Maude Brown Kraetsch:
Waukesha Freeman Newspaper Correspondent
Transcribed by Michael R. Reilly
Last Revised 01/15/2014
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Sussex – Not too far from Menomonee Falls and Lannon and a short distance from Pewaukee lies an area rich in stone quarries named after a
county in England.
The village of Sussex was first settled by the English and Scotch who came to the town of Lisbon in the 1830’s and early 1840’s.
They organized the St. Alban’s Episcopal church in 1842 patterned after the church in England. The church property was fashioned after the
style of the English including an adjoining “God’s Acres” cemetery now located in the center of the village.
Representing the village of Sussex as the Waukesha Daily Freeman correspondent is a life-long resident of this community, Mrs. Maude Kraetsch,
who was born near Merton in 1884.
Her parent’s, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brown came from England in 1842 and settled on a farm between Merton and Lake Five. Her mother’s parents,
Mr. And Mrs. Will Taylor upon arrival from England, settled on the north side of Pewaukee Lake.
Mrs. Kraetsch says she can remember Sussex as a quiet little village with its three churches, cemetery, barber shop, general stores,
blacksmith shop, and small schoolhouse.
The first school house was built in 1838 – 1840. It also served as a church, town hall, and place of public gatherings. It was south of what
is now the village. Mrs. John Weaver had taken children into her home and taught them as best she could before the school was built.
The years have seen many changes, In time a public hall, over the store building erected by Joseph Marsden, was built across the street from
the school house.
The early pioneer families, said Mrs. Kraetsch, included the Thomas Redfords, John, James, Richard, Thomas, and William Weaver; the David
Bonhams, Richard Cravens, George Elliotts, Edward Smiths, John Smalls, and Archibald Rodgers.
The William Smalls, Alex Harris, H. And G. Boots, James Stone, William
Butler, and the Richard Coolings, descendants of most of whom may be found in this area.
Mrs. Kraetsch is one of the oldest Freeman correspondents in length of service having been with the paper at least 20 years. She worked for
the Waukesha Tribune a number of years and was also a correspondent for the Weekly Hartland News and Oconomowoc Enterprise. She still writes for
the Menomonee Falls News.
She has been living with her husband, Alvin Kraetsch, on a farm in Sussex since 1913 on the property of T. M. Champeny family. She attended
Carroll College and taught rural schools in the county for three years.They have no children but have cared for between 20 and 30 youngsters
in their home over periods from two weeks to several years.
A creamery was owned and operated by Champeny in the Sussex area for a number of years. He was forced to discontinue 40 years ago, and the old
creamery building has been remodeled into a home in the village.Seventy years ago newcomers from the Rockfield-Germantown area started
a lime kiln in Sussex. The place was sold to the Hollimans of Chicago who discontinued the burning of lime 36 years ago.
Since then, the pit partly filled with water was used by some for swimming. It is located on the Mammoth Springs property not far from the
canning plant. The Sussex canning company started its first pea pack in 1922, and now with plants also in Eden and Oakfield, also cans carrots,
beets and corn.
A wholesaler from Chicago, George Steinert, started a cheese factory in the area now known as the Rifle Range some 60 years ago, but that has
disappeared about 18 years ago.
One of the more important crops in the early days of Sussex was the raising of hops and grains for the Milwaukee breweries. The Weavers were
early families that raised hops. There was also a Boots Brewery in Sussex at one time.
Saw mills were also operated here in the early days when the land was cleared of timber for farming. Older residents like Mrs. F. G. Boots,
who will be 89 in June, and Frank Grogan, and Michigan Elliott recall these earlier days.
The village of Sussex at the intersection of highway 74 and 164 has been divided into East and West Sussex. It was incorporated in 1924 with a
population of over 700 and still growing. Politics played an important part in the separation of the town. The
men in the early days who played an important role in its government included John Rodgers, W. H. Edwards, one time assemblyman and state
senator, John R. Small, and Andrew Templeton, A former sheriff of Waukesha county who was in the grain business. They were called “The Big Four”.
Templeton was instrumental in getting the old Wisconsin Central railroad to place the name of “Templeton” at the eat end of Sussex in the
1880’s as a stop. Many still call the area by that name. At one time the Sussex population was 260 and that of Templeton 76.
Three railroads have been built through Sussex, The Soo Line, formerly the Wisconsin Central, passes through the eastern part of the village.
The Chicago & Northwestern through the northern part, and the Milwaukee, Chicago and St. Paul enters in the northeastern boundary. But the
roads are not convenient for local travel which is now supplied by bus service.
Sussex became a second class post office in July of 1953. Postal service was in operation since 1853 when William Brown and R. Cooling handled
it at unusually small salaries.
The early Don Campbell post office located on property now owned by Bert Harris was moved and became a part of the Kraetsch house.
There are five churches in the Sussex area. The English organized St. Alban’s Episcopal while the Scotch were responsible for the organization
of what is now the Lisbon United Presbyterian church.
The Sussex Methodist church is in the village and the Zion Evangelical and Reformed church. Not too far from Sussex is the St. James Catholic
church at Willow Springs.
Willow Springs area has quite a history according to many old timers in this village, It is located on highway 74 near the overhead out of town
and was once called “Whiskey Corners” because of taverns in the area. Some persons report that the place first became popular when people came
from a distance to vote and later filled themselves with drink.
