It Takes a Village

1900 Farmstead
dwm photo
I'm not sure why I never heard of the Stonefield Historic Site before joining the Wisconsin Historical Society.

It opened in 1961, making it older than me.  It sits on land east of the Mississippi River which was once part of Governor Nelson Dewey's farm.

Dewey was Wisconsin's first Governor, selected by his party as a compromise candidate in 1848.  He served two two-year terms.

He came to the area to manage land around the river town of Cassville for investors who hoped it would be chosen as the capitol.  It lost out to Madison.

Village School  (dwm)
Stonefield includes an Agricultural Museum featuring vintage equipment from the state's early days.

There is a farmstead built to a 1901 design from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  You can get a guided tour of the Farmstead when you visit.

The day we visited there were not many visitors.  Too bad. It's a tranquil and beautiful step back a century or more.

School interior (dwm)
Unlike Old World Wisconsin, Stonefield is mostly recreations authentic to the time period.  A corner bar sits on the village green across from a harness shop and blacksmith.

There is the Mink & Rydell Drug Store furnished and lined with original products from stores owned individually by Mink and Rydell. Step inside, and the mortar and pestle looks ready to prepare a healing concoction.

Inside the vintage pharmacy (dwm)
There is a nice covered bridge over a small creek which separates the Farmstead from the 1900 Village.  It adds to the ambiance and authenticity of the time.

From the Drug Store to the Photography studio, past the bank and the law office - this would have been one happening town if it had all been together "back in the day."

The local residents were flying stinging machines - wasps or hornets - frolicking in the sun and buzzing the tourists to keep us moving quickly.

The Covered Bridge leads to the Farm
Other than that, it was a perfect day to visit, strolling around the village and stepping into the soda fountain which, the day of our visit, operated on the honor system for cold drinks and frozen treats.

Across the railroad tracks which separate the village from Nelson Dewey State Park is the Dewey home site.

The 1893 reconstruction of Dewey's home looks over the Stonefield. Behind the home are the original ice house and smoke house.

Nelson Dewey Homesite (dwm)
By today's standards it isn't huge, but its place, perched on the side of a hill, adds to its prominence.

Governor Dewey tried to build his adopted home of Cassville into a city; going as far as building a railroad line into town.  It never happened, but the small town lives on and worth a visit.

An upcoming blog will share another reason for you to plan a trip to the village on the river.