Veterans Day, 2022

Veterans Day is today. For a perspective on the day—and our early Mequon veterans—here’s a post originally published at Clark House Historian on November 11, 2016, and revised, expanded and republished several times since.

Armistice Day

One hundred and three years ago, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, at the eleventh hour—Paris time—the Armistice of Compiègne took effect, officially ending the fighting on the Western Front and marking the end of World War I, the optimistically named “War to End All Wars.”

In the United States, the commemoration of the war dead and the Allied victory began in 1919 as Armistice Day, by proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson. Congress created Armistice Day as a legal holiday in 1938. Starting in 1945, a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks proposed that the commemorations of November 11 be expanded to celebrate all veterans, living and dead. In 1954 Congress and President Eisenhower made that idea official, and this is what we commemorate today. There are many veterans with a connection to the Jonathan Clark house. We honor a few of them in this post.

Jonathan Clark, Henry Clark, and the U.S. Army

Jonathan M. Clark (1812-1857) enlisted as a Private in Company K, Fifth Regiment of the U. S. Army, and served at Ft. Howard, Michigan (later Wisconsin) Territory, from 1833 until mustering out, as Sargent Jonathan M. Clark, in 1836. In the 1830s, Fort Howard was on the nation’s northwestern frontier. Jonathan’s Co. K spent much of the summers of 1835 and 1836 cutting the military road across Wisconsin, from Ft. Howard toward Ft. Winnebago, near modern Portage, Wisconsin.

Fort Howard, Wisconsin Territory, circa 1855, from Marryat, Frederick, and State Historical Society Of Wisconsin. “An English officer’s description of Wisconsin in 1837.” Madison: Democrat Printing Company, State Printers, 1898. Library of Congress. Click to open larger image in new window.

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I must have drifted off…

Inman, Henry. Rip Van Winkle Awakening from his Long Sleep, 1823. National Gallery of Art, gift of William and Abigail Gerdts. Public Domain.

A long “nap”

Unlike Rip van Winkle, I haven’t been asleep the whole time since our previous post. But we are well overdue for new blog material. I’ve got a big backlog of documents and images to share with you; all I need to do is get writing. But first…

Be sure to vote today!

It’s election day today, and your vote counts. If you haven’t already done so, get out of the house, over to your polling place, and vote. Voting is your right and responsibility as a citizen, and an indispensable element of our nation since the earliest days of the Republic.

Not surprisingly, voting and public service were an important part of life in the Clark House era. From 1840 onward, Jonathan M. Clark, Peter Turck, William T. Bonniwell and many other relatives and neighbors sought, and won, appointment or election to a wide variety of local, territorial and state offices. Voting—then limited to white males only—was a priority for Mequon’s early settlers, and they never failed to turn out in large numbers for each election. Their passion for civic engagement and electoral politics was, in turn, passed to the next generation.

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Back to School, 1842!

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.)

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Back to School, 1839!

It’s that time of year again! And since I’m still working on a number of new but not-yet-ready projects, I thought you might enjoy this lightly-revised “Back to School” post from September 9, 2020.

Currier & Ives. God Bless Our School. United States, ca. 1874. New York: Published by Currier & Ives, 125 Nassau St. Library of Congress. This image first appeared on Clark House Historian as part of our 2021 post Caroline M. Clark’s classroom & curricula, 1858-1860

Daniel Strickland hires “the first teacher

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.

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The farm garden

I’m taking a bit of a break and have nothing new for you today. I have been doing a good bit of garden work around the house, and that reminded me of this post from April, 2021. Now we’re just finishing the first week of June, 2022, and it’s almost summertime. In southeastern Wisconsin the first spring flowers are done, and the next round of blossoms have been blooming for weeks. The tomato, bean and pepper seedlings are in the ground and doing nicely (although the rabbits have been nibbling on far too many green bean sprouts), and the roses are beginning to unfold. So even though this was originally an early-spring essay, I hope you enjoy this garden-themed repost from last year.

Planning the garden

It’s early April, and the growing season is not far off. For a farmer like Jonathan M. Clark, it’s a little early yet for plowing and sowing, but not too early to make plans and sharpen the tools. For a farmer’s wife, like Mary (Turck) Clark, it’s not too soon to think about the farm garden, its crops and layout.

I don’t know if Mary and Jonathan were regular readers of the popular and affordable farmers’ almanacs of their era; I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. There were many to chose from. Perhaps they had a copy of something like:

The Cultivator […], New Series, Vol. VII, Albany, 1850, title page. Click to open larger image in new window.

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Memorial Day, 2022

Lest We Forget

A new edition of our annual Memorial Day post. Previous versions published in 2020 and 2021.

UPDATED: May 30, 2022 to correct a few typos and minor errors.

