Alfred Bonniwell project

UPDATED 16 July 2022, to correct typo in Alfred’s death year. Correct year is 1895.

At last month’s annual meeting of the Friends of the Jonathan Clark House, assistant director Nina Look mentioned that she had some sort of research project coming later this year, involving the youngest Bonniwell brother, Alfred T. Bonniwell (1826-1895). I’m not quite sure what Nina’s project will focus on, but Alfred is, perhaps, the least-known Bonniwell, and deserves further study.

As a Bonniwell brother, Alfred plays his part in the establishment of one of Mequon’s first cleared and populated areas, the Bonniwell Settlement. The Clark house—and Clark family—played an important role in the early decades of this settlement, and the history of the Clark family is intimately tied up with their neighbors, the Bonniwells. How intimately?

He married into the family

Bonniwell, Alfred and Sarah Turck marriage notice, Daily Free Democrat [Milwaukee, Wisconsin], Sat. 13 Dec 1851, p. 2.

BONNIWELL—TURK.—In Mequon, Washington county, on the 10th instant, by Peter Turk, Esq, Mr Alfred Bonniwell, to Miss Sarah Turk, all of the above place.

Alfred is the link that officially joins the Bonniwell and Turck families. And the Clark family, too. Sarah Turck (1835-1877) was the youngest sister of Mary (Turck) Clark, wife of Jonathan M. Clark, and matriarch of Mequon’s Clark family. That makes Alfred Bonniwell Jonathan Clark’s brother-in-law, and Peter Turck’s son-in-law.

And yes, the marriage was performed by Sarah’s father, Peter Turck, Mequon’s man of strong opinions, and many vocations and elected offices. At various times, these roles included lawyer, Justice of the Peace and Baptist preacher. It’s not clear in which capacity Peter was serving when he performed Sarah and Alfred’s nuptial rites on December 10, 1851.

Looking ahead

We already know quite a bit about Alfred Bonniwell. In his book The Bonniwells: 1000 Years, George Bonniwell sketched out many episodes of Alfred’s youth, and devoted a full chapter to Alfred’s adult life in Mequon.

But there were aspects of Alfred’s life that were not known when The Bonniwells was published in 1999. In the intervening years we have uncovered other documents that will shed more light on Alfred and Sarah (Turck) Bonniwell’s family and their relationship to the Clarks, Turcks, and other Mequon pioneer neighbors.

So stay tuned. George Bonniwell’s research is solid and I’ll avoid restating what he’s already covered. I’m going to try and add new information and documents to the mix. I hope Nina and friends can build on this and uncover new aspects of Mequon’s history by climbing out on this branch of the Bonniwell–Turck–Clark family tree.



George B. Bonniwell’s excellent book The Bonniwells: 1000 Years, [privately printed], 1999, remains an important resource for learning about the Bonniwells and other early Mequon settlers, their ancestors and descendants. If you’d like a copy of this unique, handsome, and generously-illustrated hardcover book, George still has some for sale at $30 each. If you’re interested, send me a message via the blog’s Contact form, and I can put you in touch with the author.

9 thoughts on “Alfred Bonniwell project

  1. Reed –
    Let’s climb out on that branch!
    We also sell George’s book at JCH but are running low on copies. In addition, for those in the Mequon Thiensville area this wonderful book is in the Weyenberg Library’s second floor history reference room. If you happen to go to Weyenberg in March 2022 you can see the extraordinary JCH lobby exhibit. The exhibit was created by JCH Exec. Director Dana Hansen with help from Curator Fred Derr.


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