Past Events

*Saturday 7/14/18, 10am:  Volunteer Day - Historic Cemetery Restoration in Verona - In the field next to Gus’s Diner in Verona.

The Verona Area Historical Society’s “Bringing Their Stones Home” project is bringing back names and identities to the nearly-forgotten asylum and poor house cemetery in Verona, next to Gus’ Diner.  From the 1880s to the 1940s, this plot of land became the final resting place for over 400 residents of the then Dane County Asylum and “Poor House”.  For unknown reasons, all headstones were removed and discarded, probably in the 1960s.  70 of them have recovered, and we’re putting them back where they belong, based on a historic cemetery map.

Bring work gloves and a shovel or wheelbarrow if you have one.  There will be opportunities to dig the small holes for the stones, shovel and move gravel or mulch, and generally help clean up the site.  This project is entirely volunteer-driven, and we could really use your help.  Thank you!


*Saturday 6/16/18, 10am:  Field Trip - "The Little Farmhouse on PD and M"

Farmhouse tour handout:  Here is a link to the handout from the farmhouse tour.
Check back for a video to be posted of the tour!

Have you ever wondered what lies inside the little farm house with the seasonal wreath at the corner of Hwy M. and PD?  Here is your opportunity to find out!  This house has quietly sat on this intersection for over 140 years, becoming much more noticeable since the recent Highway M road construction removed most of the surrounding trees.  Join us for a field trip and tour of the house given by the current owner, who cares for the house and creates the wonderful wreaths which adorn the front door and provide a quick moment of country beauty for motorists passing by.

We will be meeting at the farmhouse at 10 a.m. for a short talk about the house and tour to follow.  Please note that Raymond Road no longer connects to PD or highway M as it used to - your GPS will be of no help.  The best way to access the house is via a brand new short paved road that attaches to PD a few hundred feet east of the PD and Highway M intersection.





*Saturday 5/12/18, 10am:  "Living in the Verona area - 400 to 500 million years ago", with guest Jim Harrington.  Verona Senior Center.

Here are the historical society, we enjoy talking about life back in "the old days".  But how old is "old" - maybe 50, or 100 years?  For this month's meeting we 
are going to be looking at some snapshots of life in Verona a little farther back - about 500 million years ago!

Verona resident Jim Harrington enjoys the interesting hobby of local fossil hunting.  It started a few years back when a casual walk took him past a road construction site near his home.  Layers of rock laid down in the prehistoric time when Wisconsin was covered by water stuck out from the newly excavated roadbed.  A fan of history, Jim wondered if there might be a fossil or two floating around in there - and he started poking around.  That first informal "dig" yielded four Brachiopods (don't worry - he'll explain what those are!)  Jim was captivated his newly found hobby and an appreciation for the small bits of ancient history each one of us can find around if we know where to look.

Jim will be sharing his hobby with our historical society, including samples of the nine different types of Verona fossils he has come across since that first day he became a fossil hunter.  Also discussed will be tips for how your and your family can share in this hunt - this will be a good meeting to bring the kids and grand kids!

If scheduling allows, we will also have a fossil expert present from the UW Geology Museum to talk even more about local fossils, and answer all of your fossil and geology-related questions.



*Saturday 4/14/18, 10am:  "The Ice Age Trail", with guest David Lonsdorf.  Verona Senior Center.
Verona is a great place to learn about the great Ice Age and to experience glacial geology. During the recent Ice Age (50 – 100,000 years ago), what is now Verona was at the southern edge of an enormous ice sheet that covered the top 25% of the earth. When it melted, about 10,000 years ago, it left behind many features that are easily visible today – if you know what to look for!

This month’s talk will review the history of the Ice Age, paying particular attention to Wisconsin, Dane County, and Verona.  We’ll talk about Pleistocene “Mega-fauna” including woolly mammoths, giant beavers, sloths, and saber-toothed tigers that lived in Wisconsin.  We’ll also talk about the changing landscape of plants as the climate warmed and dried.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail follows the terminal moraine left by the retreating glacier, and includes a 7-mile “Verona Segment” where you can see many interesting glacial features, some less than a mile from the Verona Senior Center.  We’ll also talk about the Ice Age Trail Alliance, the 60 year old organization whose mission is to “create, support, and protect” the Ice Age Trail.





*Saturday 3/10/18, 10am:  "The Verona Leper Colony", a presentation by Jesse Charles.  Verona Senior Center.

Many of us have heard the story of a past "Leper Colony" in Verona.  It's one of those things you might hear from a friend of a friend who knew a guy whose grandfather swears it's true...but is it?  It sounds almost like an urban legend; no one around today claims to have seen it firsthand, but there are so many stories you can't help but wonder...is it true?

