History of Education in Lannon Area; Waukesha County, Wisconsin
Edited by Mike Reilly, c.November 6, 2000
1900 Thru 1938
Note: There is evidence that from when public schooling was created in Wisconsin under the State firstconstitution, that grades only ranged from 1st thru 5th, and some sort of”high school” or upper level classes were offered to students. When achild started school was not determined by age so much, but what the teacherfelt he or she knew in comparison to other students. For instance, a 4 year oldmight be judged to know as much as a 2nd grader and initially placed in thatclass level. Ruth Schmidt, the late Merton historian, wrote that when she wentto school in the early 1900’s, she learned more by osmosis, listening to theupper grades in her class doing their recitations, math problems, and so on,than she did from the curriculum she was taught. She was also in a school thathad all eight grades in a single room. She started in the 2nd Grade and actuallyskipped two other elementary school grades along the way to”graduation”. At this time, it’s not known if Lannon started out witha single room school house or when the first school house was actually built onthe site of the stone, and later, wooden building.
(Question – Did teachers have not onlya classroom with 1 or 2 (or 1-8) grades to teach, but also specialize in teaching math,science literature, etc., to the entire school? There are many references to theAlgebra Class or the Science Class, and the Literary Society. Also note that thePrincipal usually taught class as well.)
1900’s: circa early/late 1800’s – if you attended the Lannon School, the two-story wood framed building on the site of the presentVillage Hall, you received a diploma for graduating from 8th grade. Many dropped out of school after the 8th grade; if you wanted tocontinue on in high school, you had to transfer to either Menomonee Falls orWaukesha. Right now it is unknown as to when the school(s) in the Lannon areawent from offering just grades 1-5, with additional “higher school”courses available; to offering grades 1-8, and then the structured 9th &10th grades (see 1924).
– Some Waukeshaschools districts pushed for establishing “graded schools” -the students grouped in grades or classes according to performance. Otherdistricts wanted to keep the “ungraded” or “common”old one-room style schoolhouse.
– School playgroundswere segregated play areas; boys on one side, girls on the other (of coursethere was probably other discrimination: Irish, German, Polish, Italian,Catholic, Lutheran, etc.)
1900/Circa – Many Waukesha County schools had divided studentsinto 8 separate grades – but not necessarily into separate classrooms. Someschool districts started kindergarten programs (Lannon wasn’t one of them).
– Schools begin to address the issues of students with “specialneeds”.
1900 – The State Superintendent of Schools could withholdfunding to districts that didn’t comply with State school safety and healthcodes. “Second class” schools didn’t meet these standards while”First class” did.
/Sept – Maywin Hayes of Colgate was teaching at LannonSchool.
1901/June 14. – “Flag Day” – a Federalproclamation – required schools to purchase and display the U.S. flag onthis day, and on other appropriate holidays.
1903 – Julia R. Rockafellow became the firstwoman Waukesha County Superintendent of Schools.
1904/Circa – Waukesha County requires that 8thGraders be examined – only those who passed the tests could receive adiploma and attend “high school”. Note: Prior toWorld War I, approx. 50% of school children didn’t stay thru the 8th Grade, anda like percentage failed the 8th Grade graduation exams.
1904 – To encourage school attendance, anystudent with perfect attendance received a certificate.
1905 – Agriculture became a required course inWisconsin elementary schools.
– forthe first time, the County Superintendent is assisted by a “RuralSchool Inspector”. Note: the cities of Waukeshaand Oconomowoc had their own “City Supervisors”.
– With the additional aid, County Superintendents ofSchools were now able to fulfill the new State requirement that they meetannually with all of the local school board members (who received compensationfor their attendance) in a county level convention. There, they were to choosewhich standard textbooks were to be used the following years in their schools;then the County Superintendent would purchased all of the books required anddistribute them to the school districts. In 1914, Waukesha County was the firstto adopt a uniform textbook rule; committees were also established to revieweach grade level’s books.
1907 – Lannon had a “Second class”school, the two-story wooden building, with “two departments“(classrooms or class divisions ?) with an enrollment of 84; average attendancewas 54. Annual expense for the school was approx. $1,200, of which, $840 waspaid to the teacher(s).
-“First class” schools could receive state funding to pay up to halfthe cost of student transportation.
1910/Before – Lannon had become a “firstclass graded school”. Meaning it offered grades 1-8 and met the minimumhealth and safety standards set by the State.
