Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society Newsletter
April/May, 2001

Dean House to Come to Life for Historic Preservation Week May 12-20

The restored 1856 Dean House on Madison's Monona Drive will come to life during the statewide Historic Preservation week, May 12 to 20, when Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society will hold Open House for a few hours each day. There will be live demonstrations - some of them hands-on for the participants -- of activities that were common in a country home. with no electricity, central heating or indoor plumbing in the 19' century. No admission fee will be charged, but a free-will donation to the Dean House maintenance fund will be appreciated. In addition to the demonstrators, docents will be on hand to offer tours of the entire house.

The hours will be 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, May 12 - 13 and 19 - 20; and 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, May 14-18. The Dean House, which was used for 50 years as the Monona Golf Course clubhouse, is located at the Dean Avenue corner of the Monona Golf Course, at 4718 Monona Drive.

Regular home chore demonstrations will include washing clothes and starching and ironing them, pumping water, beating rugs, maintaining the oil lamps, making candles, malting butter, shaving with a straight-edged razor, and darning socks. Nimble fingers will show hand-craft activities, such as tatting, knitting, crocheting, and carding and spinning yarn. Quilt-makers will put the old treadle Singer sewing machine to work to assemble quilt pieces to which the visitors can contribute hands-on assistance. Children can also participate in making and playing with old-time home-made toys. Music of the era may emanate from the old pump organ at times for the enjoyment of the more sedentary visitors and period attire will add to the ambiance of the occasion. To allow room for active demonstrations plus visitors, some of the demonstrations will be given on the back porch.

The HBGH Society Board and volunteers have been planning and preparing for this extended "living" event for the past few months. The kitchen pump has been brought to life to demonstrate its use in the kitchen. The old Singer sewing machine has been tuned up and put in working condition. Bob Bean will hone his straight-edged razor on a leather strop and lather his brush in the old shaving mug to demonstrate a clean shave.

Volunteers and artifacts are continually being recruited. Anyone who can contribute time, advice, or items from the past is asked to call Bob Bean at 222-5783 or Dorothy Haines at 221-1948.

HBGH Society Launches Area Web Site

With the goals of making information about its activities, collections and public records available electronically, the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society launched its new Internet Web site devoted to the history of East Madison, Monona and Blooming Grove earlier this spring. The address is http://www.wlhn.org/daneco/hbg.

The site, being developed by Society Webmaster Bob Schuster, currently features an on-line tour of the Nathaniel Dean House museum and early documents for the historic Blooming Grove Township, as well as the society's newsletter, annual calendar, and a schedule for the popular Back Porch Concerts.

Among the information already on the site are the complete Federal land patent records for Blooming Grove -a list of the original purchasers of public lands in the township. Dated between 1837 and 1856, the patent records include the names of several early speculators, including James Duane Doty, the second Governor of Wisconsin territory, and Francis Tillon. While Tillon was busy purchasing the shoreline properties around the north end of Lake Monona, Doty was apparently anticipating that the capitol would be constructed in the Atwood Avenue area. The Society's site includes maps of the lands purchased in each section of the township.

The most recent addition to the Web Site has been a record of burials for the Blooming Grove cemetery, located next to LaFollette High School on Pflaum Road. To create a list of names, dates and inscriptions, Schuster worked from a walking inventory done by Jean LaGue in the 1980's and checked it against Town of Blooming Grove records. What he found was that neither source was complete and that in many cases paper records for early burials do not match grave stone inscriptions. The project of correlating the two sources and resolving differences in names and dates is ongoing as Schuster sifts through census records and the Historical Society's own files for confirming information.

One of the founders of the Wisconsin Local History Network and the principal programmer for the three-year-old Fond du Lac County Local History Web, Schuster describes the Blooming Grove project as a permanent work in progress. "Local history sites take their inspiration from the University of Virginia's wonderful Valley of the Shadow project, but unlike the Virginia site they are maintained by volunteers and develop on their own timetables," Schuster observes. The next additions planned for the Historical Society's site include census and tax roll records, biographical sketches of early residents, and a collection of historical news clippings and photographs. The Society is inviting area residents to get involved in the project by volunteering their time to transcribe hand-written records.

