It’s been a hectic few days here at Clark House Historian. Some of our essential technology was getting to the end of its useful life, so we’ve spent the last few days upgrading and updating some critical—but now outdated—hardware and software.
The Bonus division where the many clerks figure the amount of the bonus each veteran is entitled to / [Between 1909 and 1932] Photograph. Library of Congress.
Which reminds me, that not too long ago the word computer was a job description, and not a device.
I had a fine day last month walking through our state’s wonderful outdoor living history museum, Old World Wisconsin, where I enjoyed this familiar view:
Photo credit: Reed Perkins, 2022.
There among the trees stood Milwaukee’s old St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, a building that was certainly well-known—at least on the exterior—to our Clark and Turck families.
The church was built in 1839, two years after young Mary Turck arrived in Wisconsin Territory with her parents, Peter and Rachael (Gay) Turck and her six siblings, and the same year that Jonathan M. Clark and the Bonniwell family first appeared in the Milwaukee-Mequon area.
In an earlier post I wrote: I’m still on the hunt for the elusive parents and kin of Jonathan M. Clark. Based on what we know so far, we are looking in the area of Derby, Orleans County, Vermont and its northern neighbor Stanstead Township, Lower Canada, circa 1800-1830 or so.
Well, the hunt continues, and today I thought I’d share with you another Back to School tidbit, a “hot tip” that I’ve been meaning to write about for a while. The tip—and its source—comes from Clark-Turck family descendant and Clark House Museum supporter Liz Hickman1, who kindly gave me a copy of this fascinating book:
Kathleen H. Brown’s comprehensively researched and encyclopedic Schooling in the Clearings: Stanstead 1800-1850 is devoted to the early history of public and private education in Quebec’s Eastern Townships and, in particular, Stanstead Township. That might seem like a highly specialized corner of North American history on which to focus, and I suppose it is. But Ms. Brown’s heroic labors in the archives are now a readable and invaluable resource for those of us trying to learn more about the early settlers in the Eastern Townships and their children including, possibly, the earliest record of Jonathan M. Clark known to date.2
I hope you liked our recent re-post of Back to School, 1839! And since I’m still working on a number of new but not-yet-ready projects, I thought you might also enjoy a revised and expanded version of a related post that was first published September 2, 2020.
It’s “Back to School” time for many of us, so I thought you might be interested in this transcription of the earliest known school records of old Washington/Ozaukee county prior to 1845, published on page 328 of the History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, Wisconsin […] Illustrated. Western Historical Co., Chicago, 1881:
Click to open a larger image in a new window, and see which of the early settler families had school age children, that is, children between the ages of 4 and 16, in 1842 and 1843. (Current Washington and Ozaukee county readers: do you have any kin listed in this summary of early school censuses? Let us hear from you via the Leave a Reply box, below.)
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.
I love a great map, and today’s example is particularly fine in several respects: as a detailed view of our hemisphere at a particularly dynamic moment in U.S. history, as an excellent example of mid-19th-century cartography, and—as we’ll see in our next post—as a clear illustration of how members of Mequon’s Bonniwell family made their way to and from the California gold fields in the heady days of the early Gold Rush of 1849 and 1850.1
Gold! where it is and how to get there, 1849
Atwood, John M., Map of the United States, the British provinces, Mexico &c.: showing the routes of the U.S. mail steam packets to California, and a plan of the Gold Region. New York: J. H. Colton, 1849. From the collection of Millard Fillmore. Library of Congress.
I’ve published some great old maps on Clark House Historian, and this is one of my favorites. In our next post, I’ll annotate a copy of this map to illustrate the Bonniwell’s Gold Rush travels in 1849 and the early 1850s. But today I’d like to show the map as it was in 1849, with all its “extra features.” I recommend you begin by clicking the map image, above, which opens a much higher-resolution copy of the map in a new window (FYI, this may take a few seconds; it’s a big, detailed image).