Our presentation this month looks to answer that question - and maybe pose a few more :-)  We have collected oral histories from the last several decades, looked through Dane County records, examined aerial photographs, and uncovered newspaper clippings from the 1800's that are all pieces of this puzzle.  These pieces will for the first time be presented together on a timeline that sheds light onto the "colony" and the people who lived there just a few generations ago.

Also discussed will be the work our historical society is doing with Dane County Parks, Archaeologists from the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Prairie Moraine Friends group to "dig" more into this topic.


*Saturday 2/10/18, 10:00am:  "Shovels Full of Surprises", with guest Rich Schmidt.  Verona Senior Center.

    Have you ever had that moment where you look around, maybe at the ground beneath your feet or off into the horizon, and wondered what used to be here a hundred years ago?  Did a team of oxen pull a pioneer's wagon across your front yard?  Did Native Americans hunt or camp where your garden is today?  Did pioneer families farm, settle, or build right where you stand?

What if the answer was only a shovel away?

Our guest Rich Schmidt came to Verona in 2005 after living near Belleville for 20 years.  He bought and moved into a fifty year old house on about four acres near highway PB that, like most neighborhoods in Verona, was once farmland eventually subdivided into residential plots.  Over the first few Summers as he mowed his lawn he noticed a small notch in his otherwise dry yard where cat tails grew thick and the mower's wheels would stick if he got too close.  After several years of this, curiosity got the best of Rich and he grabbed his shovel and started digging.  Almost immediately below the ground were two old wooden timbers with matching half-circle arcs carved in to them along with pieces of a cast iron reciprocating pump (the kind farmers would attach to windmills).  This is how it all started...

Rich will share stories and discoveries made by him and his sons - who turned backyard archaeology into a family hobby!  In the years following they would unearth many surprises that give unique glimpses into Verona life in the 1800s.  Graduate students from the University of Wisconsin and archaeologists from the Wisconsin Historical Society have also visited his property and gotten some experience in the field - Rich's field.

Warning:  The Verona Area Historical Society warns that attending this talk may lead to uncontrollable urges to dig holes in one's own yard.


*Saturday 1/20/18, 10:00am: "The Rising Star Fossil Discoveries", with guests John Hawks.  Verona Senior Center.

 
    
What does Verona, Wisconsin have in common with the bottom of a remote South African cave?  The answer is professor John Hawks!  This Verona resident spends part of the year teaching in the UW's Anthropology department, and the other part about as far away in space and time as one could get:  8,600 miles and 300,000 years, give or take.
    John has taught Anthropology at the UW for about 15 years.  Part of his work involves traveling and studying sites related to the study of human evolution and our early ancestors.  In 2013, he and a team of colleagues gained worldwide attention for their work discovering and studying a large collection of bones deep in a South African cave referred to as the "Rising Star" Cave.  This discovery has the potential to change and inform our future understanding of human evolution.
    Come and enjoy discovering how one of our Verona neighbors is traveling and doing work recognized by the scientific community around the world.  John will talk about his experiences and give us some insights into the exciting study of human evolution.

(Pictured:  A collection of  bones from the newly discovered "Homo naledi" species from the Rising Star Cave.  Photo from the Lee Roger Berger Research Team. )


*Saturday 11/18/17, 10:00am: "A City Is Born", with guests Jane Pearcy and Art Cresson.  Verona Senior Center.

     
This month we will travel back to the 1970s - a time when Verona was watching its borders gradually get gobbled up by annexation into our big neighbor to the Northeast.  Some of those living in the village banded together to discuss what might be done to keep the surrounding town of Verona from continuing to disappear.  The solution?  Become a city!
     Village president Burr Weiland set in motion events that would include creating districts, ordinances, a referendum, and eventually campaigns and a vote for the city's first mayor and City Council.  Our guests this month will be two of Verona's first alders who were there at day one:  Jane Pearcy and Art Cresson.  They will share their memories of that time of change and what our young city government was like when the dust settled after we became a city on April 18, 1978.  We will hear of growing pains, early debates, and enjoy stories like the reason why buckets were required at our first city hall votes.
     Jane had been involved with the league of women voters in Madison before she moved to Verona.  In addition to being our first female city alder, she has been on the school board, been chair of the EMS, ran a restaurant on West Verona Avenue, and taught foreign languages at the middle school for many years.
    Art's interest in the local political scene began in the late 1960s during Verona's great fluoride debate.  When the time to find alders for the first city council came, a friend asked him to get involved due to the fact that his position as a mail carrier meant he "knew everyone in town", in Art's words.
(Pictured above:  Judge Shirley Abrahamson swears in alders Jane Pearcy [left] and Art Cresson [right] on April 18, 1978.)


