In presenting to our readers the History of Madison, Dane County and Surrounding Towns, we do it with some degree of gratification;---not because we have the presumption to conceive that we have issued a complete work, or that it is free from errors; but simply because we have had so many kind helps rendered us in bringing the work up to its present condition, and without flattering ourselves that we have composed some grand strain, or even been in full harmony with all our parts, we have, at least, struck the key-note from which we have built up good, if not square work.
To show that our work was needed, it is only necessary for us to call the reader's attention to the many chapters so freely contributed by many of our citizens, who, making no pretensions to any great literary acumen, have related the facts and incidents of their towns in terms sometimes unfinished, but never lacking power and simplicity to express what they knew, thus commending to our admiration the free and unvarnished manner with which the story of pioneer life, trials and sufferings is related, and the evident delight taken in looking back on those difficulties, to enact them over again.
We think our work has been instrumental in saving from oblivion much that would have passed unheeded in the annals of the early settlement and development of our county. Our citizens, in their early pioneer life, forgetting that they were makers of history, saved comparatively little of the past dates or records.
History by towns has not, we believe, been published in this state before, and we feel certain that no surer way could be devised for reaching facts than the plan we have adopted, as there are none better able to write a family history than one of its members. To the writers of the ensuing chapters we suggested the following subjects, which our readers will see have been conscientiously adhered to: The early settlement and organization of each town; pioneer trials and difficulties; scenic beauty and hygiene; industrial pursuits and markets; schools and churches; early intercourse with the Indians; camps, trails, graves or mounds, etc.
The work has exceeded, by several hundred pages, our agreement with subscribers, but having been assured of remuneration therefor by an increase of names on our subscription list, we have decided to make no advance in price.
The adjacent towns have been added to our book at the suggestion of citizens of those places, and it is proper that they should be, as socially and commercially there are no boundary lines between us; and with all the cordiality of neighbors, it affords us pleasure to invite the attention of the reader to these chapters not only as a partial exhibit of their industrial pursuits and business tact, but also as evidence that we are linked together by a stronger tie than sectional lines.
The chapter on Lake Koshkonong is from the pen of Prof. Kumlien, a scientist of no mean mark either in this country or Europe. Although he has devoted a life time to the study of natural history, and his labors been heralded abroad, there are but few of our citizens that even know that this seer is living at our very doors. Forty long years has he quietly and unobtrusively spent in studying the botanical life of many of our plants, as well as giving us a clearer insight into the ornithology of this continent, and we feel our duty but begun in our meager effort to make these facts known.
The "Historical Introduction" will be found full of interesting dates and facts, as also the chapter on "Personal Recollections," while the list of County Officers, obtained at considerable labor, and the only list published, will be used as a useful reference.
Our county is the largest in population and wealth of any other in our state, except Milwaukee, and is largely on the increase. The healthful character of our climate, together with our rich and varied displays of scenic beauty beheld every where around us, is bringing hundreds to our doors who are not only invigorated by our pure and bracing atmosphere, but enchanted with the landscape grandeur that foreign lands but tamely mimic. Historical places point to ages as yet comparatively unknown, and if a people, whom we designate as Mound Builders, lived here, it is but right to infer that they were neither ignorant of our climate or our scenery, but as is shown, left larger evidences of their labors here than in any other section of this country.
We have been much gratified at the cordiality with which our citizens have entered into the enterprise, and take this opportunity of offering them our grateful acknowledgments, and especially to the writers of the different chapters, for their kind and unselfish interest in collecting the many facts and pleasing incidents therein related. Such men are, as a rule, the bone and sinew of a community, and never weary in well doing. We are also indebted to the following gentlemen, who have made it a matter of interest and labor to aid us in our undertaking: Hon. Simeon Mills, Wm. A. Wheeler, E. M. Williamson, E. Burdick, Geo. B. Smith, Wm. Vroman, N. T. Parkinson, Wm. Welch, S. W. Botkin, Hon. Lyman C. Draper, Prof. S. H. Carpenter, Prof. R. B. Anderson, D. S. Durrie (who aided us materially, by the use of several of his MSS.), Phillip Barry, (for the use of county records,) Gabriel Bjornson, P. B. Parsons, O. S. Holum, Hon. J. A. Johnson, Gen. S. Cadwallader, Judge N. F. Hyer, Judge J. T. Clark, Capt. John Nader, Jas. R. Stuart, (for draught of design on back of the volume), N. P. Jones, (for photographs to the engraver), N. T. Hawes, John Corscot (for city records), and others, W. J. P.