In January 1981, a half-dozen people met at the Darlington Public Library to discuss the possibility of forming a local historical group. This meeting was one result of a community survey instigated by Bruce Dennis, the Extension Resource Agent in LaFayette County. Enough people indicated an interest in preserving our history to make a formal organization feasible. Most of the discussion centered on renewing and continuing the work of the 1976 Bicentennial Committees. It was decided to make the group a LaFayette County Historical Society rather than a Darlington Historical Society, and to affiliate with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
Within a year membership had climbed to about 100. The first newsletter was published in March 1982. The first Board of Officers were: Rose Ellen Pink, President; Marilyn Hill, Vice President; Mary Binder, Secretary; Patti Buschor, Treasurer; Fran Matl, Terry McDonald and Marion Howard, Directors. Regular meeting dates were established and By-Laws written.
Interest in collecting and preserving artifacts and print materials pertinent to the history of LaFayette County was an early goal of the fledgling Society. In 1982, a room on the lower level of the Darlington Public Library became the History Room for storage of family histories, photos, school, church and business records. A policy for accessioning of materials and archival storage methods was developed. Until that time, there was no repository for the safe storage of such in the county. Donations of museum-type artifacts were also beginning to accumulate. In summer months of 1986 the Society opened their first Museum in the depot, which was owned by the Darlington Kiwanis Club. The depot was the location of the museum until 1990, when all but the railroad and agricultural memorabilia was moved to the nearby vacant Collins Lumber Company building where it was housed until the summer of 1998. We lost the use of the Collins building and for the summers of 1998 and 1999, the museum was moved back over to the depot.
In the winter of 1998, the Carnegie Library building came up for sale. A generous benefactor offered to donate half the funds needed if LCHS could raise the other half. In 2000, the LaFayette County Historical Society moved into its “new” and permanent home at the top of Main Street in Darlington, in an historic building, and well out of reach of the mischief of the Pecatonica, where you will find us today.