1910 – With school district consolidationunderway, some chose to transport their students to the nearest school by “schoolwagon” – often hay wagons pulled by horse(s), and carrying up to twentychildren.
-Wisconsin law now allows schools to establish “vocationaleducation” for adults during the day and evening school hours. Note:Prior to WWI, the University of Wisconsin established extensions in manycounties, such as Waukesha, to aid farmers, homemakers, and the generalpopulation.
– The WisconsinState Parent and Teachers Association is formed through the efforts of aformer Waukesha County teacher, Mrs. Agnes Betts.
1911 – the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. PaulRailroad, operating out of Granville station, had one passengertrain each day, and all Falls High School students from Lannon, Sussex,Templeton, Merton, and North Lake would be picked up every morning andreturned after school.
– Menomonee Falls started a kindergarten program.
-Wisconsin establishes provisions for teacher retirement and pension.
1913-15: Wisconsin began offering incentives toschools districts that provided courses which reduced the “flow of thefarm boy (girl) to city life”. Agricultural clubs such as 4-Hand “Future Farmers” were formed within the schools to reversethe trend. Menomonee Falls offered “tuition free” short coursesin agriculture.
1915 – the students weren’t the only ones leavingthe rural life – teachers were hard to come by and to hold onto; the State thenbegan offering cash incentives to those teachers who stayed on for a third,fourth, and fifth year at a school.
-Wisconsin also created “supervisory teacher” positions to helpteachers with various problems and promote educational development. They oversawthe local teachers and reported to the County Superintendent of Schools. Question- Were these “supervisory teachers” what were to become the schoolprincipals?
-Mukwonago High School was the first in Waukesha County to offer a “hotlunch program:”.
-Prior to war breaking out, the Wisconsin State Legislature established the”Junior High School”, but most activity didn’t occur until after thewar ended and normality returned in the early 1920’s.
When World War I broke out andAmerica became involved, school students promoted the sale of Liberty bonds andwar savings stamps, and formed Junior Red Cross groups (they knotted andsewed clothing, scarves and sweaters, for soldiers). They wrote letters tothe local servicemen each month (Question – Do anyexamples of these letters exist today?). Students alsocollected money for the Belgium and French orphans.
The American flag was flownmuch more often at schools and pupils sang patriotic songs during this time.Schools formed “Boys’ Defense Leagues” – these allowed boysto leave school to help with the spring farm plantings and still receiveacademic credit. Many different farm and agricultural clubs were formed orfurther supported (see 1915 above).
As during the Civil War, thenumber of male teachers dropped dramatically, but women stepped in wheneverpossible, if they available – many women joined Red Cross nursing units andtraveled overseas to aid the servicemen.
The anti-German sentiment feltin Wisconsin (and the resentment toward immigrants in general) led to thecreation of “school societies” to “Americanize” foreign-bornstudents (primarily German) versus outright banning of them in the schools.
1917 – the Smits-Hughs Federal Actsupplied money to schools to start or help continue industrial and agriculturalprograms – mainly done to help returning war veterans.
After the war ended, physicaleducation and fitness programs were initiated in schools. When the warstarted and millions of Americans reported to induction centers or camps, Americafound out how unfit its’ citizens were by the number failing basic physicalexaminations.
1919/June, 27* – The Falls High School burns tothe ground. Young Elwood Burkhardt loses his life trying to save school recordsand property; the only human loss. The fire, lasting four days, is thought to have started inthe chimney while the janitor was burning paper. * Some references indicate it was June, 1920.
The fire’s aftermath
When the school session resumed in September, Lannon students and others had to attend classes in any available halls and churches until the erection of the replacement Lincoln High School building. The community, and country, was in the midst of a economic depression, with few funds to rebuild. Many of the bricks used in the reconstruction were those from the burned school; residents banded together and cleaned them for reuse. Furthermore, 2nd-hand flooring was used in all rooms and the gym to reduce construction costs.
The new Lincoln High School
The new school building didn’t open untilOctober 1922; some of the places students attended classes during thereconstruction were in the Guild Hall of St. Paul’s Church and in a hall abovethe post office. The new building was primarily red brick, one story highbuilding with a large assembly area in the center with classrooms on eitherside. In the “basement” the open-gymnasium extended from one end tothe other.
1920’s – An era finding teachers wanting specialized educationand training – Music teachers in rural areas worked at several schools.Music was highly popular in the ’20’s, although Jazz was banned frombeing taught in public schools. (Note – Students found many places to enjoy themusic of the day, even if not offered in the school).
