Sussex Graded School History
transcribed and edited by Michael R. Reilly, Editor
History of School Revealed at New Building Dedication
by Mrs. Ray Podolske
Menomonee Falls News, September 1952
A fascinating history of early Sussex schools was unfolded as 200 persons assembled Tuesday night, September 23, for the dedication of the new $115,000 brick veneer solid masonry building of contemporary design, housing the first four grades of the Sussex school.
School Board members of Consolidated District No. 10, Willard Shafer, Art Manke, Kurt Kneiske, Kenneth Luce, and Albin Halquist were introduced, after which Clinton Swanson, principal, presented the members of the school faculty. Also recognized were former teachers who came in for the dedication. Annette White, now Mrs. Leo Howard of Route 1, Sussex, in reminiscing after the program recalled the crowded conditions in the little two room school in which she taught in the years 1902 to 1905, and again from 1907 to 1909. A fight was started for a new school in 1901, but the opposition to higher taxes was so great that the new three room school was not built in Sussex until 1913. Mrs. Chester Lingelbach of this village, who taught here from 1912 until her marriage in 1915, remembers having 60 pupils in her room before the new school was completed. Pearl Boots, now postmistress at Sussex, taught the fourth and fifth grades from 1913 to 1920. In February of 1922 this school burned to the ground and later that same year, the present brick structure was erected, which now houses the upper four grades of the school.
Other former teachers who were present for the dedication included Harvey Jones, Adeline Kettlewell Hardiman, Harold Rolseth, Marie Kissner Strini, Alice Carpenter Lindsman, Erna Miller, Julie Klatt Brow (now the wife of Winston Brown, Waukesha County Supt. of Schools, also a former teacher here), Winston Price, and Lois Ann Mantz Gill.
Mr. Swanson read several excerpts from a notebook he recently uncovered among old records containing the minutes of the first meetings of School District No. 10. The first entry, dated Nov. 27, 1849, is a notice of a special meeting called for the purpose of changing the site of the school house, and to choose officers, and raise a tax for the payment of teachers’ wages. According to the records held by Mrs., Leo Howard, the first school in Sussex was held in the the home of Mrs. John Weaver, at the location now occupied by Johnnie’s Service Station. The only teacher available was from Milwaukee, and she demanded $4.00 weekly for room and board. The residents felt they couldn’t afford such high wages and build a school too, so they persuaded Mrs. Weaver, a well-educated woman, to serve as teacher temporarily. (Editor’s note: See Mrs. Weaver’s comments )
(Editor’s notes: ” That summer of 1841 the stone school-house was built inSchool District No. 1, the first school-house that was built in Lisbon. It was asmall structure when first built, but in later years it was remodeled and mademore commodious. Mr. Phineas Bissel was the first teacher in the newschool-house, and was succeeded by Miss Minerva Bissel. Previous to this therehad been several terms of school taught by Miss Anna Daugherty in the same smallcabin, in which the first school was taught by your correspondent, the cabinhaving been fitted up for a school room, after we moved into a more commodiousone in close proximity to it which was about the same thing or nearly so, ashaving it in our house. But we put up with it as good grace as we possiblycould, for the sake of having a school for our own and our neighbor’s children.” Source: “Memories of Early Days” by Melinda Ann Warren Weaver, Darlington Wis., December 21, 1875 )
The minutes of the first meeting of the school district as recorded in the notebook, read as follows:
” A special meeting of the inhabitants of School District No. 10 in the Town of Lisbon called by the Superintendent of common Schools in and for the said District was held at the house of Rich Cooling on Friday, the 7th day of December, A. D. 1849. at 5 o’clock P. M. for the purpose of choosing officers for the ensuing year, and to raise a tax to build a school house, to remove site of school house, likewise to raise a tax for the payment of teachers wages.” “The following persons were chosen as District Officers for the ensuing year: George Elliot, Director; Robert Roger, Treasurer; and Stephen R. Callow, District Clerk.”
“Resolved, that the present site of the school house be removed to the northwest corner of Wm. Weaver’s land on Section 26 in the Town of Lisbon, and that the bounds of the said school house be three rods wide in front and running back six rods, that said district have possession of the above named land so long as it shall be kept for school purposes. Resolved that the District raise by tax Eighty Dollars ($80) by the first day of March A. D. 1850 for the building of said school house, that the district build the same the present year. That it be left in the hands of the District Board to build and complete the above school house in the the best and cheapest manner. Voted and carried that the district raise Ten Dollars ($10) by tax for the payment of teachers’ wages for keeping a summer school, and that the district keep school three months the following summer.”
A later entry, dated June 1, 1850, quotes the agreement made between the District Board and Janette Moyes, the first teacher, who was to be paid the sum of $1.25 per week. In the minutes of the annual meeting held on Sept. 30, 1850 at 6 p.m., it was resolved that the district raise by tax 77 cents to pay for pail, school record, broom, and dipper, also to pay 31 cents for writing paper. It was further resolved that school be kept three months that winter by a male teacher commencing on the first Monday of December, 1850. An itemized account of annual expenditures, dated Sept. 29, 1851, included such items as “Finishing school house—$71, Teachers wages–$66; Stove–$13.46; and Building privy–$8.50.”
