Alfred Bonniwell documents – part 4: Wisconsin territorial census, 1842

Continuing on with our series of Alfred Bonniwell documents, today’s post looks at one of two censuses that (probably) record Alfred Bonniwell in Wisconsin Territory between the federal decennial censuses of 1840 and 1850. If you need to catch up, our previous installments are herehereherehere and here.
UPDATED May 22, 2022, to correct Charles Bonniwell, Sr.’s birth year to 1806

The Wisconsin territorial census of 1842

For background on the 1842 Wisconsin territorial census, its enumeration in old Washington/Ozaukee county, and its relation to the Clark, Turck and Bonniwell families and their neighbors, you’ll want to read Census Records for the In-Between Years: 1842.1

The official enumeration date for this census was June 1, 1842; the enumeration of old Washington county—still attached to Milwaukee County for legal purposes—was done by Levi Ostrander and officially completed on July 1, 1842. Here’s page 65 of that census. The extended Bonniwell family—and some of their notable neighbors—are circled in red.2

Full source details in note 2, below. Click to open larger image in new window.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these families and try and understand which Bonniwells were living where, in Mequon, in mid-summer, 1842…

The Bonniwells…and friends

Before we start, here’s a reminder that a “family” or “household” as recorded on this kind of “head of family” census might include anyone: grandparents, parents, children, in-laws, cousins, or even completely unrelated persons—such as hired farm laborers—that were living with the family at the time of the census enumeration. In theory, the only person you can be sure was in the household is the person whose name was recorded as “head of family.” The families I highlighted, and the number of males and females in each of their households, were:

George Bonniwell . . . . . 1 male, 1 female
James Bonniwell . . . . . . 2 males, 2 females
H. V. Bonniwell . . . . . . . .1 male, 1 female
Peter Turk . . . . . . . . . . . 5 males, 5 females
Barton Salisbury . . . . . . 1 male, 2 females

Widow Hyde . . . . . . . . . . 1 male, 1 female
Philip Morse [sic] . . . . . . 1 male, 1 female
Wm. T. Bonniwell . . . . . . 3 males, 2 females

Charles Bonniwell . . . . . . 3 males, 4 females
Jesse Hubbard . . . . . . . . . 1 male
J. M. Clark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 males, 2 females

So who’s who in each household?

Identifying “who’s who?” in each family takes some guesswork, and the identifications are never 100% certain. That said, let’s make some educated guesses about who is living with whom in each of these 1842 households, starting with the various members of the extended Bonniwell family:

• George Bonniwell family is certainly George Bonniwell (b. 1813) and his wife Tamer (Baisden) Bonniwell (b. 1823). They had no children in 1842. Later in life they would adopt three children.

• James Bonniwell family of four should included parents James (b. 1811) and Phebe (Capes) Bonniwell (b. 1816) and their first two children, George (b. 1837) and Josephine (b. 1840). Their third child Franklin would be born about two months after this census was enumerated.

• “H. V. Bonniwell” family must be Henry V. Bonniwell (b. 1818) and his spouse of not quite three years, Catherine (Reeves) Bonniwell (b. ~1821). The first of their eight children would not be born until later in the decade.

• “Widow Hyde” is family matriarch Eleanor (Hills) Bonniwell Hyde (b. 1875), and she is the one female in this household. Who is the one male? It could be her 16-year-old son, Alfred T. Bonniwell (b. 1826). Or possibly her next-youngest child, 18-year-old son Walter Bonniwell (b. 1824). Both were single, and neither owned his own land yet. Or it could be another family member, or a non-related hired hand. We don’t really know. But, for now, I wonder if this one male might be Alfred.

• “Philip Morse” is surely an enumerator’s error; this must be Philip Moss (b. 1809) and his wife, Eleanor (Bonniwell) Moss (b. ~1816). This census shows us that Philip and Eleanor Moss left Albany, New York some time after the 1840 federal census, and are now established in Mequon. Philip and Eleanor did not have children.

