Saturday, May 19, 2012

The First Dandelion Arrives in Cooksville! by Larry Reed

In 1849, the first dandelion arrived in the Cooksville area, according to David Sayre, an early settler and resident in the Town of Porter. Sayre reported that, “In the fall of 1849 I rode eight miles, at the request of a doctor, to find a weed which he needed for one of his patients, a weed which covers the state today.” According to Sayre, this desirable plant—or weed— very rare at the time, had been brought up from Lexington, Kentucky, in 1849 and had been planted in a garden in Section 9 of the Town of Porter, just to the southeast of Cooksville. (Sayre recorded his memories of “Early Life in Southern Wisconsin” in The Wisconsin Magazine of History,” June 1920.) The “weed” the doctor needed—the humble, edible, medicinal dandelion—had been imported by someone from Kentucky and planted in a garden near Cooksville. No doubt, it was soon planted in many other pioneers’ gardens in the area, and the dandelion— the English name comes from the French Dent de Lion, meaning “lion’s tooth” referring to the jagged points on the leaves—has since spread like the weed it is. The first dandelion in the Cooksville area may have come from distant Kentucky, but it probably was the early Colonists who brought it to America from Europe, maybe as early as the arrival of the Mayflower. Early settlers brought with them many of their favorite herbaceous plants, like dandelions, some intentionally introduced as garden plants and others arriving as weeds in soil or livestock fodder. The dandelions quickly took root— and have traveled far afield. Settlers used all parts of the plant— even the roots were roasted and ground for a coffee-like drink— and the frontier healers often recommended dandelion greens as a spring tonic, a healthy dose of vitamins unavailable to pioneers during the winter. The dandelion’s Latin name is Taraxacum Officinale, which means “the official remedy for disorders.” In 1868, by the way, garlic mustard was introduced from Europe by immigrants: its first recorded outdoors cultivation was on Long Island, New York. Maybe it’s time to eat more of the invaders—dandelions, garlic mustard, burdock root…. [Excerpt from “The Village of Cooksville: A Chronicle of the Town that Time Forgot,” by Larry Reed.]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Badfish Canoe Outing on May 12!

You're invited to join the Friends of Badfish Creek Watershed on a Canoe Outing, Saturday, May 12th. Meet at the Hwy 138 bridge by Cooksville at 9 am sharp. Set up shuttle. Paddle to Riley Road. Picnic to follow on Cooksville green. BYO boat, PFD (required) and lunch. Hope you can join us!!