Once again, several states along and north of the Gulf of Mexico face the force of a major hurricane. As I type this, New Orleans, one of the most historic cities in the United States, is without power, and hundreds of thousands of citizens—and large parts of the the area’s industries and environment—remain threatened as Hurricane Ida makes its way inland. I’ll let other, more knowledgable sources report the news. For now, I encourage you to remember and support our compatriots as they endure and recover from this major natural disaster.
Bachmann, John, Birds’ eye view of New-Orleans / drawn from nature on stone by J. Bachman, [i.e., Bachmann], ca. 1851. New York: Published by the agents A. Guerber & Co., Printed by J. Bachman. Library of Congress. Click to open larger image in new window.
I don’t usually post on Saturdays, but today is a special day. It’s the 100th anniversary of my Dad’s birth, and I thought it deserved at least a short CHH mention.
John H. Perkins, 1921 – 2004
My dad lived a long and eventful life, too much to cover in a single blog post. But since our recent Clark House Historian posts have been focused on historic boats and other Clark-era modes of transportation, I thought I’d share a few choice photos of Dad on the go—on water and on land—with a few biographical remarks to set the scene.
Here’s an early example:
John H. Perkins in baby carriage, probably Evanston, Illinois, circa Spring or Summer, 1922. Perkins family collection. Click to open larger image in new window.
Our series of “How’d they get here?” posts is written to illustrate the nuts and bolts of how our early Mequon pioneers travelled from their original homes or ports of arrival in North America to the newly opened federal lands in Wisconsin Territory, circa 1830-1850. Today’s post continues our westward journey from Buffalo; see Note 1 (below) for links to earlier posts in the series.
The ships at Detroit, 1837
We closed our previous post with a brief look at a colorful aquatint of the ships and small craft on the Detroit River, a major port on the Great Lakes route between Buffalo and Chicago in the 1830s and ’40s. The print was published in 1837, and is an excellent illustration of almost all of the important types of ships in use during the years of Wisconsin Territory settlement:
Bennett, William J., after a sketch by Frederick K. Grain, City of Detroit, Michigan. Taken from the Canada shore near the Ferry., hand-colored aquatint on engraving, ca. 1837. National Gallery of Art, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. Public Domain. Click to open larger image in new window.
If you’re not clear on your Michigan and Upper Canada (now Ontario) geography, the artist was standing on the Canadian shore, looking west across the river to the city of Detroit. The two steamboats at the left center of the picture are headed north, upstream on the Detroit River that connects Lake Erie to Lake St. Clair and, via the St. Clair River, to Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior.
Given that the picture shows leafy green foliage and men in shirt-sleeves, it was probably drawn in the spring or summer of 1837 (or a perhaps a year or two earlier?). In August, 1837, the Peter Turck family—including eldest daughter Mary Turck—migrated from Wayne county, New York, to Milwaukee via this exact route and, perhaps, on one of the ships shown in this picture. Other Mequon immigrants, including the Bigelow, Bonniwell, Loomer, Strickland and Woodworth families (and many others), would have seen similar views as they travelled from the eastern seaboard to Wisconsin Territory in the ’30s and ’40s.
There is a lot to see here. Let’s take a closer look…
Our series of “How’d they get here?” posts is written to illustrate the nuts and bolts of how our early Mequon pioneers travelled from their original homes or ports of arrival in North America to the newly opened federal lands in Wisconsin Territory, circa 1830-1850. Today’s post continues our westward journey from Buffalo; see Note 1 (below) for links to other posts in the series.
Regular steamboat service between Buffalo and Detroit was available at least as early as 1825.2 The 330-mile route included scheduled stops in Erie, Pennsylvania, the mouth of the Grand River (at Fairport, Ohio), and the Ohio ports of Cleveland and Sandusky, before finally arriving at the city of Detroit. By the mid-1830s the number of stops had increased to serve other developing port towns along Lake Erie’s southern shore and points further on, including Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Chicago.
