My interest in history started when I started to talk. I was a pest asking my parents about their earlier lives, their families, their neighbors, and their history. I dug old family photos out of our closets. I wanted to know who these people were. I never stopped asking questions and now I’ve created this blog to share what I find out about our family, with the intent to pull it all together into a memoir that I'm calling Whole Hearted - A Farm Love Story.
My mom knew about the Madison clan of my ancestors, after her dad had emigrated from Bavaria, married Anna Miller, and started a family at 212 N. Frances St. My dad knew everything about everyone in Ashton, where he grew up. When dad and I would drive on business to the local towns of Middleton, Cross Plains, and Waunakee, he would tell me the history of this family or that farm along the way. He was an Ashton oral historian and I took it all in.
In 1982 I wrote the introduction to our Brabender family genealogy and helped host a family reunion at The Old Brabender Place that drew 500 cousins and in-laws. That got me motivated to do more formal research into our family’s past in both Germany and America.
Now I’m researching not only our family’s history, but also the other pioneer families that settled in Ashton in the 1800s. I’m working with St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Ashton to document its early records, including baptisms, weddings, and burials. I’ve scanned parts of several family histories written by my neighbors, all time capsules of early German Catholic farm life here.
Following are the nine chapters of my blog and what each explores:
Each chapter is a blend of images and words through which I share history and stories that are meant to interest you and, perhaps, move you, no matter where you grew up or where you live now.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” My hope is that when Whole Hearted - A Farm Love Story is completed, it will please Franklin because it adds something new and worthwhile to the literature on family farms and their histories. I know I'm having fun writing it.
Author’s note: I upload posts as I complete them, so one written about a recent event may precede posts about earlier events. The introduction to each post shows where it fits into the history.
This blog is a book in the making. If you're a new visitor, read Whole Hearted - A Farm Love Story. You can also find a copy in Prologue.