UW-Platteville and Grant County Historical Society collaborate to preserve local history

November 21, 2018
Eugene Tesdahl/Rachel Lewis


The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Department of History is excited to begin collaborating with Dr. Rachel Lewis, the new director of the Grant County Historical Society in Lancaster, Wisconsin, and the lead interpreter at Pendarvis Historic Site in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. 

“Dr. Lewis brings incredible skills to important collections at the Grant County Historical Society,” said Dr. Eugene Tesdahl, assistant professor of history at UW-Platteville. “Heightened emphasis on the free African American community Pleasant Ridge, along with confronting the troubling history of chattel slavery in the Driftless Region, will strengthen understanding. Undergraduate students and I are eager to help Dr. Lewis and the Grant County Historical Society to preserve and interpret these significant legacies in an honest way.”

“The Rountree Stone Cottage offers difficult but important stories,” said Lewis of the Grant County historical site in Platteville. “Built in 1837 and occupied until the mid-1960s, the Rountree Stone Cottage allows us to tell the story of a changing Grant County. Several prominent people are associated with the home, including two prolific 19th century authors, Laura Rountree and E.D.E.N Southworth. There is some evidence that the first occupants brought enslaved people with them to Wisconsin, which was illegal because Wisconsin was a free territory. It is my hope that in collaborating with UW-Platteville, we will be able to uncover more of this story and tell a fuller and more truthful history of the Rountree Stone Cottage and Territorial Wisconsin as a whole. This is just one way that UW-Platteville students could help in the understanding and interpretation of Grant County history.”

Future collaborations may include new exhibits at The Cunningham Museum in Lancaster, a public lecture series and revised interpretation programs at the Rountree Stone Cottage.

As director of the Grant County Historical Society, Lewis is focusing on increasing community engagement while also maintaining best museum practices. As lead interpreter of the Wisconsin Historical Society, she is responsible for the stories Pendarvis Historic Site tells and how they are told. Lewis holds a Ph.D. in public history from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. 

Tesdahl has taught at UW-Platteville since fall 2014. As an assistant professor of history, he offers courses in early America, American women’s history and Native American history. Tesdahl holds degrees in history from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa; Miami University in Oxford, Ohio; and the University of Colorado at Boulder. 


Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, University Relations Specialist, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu



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