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
It’s been half a year since the last Clark House Historian post! My apologies for the long pause. Various professional and personal commitments (all good) may have kept me from writing, but not from researching. So now I have an even larger backlog of Clark House related discoveries and topics to write about…
So look for new Clark House Historian posts coming soon. Meanwhile, follow these links to the Jonathan Clark House homepage and Events page for upcoming Heritage Days events.
And if you support the mission of the Jonathan Clark House, consider becoming a donor and/or a supporting member of the Friends of Jonathan Clark House, Ltd.
Check back here soon and I will have more to say about Finding Your Mequon Roots and about Jonathan and Mary Turck Clark’s young family and early neighbors. Thanks for reading, and for your support of local history.
Random blog stuff, FWIW:
• I’m still getting the hang of WordPress’s blog platform and features. I create the posts on a Mac desktop, and I’d love to know how the blog looks and performs on various platforms: smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, Mac and PC, and such.
• So far, I’ve transcribed a few original documents and posted them as WordPress block quotes. The block quote tool is limited in its formatting choices, and often does weird and unpredictable things to indents, spacings and font sizes. And the dark-ish gray font on the light gray block quote box could pose readability problems for some readers. Question for you readers: would it be better if I posted black and white pdfs of word-processed transcriptions (which would also allow more precise transcription of the original document format), or are the block quotes OK?
Jonathan Clark House, Mequon, Wisconsin, July, 2015. Photograph by Reed Perkins
Where are we? Well, if you’re looking at this handsome stone house in real life, you’re standing by the front door of the Jonathan Clark House Museum, looking northward. On a modern map you can find it at 13615 N. Cedarburg Road—on the intersection with Bonniwell Road—Mequon, Wisconsin. If you’d like to visit the museum, click here for more info.
But “Where are we?” is never a simple question when it comes to historic places, because the answer often changes over time. Along with “Where are we?” we need to ask “When are we?” The answer to “Where are we?” is surprisingly varied—and useful for further research—throughout the lives of Jonathan and Mary Clark.
Jonathan M. Clark. Photograph courtesy Liz Hickman.
There he is. Jonathan M. Clark, builder and first owner of the handsome stone home that is now the Jonathan Clark House Museum in Mequon, Wisconsin. He was probably born in Vermont, possibly on November 28, 1812, and he died in September, 1857. Before coming to Mequon, he served in the United States Army at Fort Howard from 1833 to 1836. He married Mary Turck, eldest child of Mequon pioneer Peter Turck, on March 15, 1840. They had a large family. We even have a photograph of JMC as an adult. In some ways, we know quite a bit about Jonathan M. Clark.
Mary Turck Clark. Photograph courtesy Liz Hickman.
It is a commonplace of genealogical and historical research that women and their stories are the “forgotten fifty percent.” In most North American societies it was, and in many places remains, the custom that upon marriage the woman took her husband’s surname. Some documents that recorded marriages, births and deaths might include a place for the woman’s surname, and sometimes the names of her parents, but this information was often left blank. After a generation or two, the woman’s name and those of her parents and grandparents would be completely forgotten, even by her closest descendants.
Welcome! My name is Reed Perkins and I am the historian for the Jonathan Clark House Museum in Mequon, Wisconsin. I have been researching Clark, Turck and other Mequon families and their stories since 2006. I look forward to sharing with you what I’ve learned so far. I also invite you to help us as we try and fill in some of the many blank spots in the story of the Clarks, their relatives, neighbors and friends.
The site is always a work in progress. I welcome your suggestions, corrections, comments and questions. Please click the Contact link and send me a message. Please click the About link for the usual disclaimers and copyright information.