– School athleticprograms were started or expanded, and competition among local schoolswas encouraged.
– “HealthAwareness” campaigns were created.
– County nurses wereappointed to visit schools on a regular basis to examine students.
– New buildingprograms allowed many elementary schools to offer 9th & 10th Grades (see1924), and with new facilities, janitors were being hired to freeteachers from cleaning chores previously required.
– the ’20’s werealso a time for student services to increase (county nurses, for example) whichenriched their school and personal lives. Graduates begin to see their firstyear books, remembrances of their school, activities, and schoolmates. Studentsalso saw more involvement in school operation through “studentgovernments”.
1921/Sept. Miss Julia Owens, of Watertown, the teacher atWillow Springs School.
1922 – Question – In February 1922 the 9 year old SussexGraded School burned down; Erwin “Erv” “Greenie” Miller may have attended this school when he father Salty worked in Templeton circa1915. Erv was born in 1908 in West Bend. The school records for the period1911-18 werenot found at the Waukesha County Historical Society; could they have beenlost in the fire. If so, why are there 1919-1922 records available? Does anyonehave any classroom records for the missing time period?
1922 – Willow Springs School: Miss Butske the teacher with 29 students in one room.The wood burning stove has been moved from the center to a corner. A largewoodshed is outside to hold firewood.
1923/Sept. – Willow Springs School: Miss Conberg, of Hartland, the teacher.
1924 – By this year, Lannon State Graded School was offering9th and 10th Grades, building hadthree rooms downstairs and two up
Note: In a interview with KeithGissal, 10/18/2000, he explained that 8th was in the same room as the 9th&10th grades; 8th on one side of the room, the “high schoolers” onthe other. Depending on when you entered 8th, the “high schoolers”were being taught either freshman or sophomore curriculum, the next year theywere taught the other. So as a 8th grader, you could have listened to sophomoreclass level courses being taught, then as a freshman (when you moved across theroom the next year) you could have sat through the same sophomore curriculum orbe taught the freshman version. Keith attended Lannon school from 1925, age 5 inthe first grade thru 1935 (the 10th grade)
1926 – 48 students are crowded into the one-room Willow SpringsSchool.Residents balk to having to tearing it down and spending $5,000 to build a newred brick two-room school with a recreation room in the basement. Many thoughtthe school was too luxurious.
1927/5/27 – Lannon won both cups for having best baseballteam for both boys and girls this season. They were all tuned up to turn inanother victory on Sunday, but the rain spoiled the game; they were to play the “LannonMarried Men”. Game postponed until June 5th.
– The Lannon town team lost to Hartland in a 7-inning contest by thescore of 9 to 6. Since they have an open date this season, the Lannon SchoolTeam dares the town team to cross bats with them. “Basting and Lodan,hear this. What about a game?”
– The Commencement program was held Thursday at the Lannon Inn; thespeaker Mr. Dietz, drew a large crowd. The 7th, 8th and 10th grades are going toSilver Lake for their end of year class picnic.
The Great Depression– schools were forced to close or drastically reduce their teaching staffs.Those teachers that remained found their salaries reduced. Schools had toeconomize and “recycle” materials. The school support staffing atlocal, county, state, and federal levels were all reduced contributing to adecline in education. The students suffering from malnutrition showed littleinterest in learning and attending school.
Circa 1930 – The Lannon SchoolNotes recorded the happenings at Lannon Graded School, penned by variousstudents and teachers for inclusion into the weekly Menomonee Fall News.
Question – The Lannon PTA – when did itbegin; there was a Historian – where are the old records? In a Sussex Sun article,”Photo evokes memories for surviving Lannon students”, by Fred H.Keller, 10/15/2002, talks about a 3-ring binder book titled, “Historyof the Lannon Parent Teacher Association 1930 – 1957”. Theinformation below was found in this History book that Mr. Keller carefully puttogether from nearly discarded materials found at Lannon School.
1930, October 16 – In answer to a call (request,not phone call) from Mrs. H. C. Wells, 29 residents of Lannon met at the”Little White Church On Thursday evening to decide if a Parent TeacherAssociation could be formed. The church was too cold so the group adjourned tothe Lannon School. There the decision was made to form the PTA. Charter Memberswere Mrs. John J. Flanagan, Mrs. O. V. Fragstein, Mrs. Glenn D. Harmon, Mrs. W.J. Mueller (correct spelling is Miller – Grandmother of this Editor), Mrs. HenryM. Nugent, Mrs. E. J. Vanderboom, Mrs. J. C. Walters, Mrs. A. P. Walters, Mrs.H. C. Wells, Miss Esther Flanagan, Miss Marie Groehl, Miss Ella Hilgert, Mr.Albert Feltes, and Mr. Robert Stewart.
