Monona in the Making

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Book Preface

Historic Blooming Grove home page

Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.

–Cicero

As I became acquainted with my fellow Mononans after moving to "The Village" in 1968, I discovered that many of them knew little or nothing about how or why Monona was a separate municipality, and had little concept of the true community effort that made, and continues to make Monona what it is.

As an outsider, living nearby on Madison's East Side, I had observed the anti-annexation battle and the building of the high school. In reviewing old newspaper files, I was impressed with the number of regular community events that profited nickels and dimes to support the schools and other community institutions.

It was a story that ought to be told, especially for new and future residents. It begins in the days of privies and mimeograph machines which today's children know little about. The memories needed to be gathered now, while some of the participants could still contribute.

My affection for the area dates to the day when my father tied the family's first rowboat to a tree on his shrub-covered undeveloped lot at the edge of a Belle Isle lagoon after he rowed it, with me as his only passenger, from Lake Wingra, down Murphy's Creek, and across Turville's Bay. A few years later a more open lot on Tonyawatha Trail provided space for a boathouse and open playground area for the family's weekend recreation. Here for more than a decade we boated, fished and swam in the lake, played games on the grassy land, picnicked in the shade of the shoreline trees, and enjoyed the breezes and colorful sunsets. It was here that I became acquainted with chipmunks, snakes, birds and water creatures, and learned to ride a bicycle on the graveled hill that was Tonyawatha Trail.

From printed publications, minutes, and scrapbooks the facts to tell the history fell into place. From a number of meetings with long-time residents I have a feeling for and appreciation of the past, which I feel woefully inadequate to transfer to the printed page.

The names of individuals involved in Monona's history have been included as they came up. Although only the most prominent are mentioned, I meant no slight to the efforts of each individual. Many volunteers have contributed to the betterment of the city, as have the elected officials and commissions, the churches and other organizations. A biographical history was beyond my reach at this time.

Because the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society has published a valuable record of the pioneer families in the area in its 1976 book, "Footsteps Through the Past", no attempt has been made in this publication to include the early history of the first settlers, other than the brief setting provided in the prologue. The Monona Landmark Commissionís publication in 1980 describes historical sites and buildings, and my article in Historic Madison Journal: a Journal of the Four Lake Region, Vol XIII in 1996, contains additional historical information. Therefore, this story begins with 1938 and with Monona's secession from the Town of Blooming Grove. The matter of pride in the community emerged early in the research material and continued to shine through in newspaper accounts. The City adopted the slogan, "The City of Pride ... and It Shows" in 1991 as the result of a contest sponsored by the Monona Chamber of Commerce and the City of Monona; thus "City of Pride" became part of our history book title.

For many practical reasons (time, space, and energy), this story was arbitrarily cut off at 1975, but it is by no means over with. This book on Monona is intended as a portion of the more complete history of the historic Town of Blooming Grove, so the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society and I will continue to gather information and write articles on facets of this history that are not included here. The Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society welcomes stories, photos, documents, and reminiscences.

I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the many who have contributed bits of information, pictures, and reminiscences as well as those listed in the Acknowledgments. I am especially indebted to the editors and proofreaders. Errors and unintentional omissions, however, are my own. My gratitude is extended to Madison Historian David Mollenhoff, who got us started on the right track, and to Historic Madison past president Ann Waidelich, who kept us there. Without the primary assistance and fountain of knowledge of Project Director Robert Bean, the book would never have come to fruition.

It is my hope that varied audiences, from school children to residents old and new, from the professional historians to the general public of the future, will treat this as a buffet and enjoy Monona, as they read and reflect on Monona's history.

Dorothy Browne Haines

P.O. Box 6704, Monona, Wisconsin, 53716-0704

October, 1999

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