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Fourth Ward Park

The Fourth Ward Park (1903 ca.)

Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: WHi-53075

Morgan Sisters Downtown Memories

Historic Madison collected a number of oral histories in the 1980s. The following is an excerpt from an interview with Mildred and Elizabeth Morgan about Madison’s old Fourth Ward.

Our mother's parents came from the Belfast area of Ireland before the Civil War. They came to Madison and settled on West Dayton Street, in the 1200 block. They lived and died there, in that area. That is the Fourth Ward. We were in a very Irish neighborhood, with Kasernays, Mullins, Dorseys, and McCarthys. On West Wilson Street was Albert Schmedeman. He was a haberdasher, and he became mayor of Madison, then governor of Wisconsin, and then ambassador to Norway. And then Senator John Coit Spooner lived on West Wilson Street, about in the 300 block. Leo Crowley is really quite well known. He lived on West Wilson and on Broom Street. He was chairman of the Milwaukee Railway and advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt. The Proudfits lived on the corner of West Washington and Fairchild. They had a perfectly magnificent home. It was about half the block (now the site of the Lorraine Hotel.) Governor Fairchild's home was on the corner of West Wilson and Monona, where the state office building is now. It was a perfectly beautiful red brick home and had a magnificent yard going right down to the lake, terraced. It was just beautiful! Thornton Wilder also lived on West Wilson Street for a while. I think it was the 400 block. Oh, the Kesserly brothers. They lived on the corner of West Washington and Broom. They both played the piano divinely. Eugene became the accompanist for Blossom Seeley, on the Orpheum circuit. Eugene became associated with the Yellow Cab Company in Milwaukee, but he still played the piano. As children we used to go and sit on the curb and listen to them play. Oh, their music was divine! They played both by ear and by note. Also Judge Siebecker and the La Follettes lived on Broom Street, across from the Doty School. Then there's the Tormeys. The parents of Dr. Albert and Dr. Tom Tormey lived in the 300 block of West Washington, where the Methodist Hospital now stands.

There were German people, too. Two houses down from us were the Blieds. Mr. Frank Blied, who started the printing firm, lived there. He had three or four sons and they all lived there, too, before they were married. And he had two daughters: Edna, who married Bill Walker (he was a radio man here in Madison) and Josephine, who became Mrs. Speth, of the Speth Plumbing Company.

Mark Gajewski