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Local history comes to life in new book
By Alan Hamari   - 07/07/2009

Brookfield Now

More Info on This Book: Brookfield and Elm Grove

After spending two decades on his previous history of the Brookfield and Elm Grove townships, Thomas Ramstack's most recent project went a little more quickly.

Arcadian Publishing last month released "Brookfield and Elm Grove," the latest in its "Images of America" series, which uses photographs, text and historical documents to tell the stories of communities across the country.

Ramstack last year completed "Brookfield: A Fine and Fertile Land," a two-part history of the area he originally started working on in the 1980s. Ramstack said he completed his more recent project in about seven months, using photos from local residents, the Elmbrook and Waukesha County historical societies and his personal collection.

Ramstack, who was born in Elm Grove but mostly grew up in New Berlin, said he got his love of history from his father, who used to share stories of growing up in Waukesha County during Prohibition and the Great Depression.

"He described (the people) in such a way that they became real to me," Ramstack said.

Many people who knew Ramstack's father were willing to help by donating photos and supplementing information. More than once, Ramstack said, people offered him the pictures off their walls to use in the book.

Ramstack said he wanted to tell the stories of the settlers of Brookfield and Elm Grove - people from Ireland, Scotland, New York and other places - and how they established a farming community in the area, even though Brookfield now bears little resemblance to the prime agricultural area it once was.

"It's really hard for people to imagine that this was farm country," he said.

He said the book was a pleasure to work on.

"This is just something I love to do," he said. "I just love local history."

Buy It Now: Brookfield and Elm Grove $21.99




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