|Isaac A. Hoxie (1825-1903)|
Isaac Hoxie (1825-1903) wrote an article about his visit to the Cooksville Cemetery while attending the “Old Folks picnic” in the summer of 1901 in Cooksville. (The Old Folks or Old Settlers’ Reunions would continue for another fifty years.)
Hoxie’s article is a touching remembrance of his family and friends who once settled, lived, died and were buried in the Cooksville cemetery.
Hoxie had come to Cooksville with his parents from Maine in 1846, along with his five sisters and brothers including Benjamin, who would become Cooksville’s prominent architect, builder, carpenter and one of Wisconsin’s important horticulturists.
|Benjamin Hoxie House, built c.1852|
Isaac helped his brother Benjamin in their thriving door, sash and shutter manufacturing business in Cooksville in the 1840s-50s, which provided the new settlers in the area with the needed doors, windows and “blinds” for their new homes and commercial buildings. Later, Isaac went into the newspaper business, establishing and operating a number of local newspapers including Evansville’s first newspaper, the Citizen, in 1866, and later the Evansville Review, as well as the Oconomowoc Local and the Deerfield Enterprise. Eventually, Isaac operated a clothing store and owned several buildings in Evansville.
|Hoxie's printing press: oldest in Wisconsin|
While in the newspaper business in Evansville, Isaac Hoxie operated the oldest printing press in Wisconsin, a Ramage Printing Press manufactured in Philadelphia in 1851-54. The press, previously used by others in the state, was donated by his son Wilbur to the Wisconsin Historical Society in the 1880s, where it remains.
After Isaac visited the Cooksville Cemetery that day in 1901, he wrote his article entitled, The Home of the Dead, describing his visit and his thoughts. Here are some of his words:
“While attending the Old Folk’s picnic in Cooksville….I visited the old cemetery where were buried the kindred and loved ones of my family, and noticed the many changes that time has wrought in the years since I made [Cooksville] my home in 1846. Then I was only a boy in my minority. The cemetery was neither located nor platted [then], but the early death of a Mr. Hammond from the state of Maine, who coming west to visit friends, met death early, making it necessary that some suitable location should be made …One after another dropping away still no location was made and graves were dug just the same but with little regard to order... and it was not until Dr. Porter died that a cemetery was permanently located and the ground properly laid out [in 1861].
“It was to the southeastern corner under embowering pines and matted foliage my attention was particularly directed. Here I found an unpretentious slab bearing the chiseled name of my father, Allen Hoxie, who died February 26, 1862, aged 65 years, with this further beautiful inscription: ‘My faith is knowledge now.’ The next grave was that of my mother who died some years later, and bore the simple inscription ‘Our Mother’—Olivia Hoxie, wife of Allen Hoxie, died Sept. 8, 1876, aged 79 years…
|Allen Hoxie (1797-1876) tombstone|
“Nearly hidden by soughing [moaning] pines and creeping vines were the remains of her [his wife] who plighted her troth, came west, and bore life’s burdens with me from April 14, 1852 to May 22, 1896,—44 short and happy years. We began our new life in Cooksville, and it was fitting that her remains should here find a resting place. She is gone! no longer shrinks from the winter’s winds, or lift[s] her calm, pure forehead to summer’s kisses. But as the ashes of the oak is no epitaph to tell what flock it has sheltered, the dust of her grave is speechless, yet her noble deeds and Christian life are ever bright upon the silent tablet of memory….
“As I stood by the graves of the departed ones, on this beautiful autumn I could scarcely refrain a tear while looking back through the vista of fifty-five years—beautiful years, when I made Cooksville my home, silently exclaiming what marvelous changes God has wrought….
“But I must hasten away to the banqueting hall, for the little village is already astir with teams and gaily dressed people to pay homage to months and years long gone bye.
“In song and story this little nook in the northwestern portion of Rock county has ever borne an honorable record. From its founders, John Cook, the Porter family and a host of others who made our representative hall and temple of justice fervid with eloquence, have lived and whose remains find a resting place here.” [signed] I. A. Hoxie.
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[This clipping from an unidentified newspaper, probably the Evansville Review, is part of the Cooksville Archives. The Cooksville Cemetery, the Isaac Hoxie House, and the Benjamin Hoxie House are part of the Cooksville Historic District. The Cooksville Archives welcomes donations of papers, photographs, objects, etc., related to Cooksville’s history. Larry Reed.]