The Clark Family Record: What is it? Who created it?
Welcome to our second installment of the Clark House Historian’s History Mystery! in which you, the reader, are invited to Help the Historian and solve one of the many persistent mysteries surrounding Jonathan M. Clark, his family, and related unknowns of local history. In a previous post, we got to Meet the Children of the Clark family. One of the sources for that post is an image that I received from Clark descendant Liz Hickman (thanks, Liz!) of what looks like a single page removed from an old family bible. The page lists birth dates for Jonathan M. Clark, Mary Turck Clark, and their children, and death dates for Jonathan and his only son, Henry. It’s a key document for Clark family research and yet there is much we don’t know about it. History Mystery! No. 2 seeks to answer: What is the Clark “Family Record,” who created it, and how accurate is it?
Here’s a copy of the image from our files: Continue reading
Jonathan M. Clark married Mary Turck in old Washington county—possibly in Mequon—Wisconsin on March 15, 1840, and their daughter Caroline was born almost eight months later, on November 7, 1840. Caroline was the first of eight Clark children, one born about every two or three years between 1840 and 1857: Continue reading
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.