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Local author to discuss book on Monroe history
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MONROE - After two years and many hours of reading and typing, Matt Figi has completed an extensive history of Monroe during the 1850s, titled "Becoming a Village: Monroe, Wisconsin in the 1850s." Figi acquired in-depth information about Monroe during the 1850s by reading the Monroe Sentinel newspapers at the Monroe Public Library and by traveling to the State Historical Society library in Madison several times to read the 1860 census records of Monroe. He started this project shortly after the "Pictorial History of Monroe, Wisconsin" book was released in 2006.

This project, planned as a sesquicentennial project, would have been available earlier in the year if Figi had not had two injuries to his right arm. Both injuries were to his dominant arm, which delayed his work for several months.

This book is very different from his previous book about Monroe. The first book contained 250 photographs of Monroe covering 10 decades with captions about each photo. This book is all typed material about one decade with a few sketches thrown in to add some interest. Both books are completely indexed. In fact, the second book contains two indices.

The new book begins with 102 pages of typed newspaper articles followed by the index of those articles. Items include the coming of the railroad in January, 1858; the story of men in Monroe who chased a black bear until they killed it with forks and handles; and the schedules for stage coaches and mail trains. The second part of the book comes from the census records. Included are the names of more than 2,000 residents who lived in Monroe in 1860, two years after the village was incorporated. More information about a person will include the age, place of birth, occupation, and value of real and personal property. There is additional information about the farmers and industries and a list of people who had died in the previous year.

Figi has been doing genealogical and historical research since 1978. Before his retirement and move back to Monroe in 2004, he had six books on local and family history printed. He is a life member of the Green County Historical Society for more than 20 years and served on its board from 2004 to 2007; served as the president of the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society for five years; and served on the board of the Highland (Indiana) Historical Society for four years.

Figi will be discussing his book during a presentation in the second-floor meeting room at the Monroe Public Library at noon on Thursday, Dec. 11. Lunch refreshments, provided by Swiss Colony and Monroe Public Library, will be served beginning at 11:45 a.m. Books will be available for purchase at this event for $15 each until 1:15 p.m. For those who are unable to attend the meeting, a limited number of books can be purchased from Figi (325-6503 or, at Ekum Abstract or Wildflower Antiques for $15 each. Profits from the book will be used to further the research and preservation of the history of Green County.