* The three males and two females in the “Wm. T. Bonniwell” household are the family of William Theophilus Bonniwell, Sr. (b. 1809). The two females would be William’s wife Catherine Elizabeth (Whitehead) Bonniwell (b. ~1810) and their daughter Eleanor C. (b. 1832). The three males would include William T. Bonniwell, his son, William T. Bonniwell, Jr. (b. 1836), and…who is the third male? Again, we have no way of knowing. Perhaps one of the youngest Bonniwell brothers, Alfred or Walter, was living with older brother William T., Sr.

• The Charles Bonniwell family comprised seven persons in 1842, 3 males and 4 females. The females were probably Charles’s wife, Sophia Elizabeth (Munn) Bonniwell (b. 1809), and their daughters Eliza (b. 1831), Ellen (b. 1833) and Mary Ann (b. ~1835). The three males should be Charles W. Bonniwell, Sr. (b, 1806), his son Charles W. Bonniwell, Jr. (b. 1830), and…another mystery man. Was this third male one of Charles’s younger brothers, Alfred or Walter? Or a visitor? Perhaps a hired laborer? I don’t know.

The Bonniwell Settlement

By 1842 there were so many Bonniwell families occupying so many adjacent acres of land, that the neighborhood quickly became known as the “Bonniwell Settlement.” But the Bonniwells were not the first, or only, settlers in this part of the county. Many other prominent and active settler families lived in or near the Bonniwell Settlement. A few of these families are included in the red-circled examples, above, including the Peter Turck, Barton Salisbury, Jesse Hubbard, and Jonathan M. Clark families.

The (future) in-laws: Turck and Clark families

Near the top of our census page, following the George, James, and Henry Bonniwell families is the enumeration of the family of Peter Turk (more commonly spelled Turck, born 1798). Peter Turck’s family was one of the earliest to settle in the county. The family arrived in Mequon in August, 1837. Peter Turck established a working sawmill by 1838, and filed his pre-emptive federal land patent in 1839.

The ten members of Peter Turck’s 1842 household comprised 5 males and 5 females. The males probably included Peter Turck (b. 1798) and sons Joseph R. (b. 1823), James B. (b. 1833) and Benjamin (b. 1839). The females would have included Peter’s wife Rachael (Gay) Turck (b. 1798) and their daughters Adama (or Adamy, b. 1825), Elizabeth (b. 1828), Rachel Gay (b. 1830) and Sarah (b. 1835). Daughter Sarah would go on to marry Alfred Bonniwell in 1851.

But who was the fifth male in the Peter Turck home in summer, 1842? Again, another mystery. It could be a neighbor child needing a place to live while his parents build their new home, or a visiting relative, or friend, or live-in hired man. Or it could be a stranger needing shelter; there are several known instances of Peter Turck taking newcomers into his home while they found their footing in Mequon. But we don’t know for certain the identity of the fifth male enumerated with the Turck family in 1842.

This census page also records the family of our own Jonathan M. Clark. In March, 1840, Jonathan married Peter Turck’s eldest daughter, Mary Turck. This 1842 census records Jonathan, his wife Mary, their eldest child, Caroline and…another mystery male:3

The J. M. Clark family is on page 65, line 17, two males and two females. That should be parents Jonathan and Mary (Turck) Clark and their daughter, Caroline. But who is the other male? Son Henry was not born until February of the following year, almost eight months after this census. So who’s the other male? A Clark or Turck relative helping on the farm? A hired hand? Perhaps an 8- or 9-year-old Arthur Clark?

One other possibility comes to mind for the “extra” male in the house. Mary (Turck) Clark’s mother, Rachael Gay Turck died eleven months before this 1842 census.4 When she died, five of her eight children were still under the age of 16; in 1842 her youngest child, Benjamin Turck, was about 2 years old. Did Jonathan and Mary take little Benjamin into their house? It seems plausible, but for the moment is only speculation.

