By Carlton Lee
Abridged version of Carlton Lee's "Museum Story," Published originally in the Cokato Historical Society's In the Midst Of (Winter, 1983) vol 1 no 2. Copyright Cokato Historical Society.
"How did this fine museum come to be?" This question has been asked many times by visitors since the Cokato Museum was dedicated in September, 1976.
In the year 1868, a young man named Henry Clay Bull, of Jefferson County, New York, became convinced his future lay in the West. So he traveled to Minnesota and eventually established himself in the real estate and loan business in Cokato. In 1892, he took a leading role in the
founding of the State Bank of Cokato.
Bull hired a young man named Charles R. Peterson to work in the bank. Both Bull and Peterson were men of vision, widely respected, and interested in the history of the area and preservation of artifacts.
In 1927, voters of the Cokato School District approved a bond issue for construction of a substantial addition, including an auditorium, to the school. At the same time, Bull made known a donation of $25,000 for a public library. A decision was made to erect the library
directly accessible from the new school addition.
Bull died in 1930, and C. R. Peterson in 1932. In the meantime, numerous artifacts had been put together, forming the Museum nucleus of the collection in today's museum. Peterson's son, Richard M. Peterson, succeeded his father in the State Bank. Space was not available in the Bull Library building, and the mezzanine floor was converted into Cokato's first museum. As the collection increased, the museum was moved to a larger area in the basement of the library. Richard Peterson and his wife Hazel assumed the responsibility of arranging the growing collection in the Bull Library building. Their achievements represented hours of devoted and judicious labor.
Continue the story of the Cokato Museum.
or check out the H. C. Bull online exhibit by clicking below.
Did You Know?
Abridged "Museum Story" by Carlton Lee continued...
In March, 1942, the Wright County Historical Society was organized in Cokato. The Society was incorporated with Richard M. Peterson as president and Carlton R. Lee as secretary-treasurer. Meetings were held in the Bull Library, and the Society sponsored programs observing Minnesota Territorial and Statehood Centennials and the County Centennial, at the Wright County Fair.