Lighting on Courthouse Square and Flag & Flagpole Replacement

In 2019, Dave Peterson wanted to do something with the Court House because it was in disarray.  Dave went to the County Board and started on the Civil War Monuments after verifying with the Wisconsin Historical Society about the solution that could be used to clean the Civil War Monument.  With both approvals (County Board and Wisconsin Historical Society), he used D2 to clean the Cenotaphs and Center Monuments. That project took from 2019-2020, to complete.  

After Dave cleaned the Civil War Monument and 8 Cenotaphs, he placed a reference book of names, of fallen soldiers, in the front of Grant County Court House lobby.  

His second project was lighting the Civil War Monument and Blue Boy, with the help of the Grant County Historical Society as a mail address, Dave solicited the community and raised $5,000 and completed that project in 2022.  

Next Dave’s idea was to light the Nelson Dewey, Veterans Monument and replace Flag and Flag Pole, on the Grant County Court House. This step was accomplished with the assistance of Grant County Historical Society to put up the money initially and the help of Sonia Case to write the grant.

We would like to Thank Edge Electric (John Edge), through all the projects for electrifying the Court House.  We would also like to thank the Lancaster Community Fund and the Gillilan Family Community Fund for this grant.  The final phase of the project was completed September 29, 2023.

2023 Annual Appeal

Dear Friend,

The mission of the Grant County Historical Society is to enrich lives by collecting, preserving, and sharing the history of Grant County Wisconsin.  Since 1935, the Grant County Historical Society has been sharing Grant County history through museum exhibits, local history presentations, and events.

Our exhibits relate to geology, mining, military, sports, local artifacts and the Pleasant Ridge Community.  We collaborate with the Grant County Genealogical Society and the Grant County Research Center which is available to the public for family and county history research.  We have a large collection of archival material and photos available for use in schools, by genealogists, historians, and history buffs.

We can’t do any of this without the many volunteers who step up to work in the Museum, Research Center, Stone Cottage and on our Historical Society Committees, if you would like to become a volunteer, please let us know; stop in, 129 E Maple St Lancaster or phone 608-723-4925, email

Your support is deeply appreciated, either by making a monetary donation, becoming a member or both, it will help us continue to tell the history of Grant County, a story we promise to share for generations to come. Please download, print, and fill out the Annual Appeal Form to accompany your donation. We also welcome PayPal donations through our Grant County Historical Society website.

Thank you,

Margie Sherwin President, Larry Busch Vice President, Linda Vesperman Secretary, Judy Vesperman Treasurer, Directors: Joyce Bos, Teresa Burns, Sonia Case, Laurie Graney, Kathleen Schink, Joe Sherwin, Dennis (DA) Wilson, Melissa Schneider and Genealogical Society Representative Karen Reese

Celebrating Grant County One Room Schools at the Grant County History Museum

As the area children have returned to school and become familiar with its routine, former students of Grant County rural schools have an opportunity to return to their schoolhouse whether in person or in their memory.  That is due to a book recently published by the Grant County Genealogical Society titled Grant County One Room School Houses and is available for purchase there for $25.  It features pictures then and now of the rural schools in Grant County from the 1860s to the 1960s.  Additional information of each school as to its location and a map, the year it was built and closed, and its later use is also included.  

These schools provided an education and a way to improve a person socially and economically.  It was an opportunity for rich and poor, religious and nonreligious, immigrants and non-immigrants to learn how to play, work, and study together.

Those who attended rural schools have many memories of the walk to and from school, of getting water, of recess and games, holiday programs, picnics, school lunches, getting in trouble, the smell of sweeping compound, goiter pills, school library books, outhouses, visits by the school superintendent, basket socials, learning English (for non-English speakers), graduation day, and more.

