Years ago someone, after I told him my novels were set in Cornwall, England, suggested I visit this village called Pendarvis in Wisconsin, so off we went in the spring of 2015.
Pendarvis was built by the hundreds of Cornish immigrants who poured into southern Wisconsin in the 1830’s to work in the lead mines. They were homesick, so designed small timber and limestone cottages that reminded them of what they’d left behind. There’s even a Kiddleywink (a common word used for the working class and poorer people’s drinking houses) Pub.
|Author in front of Pendarvis|
But the mining faded away as the mines were exhausted. People went west for the California Gold Rush.
A hundred years later, most of these cottages had vanished. Two men, Neal and Hellum, teamed up to preserve the ones that remained. In 1935 they started reconstructing the buildings, and, in the Cornish tradition, named each cottage: Pendarvis, Polperro, Trelawny.
My husband, George, and I had been to Cornwall, England and toured local cottages. We even stayed in one built as a barn in the 1600’s, then converted to a home in 1750.
We walked through the refurbished Wisconsin version of Cornwall, quite impressed. Furniture from that 19th century time period filled the majority of the dwellings. I fell in love with one cottage and had to be dragged out.
Then the visit turned into a Comedy of Errors. My husband, who is tall by 19th century standards, walked into a low door lintel, knocked himself backwards and scraped his arm on a table. Due to a heart irregularity, George is on blood thinners. By the time we got outside, on our way to the next cottage, blood was dripping down his arm.
He told me to wait and he’d rush to the car for a bandage. Being stubborn, I started up the stone steps toward the next dwelling. In the shade, unbeknownst to me, the step was covered in slippery moss. Not the most graceful of people, I of course, slipped and tumbled into the low shrubs next to the walkway. The shrubs broke my fall nicely. But George had hurried back to pull me out, blood still dripping down his arm. As he danced around, trying not to smear me with blood, and I struggled to rise, we made an amusing sight. Thank goodness we were the only ones there.
If you’d like to learn more about old Cornwall, visit my website, or check out my novel, The Apothecary’s Widow, set in Truro, England in the 18th century. The Historical Novel Society called it “entertaining.”
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Diane Scott Lewis writes historical fiction with romantic elements.
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