Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society Newsletter
December, 2000

In Memoriam: Richard I. Peterson

The Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society lost a dear friend when Richard I. (Dick) Peterson passed away in August. Dick was a dedicated volunteer who was one of the first individuals to organize the HBGHS in an effort to prevent the wrecking ball from demolishing the Nathaniel W. Dean House, the oldest remaining structure in the local area. He spent many volunteer hours working on the restoration personally and recruited friends, neighbors, and others to help in the effort. No job was too difficult - Dick always found a solution with his thoughtful, reasoned and deliberate problem-solving skills.

Dick was the Society president more than 20 years ago and held most of the other board offices at some time. He served as treasurer of the Society and the Restoration Fund for more years than most of us can remember and used his conservative financial planning skills to keep us on the straight and narrow.

Because of his love of music and to try to raise funds for restoration, Dick was the prime organizer of the annual summer series of Back Porch Concerts at the Dean House. He devoted his time each year, for 25 years, to bringing great musical talent to this community event six weeks each summer.

When we consider the behind-the-scenes details that Dick took care of throughout the years (permits, licenses, insurance, etc.) we realize we will never know the full extent of his efforts.

Some of our first memories of Dick and his wife Doreen are meeting them at the Dean House when they were scraping off old paint and shoveling debris out a second floor window. He lent us their children during times when more hands were needed to perform the work and always had a friendly smile while helping others. The results we see today are, in great part, due to Dick's many years of dedication to the HBGHS.

In honor of Dick's service, the Society has received donations which we intend to use for a memorial; additions to this memorial would be greatly appreciated. Some items being considered are an electronic piano (easily moved) or a replacement sound system for the Back Porch Concerts.

Those of us who knew Dick will always remember him as the quiet, funny, thoughtful, hard working, unassuming friend that he was to so many of us in this community.

Holiday Open House to Feature Dolls, Decorations, Dessert on December 10 at Dean House

Three special attractions in addition to the ambience of the holiday trimmings and the Victorian doll house will be offered to the public from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 10, at the Dean House, 4718 Monona Drive, by the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society (HBGHS).

  • Dolls of various types from one of the largest area collections will be displayed and discussed by Doris Fuelle, member of the Madison Doll Club and an avid doll collector;
  • Victorian era ornaments from her extensive collection will be displayed and discussed by Jean Dent, one of the area's leading antique evaluators;
  • Holiday pudding desserts, homemade by the Society's old-fashioned culinary experts, will be served;
  • The Victorian doll house that was received this year will be on view and docents will give tours of the restored Victorian era Dean House, displaying some new acquisitions.

Because the Dean House is maintained by the Society as an educational and cultural center, there will be no admission charge, but a free-will donation will be accepted (to help compensate for the refreshments). As usual during the holiday season, the Dean House will be appropriately trimmed with greenery and candles. For this event the House's Second Sunday hours will be extended to 5:00 p.m.

HBGHS hopes that community residents will find time on this busy Sunday to come and visit a bit. The Society's 1999 publication, "Monona in the Making", will be available for sale.

Recent Gifts Are Already in Use

Gifts received since the last newsletter are being put to immediate use. Ten hand-made floor rugs of varying sizes were received from Mr. And Mrs. Rollin Dahlby. The largest is a 12x 15' braided rug that just fits the Dean House living room. Others are of varying smaller sizes and are distributed throughout the house. They were braided or hooked by Mr. Dahlby's mother.

A set of depression glass dishes was donated by Virginia Bedner, who had collected them over the years. The set, which is of the sandwich pattern in crystal, includes 12 place settings and a number of serving bowls of varying sizes and decorative pieces. The dishes will be appropriate to use for the Holiday Open House.

A set of china was donated by Mr. And Mrs. Edgar E. Cole of Monona.

Our Dining Room Needs a Buffet

The Society is now in even more urgent need of a buffet (sideboard) for its dining room, as it recently received a 90-piece set of dishes intended for use at special events. In addition to some china.

Buffet: a sideboard or cabinet for holding china, plates, etc.,
Sideboard: apiece of furniture, as in a dining room, often with shelves, drawers, etc., for holding articles of service.
American College Dictionary

For use at the Dean House such a piece of furniture should be compatible with the oak bentwood chairs that surround the dining table.

The committee hopes that someone in the community has in storage or can help us obtain a useful cabinet that could be brought back into use. Anyone who can help is asked to call Jean Dent at 222-2083 or Robert Bean at 222-5783.

Our Monona Book Earns Award From State Historical Society

At the Wisconsin Council for Local History convention on November I0th the book on the history of Monona, published by the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society, was honored. The Local History Award of Merit was presented to the author, Dorothy Haines, by George Vogt, director. It was one of four such awards presented as part of the two day convention held at the Wisconsin State Historical Society headquarters.

"Monona in the Making" has sold very well in the eleven months since its publication last December. The few remaining copies of the original order continue to be on sale at the Monona Public Library, the Monona City Hall, the Monona Bait Shop, the Artisan Gift Shop, the Olbrich Gardens Gift Shop, and the State Historical Society Gift Shop on the square.

A classroom set of 30 copies of "Monona in the Making" was donated to each of the two area high schools by the gracious gift of a grant from Madison South Rotary. HBGHS is grateful to the Rotary club for this contribution, as its desire is for the book to be used for educational purposes. The social studies teachers were enthusiastic in their appreciation of the resource.