If you are someone who attended one of those 190+ rural schools in Grant County, you may be interested to know that the Grant County History Museum in Lancaster, Wisconsin, is making them its focus from now until mid-November.  The window of the Museum, in addition to the display within the museum, is a glimpse into their past.  Anyone who attended any one of these Grant County rural schools is invited to stop by the museum and share on video the name and place of the school they attended and a memory or two of their days there.  You will be creating history for future generations. The Grant County History Museum is located at 135 E. Maple Street and is open weekdays 1-4pm.

The Beauty of Grant County

The Platte River

Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, as a child I was not familiar with the landscape where I have made my home over the past 30 years. Moving with my family to Galena, IL in 1991 was a big change and one I’ve never regretted. As we drove northwestward with a truck loaded down with our worldly possessions, we left the city in the rearview mirror.

My mother’s family removed from England in the 1820s to permanently settle in the United States. They arrived at Galena soon after the Black Hawk War- a struggle which drove the Sauk and Mesquakie nations from the booming lead mine camps in Jo Daviess County, IL. A large part of my interest in moving to Galena was that I wanted to continue my research and writing on the lead mine district in the upper Mississippi River valley, a study I began as an undergraduate. I also wanted to continue my family history research. Once in Galena, I became the curator of the Galena History Museum, conducted research, and wrote many lectures on regional history topics.

I was not then familiar with the concept of “Driftless”. Over time, I came to understand that a relatively small region, which includes parts of Jo Daviess Co, IL, parts of Dubuque Co, IA, and along the Mississippi Valley to a northern point at about Menomonie, WI, was spared from the last ice age, thus we find ourselves in an unglaciated region where the immense packs of ice and “glacial drift” did not flatten the topography.

When I moved to Platteville in 2011 to accept a position in the History department at UW-Platteville, I began to explore Grant County. I have come to admire its beauty and the many opportunities to get up close and personal with the land. I have kayaked the lower Platte, hiked up the M, and discovered remnants of the 19th century lead mining boom. I recognize that I am walking on land traditionally occupied by the Ho-Chungra, or Ho-Chunk, and other nations prior to their forced removal from lands south of the Wisconsin River in the 1830s. I think about the generations of families who lived, raised their families, worked, and passed away among these beautiful hills and valleys.

Wigwam village typical of the Ho-Chunk, Mesquakie, Sauk and other local nations

One of the natural phenomena that delights me most is that our region is filled with springs. The water seeps from cracks and crevices. Rivulets of fresh spring water course though pastureland and in quiet hollows, and then tumble down to create wild rivers that flow to the mighty Mississippi River or to the Wisconsin. These two great rivers- The Mississippi and the Wisconsin River- form Grant County’s western and northern borders. Both rivers served as early highways to move people and goods from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. Native Americans and early European explorers and traders used these rivers to travel from Quebec in Canada all the way to the Gulf Coast.

Little waterfall in Grant County

Grant County’s beauty is seen in its ancient oak groves, its mounds, its creeks, and rivers. It is seen in the shy mink who dances about the rocks along the Rountree Branch, in the turkeys who awkwardly cross the country road, looking back to beckon the rest to the flock. The impossibly large eagle’s nest, protected by wary parents and the meadowlark flitting in the field are sources of great joy to me.

Eagle’s Nest along the Platte River

In this season of Covid-19 with its multiple disruptions, I find great solace in the beauty and majesty of Grant County’s landscape. Being outside in our parks and reserves throughout the county fills me with hope and joy. I drink in the quiet and the let my mind wander. I let my attention be drawn to the birdsong and scuffling of small critters. I put my phone on silence. I hope you get outside soon to take in the fresh air, beauty, and peace awaiting you in Grant County.

State Parks in Grant County

Nelson Dewey State Park, Cassville

Wyalusing State Park

Recreation Areas in Grant County

Grant River Recreation Area, Potosi

There are wonderful trails and bike paths throughout the county- google by village or township

If enjoying the great outdoors while fishing, this site lists Grant County fishing locations

Kayaking in the backwaters of the Mississippi River