Lannon School History: 1785 thru Civil War

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Community School History: Lannon Elementary 

History of Education in Lannon Area; Waukesha County, Wisconsin

Edited by Mike Reilly, c.November 6, 2000

revised 06/04/04


    As of 11/6/00, the history of the Lannon areaschools has been moved from the general Lannon history web pages to here. Moreinformation about its’ history and of how the State of Wisconsin, and WaukeshaCounty influenced it will be added later. This chronological history isdivided into eras that roughly parallel the development of the present-dayLannon Elementary School, this was strictly the choice of the Editor.

    A note about printing these web pages – youare free to print them out and make copies, but you may want to use the”Landscape” option rather than the normal “Portrait” printsetting as some of the text and pictures won’t entirely fit on the page.

    It appears now that Lannon’s first school wasWillow Springs School; perhaps in the late 1880’s, a stone school house wasbuilt in the Village, then followed by the two-story wooden, and eventually thepresent, often remodeled, Lannon Elementary School. The history of the area’s parochialschools is also included because some local students attended them, and they hadan influence on the public schools too. The history is presented in achronological manner to show how events affected the future of education in thearea.

    Information is also provided here about the FallsHigh School (the Lincoln School building) and later MenomoneeFalls High School since many of the Lannon area 8th Grade and 10th GradeGraduates went on to high school there.

    Help fill in the blanks  – trying todetermine which teachers taught when, and what grade(s), and who were the schoolPrincipals. For Lannon Elementary School see Lannon ElementarySchool Teachers . WillowSprings School  teachers are being added to the history below for thetime being. St.James’ and St. John’s (not yet created) schools will probablyhave teachers and principals added to their respective web pages.

Thank you…Mike Reilly, Editor

1785 Thru the Civil War

1785 – Thomas Jefferson’s Ordinance: money to be providedfor Section 16 Federal land in every township for school support – afterstatehood was achieved, Federal funds could applied for.

1830′-40’s – The schools built and maintained used the”rote system” – community support, and tuition on a per child basisfrom parents. Tuition was often payable in a teacher’s room & board, food ,firewood, and other in-kind payments.

1835/36 – the earliest (?) to the Lannon area may have been a small private schoolestablished by Mrs. John Weaver, the Town of Lisbon. As many as 20students were taught basic grammar and mathematics. If Lannon area residentsused her services it’s unknown. Its’ quite likely though, that before the WillowSprings School was built (see below), local “Lannon” resident homesserved the same purpose.

1839 – The following is some information taken from “An Actto Establish Common Schools”. The Wisconsin Territorial Legislature approved theestablishment of local schools to be operated by three town appointedsupervisors/inspectors – chosen by town citizens, the town having more than ten families.If the town had more than 10 + families, the County Board of Supervisors coulddivide the Town into school districts each controlled by three schoolsupervisors. Each town shall provide a competent schoolmaster(s) or mistress(es)to instruct the children. (Note: Some of these Townappointed/elected school supervisors ruled their districts as small “schoolrepublics”, guarding their power from outside efforts for improvementsby the County or State Superintendents of Schools.)

    These early public schools were used as orfor: churches, meeting halls (for temperance or revival groups), funerals,debates, Sunday school, and Town Meetings.

1840’s: Early to Mid – These areas had public schools: Pewaukee- 1840; Lisbon – 1841; Lake Five; Richmond (Merton); Menomonee Falls (see1843 below); Merton -all in 1843; Willow Springs, Plainville (Sussex), Duplainville – 1844.

1841 – Prairieville Academy ( in what was to become theCity of Waukesha) was chartered to prepare young men for college. See1846.

1842/Apr. 5 – 1st  Menomonee, Town of, meetingheld. During which the position of Commissioner of Common Schools (theposition, like other town positions, paid $1 for each day worked in the Town’sservice) was created, and a 1/4% tax was levied on all taxableproperty within, to pay for schools in the town.

        /Apr. 28 – the Townof Menomonee School Commissioners divided the town into six districts.District No. 1 had six persons in it (male persons only ?); No.2 had five; No.3, three; No.4, ten; No. 5, five; No. 6, three; total, 32. The total tax givenout for collection at this time, including county and Territorial tax, was$153.59  (Does any map or document exist that shows or describes thispartitionment ?)