The Sussex Grade school is an important part of the village growth. It was a junior high school at one time having both the 9th and 10th
grades. But the two upper grades were discontinued because of the number of students that had to be accommodated. Two years ago a new modern addition
was built to the school.
The Community hall was built in 1937 and two war memorials have been erected in the village. Names of the war dead are inscribed in front of
the town of Lisbon hall and listed on a concrete memorial of the Community hall for the village of Sussex.
Community spirit abounds in this village which has a number of active organizations that plan for the future. A new sewage system has also
been mentioned as a future project that is taking shape.
Local organizations include a Lions club, the Volunteer Fire association, the VFW and Auxiliary, the Sussex Health council, the Woman’s
Reserve circle, an active Home and School club. Boy and Girl Scout groups, Y-teens, and 4-H clubs. There are also a number of church societies and
many card club groups.
There are many professional business places in town and smaller industries like lumber companies and a metal works shop. There is also a
Sussex branch of the Menomonee Falls bank. But the great stimulus to this village is the rise of the many stone quarries through the years.
Today, the Sussex and Lannon area is best known for its fine building stone which is shipped to all parts of the country and the world. Stone
of the largest quarries include the Halquist Stone company started in 1930; the Sussex-Lannon quarry organized in 1945; and the Quality
Limestone Products which began in 1948. Other large quarries were divided into smaller units and are scattered through the whole area.
Source: Waukesha Daily Freeman, Waukesha, Wisconsin, April 9, 1954.
Sussex columns, ads show unique history
Posted: Living Sussex Sun, Sept. 3, 2013
Recently, there was a column in the Sussex Sun about a Lisbon farm wife who from 1932 to 1962 was a newspaper correspondent, about happenings in Sussex, Lisbon, Colgate and Lannon, which was her beat.
This was Maude Brown Kraetsch, who was affectionately nicknamed “Mrs. Scratch” by the locals who read her columns.
The following are a series of her tidbits, sometimes word for word, and other times paraphrased, all from a June 9, 1949 series of columns in the Menomonee Falls News.
“Mr. and Mrs. Albert Greengo of Sussex and Mr. and Mrs. William Joecks of Menomonee Falls were guests of the Donald Joecks family in Lannon this recent Sunday.”
And, “The Lannon Puddles baseball team has just received a set of new uniforms, a donation by Scientific Cleaners of Milwaukee. They used them to play Merton and won the game 5-4.”
“Mrs. Henry Hecker (of Lannon) celebrated her birthday with a family reunion at the Sussex home of her daughter and family, Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Pfeil.”
Meanwhile, there was a much smaller column on Colgate happenings. The major Lisbon-Colgate paragraph was that the Colgate located Holz family had a reunion at a park in Fond du Lac.
Next, Mrs. Kraetsch had a promotion for a local benefit dance that would be held at the Brookfield North Avenue and Calhoun Road Log Cabin on June 15, 1949 with Don Mierow’s band providing the music. I was 17 at that time and occasionally sneaked away to the log cabin for fun and games, as they didn’t question a young man who was already 6-foot-5.
Now, what was really interesting were the side adds on the 1949 MF News. One of the side ads next to her column talked about a then new camera, a “Polaroid (Instant) Land Camera” which would take a picture and quickly spit out a developed picture.
Another side ad was the Menomonee Falls movie house featured Bob Hope and Jane Russell in “The Pale Face.” Then coming up was Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell and Rudy Vallee in “Unfaithfully Yours.” Added features would be a novelty piece, news reel and a Popeye cartoon.
Roxo “soda water,” a division of the Waukehsa Bon Ton Co., advertised a dozen quarts, plus one, for $1.45 at the Falls Beverage Co.
At the Menomonee Falls A&P grocery store, coffee was priced at $1.15 for three pounds, while evaporated milk was 11 cents a can. Even better was sliced bacon at 47 cents a pound.
The competition to A&P in the Falls was the National Food Store. The store specials were 10 cents for a loaf of bread and hamburger at 55 cents per pound.
For Lisbon farmers, one could get a McCormick-Deering tractor for $995.
Goodrich was offering car tires for $15.95 each.
Lisbon farmers could call Walter Ruushka (who advertised himself as “The bull on wheels”) who was offering his services as an “Artificial inseminator” to breed farm cows. His telephone number was 31L.
In the real estate section adjacent to Mrs. Kraetsh’s column there was an advertisement for “a modern four room home and garage” on a 60-by-130-foot lot for $9,500.”
There were several rendering companies doing business advertising that they would pick up Lisbon farmer’s “Dead and disabled horses and cows.”
Notable was the Northwestern Rendering Co. in North Lake that had special “Highest price paid per head” and “50 cents per 100 weight for dead hogs.”
Meanwhile, for the ladies, a Frigidaire refrigerator model could be purchased for $181.75.
However the very best deal was at The Held’s Recreation, which advertised “T-bone steak, french fries, toast and coffee for $1.”
Kraetsch wrote her column, accompanied by advertising promotions, for 30 years. She was born in 1886, married Lisbon farmer Alvin Kraetsch in 1908 and died in 1964, two years after her husband.