The Cleveland light, circa 1834
Day or night, fair weather or foul, our westbound Mequon settlers would have noticed a variety of sights along the way, including a handful of navigation lights constructed by the federal government. One of the most notable was the harbor light at Cleveland, Ohio.
Bodmer, Karl. “Leuchtthurm bei Cleveland am Erie See. Phare de Clevelandsur le Lac Erie. Cleveland Lighthouse on the Lake Erie.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. Published 1840 – 1843, original drawing c. 1834. Click to open larger image in new window.
Our series of “How’d they get here?” posts is written to illustrate the nuts and bolts of how our early Mequon pioneers travelled from their original homes or ports of arrival in North America, to the newly opened federal lands in Wisconsin Territory, circa 1830-1850. See Note 1, below, for links to other posts in the series.
Village of Buffalo, 1825
In a previous post, we followed the newly-opened route for westward migrants from the New York City docks, up the Hudson River to Albany, and then along the new Erie Canal towards its terminus at the village of of Buffalo, New York, at the eastern end of Lake Erie. After seven days of travel on canal boats, the westbound traveler of 1825 would have looked up and seen this, the muddy streets and modest harbor of Buffalo:
Buffalo Harbour from the Village, in Cadwallader Colden, et. al., Memoir…at the Completion of the New York Canals, New York, 1825. Image from “extra-illustrated” edition in New York Public Library Digital Collections, scanned copy of standard edition of book via GoogleBooks. Public domain. Click to open larger image in new window.
After leaving the Deep Cut above Lockport, the last part of the Erie Canal merges with Tonawanda Creek, seen here flowing into the village from far left to center, in front of the line of distant trees, and then curving toward the viewer before exiting into the harbor, to the right. The original Buffalo lighthouse of 1818 can be see on a small peninsula, right of center, just above where Tonawanda Creek meets the lake.
Earlier this summer, while putting together the post How’d they get here? – early Erie Canal images, I came across a tidily-drawn print that helps illustrate the story of the Peter and Rachael (Gay) Turck family’s life before coming to Mequon. It’s downtown Palmyra, Wayne county, New York, in 1825:
Unknown artist, Eastern view in Main-street, Palmyra., in Cadwallader Colden, et. al., Memoir…at the Completion of the New York Canals, New York, 1825. Image from “extra-illustrated” edition in New York Public Library Digital Collections, scanned copy of standard edition of book available via GoogleBooks. Click to open larger image in new window.
UPDATED August 16, 2021, to include more information on the Ho-Chunk language, inadvertently omitted from the original post.
I’m working on more posts for our series about the early Mequon immigrants and “How’d they get here?” I needed a map that showed all of the Great Lakes, as well as the Eastern seaboard states and ports from which these immigrants began their westward journeys. And hey, I found a great map from 1825, the year the Erie Canal was completed:
Finley, Anthony and David H. Vance, Map Of The United States Of North America. Philadelphia, 1825. Credit, David Rumsey Map Collection, David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries, non-commercial use permitted under Creative Commons license. Click image to open larger map in new window.
One of the really neat aspects of researching and writing about Clark House history on this site is the feedback I receive from blog readers. I love hearing from you, whether you have a comment or a question about the topic at hand, or perhaps there is something else that you want to know more about.
[Occupational Portrait of a Salesman], Three-Quarter Length, Seated, Displaying His Wares. Daguerreotype, between 1850 and 1860, cropped and lightly color-adjusted. Library of Congress. Click to open larger image in new window.
History is never “done.” No one can know it all. There are always new sources with fresh information, and new ways to look at well-known material. A question or a new bit of information from a reader will often prompt additional research or a correction to previous statements. The result is that this blog—and our knowledge of the Clark family, their neighbors, and their era—is constantly evolving.
Chambers, Thomas. Storm-Tossed Frigate, oil on canvas, mid 19th century (c. 1836-1845). National Gallery of Art, gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch. Public domain. Click to open larger image in new window.