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

Fort Howard, October 1833 (part 1)

Jonathan M. Clark arrived and reported for duty at Fort Howard, the headquarters of the U.S. Army’s Fifth Regiment of Infantry on Sunday, October 20, 1833. He served there until his  discharge at the end of service in 1836. What did he do for those three years?

After the national excitement over the brief Blackhawk War in 1832, the northwest frontier was generally calm. The federal government continued to negotiate treaties with the Native Americans, urging them ever westward. Most Indians and white settlers observed the treaty boundaries and there was only the occasional “scare” from the original inhabitants. So what were the soldiers to do?

Let’s take a further look at Ft. Howard’s “Return of the Fifth Regiment of Infantry” for the month of October, 1833 and see what we can find. Here’s the front side: Continue reading

Pvt. Clark, reporting for duty

One of the most useful facts we discovered in looking at Jonathan M. Clark’s entry in the U.S. Army’s Register of Enlistments was that Jonathan was assigned to the Fifth Infantry, Company K. In the 1830s, the Fifth Infantry’s mission was to protect the expanding northwestern frontier.

The regiment’s companies were stationed at Ft. Dearborn (present day Chicago), Ft. Howard (Green Bay) and Ft. Winnebago (at the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, near the city of Portage). It was the regiment’s job to protect the settlers from the Native Americans (and vice versa), keeping the peace along the boundaries between the two peoples, as established in a series of treaties that, for the most part, continuously pushed the Indians farther and farther westward, toward the Mississippi River and beyond. Continue reading

JMC in the U.S. Army Register

Every effective fighting force must be organized, and the United States Army is no exception. In war or peace, the army has to manage a complex array of soldiers, supplies and facilities. This requires bureaucrats and their paperwork. Once Jonathan M. Clark joined the Army in September, 1833, his federal paper trail began.

To find Jonathan among all the other recruits and their paperwork, and to follow him through his army years, we need some kind of guide or index and thankfully, since 1798 the army has maintained just what we need, its Register of Enlistments. Here’s JMC’s entry in the volume covering enlistments from January 1828 through 1835, organized alphabetically by surname. He’s near the bottom—look for enlistee number 189:

CLARK, Jonathan in US Army Register

Jonathan M. Clark in NARA M233. Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798-1914. Roll: MIUSA1798_102878. Accessed online via

Click image to open at full size in a new window.

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JMC Joins the Army: A Closer Look

I love primary sources. Not only can you learn interesting information—that may include actual, accurate, facts (with allowances for misspellings and such)—but primary sources often convey a flavor or sense of the moment and suggest additional lines of inquiry. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Jonathan M. Clark’s 1833 U. S. Army enlistment paper as featured in our earlier post “Jonathan Joins the Army” and see what we can infer from the information there.

First of all, how do we know this Utica, New York, enlistment belongs to “our” Jonathan M. Clark? Census and other records show that there are plenty of Clarks from New England, born about the same time as our JMC, some of whom served in the army, and some of whom came to the Michigan/Wisconsin Territory in the early 1830s. My research shows there may even have been a second, unrelated, “Jonathan M. Clark” in the Territory at about the same time. So how do we connect our JMC with this 1833 army recruit?

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Jonathan Joins the Army

My previous blog post focused on the earliest records we have—yet—of Jonathan M. Clark in old Washington County, Wisconsin: his 1840 marriage license and marriage certificate.

Today’s featured item is the earliest document (that I’ve seen so far) of the life of Jonathan M. Clark, and it has a great deal of interesting personal information. It is the official copy of JMC’s enlistment in the United States Army.

CLARK, Jonathan US Army registration 1813

Jonathan M. Clark’s U.S. Army enlistment papers, September, 1833. From NARA Record Group 94: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, Entry 91 A: Series I Enlistment Papers (1798-1894). Courtesy Liz Hickman

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Where are we?


CLARK, Jonathan house square crop  July,  2015

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.

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