There are a number of conflicting claims to the title of “first teacher” in Mequon. One of the first was Mary Turck Clark. She led classes for her siblings and four neighbor children in the loft of her father’s cabin in the summer of 1839.
The History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, relates a number of other “firsts” for area schools and teachers. Among them is this story of how the school committee,1 led by Daniel Strickland (father of Sarah A. Strickland Clark), hired its first teacher.
I’m still busy annotating maps for upcoming Bonniwell-related blog posts. So instead of my planned Gold Rush themed Monday: Map Day! essay, I hope you enjoy this Clark-era image of a common visitor to much of North and South America—including Wisconsin—the Great Horned Owl.
Havell, Robert, jr., engraver, after John James Audubon, Great Horned Owl, 1829, plate 62 from The Birds of America (1828-1838), hand-colored engraving and aquatint on Whatman wove paper. National Gallery of Art, Gift of Mrs. Walter B. James. Public domain. Click to open larger image in new window.
It may not look like much on the outside. It’s old. Not very big. Whole pages are missing, others are damaged. The binding is worn.
Bonniwell Bible, front cover. Photo credit: Kendalyne Gentile, 2022
But this modest book was—for over 300 years—the family Bible for Mequon’s pioneer Bonniwell family, their ancestors and descendants. And last month, the Bible’s most recent owner, Bonniwell descendant Kendalyne Gentile, generously gave the Bible and other Bonniwell family documents to the Jonathan Clark House Museum where they will form an important part of our permanent collection.
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking through digitized historical newspapers, trying to fill in some of the missing pieces of the Clark House story. In the process, I’ve managed to discover some unique and important information about the Clarks, Turcks, Bonniwells and their neighbors. And I’ve also run into a lot of off-topic but fascinating tidbits about daily life in Wisconsin during the Clarks’ era, such as this random bit of history:
Hello, readers! Sorry for the long blog silence. I hope you are well.
It’s been a busy summer at my house, filled with the usual demands of job, summer garden chores, lots of behind-the-scenes history research and, alas, an unexpectedly large number of mundane but unavoidable tasks, most of which are now behind me.
I have a backlog of half-written posts to finish and share with you. In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this photo.
Cedar Creek, looking north from the Columbia Road bridge, Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Photo credit: Reed Perkins, July, 2022.
The view looks north along Cedar Creek from near the historic Cedarburg Mill, about two miles north of the Jonathan Clark House. Turn off the electric lights, and this is a view that the Clark family would have known well.