Dean House Feature: The Children's Room, Written by Wanda Nelson

Over the years, many area families have donated children's toys, clothing and furniture to the Dean House to help preserve our knowledge of what life was like for children living at the turn of the century. Marie Rider and Alice Schuller, long-time Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society board members, have gathered many of these items in an upstairs bedroom where visitors can begin to imagine they hear the playful laughter and running footsteps that made the Dean House into a real home.


The large rope bed dominates the room. Rope is woven between the sides of the bed and supports a mattress made of two sheets stuffed with straw. The covering on the bed is a quilt pieced together in a blue and white "bow tie" pattern. One can imagine that the older children in the family slept together in this bed, while a younger child slept in the trundle bed that pulled out from under the large bed. In the morning, the trundle bed would be pushed back under the bed for storage. The toddler in the family probably slept in the sturdy white crib under the windows. A new baby would have slept in the spool cradle in the large bedroom.

The desk is one of an old school desk that were placed in rows in a one-room school house, forming lines of benches and desk tops. Children did not have the elaborate school supplies that are available today. Notice the small slate board that they used to practice their arithmetic problems and writing skills. The pencil box serves as a ruler and a slate marker box.

The wicker perambulator in the comer is one of the oldest models of what we call today "strollers." Look closely and you can see that it serves as a cradle, a chair, and a way to take the baby for a stroll.

Both a youth chair and a high chair remind us that children joined the family at the dinner table at a very young age. Note the needlework on the little bib-a very clever design that allowed the bunny ears to wrap around the neck of the child to protect clothing from drips.


While the room is not filled with overflowing toy boxes, it does contain many precious possessions. Cloth dolls handmade from pre-printed fabric and colored with wax crayons adorn the shelf in the corner. A beautiful china-headed doll rests in the perambulator in the comer. A wicker doll buggy holds a crazy quilt patterned doll blanket and some doll clothes. A patchwork cow rests in the rocker.

On the table there is a collection of small toys-a miniature sewing machine that really works, ajar of glazed clay marbles (sometimes called migs), some hand-carved wooden acrobatic jumping jacks, a toy truck, a small shovel and some small animals. Think of the imagination that the children used to make up the games they played with these toys.

Under the table is a large wooden box that contains many smaller wooden blocks. One can presume that a child could use these blocks with the numbers on them to practice arithmetic skills as well as to build large towers and other structures.

The black horse pull toy on the shelf above the bed looks like it took many a gallop around the upstairs halls.


You 11 notice there is no closet in the room and the clothes are hung on wooden pegs on the wall. All of the clothes were probably made by the mother or grandmother in the family and many of them are especially nice. The beautiful baptismal gown made of batiste and lace and covered with tiny machine sewn tucks was probably kept and used generation after generation. The white woolen coat has been hand embroidered with tiny roses and a little dress hand embroidered with yellow ducks. In the small crib there are examples of the long stockings and the hand-knit woolen socks children wore during the cold winter. There is an undershirt with garters and a tiny sweater that served as an arm-warmer for a little one.


On the walls there are a couple of pictures of guardian angels--probably put there by mother to reassure her children as they slept through the night. The children in the oval portrait frame are not identified, but one can imagine a mother tucking the two older children into the rope bed, pulling out the trundle bed for the younger child and finally placing the toddler in the crib by the window. Maybe she had an infant already asleep in the cradle in the other room.

Allis School 2nd Graders Learn About Life in Lincoln's Time

In three separate groups about 75 2nd graders along with their teachers and accompanying adults walked to the Dean House from Allis School and spent about an hour learning about early settlers' life as Bob Bean and Judy Taylor took them through the various rooms on tour day recently.

The contrasts with their own lives became apparent as they talked about transportation, heating, lighting, cooking, laundering, toileting, sleeping, entertainment, and the work required just to do these things at the time the Deans lived in the house they built.

One of the teachers, who has shepherded the little ones to the Dean House for several years, said that this is their "favorite field trip of the year".

The Blooming Grove Courier is pubfished periodically by the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society, PO Box 6704, Monona 53716-0704. Editor Dorothy Haines, 221-4948.

Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society Officers:
President: Jim Stickels 221-1324
Vice-president. Allan Burling 222-1361
Secretary: Alice Schuller 222-6851
Treasurer: Don Taylor 222-9507

Board Members:
Jean Dent
Catherine Gedko
Dorothy Haines
Bill Rider and Marie Rider
Gloria Simley
Judy Taylor
Helen Wentland
Helen Cattell

Past president: C. Anne Wellman,
Dean House Manager: Robert Bean 222-5783

The Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society will preserve and advance the culture and history of the Blooming Grove, Monona and Southeast Madison area. Toward this purpose the Dean House will be used as a center for cultural events and local history study. It is the hope that the Dean House will become a living testimony to the pioneer spiriffostering our American heritage and contributing to our own growth as a community.


Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society
PO Box 6704
Monona, W1 53716-0704

Check is enclosed for

______ Contribution for Dean House restoration/maintenance
______ Membership at $10/yr individual
______ Membership at $I 5/yr family
______ Sustaining membership at $25 -$500

Name ___________________________________________________________________________

Address _________________________________________________________________________

City _________________________________ Zip____________ Phone ______________________

HBGHS is a tax-exempt non-profit organization

Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society