In the 1830s and 1840s, settlers from other parts of the United States and Europe began to flow into the Wisconsin Territory. They were lured by the prospect of plentiful lead to be had in shallow diggings throughout the region.
As the easy lead became scarce, and greater technical knowledge was needed to work the earth for its deeper lead and zinc deposits, immigrants from Cornwall, England filled the need. These miners and their families made a lasting imprint on southwest Wisconsin.
From 1830–1848, a trickle of lead mining immigrants from Cornwall became a flood, imparting a uniquely English flavor to the mining region of southwestern Wisconsin. The Cornish, known worldwide for their skill as deep shaft miners, came with centuries of experience. At Pendarvis, you can see their stone cottages, learn about their lives, and come to understand how their legacy was preserved in the twentieth century.
Excellent stonemasons as well, they quarried local limestone to build their small cottages. In Mineral Point they clustered their homes in a ravine known as Shake-Rag-Under-the-Hill, a name derived from the custom of women summoning their husbands from the mines for dinner by waving a cloth from their doorways.
Almost a century after the miners’ cottages were built, townspeople shook their heads in disbelief as Robert Neal and Edgar Hellum bought one of the stone cottages in the Shake Rag neighborhood, and took it from a state of disrepair to what became the world famous Pendarvis House restaurant.
Over the years, Neal and Hellum restored several neighboring Cornish cottages. Today, visitors may tour Pendarvis guided by costumed interpreters.
114 Shake Rag Street Mineral Point, WI 53565