Well, look who’s turning 180.

The historic Village of Cooksville is celebrating 180 years since its founding in 1842 by inviting people to share the village’s story of 19th, 20th and 21st century life in southern Wisconsin.

The birthday celebration will be held on Saturday, June 18, starting at 3 p.m. at the Cooksville School House, located at the corner of Hwy. 59 and Church Street. The celebration is free and open to the public, with parking in the Cooksville Commons across from the School House.

From 3-4:15 p.m. there will be an opening program at the School House, with brief presentations about the founding of Cooksville as well as comments by the Cooksville Community Center, the Cooksville Lutheran Church, the Low Technology Institute, the Cooksville General Store, Masonic Lodge #90 and the Historic Cooksville Trust.

Next will be open houses from 4:15-6 p.m. at each of the participating organizations, with representatives available to conduct tours, answer questions, and provide some written information for people to take with them. Maps will be provided as this will be a walking event between Open House locations.

In addition, each organization will provide treats and time for neighbors and others to learn about all things Cooksville. Cooksville General Store owner Matthew Danky will have chips and salsa on hand at the store, and also will be selling tacos from his El Grito Taqueria food truck.

Historic preservation

The story of old Cooksville - a “Wee Bit of New England” - can still be experienced today because the small village’s historical character is largely preserved.

More than 30 historic buildings, structures and archeological sites remain in the village including the Public Square or Commons, the Cooksville Schoolhouse, the oldest General Store in Wisconsin, the old Cemetery, two historic churches - the Lutheran Church and the Congregational Church - and more than 20 historic homes and buildings.

John and Daniel Cook bought land from the U.S. Government in 1837 when Wisconsin Territorial lands first went on sale. In 1840, their family journeyed by oxen wagon from Ohio to their new farmland, built a home and platted their Village of Cooksville in1842.

Other settlers soon followed, and the village quickly grew, including a new Village of Waucoma platted next door in 1846, which is part of the village’s story.

Because Cooksville was by-passed by the new boom in railroads in the mid-1850s, the village’s growth slowed and much of its distinctive 19th century pioneer architecture survived. The village became known as “The Town that Time Forgot” and was once suggested as a perfect location for an outdoor museum of Wisconsin’s early historic architecture.

In the 20th century, Cooksville experienced important historical recognition by being officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Wisconsin State Register and designated a Historic District by the Town of Porter because of the village’s well-preserved and well-documented history and historic architecture.

Thanks to preservation efforts, Cooksville continues to celebrate and share its story of early settlement in Wisconsin.

 - Information provided by Mary Zimmerman, Historic Cooksville Trust

Contact reporter Scott De Laruelle @sdelaruelle@orourkemediagroup.com

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