1843 – the first Town of Menomonee school was taught (inMenomonee Falls area ?) by Ellen Corbett. Because of the large number ofstudents a frame schoolhouse was built the next year.[Note: According to “Glimpses ofMenomonee Falls – Past and Present”Menomonee Falls SchoolHistory contributed by Carol Wildt, the first public school in the Fallswas a log cabin school, on present-day Water Street (would this bethe same as a “framed schoolhouse” ?), the second structure wasn’tbuilt until 1851.] See the “Atlasof Wisconsin, 1878” to show Section 16 and where the first school shouldhave been built – this is were the first Town of Menomonee hall was firstbuilt in 1879 on Town Hall Road. Also page up to 1785 – remember Jefferson’sOrdinance about Section 16 use and getting Federal funding after statehood?

1844 – A meeting was called to establish the first  schoolfor the community, Willow Springs School, in the area later known as LannonSprings. During the course of the meeting, $500 wasraised to cover expenses for the new building. The settlers volunteered theirlabor to construct the school. Mr. William N. Lannon donated land and stone forthe building’s exterior (Note: Many times neighbors would quarrelamong themselves as to who would donate the land – they wanted the school nearto their homes). The laborers quarried the rock from a nearby quarryowned by Lannon. Some settlers made oak benches, which were placed along thewalls of the one room. The new one room school included a large rectangularstove for burning the nearby logs from “wood lots.” The lots weresupplied by the parents who sent their children to the school. The first teacherearned $18 per month and he taught the fall and winter terms. A female teachertaught the spring term, as most of the boys left to help their parents preparefields and plant crops. To see some other Willow Springs Schoolpictures click here.

    Schoollocation was always a matter of importance to residents, regardless of whetherit ended up on or near their property, parents at less had some concern if otherfactors would adversely affect their children. One such situation was remediedby the students themselves – in the Ottawa School district, one school waslocated near a saloon. In these early years, beer (and perhaps liquor) drinkingwas done pretty much by the entire family (it was many times safer than thewater supply, especially in urban areas); but in this case, some of the boypupils stopped by the saloon and got themselves sufficiently drunk to go backand tear down the schoolhouse. Now this gave the parents ample reason to seek abetter location for the new school. Why did the boys tear down the school?Perhaps the reason is to be found in some local newspaper, archived somewhere?Some good guesses would be they didn’t like the teacher, maybe they weredisciplined by the teacher, or perhaps they just hated going to school andtearing it down was their answer?

    Male teachers were thought tobe able to deal more effectively with the “boys” than a femaleteacher. Male teachers were typically paid four times or more than theircounterparts. Besides teaching, they (man or woman) were responsible for”keeping the stove lit”, “sweeping the floors”, and even”splitting firewood”. Boarding with local families kept their expensesdown, but could lead to some awkward situations.

    The subjects taught by theteacher may have included – the alphabet, reading, writing, orthography,grammar, and mental & practical arithmetic. But textbooks weren’t alwaysavailable; students were expected to furnish their own in some districts.Blackboards were often nonexistent, so small slate boards were passed around forthe student and teacher to write on. (Editor’s Note – Itwasn’t until the 1870’s that “tablets of paper” and “copybooks” became readily available and began replacing the small slateboards.).

    Orthography– the art of study of current spelling according to established usage.

    When books were available,they might have been Sander’s Reader, or McGuffey’s Reader; Kerkham’sGrammar; Adams & Colburns Arithmetic; Mose’s Geography,and Webster & Sander’s Speller. Sometimes the teacher had to preparelessons and tests using several different textbooks on the same subject, becausethat’s what the students may have had.

    Reference book like atlases,encyclopedia, dictionaries were considered a luxury, and few schools had them.Those school districts that set up “dictionary funds” for theirpurchase, found that buying the cabinet(s) to keep them locked in, cost morethan the books themselves.

1846 – the Prairieville Academy isrechartered as Carroll College Academy preparing students until 1860 whenthe Civil War closed it temporarily.

