Pioneer Aztalan Site

SE corner at jct. of Cth B and Cth Q, Aztalan, Wisconsin

A collection of structures showing 19th Century Wisconsin life

Photos 

Overview Looking Northeast

This is the only structure left from the Pioneer Aztalan community. It now serves as a museum.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning May 2019

Enlarge

Map 

Description 

This museum is on the site of what is called Pioneer Aztalan, located on the southeast corner formed by County Highways B and Q. It is not the prehistoric Native American community of Aztalan.

At one time, these roads were major routes, CTH B was the Milwaukee-Mineral Point territorial road. About 1918, it became Wisconsin 30 which was eventually replaced by I-94. CTH Q was the Fond du Lac-Janesville road that was eventually replaced by Wisconsin 26. (See Christopher Besert's excellent Wisconsin Highways website for more about these roads.)

Being on this important crossroads, by 1850, Aztalan had grown to become one of the most important towns in Jefferson County. It was the site of the first post office in the county, two blacksmiths, a shoe shop, two stores, a quarry, a sawmill, and a church. When the railroads came through and bypassed Aztalan, it became mostly a ghost town. The church is the only original Pioneer Aztalan building extant.

In 1941, the Lake Mills Aztalan Historical Society was formed to preserve the heritage of the Pioneer Aztalan property, that borders the prehistoric Aztalan Native American state park. The restored church is the society's museum with an amazing collection of artifacts from 19th Century Wisconsin life. The society located other historic structures in the area and moved them to the site, including a Moravian church, the one-room John Petty Family log cabin (donated by a descendant of the Petty family) the Zickert log home (moved during the construction of I-94) and a granary that models a 19th Century wood wright's shop. (A house on the property is not considered a historic structure.) The society later purchased the one-room schoolhouse across the road - don't miss it! The school was built in 1917 to replace one that burned down, and it appears as it would have in the 1940s. It was used as a school until the 1950s.

The Pioneer Aztalan site became a Wisconsin landmark in 1969 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

The Princess Mound on the grounds is a Native American burial mound, circa 1200. It is one of the thousands of mounds cataloged by Dr. Increase Lapham. The princess is not there, she was exhumed and moved to Milwaukee for preservation, research, and security. The mound is considerably lower than its original six-foot height, the soil was probably used for fill in the 19th Century.

This is a can't-miss visit to see what life was really like around the time Wisconsin became the 30th state on May 29, 1848. Of all the small, volunteer operated museums in Wisconsin, this is one of the outstanding ones, with an amazing collection, and well worth your time to visit.

It's open from Mid-May to the end of September every year, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Noon to 4 PM. Cash only, no plastic money accepted for a nominal admission fee. It's easily reached from Johnson Creek on the east and Lake Mills on the west. Just follow the signs on County Highway B.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on February 25, 1975
Reference number
75000069
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Log Cabin
Areas of significance
Archeology - Prehistoric; Exploration/Settlement; Architecture
Level of significance
State
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Site
Historic function
Village site
Current function
Museum
Period of significance
1825-1849
Significant years
1836; 1837
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 4
Contributing sites: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Tags 

19th Century (37,345)
Archaeological site (188)
Aztalan, Wisconsin (1)
Brick (42,462)
Built 1836 (210)
Built during 1830s (2,692)
Jefferson County, Wisconsin (48)
Moved (2,188)
Museum (106)
Private owner (54,396)
Stone (26,161)
Wisconsin (2,577)

Update Log 

  • June 2, 2019: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • June 2, 2019: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, added description and added photos

Sources