*Saturday 10/14/17, 10:00am: "What's Up With the Matts House?", with guest Troy Rost.  Verona Senior Center.

     
Lately the most common question we get asked at the historical society is, "What's happening with that brick house on the corner downtown?"  There sure has been a lot of activity at the old Matts house this year, and our guest this month will be Troy Rost - who is at the helm!
    Some folks might remember just two years ago when the fate of this our city's oldest home hung in the balance, and most signs pointed towards it receiving a similar fate shared by three other prominent houses that once stood on the other corners of that main intersection.  Just a year or so before that you might recall getting a chuckle driving by and noticing a large sign next to it advertising "Free house if you can move it".
    But for all its recent years of uncertainty, there were as many decades in times past where this house enjoyed a prominent stature among Verona's downtown scene.  Our local histories state that "people came from miles around" to see this impressive double-brick structure when it debuted around 1848.  This was a time only eight years after the first white settlement in Verona (a simple hole dug into the side of a mound) - and for all the log and wood houses that were built by this time not one brick home had been constructed.  Much would happen in this house between that time and now - and we'll get you up to speed!
    Our meeting will start with a brief history on the house and the part it has played in Verona's history.  Our guest Troy Rost will then present a look at what he and his team have been doing since taking ownership from the city last year - and what their project will look like at the end.  Troy will share some surprises found beneath the many layers of drywall, veneer, and old layers of paint.  We will hear insight on the unique challenges of fixing up a historic structure into a sustainable business - which Troy is no stranger to.  We hope you'll join us to find out what's up with the Matts house!

*Friday 9/8/17, 12:30pm: "Goodbye, Gordon School". A presentation at the Verona Senior Center, followed by a field trip to the school - soon to be demolished.



The Gordon School building has sat at on the corner of highway M and Midtown Road in some form for over 150 years.  It taught generations of rural school children back in a day when Verona's countryside was divided up into over a dozen small, numbered school districts.

Families of shared district #11 would come to know this building well.  Their kids would walk in the snow from neighboring farms, in some cases being pulled in a sled by tractor when the snow was too high.  They would bring lunches that their teacher would warm up in the old stove, and enjoy recesses playing softball in the field next door.

The Gordon School is also home to one truly fantastic Verona story which occurred on a stormy September day in 1928.  While school was in session, a tornado formed to the West and headed towards the Gordon School - destroying nearby farms on the way.  As the original wooden school was torn open and collapsed, students inside were saved by the quick thinking teacher who had gathered them next to the piano for shelter.

The building was rebuilt of brick the following year in 1929.  Unfortunately, the budget left no room for supplies.  Area mothers solved that problem by selling squares on a fundraising quilt which - nearly 90 years later - will be on display during our meeting.

The great school district consolidation of 1964 would end the Gordon School's service.  It was then sold and has remained a private residence in the decades since.  Sadly, what the tornado started a bulldozer will finish as the building is demolished in the coming months to make way for the widening of Highway M.

*Saturday 8/19/17, 10:00am: "25 Years of Verona Area Community Theater", with guest Dee Baldock.  Verona Senior Center.

Twenty five years ago, three Verona women organized a small show tunes performance for a public audience in the step room of the newly built Verona Middle School (now Badger Ridge).  What started at that first performance of a handful of people would grow to an organization that today puts on 9 shows a year involving hundreds of our Verona friends and neighbors - and is slated to open up their new 2 million dollar building this fall.

Our guest this month will be Dee Baldock, who was a founder of Verona Area Community Theater back in 1992.  Dee had acted in plays in high school and would later move to Verona in 1976.  Having no community theater outlets in Verona at that time (many residents will remember that Verona was previously home to a performance group called "Verona Varieties"), Dee got involved in Oregon Community theater.  It was there she learned the behind-the-scenes workings of a community theater group, eventually leading to her teaming up with Jeannie Pitsch and Karen Rogness to start VACT.

Dee will share her personal stories and memories of how a small group can grow to a successful organization that enhances the lives of both young and old Verona residents.

     Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)


*Saturday 7/8/17, 10:00am: "Treasures on South Main", field trip with host Tom Griffith.  Start at Verona Senior Center.

If you have ever noticed the lovely 1909 Victorian just South of the bike trail on South Main Street, you probably also noticed the new "Carriage House" recently constructed next to it!  In addition to purchasing the former Blizard family Victorian in 2002, Owner Tom Griffith has spent thirty years collecting architectural pieces rescued from demolitions of Wisconsin homes, churches, and barns.  In 2016 he combined many of these pieces into the eye catching carriage house next to his Victorian.  This is your chance to tour them both!

