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Weekly Column

Each week a small segment of Vernon County history is published in the county papers.

For the week of 10/1/2023
by Kristen Parrott, curator

The October meeting of the genealogy class will be held on Thursday, October 12, at 10AM, at the Vernon County Museum and History Center. This class session will feature a webinar about organizing your genealogy notes. Doing research is fun and interesting, but in order to later retrieve what you’ve found out, all your research notes need to be organized. Learn some good habits at this class, which will be held in the first-floor, wheelchair-accessible conference room. New students are always welcome. Vernon County Historical Society members attend for free, and non-members are asked to pay $5 per class session.

This past summer we began looking at the business directories that surround the 1878 Vernon County plat map. A copy of this map hangs in the 1st-floor hallway at the museum and history center, and researchers refer to it often. It is our oldest plat map of the county. The image of Vernon County is in the middle of the map, and business directories for villages and townships are printed all around it.

This week we’ll focus on the “Business Directory of Genoa Township”. Several of the names in the directory are Swiss-Italian names commonly associated with Genoa. J.B. and A. Zabolio ran a general store in the village of Genoa in 1878, selling clothing, groceries, hardware, and similar items. The Zabolio family ran the store for over 100 years.

Anthony Levi also ran a general store in the village in 1878. Mathew Monti advertised as a farmer and a justice of the peace, and Charles Ott advertised as a farmer and a dealer in wood, both based in the village of Genoa. Mathew’s father Joseph Monti had founded and platted the village in the 1850’s. Charles was married to Mathew’s sister Clementine.

Joseph Gould is listed as a farmer and carpenter in Section 2, and William Fox is listed as a farmer and postmaster in Section 6. The village of Romance is located in Section 6, and Fox was the postmaster for Romance for several years in the late 1870’s and early 1880’s.

And Jennie Bailey is on the 1878 Town of Genoa business directory as a school teacher in Section 19. Her father James owned land there. In all these months of talking about this plat map in this column, Jennie is the first woman we’ve come across in the business directories. The following year, on Christmas Day in 1879, she married Alonzo Fox. The ceremony was conducted by Romance postmaster William Fox. The 1880 U.S. census lists her occupation as “keeps house”, so presumably she gave up teaching when she married, as was expected in those days.

Zabolio store in Genoa

Zabolio store in Genoa


For the week of 9/24/2023
by Kristen Parrott, curator

Medicine during the Civil War era will be the topic of our next free public program. On Tuesday, October 3, at 7PM, Dr. Sharon Ann Holt will speak about “Science, Sympathy, and Social Change: the Power of Civil War Medicine”. The program will be held in the conference room at the Vernon County Museum and History Center.

Dr. Holt has a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. She has worked as a teacher, museum curator, and historian, including as an historical consultant and on-camera commentator for Philadelphia: The Great Experiment, a series that won several Emmys.

Her Civil War program will tell stories about pioneers of battlefield medicine, such as Major Jonathan Letterman, and will describe how transportation of the injured was improved. You will learn about innovations for disabled soldiers, care for Civil War veterans, and soldiers homes. Here in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, which was built just after the war, is now a National Historic Landmark, and has recently been renovated to provide housing for homeless veterans.

Vernon County has a connection to Civil War medicine in the person of Dr. William A. Gott. William was born in 1829 in New York, and studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He moved to Readstown in 1857. He enlisted in the 25th Wisconsin Regiment, along with Cyrus Butt and Jeremiah Rusk, as a second assistant surgeon, and served in Minnesota during the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862. Then his unit was sent to join the Civil War, and by 1865 Gott was the chief surgeon of the regiment. After the wars, he moved to Viroqua, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Everyone is welcome to attend the program on October 3. There will be time for questions and answers after the lecture. The conference room is on the first floor and is wheelchair-accessible.

This is the last week that the museum and history center is open on its summer schedule of Monday through Friday, 11AM to 4PM, and Saturday, 10AM to 2PM. Beginning October 1, we’ll move to the fall schedule of Monday through Friday, 11AM to 4PM. As always, the facility is also open by appointment.


The previous two articles:

September 17, 2023

September 10, 2023