Thomas Turk
This well-known citizen of Pontiac was born at Gotsell farm, in the parish of Bremhill, county of Wilts, England, on the 4th day of December, 1820. He emigrated to America, and settled in Pontiac in December, 1837, when seventeen years of age. In January, 1838, he hired to William Beasley, of Pontiac township, to work on a farm at the rate of fifty dollars per year. He only remained with this gentleman a few months. During the summer of 1838 he worked on a farm for Gilbert Jones, of Monguagon. In the spring of 1839 he hired to a company of land surveyors, who had a contract with government for subdividing a large tract of country about Grand Traverse bay. While engaged in this work the surveying party assisted the missionaries to build the first log house erected between Mackinaw and Manistee, at a place still called "Old Mission." These missionaries had come from Mackinaw in a bateau which they hired some French Canadians to work for them. The surveyors finished their work and returned about the first of July of the same year.

In the spring of 1840, Mr. Turk accompanied another surveying party to the region of Thunder bay and Alpena. They left Detroit about the 12th of March, going overland by way of Pontiac to Saginaw, where they were obliged to encamp and wait for the ice to leave the river and bay before proceeding on their way by water. They finally left Saginaw some time towards the last of March in a small schooner, and landed at the Sable river, where they finished up a small job, and from thence went on by land to Devil river and Alpena, where they remained until August, when they returned to Detroit. There were no settlements in those days in all that vast region except a few fishermen.

In the fall of the same year he went with a man named Sibley, a surveyor, to Presque Isle, and returned in November. The following winter and summer (1840-41) he spent in Canada.
In the autumn of 1841 he went to Rochester, New York, where he stayed a year, and in the autumn of 1842 he made a visit to his native England, where he remained about eighteen months.

While on this visit, on the 31st of March, 1844, he married Miss Maria Gregory, only daughter of Thomas Gregory, in the parish church of his native place, and within a few days thereafter sailed for the United States.They stopped in Rochester, New York, about four months during the year 1844, when they removed to Pontiac, where Mr. Turk commenced the business of a grocer, which he followed successfully until December, 1876, when he resigned it to his three sons, Thomas N., William G., and Gregory H.

Mr. Turk and his wife have been blessed with seven children, --three sons and four daughters, --six of whom are now living, --three sons and three daughters, one daughter having died in infancy.

Mr. Turk has been an honored member of the Masonic fraternity for over twenty years, having united with Pontiac lodge, No. 21, F. and A. M. He is also a member of the chapter. Mrs. Turk, two daughters, and one son are members of Zion Episcopal church of Pontiac.
Mr. and Mrs. Turk made a visit to their native land in 1869, and Mr. Turk and a daughter again in 1874.
Mr. Turk has been quite a builder in his day, having erected in Pontiac no less than twenty-two buildings, not including out-buildings, all good, substantial stores and dwellings.

As a business man he has been eminently successful in the manifold transactions of a period of over thirty years, and is well known and thoroughly appreciated and respected by many friends and the public generally as an upright, honorable gentleman and worthy citizen.
Source:  History of Oakland County, Michigan by Durant, Samuel W. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & co., 1877.
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