HBGHS, noted for its 30-year Dean House restoration project and its extensive collections related to the settlement and development of the Blooming Grove area, regards the Web site as a natural extension of its efforts to promote an awareness of the area, first settled during the 1840s. It follows on the heels of last year's landmark history of Monona, "Monona in the Making".

With its lists of hundreds of names of early area residents, the site will be valuable to genealogists as well as historians.

Senior Citizen Computer "Central"

"Once a month computer seniors should get together," says Bob Schuster, HBGHS Webmaster.

Schuster will meet with seniors and answer questions on provoking technical computer problems for one hour each second Sunday starting at 4:00 p.m. at the close of the regular Dean House Open House.

We Need to Borrow an Electronic Keyboard for Two Months

Since we no longer have a piano at the Dean House, we have need of an electronic keyboard instrument for two months each summer. Anyone who can loan an instrument is asked to contact Bob Bean at 222-5783 soon.

Our Dining Room Needs a Buffet

The Society is seeking to acquire a buffet of suitable style for its dining room

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 Robert Bean at 222-5783.

Carol Culbertson to Bring Wisconsin History To Life at HBGHS Annual Meeting on June 24th

A living portrayal of an immigrant woman traveling to Wisconsin will be presented by Carol Culbertson, a well known Monona resident, as the main feature of the HBGH Society's annual meeting on Sunday, June 24. Members, friends and guests will gather at the Dean House at 5:00 p.m. for social hour, potluck supper at 6:00 p.m. and business meeting to elect officers at 7:00 p.m. with program to follow. Please join us.

A Dean House Feature: The Pantry
By Wanda Nelson

When you think about how the people might have lived and worked on this farm in the 1800s, you begin to feel that this little room attached to the kitchen was a real luxury! A glance into the kitchen tells you that there is no work space in there --no place to roll out pie crusts, to churn butter, to store large kettles, or to hang necessary utensils. While the woman of the home cooked on the stove in the kitchen, much of the food preparation would have been done here in this pantry room that has a second doorway leading to the dining room. Name that Contraption

As you look around the pantry, you notice several pieces that seem to defy explanation. What is that little metal tool on the table with the point in the front and the cup on the side? It is a wick trimmer to be used on kerosene lamps and candles The little blades trimmed the charred end of the lamp wick and caught the droppings in the cup. The point at the top helped catch the wick and pull it up through the wick holder on your lamp, or maybe you needed a sharp point to dig the wick out of a burned-down candle.

And what is that circular gadget hanging on the wall? A cherry pitter. Can you imagine pitting enough cherries for a pie with that little tool? That large glass jug with a handle on the top is a butter chum! And what is that earthenware container on the table that is shaped like a bottle, but has a hole in the side and not on the top where you would expect it to be? It's a Stoughton bottle or a foot warmer. Just fill the hole on the side with boiling water, wrap it in some soft flannel cloth and take it upstairs to warm your bed on a cold winter night. Cook Books

Like most cooks of her day, the farm wife probably used the "handful" measurement for recipes just put in a "handful of this and a pinch of that." But there are a couple of examples of the cook books she had available when she wanted to make something new or special. For example, "Miss Parloa's New Cook Book", by Estes and Lauriat, 1880, provides recipes for roast rabbit, potted pigeons, pigeons in jelly, roast leg of venison, broiled small birds, larded quail, grouse or partridges if the man in the family had a successful hunting day. There are also recipes for ham dishes, lots of variety of chicken dishes, and instructions on how to cook duck, goose, and turkey. Living on a farm, the housewife probably had all the beef and pork she needed to feed her family well.

In the copy of 'Gleaners' Pride Cook Book", someone has written her biscuit recipe on the fly leaf: For "Emergency Biscuits" combine:2 cups flour, 1/2 ts. Salt, 1 ts. Bkg pdr., 1 TS. Butter. -Mix to a thick batter with milk, drop by small spoonfuls on greased pans. Bake in a quick oven.

Before the percolator coffee pot came into use, breakfast coffee was boiled in the enamel coffee pot on the stove top. To help make the coffee more clear, an egg was mixed into the grounds and dropped (egg shell and all) into the boiling water. When the coffee grounds settled to the bottom, the coffee was done. Then the pot was pushed to the back of the stove to keep warm for a coffee break later.

