Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cooksville Burr Oak Trees Salvation Group - Meri Lau and Mary Kohlman

What is the reason for forming this group?  The Burr Oaks that are a significant feature of the Commons in Cooksville are in demise, probably due to a number of factors.  There have been sporadic conversations over the years surrounding this concern.  But up to this point no formal inquiry has been made into their status or what can be done to help them.
Cooksville Commons

We are approaching an important marker in our community's life and as we plan how we are going to celebrate this event, several of us feel this is an excellent time to look at the Burr Oaks that are also an important part of our community and history, and think about how to keep this part of our legacy alive for generations to come.

Our motto:  "The Burr Oaks of Cooksville:  Trees that Time Did Not Forget."

What is our vision?  Ideally we would like to do what we can to keep the surviving trees alive and in improved health.  Some of these trees are near the end of their lifespan, so we would also like to begin the work of replacing those lost with young trees.  We want this to be a collective effort from members of the immediate and surrounding community of Cooksville.  We see this as an opportunity to
  • come togther for a common purpose, 
  • to learn about the natural history of the Oak Savannahs in the pre and post settlement of the prairie, specifically Wisconsin, 
  • to explore what options are realistically available to us in our efforts to revitalize the stand of oaks that we have, 
  • to develop a plan based on these discoveries, 
  • to work together as a community to implement this plan, 
  • and ultimately to celebrate the first successes of what will no doubt be a long term project.  

Meri Lau and Mary Kohlman, residents of Cooksville, have already begun some of the preliminary work exploring history and resources that may be available.  We would like to meet monthly with whomever is also interested in this dedicated labor of love.  This blog post is a start and as we move forward we will send emails on our progress to interested persons.  Our work will have room for many willing hands, heads and hearts (and probably a few strong backs and arms as well).

If you have questions or have the desire to be in the formative stages of this quest, you can email us at Meri_Lau@yahoo.com or marye.kohlman@yahoo.com.

Thank you in advance for your support,
Meri Lau, Mary Kohlman and the Oaks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cooksville Artists and Artisans - PART SIX: MARVIN RANEY (1918-1980) and CHESTER P. HOLWAY (1908-1986), by Larry Reed

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.