Frank Grogan, the first Sussex Village President
First of a two-part series
Frank Grogan (1865-1961) was the first Sussex Village President elected in 1924 and serving until 1934. He was an active politician in Waukesha County serving as village president as well as deputy sheriff for 18 years and county supervisor for 10 years.
He was born in Hartland on April 12, 1865, just two days before Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. His parents were Bernard and Bridget Grogan who raised him - and his six siblings - for most of his youth in the Town of Brookfield before moving to Sussex. Grogan's father was a railroad man and Frank also worked for the St. Paul Railroad as a young man. He also worked as a field inspector for the Waukesha Pea Factory.
In April of 1888, at age 23, he was married to Lisbonite Ada Leadley who preceded him in death in 1943. Their union was also a first for Grogan as it was the first wedding in the then-new Sussex Methodist Church. The actual wedding took place in the Sussex Methodist parsonage which at that time stood next to Lisbon Town Hall.
Grogan and his wife lived on what today is the Sonny Mehringer farm and later lived on a farm north of Sussex before moving to Sussex in 1916. After 1916, Grogan began his political career. He became a charter member of the Sussex Fire Department in 1922 and in 1924 he was one of 16 petitioners to incorporate Sussex from the Town of Lisbon thus starting a Village of Sussex. Today he is commemorated by a subdivision street named after him that connects to Champeny Drive and Ivy Avenue.
Grogan's first son was named Eugene who lived a short life dying at 1 year old in 1892 along with a second son born to the couple who died at birth. However they had two daughters, Dorothy and Alice.
At the time of Frank Grogan's death he had two grandchildren Marjorie Minor of Milwaukee and Don Minor of Menomonee Falls. He also had three great-grandchildren: Billy, Scott and Kurt Minor.
More next week on this historic Sussex leader.
More on past Sussex leader, Frank Grogan Photos from the collection of Sussex Village Historian Fred H. Keller
This week's feature is a continuation on the life and contributions of the first Village of Sussex President, Frank Grogan.
When a fire burned down Sussex Main Street School in 1922, members of the unincorporated Sussex joined to form a volunteer fire department. Frank Grogan was one of the 32 charter members who signed on. He was age 57 at the time but stayed on the department for many years beyond his retirement age. The men who were instrumental in forming the original Sussex fire Department were from the civic-minded Sussex-Templeton Advancement Association led by John P. Kraemer. Grogan was a key member of this community advancement group.
Now as a member of the Sussex Volunteer Fire Department by 1924 Grogan became involved in a movement to incorporate the one square mile area of Sussex-Templeton into a village separating it from the Town of Lisbon. The petitioners were headed up by Grogan and Kraemer along with 14 other signers.
Two petitions to incorporate Sussex were presented, the second was successful on June 30, 1924 with 113 voting yes, 78 no and one blank ballot. This petition was successful in incorporating 615.81 acres (640 equals one square mile) into the Village of Sussex with 387 people in the petitioning area. It was court approved on Sept. 12, 1924, and Sussex was born with Templeton disappearing.
Grogan served as the first elected president from 1924 to 1934 when he stepped aside and took a government job with the WPA and PWA two Depression recovery agencies. Grogan was in charge of a crew that put in the Pewaukee River drainage canals that you can see from the lawns of Maple Avenue School. He was also involved somewhat in the 1936-37 building of the WPA Sussex Village Hall (Community Center for an estimated $36-$37,000).
In his retirement, Grogan helped his son-in-law and nephew at a nursery business in Menomonee Falls-Milwaukee. It was said in his time that he was a typical Irishman as he loved to joke and tease.
When Frank Grogan died on Oct. 2, 1961, he was the oldest living resident in the Village of Sussex at age 96 ½. It was a big deal in Sussex in April of 1955 when Grogan celebrated his 90th birthday. It was part of a service as the Sussex Methodist Church that at that time he was the only living charter member of joining the church at age 28 in June of 1884.
He was also a longtime member of Sussex Ashlar Lodge No. 193 and the Sussex Order of the Eastern Star. At his funeral at A.A. Schmidt of Menomonee Falls, the Ashlar Lodge held Masonic rites for him.
Today Grogan has his photo prominently displayed at Sussex Village Hall noting his presidency. He was followed by his good friend Charles Busse who served for 21 years from 1934-1955.