RBOH: The Turck family’s Palmyra, 1825

Another short post in our occasional series of Random Bits of History.

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.

Palmyra, New York

Palmyra was the main commercial center of the Turcks’ part of Wayne county. The town was located next to the Erie Canal and benefited greatly from its construction and commercial and passenger traffic. The Turck family lived in Wayne county, near Palmyra and neighboring Macedon, from April, 1828, until migrating to Wisconsin in September, 1837.

Peter and Rachael (Gay) Turck’s eldest child, Mary—the future matriarch of the Jonathan M. Clark family—was about seven years old when she moved to the Palmyra area with her parents, brother Joseph, and sisters Adama (or Adamy) and newborn Elizabeth.

Mary, Joseph, Adama/Adamay, and Elizabeth are either known or presumed to have been born in or near Greene county, New York. All but one of Mary Turck’s other siblings—Rachael Gay, James Byron, and Sarah—are known or presumed to have been born in Palmyra or Macedon. (Mary’s youngest sibling, brother Benjamin, was born in 1839, the only child of Peter and Rachael Turck born in Wisconsin.)

Catching up on the Turck family

There is a lot of Turck and Gay family information on Clark House Historian. The blog’s Search function will help you locate specific words or phrases, and you can click on “Turck family” or “Children of Peter Turck” in the Categories menu. For two good, one-stop, up-to-date overviews of the family, I suggest starting with:

For more on the Turck family in Palmyra and Macedon, take a look at:

And for a photo of the remains of the (enlarged) Erie Canal lock at Macedon, very possibly the place from which, in 1837, the Turcks left their home in Wayne county for Buffalo and Wisconsin, see:

History on the road…

If you’re traveling in upstate New York, take a detour to Palmyra. It’s has a well-preserved downtown (parts of which still look a lot like our 1825 image) and loads of history for Erie Canal fans, or for anyone interested in America between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Palmyra is also notable as a key location for one of the major events arising during the religious fervor of America’s Second Great Awakening: the beginnings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (It’s interesting to wonder whether Peter Turck—a head-strong, full-immersion Baptist preacher—ever crossed paths with Joseph Smith during the years when they both lived near Palmyra, 1828-1831.)

Coming up…

I’ve got lots more on travel and transportation to share with you, including some great images and newspaper clippings. More steamboats, sailing ships, small boats, and tales of travels on the Great Lakes in the 1830s, with special info on ships and travelers at Fort Howard during Jonathan M. Clark’s enlistment (1833-36), and the Turck family’s arrival in Milwaukee in 1837. Even a bit on early railroads, too.

See you soon.

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