The carriage house is a unique artistic creation that serves to preserve and display pieces of historic Wisconsin structures removed as they disappeared under the bulldozer.  Components of the carriage house include the wide doors from an 1835 Stoughton house, Gables from an 1840 Milwaukee mansion, exterior wood from an 1855 Rhinelander mill, and roof trusses from a historic barn in Verona.

Our meeting with start at the Verona Senior Center at 10:00am for short project updates.  We will then walk over to to Tom's house for a personal tour of the carriage house and Victorian home.  We are grateful to Tom for this chance to see them both up close!

     Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)

*Saturday 6/10/17, 10:00am: "Delma's Lustron Home", with guest Delma Basthemer.  Verona Senior Center.

     On Westlawn Avenue sits a unique piece of post-war American history - one of Verona's "Lustron" homes.  These homes began mass production in 1948 and promised to provide returning GIs and American families with a futuristic alternative to traditional housing.  Each home was ordered and arrived in roughly 3,300 pieces to be assembled on site by a team.  Modern features included an outer shell of enamel-coated steel panels, which would "defy weather, wear and time" and promised to provide all members of the family with more leisure time due to the reduced need for household maintenance (source:  Wikipedia).  Did they live up to this promise?  Let's ask Delma!

Henry Basthemer ordered a Lustron home 1949 - the same year he and Delma married.  Their 3,300 pieces arrived in a trailer on Westlawn Avenue in April 1950 and waited in the package (due to a labor strike) until June of that year.  In that same month the last Lustron home was made as the company shut down.  Delma has enjoyed and lived in her house for 66 years.

We will start our meeting at the Verona Senior Center by watching a short video on Lustron homes with Delma.  We will then carpool to Westlawn Avenue to see the home up close!  

     Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)

*Saturday 5/20/17, 10:00am: "Follow the Evidence!  Excavating Early Verona Farmsteads", with guest Paul Reckner.  Verona Senior Center.

     Over the last year, you may have noticed several big square tarps dotting the landscape along highway 69 as it heads south through Verona.  Maybe you've also seen some people digging around in the dirt and wondered what they're up to.  Several of our members were just too curious and pulled over to meet these folks...who turned out to be friendly archaeologists from the Wisconsin Historical Society!


Join our guest, Wisconsin State Historical Society Archaeologist Paul Reckner, who has logged countless hours studying and reconstructing information related to early Native American and White farmstead settlements along the highway 69 corridor.  It may come as a surprise to learn the wealth of artifacts and evidence found in Verona dig sites related to many periods of human activity here since last glacier.

Paul's talk will focus on work he is currently doing to research and create a map of the original overland routes and roads from Verona through Paoli to Belleville - and determine how these routes shaped the area's first wave of farmstead settlement.  Will discovering these paths and comparing them to known excavation sites lead to a better understanding of how Verona and surrounding areas were settled?

     Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)

*Saturday 4/8/17, 10:00am: "Leaving a Mark on Verona Sports; Four Decades with Coach Randy Marks", with guest Randy Marks.  Verona Senior Center.

Our guest this month is a name that will be likely be recognized by any former Verona Indians and Wildcats who grew up chasing a finish line.  Starting in 1965, Randy Marks taught Chemistry and Science in Verona schools for 42 years.  He began coaching Boys Cross Country that first year and continued to do so for all but one year until 2016 - winning state in 1974, 1982, and 1991.

Coach Marks will discuss memorable moments and seasons from his tenure here as well as the many changes that occurred during this time.  One aspect that may surprise our younger Wildcats is that in 1965 there were still no official WIAA girls sports!  Coach marks will describe how girl's Cross Country in Verona started organically at first as several students banded together in 1969 to form Verona's first girls Cross Country running club - and how that evolved to the Verona Girls Cross Country team winning the WIAA state title three times in 1980, 1981, and 1984.

Additional references:

    
 Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)

*Saturday 3/11/17, 10:00am: "Main Street Memories - a Round Table Discussion", with special guests.  Verona Senior Center.
Our Guest this month will be - You!  The Verona Area Historical society is hoping to tap in to our collective memories and learn as much about South Main Street as possible.  We would like to invite anyone from the public with memories of South Main Street starting from the Matts House and heading South to the Bike Trail (also known as the stretch from the Eagle's Nest to the Railroad Tracks if you've lived here long enough).

We will be leading a round table discussion and taking notes on what businesses were where, who lived in what house, and what memories you still have about that stretch of town looking back over the decades.  If you are interested or know any longtime residents to bring, please come and help us fill in the blanks for future generations.  