Graves of Unknown Union Soldiers, Memphis National Cemetery, photo by Clayton B. Fraser, (Library of Congress), public domain. Memphis National Cemetery is the final resting place of Mequon’s Watson Peter Woodworth, and almost 14,000 of his Union Army comrades.

Today is the day our nation officially observes Memorial Day. For many Americans, Memorial Day represents “the first day of summer,” and is traditionally celebrated with trips to the lake, picnics, parades, and sales on cars, appliances, and other consumer goods.

But for many of us, Memorial Day remains rooted in its origins as Decoration Day. The first national observance was in 1868, when retired general John A. Logan, commander and chief of the Grand Army of the Republic—the Union veterans’ organization—issued his General Order Number 11, designating May 30 as a memorial day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

On this Memorial Day, let’s take a moment to remember what this day truly represents.

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Brown Bag Series, part 2, is today!

We have new partnership project with the Mequon Nature Preserve and MATC’s Kate Erickson, the Brown Bag Series: Mother Earth is Where We All Meet. Today is the second installment in the series, and our executive director Dana Hansen will be speaking on “European Settlement and the Shift of Mindset About the Earth.”

Old World Wisconsin, July, 2016. Photo credit: Anna Perkins. Click to open larger image in new window.

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Alfred Bonniwell documents – part 7: landowner, 1845

When the extended Bonniwell family arrived in Wisconsin Territory in May, 1839, youngest son Alfred T. Bonniwell was not quite two months past his 13th birthday, and his brother Walter was only two years older. Because of their youth, neither Alfred nor Walter were able join their mother and brothers as they purchased government land and established what became known as Mequon’s Bonniwell Settlement.1

That changed for Alfred on June 7, 1845, when his mother, Eleanor (Hills Bonniwell) Hyde, gave him the eastern 80 acres of her original federal land patent.

Hyde, Eleanor (grantor) to A. T. Bonniwell (grantee), deed for 80 acres, June 7, 1845. See note 2 for source and details. Click to open larger image in new window.

Alfred would buy and sell several other properties in the 1850s and ’60s, but he held on to this parcel until his death, fifty years later. Let’s see what he got…

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Alfred Bonniwell documents – part 6: U.S. Citizen, 1849

Today’s post in our Bonniwell document series1 focuses on one important item, Alfred T. Bonniwell’s Petition for Naturalization as a United States citizen, completed in Milwaukee, at the U.S. District Court for the District of Wisconsin, November 6, 1849.

Bonniwell, Alfred, Petition for Naturalization 6 Nov 1849; for full citation see note 2, below. Click to open larger image in new window.

This petition was the final step in a relatively simple citizenship process whose basic outlines had not changed much since the early days of the republic. Alfred T. Bonniwell’s 1849 citizenship petition follows a form typical of such documents, but has a few extra bits of information that are particular to his immigration story. Let’s take a closer look.

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Alfred Bonniwell documents – part 5: Wisconsin, 1846-1847

Continuing our look at the life of Alfred Bonniwell, today’s post focuses on two documents, the Wisconsin territorial censuses of 1846 and 1847. We’ll take a close look at the Bonniwell families as enumerated on the Wisconsin territorial census of 1846, and discuss briefly the status of the 1847 census schedules for old Washington/Ozaukee county.1

The Wisconsin Territorial census of 1846:

The next Wisconsin territorial census after 1842 was officially enumerated on June 1, 1846. The record of Mequon’s various Bonniwell families begins on the third line of page 43 of the Washington county schedules:

For full citation, see note 2, below; image lightly tinted. Click to open larger image in new window.

For our purposes today, the key “heads of families” and their households begin on line 3. They are the households of:

• W. T. Bonniwell . . . . .  2 males, 4 females
• Eleanor Hyde. . . . . . . .3 males, 2 females
• C Bonniwell. . . . . . . . . 3 males, 5 females
• P. Moss. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 male, 1 female
• J. Bonniwell. . . . . . . . . 5 males, 4 females
• G. Bonniwell. . . . . . . . 2 males, 3 females
• H. Bonniwell. . . . . . . . 1 male, 3 females

We see that by mid-1846 there were seven Bonniwell family households in Mequon’s “Bonniwell Settlement.” Five were headed by Bonniwell sons: William T., Charles, James, George and Henry, and another by Bonniwell brother-in-law Philip Moss. And Matriarch Eleanor (Hills Bonniwell) Hyde still led her own substantial household.

Who’s who in 1846?

As we noted in our discussion of the 1842 territorial census, identifying “who’s who?” in each family takes some guesswork, and the identifications are never 100% certain. But let’s try and make some educated guesses about who is living with whom in each of the 1846 Bonniwell family households. Let’s start with the families of the Bonniwell sons:

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