These records of the early school days in Sussex are in striking contrast to the specifications of the building now completed. The new classrooms are of modern square design, featuring low ceilings, and clerestory lighting, decorated in beautiful colors taken from nature’s own hues. The “black” boards are now pastel colored and adapted to the use of special crayons which simple wipe off, leaving no dust or mess as with the old chalk boards. In the lower grades, the boards are tilted forward at a slight angle to eliminate glare and shadows. Radiant heating in the floors insures warm, even heat throughout the building, and the asphalt tile floor covering is attractive as well as serviceable.
Each classroom is equipped with its own little wash bowl so that tiny tots may learn to keep their equipment as well as themselves neat and clean. Mr. Alfred Siewert, architect, explained that the room in which the program was held, which seated about 150, was built as a multi-purpose room, to be used primarily for audio-visual education. It can also serve as an outdoor playroom for the younger children, and as a lunch room during the noon hour. The kitchen has not been completed as yet, but it promises to be one of the best.
George E. Watson, State Supt. of Schools, gave an address in which he pointed up the vast amount of building being done in our schools today, by stating that this was the 79th dedication he had attended in his three years of office. Mr. Watson stated the question, “Do we have a new kind of education that fits into these new schools?” His reply was that in this age of 1952 the schools have three significant and important jobs. “First, to give to these boys and girls the skills and the competencies they need to live effectively in an age such as this. Second, if the school is to serve as an agency of the community,. it must impart to these youngsters that which is so sadly lacking: it must give them a sense of decency, a set of moral standards, a code by which they will live. Third, teachers have the task of giving to these young people some basic understanding of America. We need to have indoctrination. We need to give them an understanding of what is America, how we are evolving, what are the long time American goals, and our practices and procedures.”
He concluded by emphasizing that the school alone cannot teach law and order. It can only do it with the cooperation of the home.
The program also included three vocal numbers by the Eighth Grade Girls Chorus, with Moneen Mielke featured as soloist in “This Is My County”. An accordion solo was played by Nancy Roginske. While refreshments were being served by the Home and School Club, the teachers held open house in their respective classrooms.
Sussex Grade School grads of 1953 now nearing retirement
by Fred H. Keller, Historian
Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Eighth-grade graduation ceremonies for the 31st graduating class from the four-room Sussex Main Street School took place in June of 1953.
Many of these graduates are now approaching retirement, as they are passing the 62-63-age barrier.
The school was first built in 1922, but prior to graduation in 1953, Sussex Main Street School had just undergone renovations.
The new section was used by the lower grades. In fact, the only reason the class of 1953 would have had to even enter the new addition would have been to take part in the recently instituted hoot lunch program, staffed by Esther Schafer and Lala Weaver.
The principal, now deceased. was Clinton Swanson, who shortly after this event left Sussex and took a position in Brookfield.
Swanson had a big impression on the Brookfield students, School Board and PTA before succumbing to cancer ten years or so later. Today, there is a school in Brookfield named after him.
The custodian was Arthur Wendt.
The Home and School Club officers were: President Henry Headly, Vice-President Mark Nettesheim, Secretary Harriet Gleisner, and Treasurer Ida Belle Wendt.
The School Board in 1953 consisted of Albin Halquist, Kurt Kneiske, Willard Schafer, Art Manke, and Kenneth Luce.
Many of the 27 graduates still reside in the Sussex and Lisbon area.
Allan Frantl, now a resident of Lisbon, said, “It was kind of nice to have the hot lunch program” once Orchard Drive School (the new addition) was built. “Before that, we always had to carry bag lunches.”
Today, Frantl heads up Frantl Industries, located in the Sussex Industrial park.
Frantl said, “Across the street from the school, where Sentry is today, there was Podolske’s Hardware, the Sweat Shop (we called it the Slop Shop) and the IGA, run by Tony “Bubbles” Schumann.
The Farmers & Merchants Bank was east on the same side of Main Street as the school. The old bank was right on the sidewalk and not set back at all.”
He added, “There was a big bike rack west of the school, and behind the Van Valen’s, we had a baseball field. Milton Mantz was the all-the-time umpire of big games back there. And Bud Reis had a tin shop under the IGA store in the basement.”
Other notable students from the class of 1953 include Dick Wnuk, a member of the Land ‘O Lakes Baseball Hall of Fame. Wnuk was a member of the outstanding Lannon grand championship teams for many years.
Ron Schlei, was the leading basketball scorer and all-conference for Waukesha High School in the old suburban high school conference, only to suffer an early death in an auto accident.
Main Street School held its last eighth-grade graduation in 1962, when Maple Avenue School was built.