Or, that mystery male could (or might not) be the same mystery man that was living with Jonathan and Mary Clark at the time of the 1840 federal census. See our History Mystery! No. 1 (of many) for the full 1840 Clark family census story.

The Salisbury and Hubbard families

Many other families on this census page were important in the lives of the Bonniwells, Clarks and Turcks, but I couldn’t resist highlighting two important neighbor families in particular.

The first of these, enumerated after “Peter Turk,” is Barton Salisbury. According to the 1881 History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, Wisconsin, Salisbury was “without doubt, the most energetic laborer among the pioneers of Washington County. […] His death was an irreparable loss to the community.” Salisbury was a friend of Peter Turck’s and even lived with the Turck family for a brief time. He was married and had “children.” This 1842 census suggests that Barton and Mrs. Salisbury may have had one daughter living with them by mid-1842 (or a mother, sister, cousin or unrelated live-in maid-of-all-work); again, we don’t know. In any case, he led an interesting life, and he was an important part of early Mequon’s history. The details of his life are pretty vague. I need to do some research so that I can write a post or two about Barton Salisbury for the blog.

Jesse Hubbard was another early and influential pioneer in the Bonniwell Settlement. He lived on the quarter section of land adjacent to the west side of the Jonathan M. Clark farm. Hubbard married Mary Conn (sp?) in Milwaukee in April, 1843 and they went on to have a three children of their own, and they adopted another. The Hubbard household would also include Jesse’s sister Sarah (Hubbard) Parish and her child Tamar Parish.5 Jesse Hubbard was active in Mequon’s early affairs and appears to have been on friendly terms with his neighbors. He deserves a proper post or two, also.

Coming up

I am terrible at estimating how much time is needed to analyze and discuss documents. I figured I could just put up all of Alfred Bonniwell’s documents from the territorial period, c. 1841-1848, in one post, add a few brief captions and move on. Ha! That didn’t go as planned!

So, I’ll be back next time with more documents from the 1840s, then on to the 1850s and beyond.

Oh. I almost forgot. The California Gold Rush is coming, too…

Be well. See you soon.



  1. By the way, my post on Census Records for the In-Between Years: 1842 is quite long; I should have written it as two posts. As it stands, the first part discusses the various Wisconsin territorial censuses taken between 1836 and 1847; it’s useful for locating microfilmed images of these documents. The second part of the post has the images and an examination of the 1842 Washington county census pages, including Mequon and the Bonniwell Settlement. So be sure to read the whole post (or at least skip to the second half).

  2. 1842 Wisconsin State Census, Washington Co. attached to Milwaukee Co. page 65,, FHL film no. 1,213,919 DGS film no. 7,897,817, image 425 of 532.

  3. The block quote is from my earlier post, History Mystery! No. 1 (of many), which focuses on Jonathan and Mary Clark’s family as enumerated on the 1840 federal decennial census.

  4. Actually, the death date for Peter Turck’s wife Rachael (Gay) Turck is still unclear. It’s believed to be either 1842 or 1844. The only record of that date is her gravestone in Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee. That stone is badly weathered and eroded. It needs a gentle, non-destructive cleaning and examination so we can find out the dates that it really records. This delicate task is on my to-do list for summer, 2022.

  5. Sarah Hubbard’s husband Daniel Parish went missing from Mequon in 1846. Completely estranged from his Mequon family, his life took a tragic turn that led to his death in a California institution in 1873.

2 thoughts on “Alfred Bonniwell documents – part 4: Wisconsin territorial census, 1842

  1. Pingback: Alfred Bonniwell documents – part 5: Wisconsin, 1846-1847 | Clark House Historian

  2. Pingback: Alfred Bonniwell documents – part 6: U.S. Citizen, 1849 | Clark House Historian

Comments are closed.