Historical and present pictures of buildings in this area will be shown to help jog memories.  It will be a fun morning of reminiscing!
     Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)

*Saturday 2/11/17, 10:00am: "The Batker Blacksmith Shop", with guest Kim Kemper.  Verona Senior Center.
"Share the road" might be more geared towards bicycles today, but it hasn't been too long since our Main Street was shared by both automobiles and the original source of horse power!  Even in the decade following WWII it was not uncommon to see both cars and horse carriages traveling around Verona, and some older residents still recall seeing horses being shoed right on main street at the Batker blacksmith shop (currently occupied by Plumbing and Glass).
Our guest Kim Kemper is the great granddaughter of George Batker, whose blacksmith shop served the needs of our city for many years - from horseshoes to welding and machinery repair.  Kim and members of the Batker family have done research on the shop, and will be presenting some of the stories and artifacts they have preserved.

     Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)


*Saturday 1/21/17, 10:00am: "Verona's Lifeline:  History of the Sugar River", with guest Bill Keen.  Verona Senior Center.
The Sugar River has brought life and opportunity to Verona since the time of the glaciers.  As the glaciers melted, our first Verona residents the Native Americans used the river for transportation, hunting grounds, and to sustain early agriculture.  Evidence of their many encampments have been found on its shores.  Early white settlers also made note of the potential of the river and the abundant resources in the lands surrounding it.  Just as it influenced and provided for early Verona, now a group of dedicated individuals returns the favor and watches over the river itself - respecting its historical and contemporary significance.

Bill Keen, member of the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association will be our guest and will discuss some history of the Sugar River and what is being done now to preserve and care for it.  The association's work involves studying and monitoring water quality and animal/plant life, special restoration projects, and community outreach and education. 
     Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)

*Saturday 12/17/16, 1:00pm: "Fundraiser - Meet the Author:  John Scharer", with guest John Scharer.  Sow's Ear, Verona.

Enjoy a coffee and pick up your copy of "Down at the Nest" to help support our historical society (all proceeds go towards our upcoming projects!) Author John Scharer will be there to sign copies (limited run, available for $20) and talk about his wonderful book. John has done a limited reprinting to help the historical society as a fundraiser.

Every small town has had its own collection of "characters" - and Verona was no different! Located at Verona's "Four Corners" from 1850 to 1970, the Eagles Nest was a central hub of our small town culture for over 100 years. During its time it served as a stagecoach stop, hotel, "chop shop" for Chicago gangsters, speakeasy, hangout for Frank Lloyd Wright, and eventually a supper club serving the best dishes around.

Lifelong Verona resident John Scharer grew up in the 'nest and recalls many of the colorful people and events from the 35 years his family owned and operated it. Enjoy looking back to when "everyone knew everyone", and hear about interesting personalities from prominent citizens to railroad hobos, and all the small town drama in between

*Saturday 11/12/16, 10:00am: "Hometown Homegrown Business Series:  The Story of Park Printing", with guest Debbie Bass.  Verona Senior Center.
     We continue our look at the history of longtime Verona area businesses with our guest Debbie Bass of Park Printing.  Debbie's parents Marge and Wib Dudley started the business in 1952 in Madison, moving to Verona in 1968.  Initially focused on creating financial advertising materials for local banks, the company's focus changed to becoming a self contained printing house, leading to relationships with big clients such as Nicolet Instruments (for whom they printed product manuals).
    Park Printing of Verona is an example of a small family owned business growing along with Verona, yet keeping close ties with four generations of the family that started it. Debbie and her sister both married brothers from the Bass family (Tim and John, respectively) - all four being eventually involved with the business. Currently Debbie's son Greg is president, and her grandson also works there.
    Join us in enjoying this story of what it takes to keep a family and business thriving through the generations in our favorite small town.
     Location:  Verona Senior Center (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)

*Saturday 10/8/16, 9:15am: "Mendota Indian Mound Tour", with guide Robert Birmingham.  Meet for carpool at the Verona Senior Center.
     Author and Archaeologist Robert Birmingham will provide a personal tour to VAHS of the amazing and unique effigy mounds present on the grounds of the Mendota Mental Health Institute.  Robert has authored several books about Wisconsin Indian mounds, and is an expert on the fascinating and lost tradition of mound building in Wisconsin. He is a former State Archaeologist of Wisconsin and is currently a professor at UW-Waukesha.
    The free tour will begin with a carpool from the Verona Senior Center at 9:15 and will take about two hours.  There will be many open seats for those who do not wish to drive.  We will caravan to the mounds, each located a short distance from each other.  There will not be much walking required as we will be parking next to each point of interest.  It will be an opportunity to witness these same land formations seen by the first white settlers in the 1800s - but this time with an expert who can illuminate the various mysteries of mound building that occurred in Wisconsin from 800 to 1200 years ago.  Send questions to SaveVeronaHistory@gmail.com.
     Location:  Meet at the Verona Senior Center at 9:15AM (108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593.)  We will be carpooling together to meet Robert at the mounds.

