Henry Clark’s final resting place

UPDATED, July 4, 2021 to add a photograph of Henry Clark’s memorial inscription.

What we do — and don’t — know about the Clarks’ only son (part 5)

This is the fifth in a series of posts about the life of Henry M. Clark:
• Part 1: Meet the Children: Henry M. Clark
• Part 2: Henry Clark and the Civil War draft
• Part 3: Henry Clark – Civil War draftee

• Part 4: Henry Clark’s last days
• and a related tidbit: Avoiding the draft, 1862 style

As we learned in our previous post, Henry Clark—only son of Jonathan M. and Mary (Turck) Clark—was buried “in Cedarburg” on Monday, April 23, 1866. But if you seek Henry’s final resting place, you’ll find him next to his father, mother, and sister Josie in the Clark family lot at historic Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee. How this came to be, and what this tells us about Clark family history, is the subject of today’s post.

Clark family graves, lot 3, block 44, section 10, Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy Liz Hickman, 2016. Click to open new image in larger window.

The Clark family, 1878

In 1878, Mary (Turck) Clark was 57 years old, and may have already begun to display symptoms of the cancer that would take her life less than three years later. She had been a widow for over 20 years; her husband, Jonathan M. Clark, had died in Mequon in 1857. There had been happy occasions since moving to Milwaukee, including the marriages of her five eldest daughters. There had been serious challenges, too. Children Henry and Josie had both died at the young age of 23, Henry in Milwaukee in 1866, and Josie in Oshkosh in 1877. And Mary, her daughter Josie, and her father, Peter Turck had all suffered severe mental health crises in recent years.

By mid-1878, Mary was recovering from her mental health crisis; in six months she would be released from her guardianship. During her illness, she had managed her finances with the capable assistance of her guardian, son-in-law William W. Woodward, and lawyer, long-time family friend Philip Moss. As the decade of the ’70s came to a close, Mary had resumed living a comfortable, but not lavish, middle-class life.

Most of the other living Clark children were married and had established their own households elsewhere. Only the Clark’s youngest child, Jennie M. Clark, had never married or left the Clark home. In 1878 Jennie and her mother were living at their at house at 469 Cass, Milwaukee. Jennie Clark was born in May, 1857, only four months before her father’s premature death. She attended the Milwaukee public schools. In high school she completed the Normal Course, qualifying her to teach grammar school. Following her high school graduation, Jennie taught in the Milwaukee public schools from about 1875 to 1880.

Forest Home

Though the documentary record is sparse, it seems clear that Mary Clark was a loving, intelligent, and capable mother, farmer, and household manager. She kept her family comfortable throughout the loss of their father, the financial panic of 1857, relocation to Milwaukee, the Civil War, and more than one family’s share of illness and death. So as 1878 came to a close, it appears that Mary Clark, newly-recovering from her own health crisis, decided to get her affairs in order. One priority was to find a single resting place for the remains of Jonathan, Henry, Josie and—when the time came—herself.

On November 16, 1878, Mary purchased lot 3, block 44, section 10 at Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee. Forest Home, on the city’s south side, was established in 1850. Its 200 landscaped acres are a prime example of the then-new fashion for rural, peaceful, park-like cemeteries adjacent to large urban areas. It quickly became the final resting place for many of Milwaukee’s most prominent politicians, beer-barons, and industrialists. Parts of Forest Home are now on the National Register of Historic Places. Other early Mequon settlers—many of them related to the Clarks—are buried at Forest Home, including members of the Peter Turck, B. F Bleyer, A. L. Carlton, Seward Craig, Philip Moss, W. T. Bonniwell, and Jesse Hubbard families.

November 16, 1878.

Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, [lot owner’s card for Mary T. Clark]. Image courtesy Liz Hickman. Click to open larger image in new window.

Mary Clark’s new family burial location—Forest Home Cemetery lot 3, block 44, section 10—measured 10 feet by 20 feet. According to Forest Home records, Mary purchased the lot on November 16, 1878. On the same day, the remains of Henry Clark, Josie Clark and Jonathan Clark were transferred to Forest Home and reburied in their final resting place.

Jonathan M. Clark’s grave is located at the center of the north end of the lot. A marble, flat-topped, four-sided memorial column is inscribed with his birth and death dates—and what appears to be a longer inscription that has faded with time—and marks the head of his grave. Daughter Josie is buried in the center of the south half of the lot, at Jonathan’s feet. Her burial is marked with a plaque on the side of the tall column and with a stone marker (“Josie”) just north of her head.

Henry is buried east of Josie, on her proper left side. His burial is also commemorated with a stone marker (“Henry”) just above his head, and with a plaque on another side of the memorial column.

Inscription for Henry M. Clark on Clark family memorial column, lot 3, block 44, section 10, Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy Nadeen Sobotka, 2012. Click to open new image in larger window.

