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Bygones of Monroe:

SQUIRRELS

Observer, December 23, 1950

Another innovation which came to Monroe at the time the interurban line was expanding its service to Cleveland, in the summer of 1902, were the fox squirrels which are still with us.  These frisky animals were quite in vogue in those days in a number of cities as a sort of outdoor zoo.  An item in the paper tells how they came to be acquired by Monroe.  “Following the lead of Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Niles and other progressive cities, Monroe will endeavor to enliven its streets and beautiful shade trees with fox squirrels.  At the request of a number of prominent citizens, Thomas R. Navarre appeared before the council Monday and asked for an appropriation with which to purchase a colony of the frisky fellows.  His mission was successful as the matter was referred to the city property committee, who met immediately after the council and decided to buy six pairs, the cost to be $4 per pair. 

“They will be shipped from Washington, D.C., before long and will be placed, comfortably caged, in the public square.  After they have become accustomed to appearing in public and after the savage youngsters have been acquainted with the fact that any molestation of the city’s pets will be severely punished, some of the squirrels will be given their freedom and later on the others will be set at liberty.  After that they will be allowed to build their own nests and follow their natural habits and inclinations, except that the city will exercise a motherly supervision over them.  In the cities which now have them the squirrels are prime favorites and both citizens and children who take pride in protecting and feeding them, and they would under no consideration part with their furry protégés.”

Monroe squirrel lovers, both citizen and juvenile, must have waited impatiently for their arrival.  But perhaps even those days deliveries from Washington, D.C., were a bit behind schedule.  The next mention of the city’s squirrels appeared in the local press Dec. 19:  “Twelve squirrels arrived here from Washington, D.C., last Friday.  They will cost the city $24, and will be set free next spring.”

Thus Monroe got its first colony of fox squirrels as a Christmas gift from the city fathers in time for the holidays in 1902.  The local prints do not explain whether the money for their purchase came out of tax funds or from the $5,000 forfeited by the interurban line to buy its way back into the city’s good graces after forfeiting its franchise for failure to live up to terms.

Observer, December 23, 1950


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