Our annual Memorial Day post, first published in 2020. This revised edition, originaly published in 2022, was inadvertently updated for the further-revised 2023 edition, making a few minor edits and adding new information about Evander B. Bonniwell’s service. So the original 2022 post is “gone” and I’m going to leave this revised-revised version of that post here for reference, in case it is bookmarked elsewhere on the blog or in a readers’ notes.
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.
I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, so Clark House research will have to wait. Fortunately, I’ve had my shots, so it looks like the usual advice of bed rest, fluids, and such should be all I need. If not, perhaps a swig of a potion like Dr. C. V. Girard’s Ginger Brandy will do the trick.
Dr. C.Y. Girard’s ginger brandy, for sale here / lith. of Robertson, Seibert & Shearman, 93 Fulton St. New York. , ca. 1860. New York: Robertson, Seibert & Shearman, 93 Fulton St. Library of Congress. Click to open larger image in new window.
After all, it’s “A Certain Cure for Cholera Colic Cramps Dysentery, Chills & Fever” and “is a delightful and healthy beverage.” Ya can’t beat that!
Of course, if Dr. Girard’s Ginger Brandy doesn’t help, there were so many other elixirs to choose from during the pre-Pure Food and Drug Act era, such as…
Guess what I did instead of writing a new Clark House Historian post! Here’s a clue, from about this time last year (revised and expanded for 2022)…
Spring weather in southeastern Wisconsin is pretty hard to predict these days. Spring 2021 was awfully dry. This year, spring has been wetter overall—I think—but the days have zigzagged rapidly and unpredictably between chill and damp or hot and humid. It’s almost like we haven’t had a proper Midwestern spring at all. And yet, the grass around the Historian’s house has already gotten pretty tall and scruffy. So it was time to get out the mower and tidy up (some of) the yard.
Maurer, Louis, Artist. The climax mower, most complete and perfect mower in the world, the Corry Machine Co., Corry, Pen. / L. Maurer. United States, None. [NY: the Major & Knapp Eng., Mfg. & Lith. Co., between 1869 and 1872] Photograph. Library of Congress.
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…
It’s been a week of constant organizing at my house. A useful and productive week, perhaps, spent sorting, reading, and filing paperwork, and updating the household accounts. But not much writing.
Of course, the need to sort, repair and organize is not limited to our era. I suspect the Clarks, Turcks, Bonniwells—and their neighbors—spent a good bit of time trying to catch up with their 19th-century chores, like this fellow…
Guy, Seymour Joseph (1824–1910), Utilizing a Spare Moment, oil on canvas, c. 1860-1870. Yale UniversityArt Gallery, public domain (CC0 1.0). Click to open larger image in new window.
Updated February 22, 2022 to fix a few minor typos, and to add a link to a brief history of American samplers, with an illustrated list of 73 of the 137 American samplers in the Textile Collection of the National Museum of American History.
In addition to raising and educating her children, a 19th-century farm wife like Mary Turck Clark had many other responsibilities, including planning and tending a farm garden, preserving its produce, preparing daily meals for the family and hired hands, and keeping the farm house clean and organized. And Mary, like many women of her era, probably made some or all of her own and her family’s clothes.
The sewing arts
Like most girls of her era, Mary Turck (born in New York, 1821) probably learned the craft of needlework from her mother and, perhaps, as part of her school education. When a young girl like Mary mastered some of the many practical and decorative sewing stitches, she might demonstrate her proficiency by making a sampler.
A sampler might feature simple examples of sewn letters, numbers and perhaps a popular saying or Bible verse. But many samplers were more complex and artistic. An accomplished embroiderer might produce an elaborate sampler featuring detailed images and texts, as in this 1829 sampler from Connecticut.
Thompson, Mariette (1817-1851), [Sampler with family register], 1829. Yale Art Gallery, public domain. Click to open larger image in new window.
In Jonathan and Mary Clark’s era, if you needed to get somewhere during the winter—for business or for pleasure—you probably rode in a a horse-drawn sleigh. Travel in a sleigh could be fun, even exhilarating, but was not without its perils, most of which came from inadequately maintained roads and trails:
Bennett, W. J. , Engraver, and George Harvey. Winter. No. 5., Impeded Travelers in a Pine Forest, Upper Canada / engraved from the original painting by G. Harvey A.N.A., New York, 1841. Color aquatint. Library of Congress. Click to open larger image in new window.
Currier & Ives. God Bless Our School. United States, ca. 1874. New York: Published by Currier & Ives, 125 Nassau St. Library of Congress. Click to open larger image in new window.
This colorful lithograph was published in 1874, but the books, maps, globe, slates for writing on, inkwell and dip pen, and other classroom supplies are very consistent with the materials that Caroline Clark would have encountered in her Seventh Ward High School classroom between 1858 and 1860. Her Clark siblings would have used similar materials during their time as students in the Milwaukee public schools during the 1860s and ’70s.
Caroline was the oldest daughter. She attended the district school in a log house till seventeen years of age. To that was added one year of study in German in a private school. At the age of eight years she was considered quite a prodigy in her studies. At the age of seventeen she began to teach. After two years of study in the Milwaukee high school under John G. McKidley [sic, McKindley], famed as a teacher and organizer of educational work, she taught in the public schools of that city.
Photo of Caroline M. (Clark) Woodward courtesy of Frances Willard House Museum & WCTU Archives, Evanston, Illinois. Text: Willard, Frances E., and Mary A. Livermore, editors. A woman of the century ; fourteen hundred-seventy biographical sketches […], Buffalo, 1873, page 779.
Imagine this: You are now more than 50-years-old. You have achieved statewide and national prominence as an organizer for the largest women’s social and political organization of the 19th-century. You and your spouse manage a family farm, continue to raise your several adopted and foster children, and you have a successful business of your own, selling insurance. And when you are asked to provide the details of your life for inclusion in a major biographical dictionary of leading American women, you make sure to include, by name…one of your high school teachers?
That’s exactly what Caroline (Clark) Woodward did in 1893, when she highlighted her two years of study with John G. McKindley at the Milwaukee public high school. And that prompts a few questions: who was J. G. McKindley? why is he cited in Caroline’s 1893 biography? when would he have worked with Caroline? was he really “famed as a teacher and organizer of educational work”? and how big a deal was “high school” in Wisconsin in the 1850s and ’60s, anyway?
Today, as we continue to explore the life of Jonathan M. and Mary (Turck) Clark’s eldest child, Caroline Mary Clark—later usually known as Mrs. C. M. Woodward—we’ll take a fact-by-fact look at the biographical sketch of Caroline that was published in 1893, re-printed unchanged in 1897, then abridged and reprinted in 1912. For a full discussion of these three publications, see last Monday’s Caroline M. (Clark) Woodward: first steps toward a biography.
Willard, Frances E., and Mary A. Livermore. 1893. A woman of the century ; fourteen hundred-seventy biographical sketches accompanied by portraits of leading American women in all walks of life ; ed. by Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore, assisted by a corps of able contributors, title page and page 779.
Today’s post will be less of a fully-formed essay, and more of a running analysis, commentary, and proof-reading of this 1893 biographical sketch. We’ll take one portion at at time, starting at the beginning. The source text will be presented as a shaded quotation, followed by my commentary and corrections in simple black text on white background, with highlighted links to additional sources and explanations and, of course, a few footnotes, too. Here we go…