Main Street School: Sussex Graded School History

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Sussex Main Street School

A wrinkled, folded multi-class photo recently turned up mistakenly identified with a date of “about 1938,” but in truth it dates to 1940. The vast majority of the children listed, age 11-14, graduated from the Sussex two-year high school at age 16 between 1942 and 1944. Today, they would be in their early 80s, but many are deceased.

Pictured in the front row are (from left): Ken Schlei, Lenore Dopke (Cain), Francis Fleischmann, Sid Richards and Ken Marx. Second row (from left): unknown, Ralph Clarey, Marjorie Schultz, Marion Mamerow (Knoebel), unknown, Howard Pautzke and Harry Dopke Jr. Third row (from left): Ken Huelse, Fritz Haasch, Charlotte Zillmer (Rieve-Toth), Lois Ann Mantz (Gill), Dolores Tetzlaff, Elsie Mae Wileden (Weyer) and Mickey Karl. Fourth row (from left): Lorraine Clarey (Schaich), Dolores Fleischmann, Melvin Meyer, Jean Otto, Lois Kramer (Wandsneider), Geneva Weber and Doris Rieve (Howard). Back row (from left): Ervin Mudlitz, Russell Bauer, Betty Karl, Lloyd Pautzke, Ruth Mantz, Ruby Schley (Pederson), Mary Pope, Jean Adele Becker (Freiss), George Kraemer, Norman Steffen, George Hart, Fritz Fuchs, Paul Fleischmann, Elton Lees, Gordon Huelse, Marion Schmul (Haasch), Juanita Weber (Horne) and Jeanette Kraemer.

According to the Aug. 14, 1983, Sussex State Graded School all-school reunion booklet, the following students graduated from the Sussex two-year high school in 1942: Ken Schlei, Ken Marx, Harry Dopke Jr., Doris Rieve, Paul Fleischmann, Marion Schmul, Juanita Weber and Jeanette Kraemer.

Students who graduated in 1943 are: Sid Richards, Marion Mamerow, Ken Huelse, Fritz Haasch, Charlotte Zillmer, Lois Ann Mantz, Dolores Tetzlaff, Elsie Mae Wileden, Lorraine Clarey, Jean Otto, Lois Kramer, Geneva Weber, Ervin Mudlitz and Gordon Huelse.

The 1944 class included: Lenore Dopke, Francis Fleischmann, Marjorie Schultz, Lloyd Pautzke, Ruth Mantz, Ruby Schley, Jean Adele Becker, George Kraemer, Norman Steffen and Elton Lees.

Most of the boys went into the service during World War II, and many continued their service in the Korean War. Fritz Haasch joined at the end of WWII and became a sergeant major (highest ranking non-commissioned office in a division) during the Korean War.

Elsie Mae Wileden (Weyer) is the namesake for the park at the Pauline Haass Library/Sussex Village Hall after her many years of service on the Sussex Park Board and other volunteer duties.

Paul Fleischmann served multiple terms as the village president, and was at one time the president of the Sussex Lions Club.

Marjorie Schultz’s farm on Pewaukee Road, while still in the Town of Lisbon, will be annexed into the Village of Sussex as a major development of homes, businesses and a possible park addition.

Norman Steffen served as the Sussex Fire Chief in the early 1970s.

George Kraemer played on the 1950-51 Sussex Athletic Club Land O’ Rivers grand championship basketball team. He is in the Sussex Baseball Hall of Fame.

Francis “Porky” Fleischmann played on some Lannon baseball grand championship teams, and he is currently nearing 60 years of employment with Halquist Quarry.

Lois Kramer served as the Sussex Village Clerk.

Lenore Dopke has a tree planted for her at the Sussex Village Park, commemorating her years as a staunch fan of the local Land O’ Lakes baseball team. Her husband Paul Cain played with and managed the team, and he is a member of the Sussex Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ken Marx is the local “Mr. Horseshoe” champ.

Ervin Mudlitz graduated from Sussex High School in 1943, the year his brother Emory was killed on a bombing mission to Germany. The Sussex VFW is named after him (Horne-Mudlitz).

