May 202014

The Mazomanie Historical Society museum will open for the 2014 visitor season on Sunday, May 25 and Memorial Day, Monday, May 26.  The museum located at 118 Brodhead St. is open from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays and holidays:  Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Wild West Day parade day, Sunday September 7.  Appointments for other times and tour groups can be made by calling 795-4355.

The treadmill

Joe Hodgson, Rita Frakes, Phil Hodgson, Carl Evert, and the treadmill

A recently donated artifact is already attracting attention and will be on view for the first time in the Thiers Tool Room on opening day.  An animal operated treadmill used to power pieces of equipment such as cream separators, butter churns, washing machines, fanning mills and corn shellers was used long before electric power was available on family farms.  Dogs, goats and sheep were trained to walk on the belt-driven treadmill thus saving time and energy of humans and allowing them to do the other great many other tasks needed to keep the farm and home in operation.

The treadmill was donated by Phil Hodgson from the Hodgson family which lived west of the village of Mazomanie for four generations*.  Neither Phil or his brother, Joe, who delivered the treadmill to the museum ever saw it in use but had been told it was used to operate a cream separator.  Several years ago it was found in the farm granary and Phil then decided to put it back in operating condition by making replacement wooden treads and other minor adjustments. The tread mill, manufactured by the Vermont Farm Machine Company, Bellows Falls, Vermont, has a brake and the incline can be adjusted to two different positions, one of course making the animal work a bit harder, similar to the treadmills people use today to enhance and maintain fitness.

Joe compiled a Hodgson family history which includes the four generation:

  1. Ben, Don, Claude, Paul, Phil, Barb, Evelyn, Joe, Averil, Verna & Ned
  2. Their parents:  Joe & Effie Hodgson
  3. Their grandparents:  Ed & Rose Hodgson
  4. Their great-grandparents:  Benjamin & Mary Ann Dawson Hodgson

The family farm eventually passed out of the family and to present owners, Paul & Julie McKee.

The treadmill is now part of the dairy exhibit in the museum and will be on display for long term.  This was a treadmill to power other machines and aid people in their work.

Today’s treadmills are now used by people who may not perform enough physical work or activity and to help them to get and stay in better physical condition.