Wednesday 9/14/16, 6:00pm:  Capturing Farm Memories...as Toys!
     Revisit historic periods of Wisconsin farm machinery with the Verona Area Historical Society! Our guest for our September meeting will be Tom Brunner of Verona.  One of Tom's hobbies is studying the remaining samples of classic farm implements and machinery and creating accurate scale model representations.  Whether you grew up on a farm or are just curious how the technology has changed over time, bring the whole family and enjoy these fun and educational creations.
     Location:  Verona Senior Center. 108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593

Wednesday 8/17/16, 6:00pm:  "Verona's Forgotten Cemetery", with speakers Melissa Seymour and Jim Ferolie.
     In 2008, Verona Press writers Melissa Seymour and Jim Ferolie set out to write a piece about the small plot of unmarked graves on East Verona Avenue that was being encroached on all sides by development.  A solitary granite marker on that spot is all that still exists to remind passersby about the Dane County Hospital and Poor Farm which once dominated the East side of Verona.  Melissa and Jim's investigation unearthed many surprises and long forgotten stories of a time when many "unfortunate" souls lived and worked on these grounds...and ultimately what became of them. 
     Location:  Verona Public Library.


Wednesday 7/13/16, 6:00pm: "Local History Spotlight:  The Story of Carnes in Verona", with speaker Greg Cichon.
    Carnes has been a fixture of Verona manufacturing since 1951.  A local Verona success story, the company traces its roots back to a single brilliant idea conceived as a side project by a local chemical salesman (Wilbur R. Carnes) in the late 1940's.  This idea - a new method of removing metal debris from machine oil so it could be reused multiple times -  fueled the early momentum of this company which has since evolved and grown along with Verona.
    Come hear the interesting and unique story of Carnes' early days, what it was like starting a small-town manufacturing company in the 1950's,  and how they got where they are now.
     Location:  Verona Public Library.


*Saturday 6/11/16, 10:00am:  "Verona Cemetery History Walk", with speakers Art Cresson, Mark Hunstman, and others.
Come discover the stories of Verona's founding families, veterans, notable citizens, and ordinary folks who helped shape our city - and still rest here today.

Hear about the successes and struggles of pioneer life.  See the effect of civil war on Verona families.  Meet the town doctor and his wife who saved 1,000 lives during the Spanish flu epidemic, and would later introduce basketball and annual fireworks to Verona.  Learn about the symbolism and themes carved into the headstones; why do so many graves have fingers pointing?  Why is there one hollow metal headstone, and why did bootleggers like that style so much during prohibition?

Our guides on this walking tour will be:
  • Art Cresson - Former mayor of Verona and former Verona Cemetery Sexton:  Art will describe the cemetery's history, what it takes to keep it up and running, and interesting anecdotes from his time caring for it.
  • Dr. Mark Hunstman, Ph.D.:  Mark has a passion for researching and sharing historic towns, churches, and cemeteries.  He was inspired by witnessing colorful and dramatic funeral processions in New Orleans during his time there studying French.
  • Jesse Charles - Verona Area Historical Society:  Jesse researched Verona's founding families in order to assist the effort to save the Verona Matts House.  He is excited to share these stories as well as learn from attendees of the tour.
The tour is expected to take about 90 minutes.  Chairs will be placed around the Cemetery to facilitate sitting - we will be stopping many times to talk.

Location:  Verona Cemetery.

*Saturday 5/21/16, 10:00am:  "Wisconsin Arrowheads", with speaker Sondy Pope.
     Ever look for arrowheads as a kid?  Still think of that when you happen across a triangular rock?  Most of us know Sondy Pope as representative for Wisconsin's 80th district.  History buffs may be interested in her other hobby; that growing up, she and her family up were tenacious arrowhead hunters! They learned the tricks and techniques of this wonderful hobby and amassed several thousand arrowheads in the process.  Sondy will be joining us for coffee, showing off a portion of her collection, and discussing the study of arrowheads and the excitingly intricate art of finding them.
     Location:  Verona Senior Center. 108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593

*Saturday 4/16/16, 10:30am: "Spirits of Earth:  Effigy Mound Landscape of Madison and the Four Lakes", with speaker Robert Birmingham.
     Once numbering as many as 20,000, Wisconsin is down to it's last 2,000 or so Indian Mounds.  Maybe you've seen a few and have been curious about the wonderful story they tell.  Robert Birmingham has authored several books about Wisconsin Indian mounds, and is giving a talk on the fascinating and lost tradition of mound building in Wisconsin. Robert is a former State Archaeologist of Wisconsin and is currently a professor at UW-Waukesha.
     Location:  Verona Senior Center. 108 Paoli St, Verona, WI 53593

