BOSCOBEL - “Come Boss; Come Belle.” We’ve all heard the legendary folktale of how Boscobel’s name supposedly came to be, but did you know that it’s wrong?
Mrs. Mary Mortimer (maiden name Newcombe and later married to Selden Dewey) named the City. Mrs. Mortimer accompanied her first husband, John, on his work travels surveying uncharted terrain on a hand car for the railroad. “Appreciating the picturesque aspect of the country, and being learned in the languages, she [Mary Mortimer] named the spot Boscobel, meaning Beautiful Grove,” according to Mrs. Mortimer-Dewey’s obituary in the January 5, 1911 edition of “The Boscobel Dial.”
This assertation is further backed up by information published in the February 13, 1964 edition of “The Boscobel Dial.” In a lengthy article, Richard L. Ruka delves into his family’s rich history through his lived memories and experiences along with the family papers. Ruka recalls making up stories about the history of Boscobel’s name that has been passed down through the generations: Indian names, cow stories, railroad tycoons, and more. “I was told by my father that the city was named by a Mrs. Mortimer after a large estate and town in England. The town no longer exists, but I think the estate is still known by this name,” Ruka explained.
With a storied past and having been one of the first families to settle this area, the Rukas would remember the origin story of Boscobel. In fact, the Ruka family’s history is tied up in Boscobel’s as shown in this excerpt taken from their family papers: “Brother John told me that he had picked out a place to locate a blacksmith shop. I asked him the name of the place, and he said ‘It hasn’t got a name yet.’ I inquired what kind of a place it was and he answered there wasn’t any place yet – we would have to make a place – it was 25 miles north of Lancaster on the Wisconsin River. A new railroad was being built from Milwaukee to Prairie du Chien.…”Mrs. Mortimer’s grave will be specially marked in the Boscobel Cemetery (gate 5, section) during the Sesquicentennial events to be held this summer. We hope that learning about Boscobel’s history will help bridge the past to the future!