Stepping back in time
The historic village of Rural will open some of its homes for tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22.
The Rural House Walk will feature narrated tours of the Sam Ashmun House (built in 1854), the Radley House (1887), the Dake House (1860), the Halfway House (1852), the Andrew Potts House (1853) and the Millinery Shop (1857).
“When the village started, it was a stagecoach stop between Berlin and Stevens Point. It’s just sort of a unique gem out in the middle of Dayton,” said Jeff Fletcher.
He and his wife Pat live in the Dake House, and Pat is the chairperson of this year’s Rural House Walk.
The Rural Historical Society sponsors the walk, and the Fletchers are members of the group.
They have lived in the Dake House for 23 years.
“We always wanted an old house. It’s the history,” he said.
For the Fletchers, probably the most unique aspect of their house is that the Dakes were jewelers. “Next door was their little shop,” he said.
Pat said they like the character, community and way of life in Rural.
Many who visit Rural characterize it as a New England village in the heart of Wisconsin, Jeff said.
He said the community was built almost exclusively by Yankees from the eastern United States who could trace their heritage to Great Britain and that there is only one other village in the state that is as intact a Yankee Village as Rural.
The other village in outside of Madison.
Jeff said a total of 52 structures in Rural are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including one silo and a couple of bridges.
The historical society sponsors the walk about every five years, said Pat. The Sept. 22 walk will be the seventh or eighth one, she said.
“It has been well attended in the past,” she said.
Pat said the purpose of the walk is to keep, preserve and pass on the legacy of the village, “because it is a very unique place to live.”
It was in 1850 that James Hickman Jones settled his family in Dayton to cash in on the stagecoach line that ran through the area, Jeff said.
Jones referred to the location as his “rural holding,” and it became a stage stop and soon flourished with boarding houses, a mill and two stores to cater to travelers, Jeff said.
He said that Jones called his place the Halfway House. It also contained the village’s first post office.
The public is invited to the Sept. 22 house walk.
The streets will be closed off to vehicle traffic, with access provided by a horse and wagon. Parking will be available at both ends of the village.
Pat said this is the first time that the Millinery Shop is part of the tour, and Jeff said there will also be a living cemetery taking place at the same time as the house walk.
Several founders of the village will be portrayed.
Food will be available for purchase at the Rural Historical Society. The hall will be open that day as well, with lifelong residents Dale and Crystal Barlow on hand.
Tickets for the Rural House Walk are available on site the day of the event and in advance at Fletcher’s Jewelry and the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children younger than 12.
“We’re thankful for all the volunteers,” Pat said. “It’s not just one person doing it. It takes a village to put on the Rural House Walk.”