*Saturday, March 19th - 10:00am:  Epic Farm Campus Tour, following our monthly meeting.
    The tour will be a handicap-accessible indoor tour of the three buildings that make up this third Epic campus, which opened in 2013.  A lot of Verona history went into this campus in particular.  Most of it is built on the Stewart farm (founded by one of Verona's pioneer families), and Epic's facilities team met several times with Don Stewart (direct descendant) to learn about the history of the property - so it could be worked in to the buildings.  Many of his pictures and documents hang in the halls.  Recovered barn wood and foundation stones from Wisconsin farms were used in the buildings.  Perhaps the highlight is a pair of 1950's Farmall Model M tractors that have been restored and used as art in the Shed building (one in its entirety, and one displayed as a collage of parts).


*Saturday, January 2016:  The Oregon Pump House Restoration, with Randy Glysch.


2015

January – No meeting

February – Ken Behnke spoke on his long association with the post office and gave a thorough history of it.

March – Richard Doerfer presented “Farming Then and Now”. His organized history shed light on life on a farm from the 1930’s on.

April – Elisabeth told about her grandparents’ farm at the corner of Valley Road Street and South Main which became a turkey farm in the 1950’s.

May – Tour of Richard Doerfer’s mega-dairy farm on Whalen Road.

June- August – No meetings

September – Jerry Erdmann spoke (video) again on the Erdmann connection to the Civil War.

October –Art Cresson and Georgia Zink did a joint presentation on Verona’s cemetery, and the website she created and linked to Find A Grave, a national database of deceased.

November – Viewing a video produced by Brad Parkel for Verona’s sesquicentennial.  Interviews of older Verona residents.  The video, part of the library’s collection, was unearthed by Jesse Charles

2014

January  – Catherine Schneider presented an interesting detailed history of the Stoner School in Fitchburg, School District #7.

February – Ed Faber and Georgia Zink with several others combined to talk about one of the longest running country schools, the White School near White Crossing.  

March  -- Arlene Burke coordinated the presentation/discussion of Andrew Henry School, the small brown building at the corner of Old PB and Whalen Road.   

April --  Elisabeth Wenger Pankonin presented a detailed history of Maple Grove School, located at the corner of Maple Grove Rd. and Cty PD.  Razed for apartment complex.

May – The presentation of McPherson School on Cty Hwy G involved several people including Art Cresson; Cleo Henning, a teacher; and Nona Erfurth who spoke on Walter Brink’s written history of the school.   

June-August  No meetings

September – Don Stewart spoke on history of Verona Graded School, which looks much the same today as it did when he attended.  Located on West Verona Avenue.

October – The last school discussed was Valley View School, located at the corner of Valley Road and Sugar River Road. A group

discussion informed the audience of experiences there.  Patton School, Valley View’s predecessor, was the first school in Verona.  It was in the river’s floodplain so was eventually closed and Valley View was constructed at the crest of the hill above the river.

November --  John Scharer recalled Verona’s “notables”, most of whom liked to drink and made the rounds of Verona’s taverns.  They are included in his recent book about the Eagle’s Nest in Verona.

December – Viewing of historic Verona pictures from the framed collection.  Unfortunately, not too many individuals were identified.

2013

January  – Elisabeth Pankonin, Doris Waldmann and Millie Whiting each presented a segment of church history, 1923 to the present.

February – Sally Matts Healy spoke on the Baptist Church’s history.

March – Ruth Jensen presented the history of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church which she had researched and written for the church’s centennial in 1986.

April – Karl Curtis talked about his Verona history written as a project for the Verona Press.  Written for the Verona’s Sesquicentennial in 1997.

 

May – Segments of the movie, “Adventure in Dairyland” were shown.  It was filmed in part at the Sisk farm on Sugar River Road.  Annette Funicello was the star but many of the locals told of their participation in the filming.

June- August – No meetings.

September – No speaker.

October – Sally Matts Healy spoke on the Matts family,the founders/developers of Verona in the mid-1840’s.  

NovemberRural school series began.  Joe Wineke spoke briefly of his 2 years at Maple Corners School on Hwy. M South.

December – Informal discussion about attending rural one-room 

2012

January -- Don Stewart, resident historian, was guest speaker.  He read a letter from his great uncle Thomas, who detailed his travels across the country to take part in the California Gold Rush.

February – Astrid Swain told of her Norwegian heritage, her life as a little girl when the family who lived in America resettled in Norway until Astrid was seven and then returned to the U.S.

March – Ruth Witt Jensen as a first-generation American spoke about her family emigrating from Europe and homesteading in Minocqua, Wisconsin.

April – Don Stewart spoke on his recollections of early Verona.