Sussex High School lasted from 1920 to 1947, when it was discontinued. Sussex Main Street School closed in 1979 and was going to be torn down in 1988, but the community rose up and demanded that it be saved. Remodeling was completed in 1990, and it is now the Sussex Village Hall.

Although many of the former students are deceased, a significant number of them are still present in the community, as are some of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sussex Main Street School-1912

Former Sussex village president, fire chief and Lions Club president Roy Stier gave me this photo in 1976 as an afterthought. He had lived all his life on Main Street, just east of Maple Avenue. He knew that the photo was a 1912 class photo of the Sussex Main Street School, but he could not identify a single person, not even himself. He thought he might be in the front row, fourth from the right.

Roy Stier was born to Fred Stier (1874-1924) and his wife Mary Smith. Mary was the daughter of Francis A. Smith (1855-1937) and his wife Eliza Love (1857-1902). Francis Smith was the firstborn son of English emigrant Jeremiah L. Smith (1829-1910), who was born in Sussex, England and came to New York at age 20, and then came to Lisbon in 1849. He married Ann Rebecca Weaver (1835-1922) on Nov. 8, 1854, and they had 10 children at their Howards Lane/Highway 164 40-acre homestead.

Politically, Jeremiah was a Democrat, and he frequently won the Waukesha County Coroner vote in addition to some positions in Lisbon township politics.

Ann Rebecca was the granddaughter of the first woman settler in Lisbon, Melinda Warren Weaver (1813-1886), who left New York in September 1836 and arrived in Lisbon in March 1837. She was a relative of General Joe Warren, a dentist by trade, who was the first U.S. general officer to die in battle, at the battle of Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War.

Melinda was the first teacher in Lisbon and the first in Waukesha County in 1838. Today there is a mini park on Maple Avenue that is named after her, on land adjacent to the land her husband John Weaver claimed (160 acres for $1.25 per acre, $200 total). Today, Clover Drive bisects it as it meanders east of Maple Avenue.

A major event in Melinda’s life was the Centennial celebrations of the United States in 1876. She was asked to write a small history of her life as the first woman settler in Lisbon. The book, which is available at the Pauline Haass Public Library, is titled “Memories of Early Days.” It is often used to show the hardships of early women settlers in the Midwest. Melinda was Roy Stier’s great-grandmother on his mother’s side.

On his father’s side, Roy’s father Fred Stier was one of the 16 signers of the Village of Sussex incorporation in September 1924. Roy’s grandfather was Jacob Stier, who was born in Germany and married Anna Eisenhauer, a distant relative of President Dwight Eisenhower (notice changed spelling).

Getting back to the class photo, there were 75 students in the two-room school, 39 boys and 36 girls. The photo also includes the principal and the lower-grade teacher. Two of the girls are carrying dolls, while two boys have baseball bats.

Originally, the Sussex Main Street School was located where Paul Cain’s Service is today, and it was called the Lisbon #10 District School. It was built in 1849 out of wood and had a value of $150. The land was acquired on a rental deal from pioneer William Weaver Jr. (1802-1896), with an annual rent of $2.

In 1867, an acre of land on the far eastern limits of Sussex next to the Sussex Creek was purchased from George Elliott. A new two-room cream brick schoolhouse with outhouse toilets was built on the site, for $1,683.41. This version of the school is the backdrop for the 1912 student photo.

The school’s location on the eastern edge of the village prompted businesses and churches to build there as well.

Scarlet fever closed down the school in 1886, as so many children were absent in April and May.

Very soon after the photo was taken, a new red brick, four-room, two-story school was built in front of it, opening in 1914. The old school was torn down soon after. The new school lasted only until Jan. 30, 1922, when it was completely destroyed by a nighttime fire. Another new school, also two stories and four rooms, was quickly built at a cost of $25,000 on the foundation of the 1914 school. It was abandoned by the Hamilton School District in 1979, and in 1990 it became the Sussex Village Hall.

The kids in the 1912 photo are sitting where today the parking for the Village Hall starts north. A question to the reading public: Is there anyone out there who might also have this photo with the names of the students on the back?