Mary Turck Clark died on June 28, 1881, two-and-a-half years after moving the remains of her husband and children to Forest Home. She was buried to the east of her husband, on his proper left. Her resting place was not commemorated on the memorial column and is not yet marked with a gravestone.

Answers and questions

The original, hand-written Forest Home interment records were microfilmed and are now available from familysearch.org. The pages are large; click the image to open a larger version in a new window and see the full details:

Clark, Jonathan, Henry and Josie in Forest Home Cemetery (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) interment record, Family Search film 7,899,281, item 2, Interment Record, lots and single graves, v. 2, May 11, 1878-May 9, 1893, image 129 of 587. The Forest Home clerk has misspelled the names of both Jonathan (“Johnathan”) and Josie (“Jessie”)

On first view, it is disappointing to note how much information about Jonathan, Henry, and Josie is not in this register. Locations and dates of births and deaths, and causes of death are all left blank, presumably because these individuals had been buried previously, elsewhere, and Forest Home did not need to gather such information again.

The one really new and useful bit of information comes at the end of the entries, where the register notes that the three Clark remains were “Removals from Cedarburg Cem.” Previously, we knew from D. W. Maxon’s diary that Henry had been buried “in Cedarburg.” But we did not know where Jonathan and Josie had been buried. Had they been interred on an unknown burying ground on the Clark farm in Mequon? Or had Jonathan and Josie been buried in the small, still-extant burying ground on the old Peter Turck property just to the west? Or had all three always been in the same cemetery somewhere in Mequon or nearby Cedarburg?

The Forest Home register suggests all three had been initially buried in the same place, the “Cedarburg Cem[etery].” And in November, 1878, Mary T. Clark had all three “removed” from Cedarburg and re-buried in Forest Home Cemetery.

There are still some important questions, the answers to which would help us understand more about the lives and untimely deaths of Jonathan, Henry and Josie Clark.

  • Which “Cedarburg Cemetery” were they buried in?
  • Do cemetery records still exist for any of these three Clark burials? If so, can the records tell us:
  • Where and when was each born? (specific place and date for Jonathan, in particular)
  • Where and when did each die? (specific place for Jonathan, in particular)
  • What were the causes of death for each?
  • Are there Cedarburg records of the exhumations and removals to Forest Home in 1878? If so, do they contain any useful information?

Page 502 of the History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties…Illustrated, [1881], includes the following list of Ozaukee cemeteries as of 1881 (not including various “churches and societies” mentioned elsewhere in the book):

Based on this list, the most likely location for the initial Clark burials may well have been the cemetery of the Cedarburg Cemetery Association, founded April 6, 1857, just 5 months before Jonathan M. Clark’s death. Is this cemetery still extant and one of those managed by the City of Cedarburg? I have sent an email with these Clark family 1857, 1866 and 1877 burial questions to the current managers of the Cedarburg public cemeteries, namely the good folks at the Cedarburg Public Works Department. If we are lucky, their records will go back to the late-1850s, and they can shed some light on these remaining Clark family mysteries. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Alternatively, do any Clark House Historian readers know of other Cedarburg or Ozaukee County archives that might have the correct, old, “Cedarburg Cemetery” records? Were the Clarks buried in one of the early public cemeteries, or perhaps one connected to a local church? (I’m pretty sure they won’t be found in Catholic church records, but maybe one of the older Methodist or other protestant congregations in Cedarburg has old burial records?)

Up next

Today’s post concludes our survey of what we actually know—or can reasonably surmise—about the life and death of Henry M. Clark. The one, great question remains to be solved: did Henry serve in the Civil War, as at least one anonymous source claims? The short answer is: possibly. But we’ll need time and space to examine the evidence we have and to see what other evidence may exist elsewhere.

But before we do that, we’re going to take a break from the Civil War and spend a week trying to answer the question of how, exactly, did our earliest Mequon immigrants travel from the settled East to the wilds of Wisconsin Territory? Did they travel over land or water? And in what kinds of transportation? It should be interesting.

See you soon.

4 thoughts on “Henry Clark’s final resting place

  1. Nicely done. I’ll be interested to hear what you learn from Cedarburg Public Works. Do churches not include their own records with the city?


    • Thanks.

      Church record storage practices vary. Sometimes old records for congregations that are no longer active may be transferred to a local government office or a historical society.

      If a burial ground associated with a church is still active, the records should remain available locally, either at the church, the diocese, or—possibly—with local government. But churches usually keep their own records for cemeteries that they own and manage. (I believe Catholic churches, especially in larger dioceses, keep records locally and copies at the diocese.)

      For various reasons—fire, natural disasters, mice, or just lack of good records management—old records can be destroyed or go missing. I hope the records for the “Cedarburg Cemetery” still exist.


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