Mineral Point, Wisconsin
Sept. 28, 29, and 30, 2018
A Bit About The Cornish Festival
The Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society was formed in 1991 to raise public awareness of the influence of early Cornish immigrants on the Old Lead Region in general and the city of Mineral Point in particular.
Jim Jewell was the first president of the organization, and became a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd in 1995. Jim had long dreamed of a festival celebrating the still very visible evidence of Cornish culture in the area. The first Cornish Festival, in 1993, was a one day affair with an afternoon program at which Edgar Hellum, one of the restorers of the Pendarvis complex, was named a Bard for his work in rescuing and carefully preserving the Cornish-built buildings on Shake Rag Street. The day ended with an evening pasty banquet and program attended by about 100 people.
The Society's membership grew, as those of Cornish persuasion responded from everywhere in the country. In 1994 the festival was expanded to two days. The Taste of Mineral Point became a part of CornishFest in 1995. And, as the years went by, the Festival grew in length, strength, and cultural integrity. In keeping with the Society's mission of "education as well as entertainment," genealogy seminars were added, along with workshops, children's games and crafts, musical performances and a "Pop-up Museum" designed to tell the stories of local Cornish life and mineral mining.
A quarter of a century after the first celebration, CornishFest attracts a wide audience for "three days of facts, food and fun." Pendarvis, now a state historic site, welcomes pub-goers on Friday night, and Saturday's schedule is packed with events, including kid's adventures, "Taste of Mineral Point," and music at the Opera House to bring our festival's King Arthur theme to the stage, when "Camelot Comes to Mineral Point." Finally, enjoy a Celtic/Welsh Hymn Sing on Sunday.
The Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society recently unveiled a striking cast iron historic marker in the pocket park adjacent to the 1915 Mineral Point Opera House. The plaque outlines "Our Cornish Heritage" and "Our Cornish Life." In 2016, the city's Common Council voted to designate the busy downtown location , owned by the city, as the "Cornish Heritage Park." The Society is now drafting plans for significant additions for visitors to the pleasant green space. (Click on photo to read the text)
In the nearby Public Library, a memorial to the Cornish who migrated to this region in the 1800's graces a wall, commemorating Cornish miners, the local mining history, and the area's farming practices. The Society commissioned the work by Bruce Howdle, a local artist who captures history in his murals of clay.
Cornwall Family History Society Records
We are fortunate to have the records from the Cornwall Family History Society available to us on line in Southwest Wisconsin for researching our Cornish ancestors. Birth, death, and marriage records that happened in Cornwall are all accessible on CFHS records. You may contact either one of the two convenient depositories at the Southwest Wisconsin Room in the Ulsvick Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (608-342-1719) or at the Mineral Point Library Archives in Mineral Point, Wisconsin (608-987-2447). They are available FREE for your use and you may order copies of documents from Cornwall for a small fee. Please remember that these records are a work in progress, not a finished product. We suggest you call ahead to make certain the facility is open and available on the day you wish to visit. The Mineral Point Library Archives is open on Thursday from 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.
In addition to the CFHS records, you may be surprised at the array of genealogical information you may find at both of these fine libraries.