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
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
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
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.
Clark House Historian reader Lisa Stearns writes:
I am doing a bit of research on my family and my great grandmother was born in Mequon in 7/21/1882 and I believe she was one of 11 children. Would you be able to direct me to anywhere in the area that may have records of schools, churches, etc. that they were members of? I think they lived on the East side of Mequon. My great grandmother’s name was Anna Becker and her parents were Nic Becker and Elizabeth (Barth) Becker
Thanks for reading the blog, Lisa. Yes, I’d be happy to guide you to some good information and sources for local research. And since there may be other readers with similar interests, I though I’d write a few posts on how to get started on Mequon area research, using Lisa’s ancestor as a local example. Continue reading
The previous post on the first election in old Washington County relied heavily on the 1881 History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties. It’s a useful book, and it’s possible that the author(s) or editor(s) that prepared it for publication spent some time with the historical documents that still existed at that time, or at least talked to some of the older settlers who had personal memories of the events. Still, I like to have primary or more contemporary secondary sources whenever available, so I went looking and found a few. In the process, I’ve cleared up some dates and details surrounding the first election and the early organization of the county. Continue reading
This document is probably the earliest record we have of Jonathan M. Clark in old Washington County, Wisconsin. It is the handwritten marriage license that Jonathan obtained in early 1840. Transcribed, it reads:
To whom it may concern Marriage Being intended Between Jonathan M Clark and Mary Turck and application being made to me for a Marriage license by the above named Clark I therefore being satisfied by the oath of the party applying of the legality of
said the aforesaid marriage union do hereby license and authorise the same
Granvlle March 13 1840
Andrew Smith Justice peace
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.