Stonefield Village: A Recreation of the Early 1900’s
by Rosalinda Villegas, age 15
Recently, Simpson Street Free Press writers took a trip to southwestern Wisconsin to visit historic sights. We wanted to see Stonefield Village in Cassville. Once there, we met Dale Moore who has worked there for 12 years. Mr. Moore was the perfect tour guide.
Our tour began with the Agricultural Museum. The Agricultural Museum follows the development of Wisconsin farm equipment. The sheds located outside display different kinds of farming machinery categorized by age. The equipment included reapers, threshers and tractors. Reapers were used to cut grain and threshers were used to separate the grain. The oldest reaper was made in 1831. The oldest tractor, called the Automower, was made in 1896. The equipment was primarily used to harvest barley, oats and wheat.
During the late 1800’s, Wisconsin began the shift to a dairy-driven economy. Erosion hindered crop production and the wheat market declined by 80 percent. Erosion led farmers to form a co-operatives. They wanted to enhance milk products to fit new market demands. Farmers started to sell products like butter, cheese and milk.
At first, milk was not good enough to drink but after refinements such as the Babcock and tester milks, quality improved. The Babcock tester was designed by Stephen Moulton Babcock, and used to determine the fat content in the milk, a large indicator of its quality.
Stonefield Village is a re-creation of a village from the early 1900’s. Dale showed us all of the shops and services that would have been in a typical Wisconsin village back then. The first shop he showed us was the broom shop. Brooms produced at the shop were made from wheat. Broom makers used a machine that pulled seeds off the wheat, sewed the bristles together and cut off the ends to make it straight.
The village also had a traditional one-room schoolhouse. We sat in desks where about 20 kids of various ages would attend one school. The village also had a fire station complete with a jail. Other re-creations in the village included a cheese factory, a pharmacy, a church, a meat market, a hardware store, a barbershop, a blacksmith and a carpenter shop.
Marie Mae McCann gave us a tour of a traditional farmstead from the early 1900’s. One wood-burning stove heated the whole house, even on a winter’s day. The walls were adorned with wallpaper instead of paint, and the beds were much smaller than they would be today.
Marie also gave us a tour of Governor Nelson Dewey’s mansion. The mansion, in contrast to the farmstead, had many rooms. It had five bedrooms, with each of Dewey’s children having their own bedroom. Smaller bedrooms were reserved for servants’ quarters.
The trip to Stonefield Village increased my knowledge about the history of Wisconsin and what life was like more than a century ago. I found it fascinating and our time flew by. I strongly recommend a visit to Stonefield Village. It is two hours from Madison and well worth the trip.