Henry Turk was born to Charles and Magdelen Turk about 1838, possibly in Seneca, Ontario New York. Charles was born about 1799 somewhere in New York. His wife was born 5 years later. Charles appears to us in 1830 living in Smithfield-Madison New York.
The family is seen through the early part of the 19th Century moving west. Lake Oneida and its tributary Wood Creek were part of the Albany-Oswego waterway, stretching from the Atlantic seaboard westward via the Hudson River. From there is forged its way through the Appalachian Mountains via the Mohawk River. Westward travel from here was by portage over the Oneida Carry to the Wood Creek-Oneida Lake system. The navigable waterway exited Oneida Lake by the Oneida River, which led to the Oswego River and Lake Ontario. From here travelers could reach the other Great Lakes. In 1835 Oneida Lake was connected to the Erie Canal system by construction of the (old) Oneida Canal, which ran about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from Higginsville on the Erie Canal northward to Wood Creek, about 2 miles upstream of Lake Oneida. This was the route that brought the Turks from Eastern New York.
The first true record we have of Henry comes from the 1850 census for Constantia, Oswego New York, on the north western shores of Lake Oneida. Interestingly, Henry and sister Martha are shown living with a 22 year old Peter Turck,27 year old Jonathan Turck, new settlers to the area. A map of the area from about that time lists Peter as the owner of a substantial parcel of property. Just east of that property a second smaller parcel is listed also apparently belonging to Peter Turck just west of what today is Martin Road. Charles, Henry’s father likely leased or worked the land for Peter.
The property matter is a bit confusing. The census helps to orient a bit better, and helps understand who was likely living and working on the two parcels of land, both marked as P. Turk. Beside, and just east of Constantia is the tiny hamlet of Bernard’s Bay. Beside that, and just slightly larger is Cleveland. We find Charles and his family connected to the Cleveland post office in the census.
The road has changed little over nearly two centuries. It wasn’t paved then. Pine and fir trees grow thickly to the edge of the road. The land flows gently, the soil rocky and difficult to farm. There is a small plat that roughly corresponds to the homestead of Charles and Magdelen. The small creeks that flowed through are dried now. Just to the south, at the edge of the property, a small pond is now all but gone. Hunting and fishing would have been the main stay for the family. For the children, especially the bots, there was nothing of consequence tying them to the land.
Henry was born amid the financial panic of 1837. Families w ere devastated in an ever deepening recession. Men were thrown out of work, homes, farms and fortunes lost overnight. Factories and businesses shuttered. It would last the first 6 years of Henry’s life. It is possible that the devastation wrought by those years may have led to the family’s westward movement, driven perhaps for work on the waterways, and then the railroads as the country expanded west.
NEXT: Following the Railroads. Henry Turck moves West and finds Love.
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The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers. .