The Village of Cooksville: “A Little Slice of New England” — Wisconsin Life

The Low Technology Institute is located in the historic village of Cooksville, Wisconsin. Our village was recently the topic of the Wisconsin Life radio series on our local NPR station. You can read the article, by Norman Gilliland, on the website, or click the link below to hear the produced audio segment.

The Low-Tech Beginnings of Cooksville

In 1837, Daniel Webster —  a senator, congressman, three-time secretary of state, and presidential candidate — bought up the acres around Badfish Creek and later sold them to his friend from Massachusetts, Dr. John Porter for $1.25/ac.

The village was mostly built in the 1840s and ’50s. The materials mostly came from local sources: a brickyard, shutter-and-door factory, blacksmith shop, and general store.

Cooksville didn’t grow when the trains went to Stoughton (6 mi north) and Evansville (6 mi south). It has largely stayed the same for the last hundred and fifty years: the same general store still operates, a one-room schoolhouse and churches are landmarks, and the center of towns is the commons, surrounded by homes, whose historical appearance has been preserved. Any new construction is built behind the historical structures.

The fact that this village existed before fossil fuels became the primary source of energy means that it could thrive when these fuels become less available. This is one of the reasons we moved to Cooksville. It is a community of folks who know one another, not an anonymous suburb. The plots are large enough to grow much of our own food, and it is adjacent to a waterway. All of these things bode well for the village’s resilience in the future.


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