    The Territory of Wisconsin’s population hadgrown to over 60,000 residents, one of the requirements to begin the petitioningfor statehood. Statehood provided the opportunity to create a”tax-supported” (“free schooling”) publicschool system with the aid of Federal school lands (see 1785).

1848  – Besides Wisconsin becoming the 30th state of the Union, thefounding of the Universityof Wisconsin was provided for in our State constitution (July 26, 1848), and”free schooling”was to be provided for children ages four to twenty, and of course, WaukeshaCounty went from being part of the Wisconsin Territory to part of the state ofWisconsin. Where did children in the Lannon area go for schooling up to thelater 1880’s? (and beyond), probably Willow Springs School? It in the early days of education, there were grades 1-5, then the studentcould quit school or take some additional “higher school”courses. (Note: Willow Spring(s) School has a history going back to 1844.).

    A number of “common”schools sprang up in Waukesha County soon after; one of them was called “LannonSchool” but it was in the town of Delafield (see page 282 in “From Farmland to Freeways: A History Of  WaukeshaCounty” edited by Ellen D. Langill and Jean Penn Loerke; the article “TheHistory of Education in Waukesha County” by Ellen D. Langill) . Menomonee Falls built the Lincoln, Bailey, Sunnyside (north ofSunnyside cemetery), Oakwood, and Nelson schools. Some of these school, likeSunnyside, may have been used by Lannon residents.

1850 – The entire Town of Menomonee is SchoolDistrict No. 7 (probably as early as 1848). In this year this schooldistrict purchased the land which later was sold (?) to St. Anthony’s CatholicChurch for the building of a parochial school. (see 1857)

1857 – St. Anthony’s Catholic school isopened in Fussville. An early or 1st teacher at the school may have beena Sister Augustina. Both St. Anthony’s and St. Mary’s (1858) may haveplayed a role in the education of Lannon area students whose Catholic familieswanted a non-public education alternative. How the students got there and back,had to be a long wagon or horse-back ride. St. James in Lannon (soon tobe annexed by Menomonee Falls a few years later, didn’t have a school until thelater mid-1950’s).

1858 – St. Mary’s Catholic school isestablished in Pewaukee.

        – Bythis year, the Village of Waukesha structured some of its’ school districts(being independent of the County Superintendent of Schools, as was the Villageof Oconomowoc, see 1861 below) into a “gradedsystem” of “Primary” (grades 1-3), Intermediate(4-5), and “Grammar” (6-8). Later (circa 1870), “HighSchool” (9-10) was added.

    During the 1850’s and 60’s,education in Wisconsin was slowly being promoted, but still, school attendancelevels only averaged about 50% (see 1879), with a Stateilliteracy level of 20%.

1860 Federal Census of Menomonee Township revealsthere were (14) County School Teachers living within the Town: (also see the1870 Federal Census on the next web page)

    Susan Al___o, age 17, born NY

    John Gray, age 21, born Eng.

    Francis Hesk or Browne, male,age 25, born Eng.

    Adeline Clark, age 25, bornNY.

    Susan Johnson, age 26,born Vermont, daughter of Edward and Polly Johnson, both from Vermont, she was17 in the 1850 Federal Census and attended school that year (1850). Susan isanother person who may have taught at the school on Howard’s property. Edward’sproperty consisted on 80 acres directly northwest of Howard’s. The Johnsonfamily arrived in the area from NY c. 1853; they had moved from Vermont to NY,then on to Wisconsin.

    Georgiana Brencroft, age 20,born NY.

    Bianca Smith, age 18, born NY.

    Mary Ann McCarty age20, born NY; the 1850 Federal Census shows a Mary A. McCarty, age 12, born in NYliving with Jas. and Sarah Fox, from NY and Ireland, respectively. She may havevery well taught at the school on the Howard land ? Sarah Fox may have beenrelated to Thomas McCarty and she and her husband may have lived on his 200acres in 1870. Both Mary Ann McCarty and Susan Johnson could also have taught ateither Willow Springs or Sunnyside schools.

    Ann Emmore, age 19, bornIreland

    Gertrude Meyers, age 16, bornNY.

