Strickland. I hope you did, too. I was particularly struck by how mobile Cyrus and Sarah were throughout their lives, even in the earliest years of the Wisconsin Territory. You’d think that after making their arduous treks from the Atlantic seaboard to the wilderness of late-1830s Wisconsin, Sarah and Cyrus might settle down and stay in Mequon for a while. But no, it was back and forth across Wisconsin, from Mequon to Potosi to Grafton to Moscow and then on to Madison, Dakota Territory, and then back and forth between South Dakota and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

I also had a lot of fun learning something about early photographic techniques and historic attire and applying that new knowledge to the Cyrus and Sarah (Strickland) Clark family cabinet cards and tintype photographs. In the future I hope to apply these new skills for a fresh look at the few photos we have of members of the Jonathan M. Clark family.

Back on the JMC trail…

Speaking of the Jonathan M. Clark family, we still have some key mysteries to solve in the JMC timeline, the most important of which is: who were JMC’s parents and where was he born and raised? This is something that I have been working on for a long time, in collaboration with JMC descendant, and friend of the Clark House, Liz Hickman, Clark House museum director Nina Look, and others. In particular, Liz and I have gone through piles of information on Clark families in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and southern Quebec, and I’d really like to take the time to collate and evaluate the information we have, and try to find Jonathan Clark’s roots.

So, time to head north, eh?

As we’ve discussed before, we have multiple authoritative, official, federal government documents in which Jonathan M. Clark stated he was born in Derby, Vermont. Or in Stanstead, Lower Canada. (It depends on which authoritative, official, federal documents you look at, of course!) And that brings us to today’s map:

Whitelaw, James, and Amos Doolittle. A correct map of the state of Vermont: exhibiting the county and town lines, rivers, lakes, ponds, mountains, meetinghouses, mills, public roads &c. [New Haven, Conn.: Amos Doolittle, 1796] Map. Click to open larger image in new window.

How is your knowledge of Vermont and Lower Canada (or any Canada) history? If you grew up west of the Hudson River and south of our Neighbors to the North, like I did, chances are the answer is “pretty slim.” Today is not the day that we go into the deep details of that history, but let’s get our bearings for future discussion. Almost all of our search for the family of Jonathan Clark takes place in the north, where the United States meets the various Canadian provinces along the 45th parallel. In particular, the area centered on Orleans County—and the town of Derby, Vermont—and neighboring Stanstead, Lower Canada, and its (future) “Three Villages” area:

Whitelaw, James, and Amos Doolittle. A correct map of the state of Vermont […], detail showing Orleans county, Vermont and adjacent areas. Click to open larger image in new window.

See the red circle at the top of the detail map? That is the Derby-Stanstead area that will be the focus of many of our upcoming posts and research. To the west of both towns is Lake Memphremagog, an important part of the essential water-transport route in this part of New England and Lower Canada. This detail map also shows all of Orleans county, Vermont (outlined in yellow), including the town of Derby. Midwestern map readers that expect to see rectilinear counties laid out on symmetrical north-south aligned grids will notice the asymmetrical alignment and shape of the Orleans county boundaries. This is typical of colonial-era surveying and land-division practices.

Where is everybody?

Note the lack of settlements on the map, especially up north and away from the rivers and lakes. This is not an error. There were very few white settlers in these areas in 1796. This will change in the coming decades, yet in many ways Derby-Stanstead remained an isolated wilderness border area for many years, including the early years of Jonathan M. Clark’s life. Smugglers, counterfeiters, and tax-evading, border-crossing merchants were a feature of Derby-Stanstead life for much of the early 1800s.

Looking ahead

I hope you enjoy today’s map, and I hope you enjoy our ongoing search for Jonathan Clark’s home and kin. We’ll continue to have posts on other Clark House and Clark family topics, of course, and now and then I’ll be experimenting with more of WordPress’s features. And as always, please keep in touch with the comment box, below (or on the pull-down menu if you’re reading this on your phone).

P. S. — One technical note for (frustrated) blog Followers:

It looks like some of you that would like to follow the blog and get email notifications of new posts are not getting those email notifications. I’m sorry about that. It appears to be an issue for newer subscribers and may have to do with changes in spam-blocking technology and such. I’m going to try and figure out how to fix this, but it may take a while. In the meantime, I’ve been posting regularly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for a while now, and I plan to continue on that schedule. So see you on Wednesday!


3 thoughts on “Monday: Map Day!

  1. I too was amazed at how often Cyrus Clark traveled. His son Dr. Edwin L. Clark followed in his footsteps moving from Wisconsin to South Dakota, Illinois, Texas and back to Illinois. A peripatetic family for sure. Thanks again for your side-trip into Cyrus Land.


    • I agree. There are definitely different “types” of pioneers and settlers among the ones I’ve researched. Some leave a place (Germany, New England, Ireland, etc.), move to “the wilderness”—1840s Wisconsin, for example—and then put down roots, build farms, homes and communities and stay for generations.

      Then there are the wanderers. Take, for example, “Pa” Ingalls in the “Little House” books. Every time the Ingalls family moved somewhere, they cleared the land, raised crops, suffered hardships, and finally built a nice home and started to settle down. And every time things started to get comfy, Pa would pull up stakes and move to the next untamed, harsh wilderness, and start all over again. It’s a wonder Ma didn’t put her foot down and say, “no, we are not moving to…” Kansas, or wherever.

      It certainly looks like Cyrus and Sarah Clark, like the Ingalls family, have a touch of the “wanderer” personality.


  2. Pingback: Now, where were we? | Clark House Historian

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