Baking Day
The table in the center of this pantry room is surrounded by storage cabinets and shelves for tins, bowls, pans, gadgets and utensils and perhaps some of the jars of preserved fruits. Certainly this table would come in handy on baking day. The table provides a place to knead bread or roll out pie dough, and a place to rest your large crockery bowl as you beat a cake batter with a wooden spoon. Look around to see how many different kinds of baking tins you can find--- an angel food cake pan, pie tins, bread tins, and square cake pans. While a farm wife would have farm-produced fresh eggs and milk every day, she would need to purchase large quantities of dry ingredients when she went into town. The flour and sugar would have been kept in large tin bins to help keep the vermin out. And flavorings would have been measured out sparingly from her precious little tins of spice.

Canning or Preserving
Every year, the usual farm woman tended and harvested a large vegetable garden to fill her larder. She probably dug potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables and stored them in a cool dry cellar and kept lots of squash and pumpkins. But she would preserve much of her fruits and vegetables for the winter in the blue canning jars you can find on the stored on top shelves in the Dean House pantry. She probably canned tomatoes, green beans, carrots and onions from her garden; and also many different types of meats that were raised on the farm or brought in by hunters. Also, she probably canned fruits and berries, too. Berry picking was a job she could ask the children to do. There was probably an apple orchard on the farm so she could "put up" applesauce and apple butter for the long winter. She might have canned purchased peaches, pears and cherries in season. All of this food would have been prepared for canning right on this little table. The filled canning jars were capped and sealed with a red rubber ring and then set in a large kettle of water boiling on the little stove behind the door.

A farmer's wife must have felt a great deal of satisfaction when all of her hard work kept her family fed. On a cold winter's night, can you imagine her fixing a dinner by taking down a jar of beef, a jar of vegetables, and maybe a jar of fruit from the shelves? Add some fresh homemade bread, and some potatoes from the cold cellar and she could provide a complete and delicious meal - prepared on this table in the pantry.

Second Sunday Open House Each Month Welcomes Visitors from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The way life was lived before the other turn of the century is put on view at the Dean House on the afternoon of the Second Sunday of each month for folks of varying interests. Whether it's design, handcrafts, technology, architecture, fashion, tools or gadgets that is of interest, there is something for a variety of interests and a tour guide to help explain it. The board is happy to note that more people are walking up the property's most recent improvement - a brick front walk - to enter by the front door.

On Memorial Day HBGHS Will Sell Coffee, Sodas and Cinnamon Rolls On the Dean House Front Porch

Whether a parade viewer wants to be warmed up with coffee, or cooled down with a soft drink, or energized by a sweet roll, the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society volunteers will have something to fill these needs before and during the parade that is passing by 4718 Monona Drive on Memorial Day. Proceeds from these sales will benefit the Dean House maintenance fund.

Back Porch Concerts to Continue on Thursday Evenings in the Summer

The popular community event known as the Back Porch Concert will be held each Thursday evening for five weeks during the summer of 2001.

A variety of types of music will be offered by local musical groups who volunteer their time and talents for the benefit of the Dean House each Thursday evening beginning at 7:15 p.m. and concluding before the mosquitoes become too troublesome. The performers use the back porch for a stage and the audience provides its own seating -or lounging - equipment.

Chair Anne Wellman has arranged the concert schedule as follows:

  • July 5 - Ole Sven, Norwegian Tunes and Humor
  • July 12 - The New Horizon Band of Madison
  • July 19 - The Swinging Seven
  • July 26 - Old Tyme Fiddlers
  • Aug. 2 - The Stone Ring - Celtic and Scottish Music and Ice Cream Social

Docents will be on hand to give tours of the Dean House and sell cold sodas.

There is no admission charge, but the "hat is passed" for free-will donations. Watch for newspaper announcements, flyers, the Society's Website, and future mailings for more information about the performers.

The Blooming Grove Courier is published 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

Founded in 1971, the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society preserves and advances the culture and history of the Blooming Grove, Monona and Southeast Madison, Wisconsin area. To fulfill this purpose the Dean House is used as a center for cultural events and local history study. It is hoped that the Dean House is a living testimony to the pioneer spirit fostering our American heritage and a representation of that spirit in the historic Township of Blooming Grove.



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