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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Monroe [brief history]

Definition: Monroe is both the county seat and largest community in Green County, boasting a population of over 10,843.  The town was named for President James Monroe.

Although officially incorporated in 1882, the first settlers began arriving around 1835 after the discovery of lead in the region.  In addition to mining, early settlers were also attracted to the rich farmlands and riverways, including the Sugar and Pecatonica rivers.  

European immigrants came to populate the area by the 1860s, particularly those from Switzerland. The dairying knowledge that these Swiss settlers brought with them was crucial to a shift toward agriculture in the late 1800s.  The rise of the dairy and cheesemaking industries in Monroe helped to foster that city's prosperity and make it famous as the "Swiss Cheese Capital of the United States."  

Today, the community's Swiss heritage is visible in much of the local architecture and in the strength of its cheesemaking industry. 

[Source: WHS Library-Archives staff, 2009]

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