First Person Accounts of Life in the Lead Region

Moses Meeker: He came to the lead region in 1823 and moved his family here the next year. His memoirs include good details about the journeys as well as specific information about the early methods used for smelting ore. Available at “Turning Points” on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s website.  Click here to link to his memoir, then click “View Document” to read it.

Adele Gratiot: She was a young mother, aged 24, when she moved to the lead region in 1826. Her memoirs relate details of life in the region in the earliest days of settlement and are available at “Turning Points”.  Click here to link to her story, then click “View Document”

Theodore Rodolf: He came to Wisconsin from Switzerland in 1834, at the age of 19. His reminiscences of life in the lead region include a good description of the journey up the Mississippi and the Fever rivers from New Orleans to St Louis to Galena. He describes early settlements in the lead region and the devastation of the landscape around Mineral Point, due to mining activities.  Click here for his account, then click “View Document.”

John B. Parkinson: He came to the area in 1836 at the age of two, in a covered wagon. His account contains good details about a young boy’s daily life on a pioneer farm, as well as the story of his journey to the gold fields of California when he was 18. His story is on the “American Memory”section of the Library of Congress website.  Click here to read it.

John Gundry: Brother of Joseph Gundry, kept a diary of his journey from Cornwall to Mineral Point in 1849 and from there to the gold rush in 1850. The diary is reproduced on this nicely done site, which includes maps.  Click here.

History of the Lead Region

The History of Iowa County 1881 by C. W. Butterfield  The grandaddy of resources for Iowa County, now online, and searchable, thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Click here to link to this important resource.

  • The Cornish in Southwest Wisconsin:  Written in 1898 by Lewis Albert Copeland, this account of the settling of the lead region by immigrants from Cornwall is part of the Wisconsin Historical Collections available at the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Click here to link to the article.
  • Memoirs of Iowa County is also available online through the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Published in 1913, you may find biographies here that are not available elsewhere.  Click here to link.
  • Mineral Point and Richland County.  Reminiscences/ history of the early days of Mineral Point, including the origin of the name “Shake Rag Under the Hill”, told by John B. Shaw, in “Shaw’s Narrative” available in the WI Historical Collections.
  • Early History of Mineral Point: as told in several issues of a local paper, on the event of its centennial celebration. Find it in “Local History and Biography Articles” on the WHS site.  Click here to link to the stories.
  • The History of Lafayette County, another of the important county histories available online, thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Click here to link.
  • The History of Crawford and Richland Counties, another great resource for early history of the Lead Region, available through the WIsconsin Historical Society.  Click here to link.
  • Gold Fever Strikes/ Mineral Pointers go to California, including two enterprising men who build a boat to sail to the gold fields from landlocked Wisconsin. Available in “Local History and Biography Articles” on the Wisconsin Historical Society site. Click here to link.

View Images of Early Mineral Point

Glass Plate Negative Collection

The Mineral Point Historical Society has a collection of over 1200 glass plate negatives from approximately 1880 through 1910. For more information about this collection, please contact us at mineralpointhistory@gmail.com.

Wisconsin Historical Images

Many images of Mineral Point from all eras of the city’s history are available on the Wisconsin Historical Society site.  Go to Wisconsin Historical Images search page, use “Mineral Point” as the keyword.

Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database

Photographs of objects used or made by WI residents in the mid to late 1800’s, from collections throughout the state.  To see the items from the collection of the Mineral Point Historical Society, click here.


Some of the objects in the Mineral Point Historical Society’s collections, including locally made furniture, can now be viewed on-line at the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database. The first of its kind in the state, the digital database is a cooperative venture of the Chipstone Foundation, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Material Culture Program at UW-Madison, formed to bring together information on early Wisconsin objects and craftspeople in a searchable online archive.

The Mineral Point Historical Society is pleased to be one of the pilot organizations for this project.  The database is also available through the Wisconsin Heritage Online web portal.

Emily Pfotenhauer is the coordinator and primary staff person for the WDAD project.  She received her M.A. from the Department of Art History at UW-Madison, with a certificate in Material Culture Studies, in May 2006.  Her master’s thesis, “Furniture in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, 1830 – 1890”, was a case study of furniture production and distribution in Mineral Point, which included several examples of local furniture in the MPHS collection


The history of Mineral Point is fascinating and well documented.  The Mineral Point Archives, housed in the Mineral Point Public Library is a rich resource.

Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce extensive website includes a good section on the historic downtown and links to just about everything.

Learn about the Mineral Point Railroad Depot by visiting the Mineral Point Railroad Society website.

Click to learn more about Pendarvis Historic Site.