Officers elected that night were, Mrs. Wells,President, Mrs. A. P. Walters, Vice President, Mrs. A. L. Guis, Secretary, andMrs. Glenn D. Harmon, the Treasurer. Miss Esther Flanagan was appointed”Program Chairman.” The PTA wanted to use the “Little WhiteChurch” for a meeting place but the infant organization had no funds andthe church building needed repairs. Mr. Alvin P. Walters told the PTA that theVillage might purchase the church and use it as a Community Hall since no otherexisted in Lannon. In the meantime, the PTA used the church building as it was.That night they decided that the next regular meeting on October 29th would bein the form of a Halloween party for the children.
1930, October 20 – PTA first Board meeting hostedby Mrs. Wells to discuss the Halloween party. Also discussed was the appointmentof “Room Mothers” for each school classroom to assist in gettingparents to meetings, participate, etc.
1930, October 29, at the PTA meeting/Halloweenparty, Mrs. Henry Nugent was elected Historian, Mrs. James Loden, the MembershipChairman, and Mrs. A. L. Wilson, the Hospitality Chairman. The 128 childrenpresent performed, singing “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies.” Twocomedy films followed with Mr. Harold De Lany operating the “moving picturemachine”. Mr. Stewart, the Principal, secured the films from Waukesha. GameActivities were selected and sponsored by Mr. Stewart, but because of spacelimitations, children were randomly picked to participate while the otherswatched.
1930, October 30, the PTA Board met to discussthe party’s outcome, it was very successful, but the voluntary offeringscollected did not cover party expenses, even though each Village Board memberdonated 75 cents each. Mrs. Frank Schneider was appointed Budget & FinanceChairman. The group planned their first fundraiser, A card party to be held onNovember 13th at the “White Star Hotel”, Mr. Straittner, proprietor.(Farmers & Merchant Bank of Menomonee Falls donated fifty chairs, and thecard ladies provided tables to use at the event. There were five tables ofSchaafskopf, five tables of Cinch, and eleven tables playing “FiveHundred.”)
Armistice Day Program, November 11, 1930 – theschool children sang the National Anthem, more songs and had recitations.
1931/Prior – When Lannon played basketballagainst Sussex, the games where held across the street from the Sussex school inthe Lee’s Building where the hoops were 8’9″ high. Later that year Sussex’scommunity hall was finished with a fine gym.
Original Willow Spring stone schoolhouse – torn down in 1922
1932 – Orval Cullen was interviewed by Fred Keller for anarticle appearing in the Tuesday July 30, 1996 issue. In it are picturesof his 1st grade class in 1932 and his 7th grade in 1939. He tells ofhow it was still the Depression and wondered how his mother was able to affordthe $1 to buy the class picture? In 1939, the school had five rooms with theclasses broken up as follows: grades one-two, three-four, five-six were locateddownstairs; grades seven-eight, and 9-10 were upstairs. (Editor’snote: perhaps the enrollment during the 1938-39 school year wasn’t as high asprevious years – in prior years at least the third grade meet in the old VillageHall building on Main St.; also, many times the schoolhouse is described as afour-room building – what changed and when? ). Mr. Cullen also mentioned that the oldtwo-story wooden school house didn’t have indoor toilets even as late as May1939.
1932, September 22, The PTA held its’ firstregular meeting of the new school year in the new Village Hall (the former”Little White Church”). Mr. Frank Gumm (a teacher at Lannon School ?),a member of the congregation that built the church, talked about its’ backgroundand a little about Lannon’s history.
1933 – The “New Deal” federal programs providedfunds and programs to revitalize school conditions. School buildings that wereleft to deterioration were repaired and expanded. WPA workers helpedinstall indoor sanitary plumbing, and other safety/health needs.
Post Great Depression– Conservation was widely practiced in schools. To get students involved in therevitalization process, flower shows were held in schools, landscaping andforestry programs were implemented to restore school grounds. Those studentsrequiring special attention found it through the newly created positionsof “County Social Workers”.