Sussex Main Street School closed in 1979. In 1990, the school became Sussex Village Hall, after a collection of former students formed a club named “Save Our School”, and successfully lobbied for a million-dollar remodeling project.
Sources for information below come primarily from the WaukeshaFreeman or Waukesha Daily Freeman unless otherwise noted.
1910 (Note:these individuals may not have worked at the Sussex Graded School. A”district school” probably indicates one outside of Sussex, not thegrade school.) – Julia Stallman,
age 28, bds with JohnWeaver family; Seillian (?) Kaiderback, age 21; Mary Rasen, age 25; JosephineJohnston, age 29 (district school); Mabel Blodgett,
age 18 ?, bds with Mary G.Matteson (teacher), age 22; Martha Sennott, age 17 (district school); TheodoreC. Klett, bds with John R. Small family; Milo
Brown (district school); HarveyBrick, age 29
Sussex Grade School, photo by Montgomery, Hartford, Wis. Postmark dated 1913. Mailed to Canby, Oregon. This school was destroyed by fire in 1921.
1920 Federal Census: Persons listed with “Teacher”as Occupation” living in Town of Lisbon (Note:these individuals may not have
worked at the Sussex Graded School.) – LelaVaugh, age 25, bds with Ida J. Small and dau. Retta E. Small; Marjorie Kimball(Kimble)
1930 Federal Census: Persons listed with “Teacher”as Occupation” living in Village of Sussex (Note:these individuals may not have
worked at the Sussex Graded School) -Harvey A. Jones, age 27, bds with William Russell; Edman F. Headley, age18, born in Oregon;
Erna H. Miller, age 21; Erma (Irma) R. Lingelbach, age 23,music teacher; Margaret F. Stetzer, age 22, bds with Charles Lingelbach
family;Anna R. Homister, age 25, bds with Charles Lingelbach family; Muriel Glaven (?),age 20, born in Illinois.
Considerable improvements were made at the Sussex school during the summer vacation.
A new black top walk was put in from the bus stop to the bridge. A new sidewalk from the ? around the new building between the old building; a new fence between Mrs. Morgan’s property and the school property. New thermopane windows have been installed in the two upper ? rooms in the old building. The floors have been sanded on the upper floor. The combination 1st and 2nd grade room received a complete decoration job, and all new furniture was put in. New ditto machines and a new set of encyclopedias have been purchased for use by the pupils.
A teachers meeting was held recently. Sussex now belongs to the new Co-operative Film Library that has been organized in the county by Superintendent Winston Brown.
A committee of teachers has been appointed to formulate a new report card. Parent-Teacher conferences will be held at the ? of the first nine weeks performance. Waukesha Daily Freeman, September 23, 1954, page 3 of 26.
1955/ Sept. – Teachers: Misses Louise Middendorf, JeanetteMiddendorf, Bernice Graf (Source: Waukesha DailyFreeman Dec 29, 1955.)
1955/ Dec 29 – Ray Wendt took over custodial duties Dec29., he replaces William Nettesheim who served as custodian since school openedin September.
SUSSEX HAD FOUR MAIN STREET SCHOOLS by Fred H.Keller, Sussex Village Historian, Source: Sussex Sun,Tuesday, May 11, 2005
DESTROYED BY FIRE – This huge, red brick four-roomschoolhouse was built for $13,000 directly in front of the old schoolhouse. Itopened in 1914, only to burn to the ground in 1922. The last three are featuredin this story. The first school was organized in 1849 for Lisbon School DistrictNo. 10. This wooden school was built for about $1,700 behind what is now PaulCain’s Service Station on Maple Avenue. The teacher was paid $66 per schoolyear. Later additions to the school included an outhouse for $8.50 and awood-burning stove for $13.46. (Students were expected to provide the wood.) By1853, the school building was valued at $150. The original land claimant,William Weaver, leased the land to the school for an annual rent of $2. Thestudent population outgrew the old wooden school, so in 1867 one acre of landnext to Sussex Creek, on what was then the extreme eastern edge of old Sussex,was purchased. The second school, a two-room cream brick structure, cost$1,683.41.
The original outhouses were replaced in 1884 with brickouthouses. In 1886, the school was closed in April-May because of an outbreak ofscarlet fever. In June the children would not return because of continued fearof the deadly disease. In 1913-14, a new two-story red brick school was built infront of the old cream brick school. Once it was completed at a cost of $13,000,the old school was torn down. The new school still used outhouses, but addedelectricity and indoor plumbing in 1921. The school included a two-year highschool from 1920 to 1947. The school burned to the ground Jan. 30, 1922. Itsstudents scattered to various churches and other open buildings to continuetheir education while a new $26,000 school was built. Orchard Drive School wasbuilt behind it, and Maple Avenue School south of the village in 1962. MainStreet School closed in 1979.
In 1988, it was to be torn down, but Save Our School (SOS)prevailed on the village leadership to remodel the building into the SussexVillage Hall, which opened in mid-1990. It has served in that capacity for thelast 15 years.
© Sussex Sun 2005