50 Years of Changes

About This Project


Whether or not you are old enough to remember 1964, we hope that you have enjoyed the events of that year that we have highlighted for you in this exhibit. One thing we’ve learned from putting it together – that year brought forth many significant changes in our world. If you think you have something to share with us that will add to this display (such as a large 1960’s TV), please contact one of our board members. Thanks for coming and supporting the McFarland Historical Society and the Museum.

Congratulations to the McFarland History Society on the anniversary of its 50th birthday. Through all these years, the membership has worked diligently to preserve the history of McFarland for others to enjoy.


McFarland Historical Society Timeline of Significant Events

1963   A group of parents put together an exhibit of artifacts at the Fall Festival on Oct. 23 at the McFarland Elementary School. This sparked interest in forming an organization in McFarland to preserve the history of the community.   Temporary officers to guide the society through its initial stages were William Hockstad, President; Mrs. Vernon Smith, Vice-President; and Robert A. Miller, Secretary-Treasurer.

1964   On Feb. 3, the State of Wisconsin certified the Articles of Incorporation for an historical society.

1964   On Feb. 24, the McFarland Historical Society (MHS) received approval for affiliation with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and as a member of the Wisconsin Council for Local History.

1964   On April 18, the McFarland Historical Society received its charter at a special occasion at the McFarland High School. President William Hockstad received the local charter from William J. Schereck of the Wisconsin Historical Society.   Officers of the new society were William Hockstad, President; Mrs. Vernon Smith, Vice-President; George Maki, Treasurer; and Robert Miller, Secretary. Others on the new board included Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Ransley, Mrs. Hockstad, Mrs. Maki, Mrs. Miller and Mr. Smith.

1969   Mrs. Margaret Greene, niece of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Skare, who owned Hidden Farm on Elvehjem Road, donated an extensive collection of over 1000 artifacts from the Skare estate to the MHS. The McFarland School Board approved use of empty classroom space for the temporary storage of the artifacts.

1969   Approval for Certification of Tax Exemption for MHS was given by the Federal IRS and the State Department of Revenue. An article in the McFarland Community Life stated, “The membership fee has been set at $1 so that everyone can join.”

1969   Public displays of pioneer artifacts went on exhibit at Conrad Elvehjem School to be viewed during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

1970   On June 5, 6 and 7 MHS participated in the 50th celebration of the Incorporation of McFarland with a parade float, a bake sale and a white elephant sale.

1971 In January, the McFarland State Bank donated land along Main Street for the building of a museum.

1971   The MHS began a mail campaign to raise funds for the construction of a museum. The building of the 80’ X 32’ museum began in October.

1972   During the summer, members of MHS moved their collection of artifacts stored in the elementary school into the new museum building.

1972   On Sunday, Sept. 17, MHS hosted a grand opening of the museum to the public from 1 – 8 PM.

1972   On Sep. 30, the MHS hosted the Eleventh Annual Convention of the South Central Region of the Wisconsin Council for Local History. Hartman Olson was presented the Regional Chairman’s Certificate.

1974   Guy Seekins was in charge of relocating the log cabin from Hidden Farm to the museum property. Albert Skare was born in this cabin in 1878 and lived in it until 1897.

1976 In the year of the Bicentennial, the MHS supported the publication of City of the Second Lake – A History of McFarland, Wisconsin, co-authored by Barbara Houghton, Jane Licht and Margaret Nielson. A second edition was published in the fall as the first was sold out.

1979   On Oct. 29, the MHS received the Reuben Gold Thwaites trophy for Distinguished Service to the Village of McFarland. This is the highest award of the Wisconsin Historical Society given to local organizations.

1984   Ruby Larson was honored with the Wisconsin Local History Award of Merit.

1986   The MHS published the booklet, “Historic McFarland, A Walking Tour,” written by Ron Larson.

1986 On the 150th anniversary of Dane County, the MHS erected an historic marker in Railroad Park by the tracks and along Main Street.

1987   MHS started the annual Spelemannslag through the efforts of Walter Landerud.   As many as 30 fiddlers from across southern Wisconsin came to play traditional Norwegian music.

