Random Clark House Stuff

It’s a New Year, and that means a little digital housekeeping here at Clark House Historian: Continue reading

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Meet the Children (part 1)

Jonathan M. Clark married Mary Turck in old Washington county—possibly in Mequon—Wisconsin on March 15, 1840, and their daughter Caroline was born almost eight months later, on November 7, 1840. Caroline was the first of eight Clark children, one born about every two or three years between 1840 and 1857: Continue reading

Santa Claus Visits, 1867: Reviewed

I hope you enjoyed our previous post: Santa Claus Visits Milwaukee, 1867, based on the diary of J. W. Woodworth.

Rev. Woodworth’s book is a unique and often entertaining source, but it’s always nice to back up personal recollections with additional contemporary documents. So I did a quick search of online Milwaukee area newspapers from the 1840s through about 1870 and found many mentions of Santa Claus and related traditions beginning in the late 1840s. And on page five of the Wednesday, December 25, 1867 edition of the Daily Milwaukee News I found this news item which adds a few piquant details in support of Rev. Woodworth’s diary entry: Continue reading

Santa Claus Visits Milwaukee, 1867 (updated)

Christmas is celebrated as an important religious and community holiday by many Americans. Christians worship and commemorate the birth of Jesus, and they and many other Americans enjoy a break from work and gather with family to feast and exchange gifts. But it was not always this way.

In many of the American colonies, Christmas was not observed as a religious or secular holiday. The seventeenth-century Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony considered Christmas to be non-biblical and pagan influenced, and in Boston and other parts of New England any observance of Christmas was prohibited and, for a few years, illegal. The holiday was not generally accepted in many parts of the United States until after the federal government made December 25 a national holiday in 1870. Continue reading

Rev. Woodworth’s Autobiography

James W. Woodworth (1813-1893) and his brother Ephraim were among the earliest settlers in Mequon. They came from Nova Scotia, as did several other early Mequon settlers and families, including Isaac Bigelow, Daniel Strickland and Stephen Loomer. On March 1, 1838, J. W. Woodworth married fellow Nova Scotia emigrant and Mequon neighbor Mary Cerena Loomer. The marriage was believed to be the first Christian marriage in old Washington county and was performed by Mary Turck Clark’s father, Peter Turck, “an anabaptist preacher.”

J. W. Woodworth, like so many Protestant Christians of his era, was a man in search of a powerful and authentic connection to God. He found his answer in the 1830s and ’40s through Methodism. And, after many years of intense self-instruction, camp meetings, private prayer and preaching at local worship services, Woodworth was certified as a Methodist minister.

For much of his life Rev. Woodworth kept a diary of both the spiritual and mundane events of his life. He published the diary in Milwaukee in 1878 as My Path and the Way the Lord Led Me.  Continue reading

Fort Howard, November 1833

Previous posts have discussed Jonathan M. Clark’s enlistment in the U.S. Army’s Fifth Regiment of Infantry, Company K (part 1, part 2, part 3) and his arrival at Fort Howard (Green Bay), in the Michigan (later Wisconsin) Territory (part 1, part 2, part 3) on October 20, 1833. Let’s rejoin the regiment and see what kept Co. K busy during Pvt. Clark’s first full month on duty, November, 1833. Continue reading

Ouisconsin Territory, 1836

In September, 1836, Sgt. Jonathan M. Clark was discharged from the U.S. Army at “Ft. Hamilton,” Wisconsin Territory, after serving his three-year term of service with Co. K, Fifth Regiment of Infantry.  One year later, in the autumn of 1837, Jonathan’s future wife Mary Turck would make the long trip from Palmyra, New York, to Milwaukee and finally Mequon, Washington County, Wisconsin, with her parents Peter and Rachael Turck and six younger siblings. By the end of 1840 Jonathan and Mary would be married and starting their family in Mequon.

That seems simple enough, until you take a moment to wonder how much Jonathan—or especially Mary and her family—knew about this new Wisconsin Territory.  Jonathan had been in the territory since October, 1833, building portions of the military road along the Fox River waterway from Ft. Howard (Green Bay) towards Ft. Winnebago (near modern Portage). As a road building soldier, Jonathan probably had seen—or helped draw—a variety of maps of the military road and its vicinity. But for a better overview of the larger territory, Jonathan or Mary might have sought out a map such as this: Continue reading

History Mystery! No. 1 (of many)

Jonathan & Mary & ? on the 1840 Census

Introducing a new feature on the blog: History Mystery! In which you, the reader, are invited to Help the Historian solve one of the many persistent mysteries surrounding Jonathan M. Clark, his family, and related bits of local history.  History Mystery! No. 1 seeks to answer the question: Who was that older guy living with newlyweds Jonathan and Mary Clark in June, 1840? Here are the clues: Continue reading

Finding Your Mequon Roots (part 3)

This is Part 3 of our short introduction to Finding Your Mequon Roots. If you haven’t already, I recommend starting with Part 1 and Part 2.

Before we take a break from our Mequon neighbors of the 1900s and return to Jonathan Clark and his family in the mid-1800s, let’s take a look at a few more “macro” and “micro” things one can find by taking a closer look at a U.S. census population schedule. Once again, here’s the Becker family of Mequon, as found on lines 32 to 34 of this 1900 U.S. federal census population schedule: Continue reading

Finding Your Mequon Roots (part 2)

And we’re back! Continuing our short series on Finding Your Mequon Roots. If you missed the first part of the series, I suggest you click here and read that first.

Part 1 was all about one of my favorite first-look documents when doing genealogy or local history research, the decennial U.S. Federal Census population schedule. The first census that exists for Annie Becker and her parents was the census of 1900. Click here for a full size image of the census page.

Continue reading