    Mary Wittman , age 37, born inBavaria (Germany)

    Mary A. Davis, age 22, born inMichigan.

    Anna Mellnxore, age 16, bornin Ireland

    Jerome Phillips, age 29, bornin NY.

1861 – The office of County Superintendent ofSchools was created, replacing the “local superintendents. The position’spurpose was to coordinate the development of education on a county-wide basis.The County Superintendent was expected to visit each school/district at leastonce a year (by 1880 there were approx 90 separate school districts i WaukeshaCounty, in 1900, 115) and “help” them in the right direction. Eachschool district was required to prepare a report of their yearly activities, andin turn, The County Superintendent prepared a county report from these, whichwas submitted to the Wisconsin State Superintendent of Schools; then an annualconvention would be held for the County Superintendents. (Editor’s Note:The reason the Villages of Waukesha and Oconomowoc remainedindependent of County school authority for some time was because of a State lawcalled “Constitutional home rule” which allowed cities andvillages to determine their local affairs, but with reference to the StateConstitution.)

1862 – By this year the County Superintendent wasalso responsible for giving teacher applicants, examinations of competency.Based on their knowledge level on a number of subjects, the new teachers wereawarded certificates to teach, but they were only valid for one, two, or threeyears, then the teacher had to be recertified. Of course the examinations becameincreasing difficult, so to remain in the teaching profession, a teacher had tocontinue to upgrade his or her skill levels, especially if they wanted to beemployed for more than a single year. Many of these teachers only had an 8thGrade education themselves, so they had to attend a “high school”,college or academy, or go through Normal Training. In fact, theircertificates were only valid in the issuing county, and in no other; limiting opportunities,and creating teacher shortages in some districts. The only way around this was to become State Certified, but to obtain this license, the teacher was requiredto complete some additional “high school”, college or academy course,or go through Normal Training.

        – Theteacher shortage was actually made more serious because of the Civil War, butbecause the male teachers were off to war, their vacancies left manyopportunities for their female counterparts, not only for women teachers, butthe girl students were treated in a more equal manner (many probably found neweducational inspiration). See 1875.

1860’s – During the summer months, the Waukesha County Superintendent of Schools would hold “Teacher TrainingInstitutes” where teachers could upgrade their skills. Or they couldattend one of three Normal Schools in Milwaukee, Whitewater, or Platteville alsoestablished in this time period.

        – Inthe classroom, the sexes were kept separate; girls on the right, boys on theleft (also see 1871).Furthermore, the pupils were divided into “recitation groups”according to academic achievement – the top student were seated on the left endof the bench, while the worst performer was on the far right end. The term “togo to the head of the class” was the goal of many to avoid the embarrassmentof being the “dummy” or “dunce” (remember sitting in thecorner or at your seat with the “dunce cap” on?) (Editor’sNote: I remember attending 1st grade (and 2nd Grade) in a combined Saukvilleclassroom, and having to sit at the rear of the room in an over-sized desk,because I was too tall for my age and unable to fit in the rows of joined desks.Back in the 1860’s, the larger students also sat in the back.)

            ReferenceSources: “From Farmland to Freeways: A History Of  WaukeshaCounty” edited by Ellen D. Langill and Jean Penn Loerke; the article “TheHistory of Education in Waukesha County” by Ellen D. Langill;”Public Education in Wisconsin” by Conrad C. Patzer,Superintendent of Practice Teaching – Milwaukee State Normal School, 1924.Issued by John Callahan, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Schools; “Memoirsof Waukesha County”, Theron W. Haight, editor, 1907; the works of local historian FredKeller, some of them printed or reprinted in the Sussex Sunnewspaper; and the microfilm Menomonee Falls News articles and “Glimpses ofMenomonee Falls – Past and Present”Menomonee Falls SchoolHistory contributed by Carol Wildt, at the Maude Shunk Library; andthe microfilm Waukesha Freeman articles at the Waukesha PublicLibrary; plus the historical archives held by the Waukesha County HistoricalSociety Museum; in addition to interviews with current or former Lannon residents: Keith RichardGissal, Donald E. Miller, Shirley DeLorm (nee Wandsneider), and other individual input.