1988   Harold Muenkel was honored with the Wisconsin Local History Award of Merit.

1988   MHS hosted the Twelfth Annual Convention of the South Central Region of the Wisconsin Council for Local History.

1989   On August 25, MHS celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding with “A Night in Old McFarland.”

1990   The old garage on the west end of the museum property was removed in the spring and the Annex was erected in the fall for additional storage and displays.

1991 Ron Larson was honored with the Wisconsin Local History Award of Merit. He authored thebooklet, “McFarland’s Norwegian Heritage” which was published in May by the MHS.

1998   The 3rd addition of City of the Second Lake – A History of McFarland, Wisconsin was published.This book was done in paperback with changes updating the history of the Village of McFarland and the addition of the history of the Town of Dunn.

1998   In February, MHS celebrated the sesquicentennial of Wisconsin with a history fair by local students. On July 26, Ron Larson spoke on various aspects of early McFarland using the historical booklets he authored.

2003   In August, MHS published a booklet, “McFarland Ice Age Interpretive Trail, A NativeAmerican/Natural History Walking Tour” by Ron Larson and David Barton.

2005 The MHS made a substantial donation to the E. D. Locke Library in McFarland and thus, a place for local history was included in the construction. On Dec. 8, many historical books and scrapbooks were moved to the shelves of the Adelaide Adams Local History Room.   Adams’ endowment to MHS made this all possible.

2006   At the annual meeting celebrating the 150th birthday of McFarland, members learned about the early surveying done before McFarland settlers could buy their land “right and proper.”   Many descendants of the William McFarland family held a gathering in McFarland, visiting the old McFarland House and the museum.

2008   MHS published “Farm Stories, From the Good Old Days!” which was edited by Crystal Lokken.

2009   The website for the MHS (www.mcfarlandhistorical.org) was started with Jane Licht as webmaster.

2010   In May, MHS published “William H. McFarland, the Story of the Founding of the Village of McFarland, Wisconsin, and the Family That Followed William Hugh McFarland.” It was edited by Dale W. Marsden.

2010   In November, the first of a series of Chocolate Fest fundraisers, organized by Meg Nielson, was held at the Village Hall to raise money in support of the purchase of the historic Larson House.

2011 MHS published “Memories of McFarland Wisconsin,” written by Crystal Helmke Lokken in 2005 and edited by Jane Licht in 2011.

2012   On Feb. 1, the MHS purchased the historic Larson House at a Sheriff’s Auction. The Larson House Planning Committee was established and plans for restoration were formulated with work beginning in spring. Jane Licht was elected chairperson of this group.

2014   On March 9 at its annual meeting, MHS received a 50th anniversary citation from Senator Mark Miller, 16th District, and Representative Robb Kahl, 47th Assembly District.

2014   In April, MHS received all the historical photos and items for a new exhibit of “A Gold Star Mother’s Pilgrimage 1930” complete with a new display case from the family of Mary Lyster Nelson.

2014 On May 24, the grand opening of the Larson House Museum featured speakers Rick Bernstein, Field Representative of the Wisconsin Historical Society; Brad Czebotar, mayor of McFarland; and State Representative Robb Kahl. MHS President Dale Marsden did the ribbon cutting.

2016 The MHS Board of Directors decided to add 17 feet to the back of the museum for a new records and meeting room and an area to use for restoration and eventual display of a double pointed rowboat – the type that was rented out at resorts along Lake Waubesa in the early 1900’s.

Presidents of the McFarland Historical Society

William Hockstad                  1962 – 1971

Hartman Olson                      1971 – 1974

Leland Bullen                      1974 – 1975

Daphne Schneider                1975 – 1976

Ruby Larson                          1976 – 1978

Leland Bullen                        1978 – 1980

Monica Bolle                          1980 – 1981

Ruby Larson                          1981 – 1989

Harold Muenkel                    1989 – 1992

Ron Larson                             1992 – 2000

Dale Marsden                        2000 – 2017

Lobby Displays