May – Glenn “Doc” Steusser spoke on the 1811 New Madrid, Missouri, earthquake, another topic that piqued his interest so he researched it as he had done with the Peshtigo Fire.

JuneAugust No meetings

September – Impromptu speaker was Don Stewart who had just returned from the one-day Wis. Honors Flight to Washington, D.C.     

October – Dale Yurs spoke of the evolvement of the United States Supreme Court.

November – Ernie Johnson spoke on his involvement in the Catholic church from his Lutheran beginnings to marrying Margaret who was Catholic and the move to Verona.  Rather than a history of Verona’s St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, Ernie shared incidents from his participation in the church over the many decades.

December – No speaker

2011

January  – No speaker.  Minutes state a collage by the Dane Cty. Hist. Society which included Verona pictures was on display at the State Capitol as part of the 175th anniversary of the Society.

February – Vince Weiland spoke about his grandfather Dr. H. P. Weiland who passed away in 1972.  Vince has the doctor’s book used to record patients in the period 1920-1925.

March – No minutes  

April --Ed Faber must have spoken about his Civil War research as the rough draft of it is included here along with pictures of veterans: Ed Donkle [with children and his parents (?) wedding photo] and  William G. L. Matts.

May –  Dr. Glen Steusser spoke on the environment, and type of nature and humans who populated the North American Continent from the Ice Age up to the time of Columbus. 

June – Tour of Verona Cemetery led by Art Cresson.

July-September No meetings

October – Jerry Remy of the Dane County Historical Society spoke on how the county became organized and now was celebrating its 175th anniversary.  Emphasis on Montrose and Belleville and Frenchtown.  Many deeds were traced back to the original owner, Daniel Webster.

November – Ken Zingg’s presentation was about cheese making, his grandfather Adolf Eberhardt’s profession.  Included is a 20-page ‘recollection’ about Adolph (b.1852) and his family written by his elderly son, Ed Eberhardt.

December – Dr. Glenn Steusser spoke on the Peshtigo, Wisconsin, fire which is somewhat overlooked in history because it happened simultaneously with Chicago conflagration.

2010

January– Speaker Bob Kleinfeldt – on his teaching/principal career – in Verona from 1956 until 1984.  Verona had the first Middle School in the state.

February  -- No speaker

March – No minutes

April – No speaker

MayOctober  --No minutes

November – Millie Whiting and Doris Waldman talked about Salem United Church of Christ and their long choir experience there – Doris, 70 years and Millie, 58 years.  Millie has 3 scrap books of newspaper clippings about Verona events and people.

December – Jerry Erdmann spoke on Civil War History- Ninth Infantry Unit.  Included with the minutes of that day are 25 outlined pages from his video presentation.

2009

January --  Linus Stampfl’s topic was athletics in Verona. – basketball, football and baseball.

February – Don Stewart reported on his Great-grandfather John Stewart who arrived from Scotland in 1843 and purchased land near the Sugar River.

March – No speaker

April --  No speaker

May – Dr. Lawrence Lemanski spoke on Verona’s veterinary history with his role being a large animal vet.

JuneSept. – No meetings

October  --  Ed Faber spoke on his work in genealogy and the history of the White School.  He is working on documenting all Verona Civil War participants.

November – Vance Mannetter passed out his handwritten book “An Early History of the White Crossing Area”.  He moved to his home on Timber Lane, Town of Verona in 1974.  The house was built between 1882 and 1890.

December – No minutes

2008

January  – No speaker

February – Ernie Johnson, having moved here in the 1930’s, shared his memories of early Verona.

March – John Scharer spoke about living in Verona since the 1930’s when his parents opened the Eagle’s Nest, a restaurant/road house. He has written a manuscript on the subject. He showed a few keepsakes from the “Nest”.

April – Marge Westergard spoke on Verona Parades and Boy Scout troops.

May – Art Cresson gave a talk about the Verona Cemetery.  He has been Secretary of the cemetery association for nine years.  He does all the duties of a sexton.

October – Jerry Maurer spoke on dairy farming in the Verona area.

November – Don Stewart talked about life in the 1920’s…about transportation in and around the area.

December – Keith Miller talked about the creation of the Bank of Verona, its survival during the Depression, and the fact that there never was a robbery at the bank.

2007

October  – Karen Crossley (?), Director of the Dane County                                                                                                                                                                                                           Cultural Affairs Commission

November – Brian Bigler, a founding member of Mt. Horeb’s Historical Society, spoke about how to begin preserving local history.  Don Stewart showed movies that his father took in 1939 and 1940.  

December – Jenny (?) spoke on moving her 1895 house from Nesbitt Road, Fitchburg, to N. Jefferson Street, Verona.

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