Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Life in Little Old Cooksville, by Larry Reed

Glimpses of 19th century life in old Cooksville are found in various scrapbooks with local newspaper clippings, usually from Evansville papers, and in a few local diaries as well as in personal anecdotes preserved in the Cooksville Archives. Here are some, with sources and dates when available:

“Cooksville: This is indeed a land of artists. Most every other one you meet has brushes and a palette or an easel under his arm.”  (Enterprise, December, 1883.)

“Mr. Hoxie found a few days since, an unfinished arrow, a spear head, convex on one side, slightly concave on the other, which measures five inches long and two and one-fourth wide. This is one of the largest of this kind of Indian relics ever found in this vicinity. (Clipping, undated, c.1875.)

“An effort is being made to raise funds enough to fence the public common or park. It is located in the pleasantest part of the village and contains five acres of land, a portion covered with a natural grove, which is gradually being killed out by sheer carelessness in hitching horses, and otherwise damaging the trees which amount to almost vandalism. Now with a little effort this can be prevented, and children and strangers who travel the streets now, and in the future, will be thankful for the effort.” (Clipping, 1875)
Cooksville's brick School House from 1850 to 1886
“As it is probable that yesterday was the last Sunday we shall ever meet for worship in the old schoolhouse, Elder May preached a memorial sermon. This has been our only place of worship for 27 years, and all rejoice that we have a new church finished and ready for dedication, and to be occupied for the first time next Sunday. But to those that have worshipped there for so long a time, as we bid it adieu a thousand recollections clinging around the old land-mark.” (Clipping, c.1879)

Cooksville's Congregational Church, built 1879
“The great event for last week was the dedication of the new church, and it was a good omen to see Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist, Universalist and Unitarian ministers all on one platform.” (Clipping, 1879)

“Rev. Mr. Barrett, the new Congregationalist minister, who is settled over the parish at Evansville and this place, is a young man who seems to possess a good, sound, healthy digestion, and we judge by his looks and make-up that the idea of an old-fashioned orthodox hell does not enter very much into his sermons.” (Clipping, 1881)

“J.P. Vanvleck [sic] is making about fourteen hundred corn planters this winter. He also has the right to manufacture for Rock County a new gate, called the “Farmers Handy Gate,” which, as its name indicates, seems to be handy indeed.” (Clipping, c.1879)

Van Vleck Implement Factory (1861-1928)
“The Cooksville hand corn planter, with or without pumpkin seed attachment, the best hand planter in existence, warranted, by Clapp and Sausman (implement dealers in Evansville).” (Enterprise, April 1884.)

“The firm of Preston & Searles, broom and brush manufacturers of Cooksville, are turning out good work and will sell at wholesale as cheap as any house this side of Chicago (1883)…. They are making six dozen brooms a day and expect to double that amount soon (1883)…[They] received a large shipment of broom corn …and report quick sales and fair profits (1887).”

“Cooksville, though not a Rail Road town, but it can boast of a fine healthy location. Doctors have always starved out, unless they had some other means of living besides pill peddling. Doctor Roberts has just moved in; may prove an exception, for he is a young man of much ability and with energy enough to take long rides to hunt up the sick ones, may succeed.” (Evansville Citizen, 1866).

Leedle Mill (1849-c.1950)
“The Flood caused by the rapid melting of the snow, with the accompanying rains of last week, did considerable damage by washing away roads, and carrying off all dams. The dam at Davenport’s mill [Leedle Mill] was considerably injured, as also the one at Cooksville, just below it. The damn at Stebbinsville was injured to the extent of nearly a thousand dollars…” (Evansville Review, April 1877)

“”The brook trout ordered sometime since by B.S. Hoxie, for Lynn Creek, have been received from the Madison State hatchery, and were put into the creek. Now, boys, beware of taking any minnows from that stream for fish bate [sic], lest you catch the penalty instead of minnows.” (April, 1881)

“Who owns the grist mill here? It has stood idle and empty for a long time. A tramp has taken possession this winter, and by using the old stove manages to keep warm. He sleeps by standing up or lying on the floor. ‘The poor ye have with you always.’” (Clipping, January 1894)

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