During the 1933-34 school year, the PTA had thefollowing committees: Program, Finance & Budget, Social, Welfare, Weighing& Measuring, Publicity & Library, Child Welfare, Red Cross (these lasttwo were combined under one chairman), and Dramatic.
1930’s: mid – the over-crowded, two-story Lannon State Graded Schoolmoves its’ 3rd Grade class to where the Lannon Village Board held its’ meetingsat the present day China Doll Inc., 20481 W. Main St. (Note:business closed in Oct., 2000)
1937 – “My father was principal of theschool from 1937 to 1942 and I attended first and second grades there with MissAlice Knoebel as my teacher from the fall of 1940 to May or June 1942. Twocorrections — we spell our name Pejza, not Pejsa. My father also spelled hisfirst name as Philip, not Phillip. My father taught 9th and 10th grades,as I recall in addition to being principal.
You have to remember that Iwas a very young student there sixty years ago, so my memory of events that longago is somewhat faded. The school building was brand new when I was there. I doremember that there were several assemblies, one at Thanksgiving and one forLincoln’s birthday, probably for Christmas too. There was also a carnival ofsorts — my mother told fortunes in one booth. For a nickel or so, you could”see a night view of Lannon” — they took you into a darkenedclassroom and pulled up a window shade. I remember that on November 11, probablyboth in 1940 and 1941, there was a minute of silence in all the classrooms tocommemorate the armistice at the end of World War I. Classmates of mine wereAllan Cawley (from a farm west of town) and Judy Walters, whose folks I believeran the grocery store at the corner. The old school was still standingkitty-corner from their store but was unused.
In those days there was littlejob security for teachers — employment was at the whim of the local schoolboard. So about every five years my dad would look around and find a better job.He had come from Lublin, WI, up in Taylor County, where he had been principal ofa 4-room school. So Lannon was a step up. At first we lived in a house on theoutskirts of town. Then for about two years, we lived in Menominee Falls, beforemoving back to Lannon, about a block south of the school, next to a garage. Heleft Lannon after 5 years to take a job teaching math at Campion High School, aCatholic boarding school in Prairie du Chien, run by the Jesuits. He couldn’tfind a house in Prairie du Chien right away, so it was October 1942 before therest of the family moved.”
On October 15, 1937, Lannon School published its’ (first ?) newsletter; Vol.1 No. 1 of the “HIGH LIGHTS” at 2 cents per copy. later on the namebecame simply “HIGHLIGHTS”. The newsletter/paper contained generalschools news, plus activity in each of the classrooms,. Local community news wasalso published. The first Editor was Katherine Feltes. The purpose of thenewsletter/paper was to inform parents about work done in school, and to givepupils practice in writing articles for a newspaper.
1938/Sept. 1 – The Menomonee Falls News runs a story”School Bells Beckon to Youngsters Tuesday“; in the article,the “Required” and “Optional” classes offered by the MFHSare listed. The 9th and 10th Grade courses probably reflect the curriculumat the Lannon State Graded School.
Required Optional English, General Science, Civics Business Training, Industrial Arts, Domestic Science TENTH GRADE Required Optional English, Biology, Algebra Ancient History, Typing, Industrial Arts, Domestic Science
Required Optional English, Modern History, Geometry Latin, Chemistry, Shorthand, Geography, Typing, Industrial Arts, Domestic Science
Required Optional English, American History, Physics Latin, Economics, Social Problems, Advanced Math
1938 – the last graduating classes from the old-two story woodenschool held their Commencement Exercises at Ische’s Hall on Friday night May 23at 8:00 p.m.
1938 /Dec. – Boy Scout Troop 25 is reorganized with Lannon StateGraded School PTA as the sponsor. Principal Philip Pejza submits theregistration form to the Potawatomi Area Council No. 651 Region No. 7. The Troopwill meet in the Club Room at the old school on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. TwoPatrols were initially formed: Eagle Patrol consisting of Patrol LeaderGerald DeLany, Assistant PL Syd Gissal, scouters Myron DeLany, Francis Boyle,Melvin Golner, and James Duncan; and the Wolf Patrol consisting of PatrolLeader Jerry Walter, Assistant PL William Guis, scouters Donald Cawly, JohnWalsh, Vernon Lemke, Carmon Cirrillo, Louis Fischer, Frederich Richard Fischer,Joseph Walsh, and Norman Wildt. Melvin Mathiak became a scout in troop in March1940 but dropped in February 1941 due to lack of interest. Troop 25 wasrechartered by the School at least through 1942.
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.