We the Italians March 21, 2016 - 77 - Page 10

st # 77 MARCH 21 , 2016 voted. Father Bandini was the first mayor of Tontitown. In its first 100 years, Tontitown has had 16 mayors: 12 of them had an Italian family name. Is there a big Italian American community in Arkansas? Yes, it has been. It was basically an Italian community. Now there’s not so many Italians anymore. I came here from Kansas. What is the story of the Tontitown Historical Museum? When they cleared off the land there was nothing there, just trees and a little bit of. So they had to harvest, and when they did it, they started for the first time what it is now called the “Grape festival”: it must have been a simple pic-nic, at that time. 10 | WE THE ITALIANS www.wetheitalians.com So, Father Bandini decided to suggest to name the town Tontitown, after Henry De Tonti. De Tonti probably was a Jesuit, and Father Bandini was a Jesuit, both born in Italy. There were three names the Italian immigrants could choose from, and Tontitown was the one most The Museum was established in 1986. A lot of the history was being lost, and that’s why the community decided to collect pictures and artifacts in a museum. We have a few things that belonged to some of the original settlers. My husband and I take care of the museum, I am the curator, and I have been the only one from the beginning. Which are the museum’s activities? We have the polenta in November. Then we have