Excerpts from Monona in the Making
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This burial mound, between Ridgewood and Midwood Avenues in Monona, Wisconsin, is near what was once the "Grand Crossing" of several Indian trails and the Yahara River at its outlet from Lake Monona. One of the very few mounds left to represent dozens of others that have been destroyed, this earthwork was created by groups of Indians that were here before the current Ho-Chunk tribes arrived. The Ho-chunk /Winnebagos revere all Indians as their ancestors.

Everyone at the dedication event listened in awe as the state archaeologist tried to summarize what is known about what this heap of earth means and to tell of the many such mounds that were destroyed by the white immigrant builders who were ignorant of their significance. We weep with regret for all that has been lost and our respect for our predecessors grows.

Even the oldsters among us have no recollection of contact with the proud natives that hunted and trapped this area in the 19th century, but we have learned from our grandparents about the dejected Indians who came to their homes, looking for food and work.


Ernie Ferchland, proprietor of Ernie's Trading Post, a neighborhood grocery near the lake shore on Winnequah Road, offered the use of a recreation room in the back of his store for informal meetings of some of his neighbors. These meetings resulted in a call for a public meeting in the Town Hall on March 25, 1938 "to discuss the possible establishment of a village on the lake side of Blooming Grove township." Edward F. Rothman was elected temporary chairman of this meeting.

One of the members of this original group was Justin Waterman, who had been serving on the Town Board of Supervisors, was well acquainted with the problems that needed to be addressed, and was much respected by that body, as indicated by tributes tendered when he resigned from the Town Board. A general meeting of the residents of the area was called for April 7, 1938. Out of this meeting study committees were formed.


In November of 1953, the Village fire alarm siren to summon the volunteer firemen was installed at the fire house. The very loud wail was sounded daily at noon to keep it lubricated and in working order and to have a daily test. It was located just outside the Klabundes' bedroom window, and, when sounded unexpectedly, it reportedly almost caused Mrs. Klabunde to "jump through the ceiling." Three fire phones were availableľat Klabundes' store, at Harold Hippe's Service Station across the street, and at the fire station.

When a call came in, the siren would be activated, and all available personnel would dash off to the fire station. Hippe and Klabunde were the designated truck drivers. When Klabunde was not around to answer the night fire phone, one of the volunteers would spend the night at the station. On cold nights, he would sleep in the hose bed of the fire truck instead of on the cot near the drafty doors.


In June of 1969, the department showed off a new patrol boat, 21-ft, 160 horsepower, with emergency and rescue equipment.

When it was a simple country road, Monona Drive needed little traffic control, but after Monona Grove High School opened, pedestrian and auto traffic grew so that in 1965 the Police Department was able to report, "With the hiring of another police officer on February 1 of this year, the Police Chief has now scheduled an officer to work traffic at the intersection of Dean Ave. and Monona Drive from 7:20 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. daily

After years of being a one-car operation, by 1957 the Monona police had one plain squad car and one ambulanceľa station wagon which could be used for both a squad car and for accidents or emergencies. By 1972 the department had two ambulances, a marked sedan, an unmarked sedan and a police boat. The ambulances were Pontiac station wagons with emergency stretchers, resuscitation and first aid equipment and a special riot gun which was locked onto the rear floor when the key was pulled out of the ignition. The Monona gull and waves insignia on both doors along with department identification proclaimed their identity.


In November, 1954, with winter coming, the Suburbanite announcedľwithout any big type or banner headlines, but with obvious pride:

Ground Breaking Ceremony For New High School Building

The chill of the early morning did nothing to dispel the warmth in hearts of the many people who attended the ground breaking ceremony of the new High School building, Tuesday morning, Nov. 23rd.

It was evident to this reporter the hearts of the hushed crowd beat a little faster as they realized the results of nearly two years' effort had begun to take tangible shape. Certainly they must have mentally reviewed obstacles that had been surmounted bringing to reality this really fine objective. To all must have come the feeling of unity that develops from a team effort. No standout star, each sharing the job in his own best way. Certainly, too, all must have reflected that here now, is a project that has borne fruit by our combined efforts. But it is but a beginning and only by this continued effort and singleness of purpose do we expect to go forward with this and other projects so important to all in the community.


In February of 1950, William P. O'Connor, the Bishop of Madison, announced the formation of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish for all Catholics within the 25-square-mile area bounded by County Highway BB [old Highway 30, now Cottage Grove Road] on the north, the Cottage Grove-Blooming Grove township line on the east, the Milwaukee Road tracks on the west and south to and including McFarland and the eastern shore of Lake Waubesa. A census of the new parish revealed that there were more than 200 Catholic families living in the area that formerly belonged to St. Bernard's Parish on Madison's east side.

Father Jerome Mersberger, assistant for the previous six years at St. Bernard's Church on Atwood Avenue, was named pastor and directed the organization of the new congregation. A site of the new church was purchased the previous year by the Catholic Diocese of Madison. It was formerly part of the Ellestad and Seeliger farms west of Monona Drive and just east of the homes fringing Shore Acres plat.

The new parish had a pastor and some land to build a church on, but needed a temporary place to meet and worship immediately. For less than $300, the able members of the newly formed parish cleaned, repaired, painted, decorated and furnished an old unused chicken coop on the Joe Fix farm at 706 West Dean Avenue for use as a temporary church. The Fix family had recently sold the property to Roy Gannon, developer.

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