|Marvin Raney c.1970|
The Village of Cooksville has been gifted with a number of talented people over the past 175 years. Many have contributed to and enhanced the quality of life—and attracted attention to the small village. Thanks to their legacy— and to their stories and biographies contained in the Cooksville Archives— we have been able to record and remember their lasting contributions.
E. Marvin Raney, Jr.
E. Marvin Raney (1918-1980), a very active, visible and enthusiastic Cookvillian, was recognized for his extensive knowledge of the village, which grew from the time he arrived in 1945 until he died in 1980. Everyone knew him for his wealth of information, his eagerness to share—and for his ubiquitous cigarette-holder.
Raney resided in the Duncan House (the famous “House Next Door”) with his partner Chester Holway for 35 years, during which he carried on many of the same “antiquarian” undertakings as the house’s previous owner Ralph Warner, which were collecting, researching and preserving Cooksville-related material objects, village history and local genealogy. Raney also learned to weave rugs, which he sold along with other crafts in the shop that he and his neighbor and artist Dorothy Kramer established in the 1950s in the Duncan House barn.
|Duncan House painted tile by Dorothy Kramer|
|"Cooksville House" shop card|
He operated two antique businesses, the first in Cooksville was the “Cooksville House” in the Duncan barn (then moved to the Backenstoe-Howard House) in the 1950s and 1960s; and the second near Cooksville was the “Only Yesterday Shop” in the historic granary on the Joseph Porter Farmstead (then known as “Ady Ruth’s Apple Basket”) east of Cooksville in the 1970s. The village proved a perfect place once again for someone who loved history, antiques and gardening. (In Raney’s time there were four antique shops and three commercial gardens and nurseries in or near the village.)
A Texas native, Ely Marvin Raney, Jr., became a well-known authority on Cooksville history and genealogy and on Rock County history, and he was an authority on antiques specializing in pottery and china. He published a number of articles locally and nationally on antiques and served as a director and as acquisitions chairman for the Rock County Historical Society, helping to organize its historical records. He also was the historian and technical advisor on the move of Janesville’s historic Stone House to the grounds of the Lincoln-Tallman House in the 1950s, and he assisted the Wisconsin Historical Society to identify and appraise its collections of pottery and china.