Plainview Elementary / Joint District #4 / Lisbon District #4 SchoolHistory

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Plainview School went through three incarnations

Lisbon No. 4 School, known since 1920 as Plainview School, held an all-classes reunion Aug. 10 at the old Robert Bartlett farm, now the spacious Lisbon Community Park.

The school opened in 1844 and closed in 1965. During that time, three buildings hosted the school. The longest-serving was the one-room schoolhouse built in 1869-70 at Plainview Road east of Lake Five Road.

School commissioners R. Blount and Harrison Phillips got the ball rolling for the first schoolhouse, which served the west-central section of Lisbon along Lake Five Road and east to present-day Highway 164. In time it would also take in a bit of Merton around Lake Keesus.

The first plan called for a schoolhouse just south of the Bark River where it crosses Lake Five Road. The directors decided that the nearby Bark River could lead the boys to skip school and fish and swim, so they switched to a spot near Lisbon Union Cemetery. That site had its problems, too, so they moved the proposed school to its ultimate location on Plainview Road.

After three years of wrangling over the site, a log cabin with a zigzag fence surrounding was built there in 1847 for $300. Construction was completed Oct. 28 with the building of a $5 privy.

That elementary school, covering first through eighth grades, was really ungraded, and the few who did graduate had to pass a difficult test to go on to high school. Until the 1930s, most students did not go on to high school.

The entire class averaged about 25 students, most of them farm children, for years. In the 1940s, however, the school drew more “city slickers,” as their farm-raised peers called them. In its final years in the 1960s, enrollment of 50 or more was the norm.

During its log-cabin years, the school paid teachers $30 a month, and the school year ran just seven months.

The log cabin served for 22 years, until 1869, when the School Board voted 12-2 to build a new one-room schoolhouse immediately west of the log cabin and closer to Lake Five Road. The new schoolhouse was completed in November 1870 for between $1,300 and $1,400.

The school’s six square miles was assessed at $87,203. The prominent Lisbon taxpayers then were Robert Brown, Henry Phillips, Dan Roberts, William Dunn, Charles McKarty, Charles Tempero, William Steele, John Tempero, Mary Rankin, Henry Higgins, William Jaquest, Hugh O’Neil, Peter Thompson, John Butler Joseph Roberts, John Haass, George Kayser, John Schlicker, John Schneider, Maria Weeks and Martin Bey from the Town of Lisbon, while the Town of Merton taxpayers were John Rice, Robert Marshall, William Sedgwick, Richard Sedgwick, Robert Brown and a Mrs. Tannis.The big family names attending the school were the Dobbertin, Schlicher and Rankin. The Martin family contributed either 16 or 17 children, making up a significant percentage of the school population until they moved away to the adjacent Richmond School District.

Prominent schoolteachers with Sussex ties were Marjorie Stier, Maude Brown (Mrs. Alvin Kraetsch, aka Mrs. Scratch) and Ida Edwards (sister of Will Edwards).

Teacher Rita Truex bestowed the name Plainview School on Lisbon No. 4 School in 1920, and it stuck for the next 45 years.

A teacher shortage forced Plainview to shut down in 1945, but it reopened in September 1947 with one teacher. Two years later, that teacher had 38 students, and a campaign began to build a two-room school, which opened in January 1952 a long block west of the old school.

The old schoolhouse was sold to the Lembke family to defray the $26,627 cost of the new school, which included a central hall and an indoor toilet, as well as the two teaching rooms.

That last Plainview School closed forever in 1965, with the students going to the new Merton School. In 1966, the Hamilton School District sold the building to the Harman family, who later sold it to John Meissner (himself a former student, 1949-52).

Meissner’s son, Jay, and his wife took it over and remodeled it as their home, with a present-day address of N78 W27495 Plainview Road.

In August of this year, the Waukesha County Historical Society installed a historical marker at the Lisbon No. 4 School, which will put the former school on a county map of historical markers.

Plainview holds reunion

John and Beverly Meissner hosted an all-school reunion Sunday for the old Lisbon No. 4 School, popularly known as Plainview School, at nearby Lisbon Community Park, next to the Bark River.

John and Beverly Meissner hosted an all-school reunion Sunday for the old Lisbon No. 4 School, popularly known as Plainview School, at nearby Lisbon Community Park, next to the Bark River.

John was a student there from 1949 to 1952, and a couple of years ago acquired the historic Cream City-brick schoolhouse, now the home of John and Beverly’s son, Jay; daughter-in-law, Kelly; and their new grandchild.

Plainview School was organized in 1844. Its first permanent structure was a log cabin built in 1847. It moved to the new schoolhouse at Plainview and Lake Five roads in 1869-70. The one-room school lasted 83 years, until December 1952, when it moved again, that time to a multi-room facility.

It closed for good in 1965, and its students transferred to Merton Grade School.

The reunion drew 65 former students and teachers, led by 92-year-old Beatrice Fluke Webb.

Miss Fluke taught there from 1937 to 1939, starting at $75 per month, later raised to $85.

“I was expected to do the janitor’s work, too,” Webb said. “It was in my contract.”

She also warned this reporter in a stern teacher voice not to write anything in bad taste about “this wonderful school.”

Many old class photos were on display, along with a couple of report cards, financial reports, graduation pictures and other school items.

Most of the children who attended the school were farm children, except for David Kranik, now a dentist.

“I was one of the few ‘city slickers,’   ” he said.

Many of the alumni were Meissners, Dobbertins, Rankins and Schleichers.

The Martin family, which had 16 or 17 children, depending on whom one asks, was also well represented by, among others, Dick Martin and his sister, Rita Martin Jungbluth. Rita followed her parents’ lead and had 13 children of her own.

The weather in Community Park was perfect, and reunion-goers heard many tales of the boys skipping out of school to go fishing and swimming. They also recalled the school’s strict discipline and the outstanding teachers who taught all eight grades.

Plainview graduates, if they continued their education at all, went on to Hartland High School, a forerunner of Arrowhead High School, which took the school’s graduates during its final few years.

Above: This 1952 photo shows the one-room Plainview School that still stands today

Plainview School Classes 1946-1950 1947-1948 1948 1949-1950

Plainview School, at the intersection of Plainview and Lake Five Roads, was a Lisbon one-room school from 1844 to 1952. It served the west central Town of Lisbon. The original school was built of wood, started in 1844. In 1870, a cream brick one-room school was built on the southeast corner of the intersection for between $1,300 and $1,400. The school served the community until 1952.

Recently, the extended Rankin family of Lisbon , including Cherlyn Opsahl Maas, David Rankin and his brother John Rankin, have given the Sussex Lisbon Area Historical Society a pile of family history, as the Rankin family was a huge family, both in numbers, acreage owned and influence. Among the items given this time by David Rankin (Highway 164) were three grade school class pictures, which are included with this column, classed from 1946 to 1950.

The school, which in 1952 was built into a new multi-room school, shut down in 1965. The students were shipped to Merton Grade School.

The old cream brick school house is today part of the holdings of the extended John Meissner family and used as a private home.

John Meissner ramrodded an all-school reunion a few years ago using the Lisbon Community Park as a picnic site, while also giving tours of the renovated old one-room school as a piece of Lisbon history that has been saved.

The old one-room school averaged about 20 to 25 students per year from 1946 through 1950 for the one teacher who taught all grades. Talking today with some of them, they all seem to have good careers and very good education under trying circumstances. The vat majority went on to high school and many went on to college.

The majority of the students were from farm families, and in all class photos, there are some bib overalls worn by the boys and all the girls wore dresses. It was a different time back then.