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Genealogy: Family Histories

More about the community's North Lisbon School

Helen Hartkopf Meissner

The photo in this Retrospect was found by a former teacher at Sussex Main Street, the adjacent Orchard Drive School and the 1960-built Maple Avenue School. The finder was Helen Meissner, daughter of Harvey and Louise Hartkopf. Helen was a Lisbon farm girl and had a sister named Jeannette. Helen went to Milwaukee State Teachers College (today University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

She taught two years in Merton, two at the Hartland-Lakeside School and her final 19 years at Village of Sussex schools.

She married into the massive Lisbon Meissner clan, marrying Albert Meissner on Sept. 5, 1934, and then lived out her life in Merton. Albert was a businessman and local politician who served 20 years as the Merton village president and represented the Merton area on the Waukesha County Board for 18 years.

Helen's father, Harvey, had attended North Lisbon School, both the original log cabin school and the new second school when it was built. He became a farmer on the northeast corner of Colgate and North Lisbon roads, working a 68-acre spread. Helen and Jeannette had chores on the Lisbon farm. Helen especially remembered taking part of the herd of cows down the roadsides near the family farm. The cows would eat up the roadside grasses. Few cars came through, as the roads were made of gravel, and with the ruts and unevenness, the few cars there were would not travel very fast. It was a way to save the pasture grass for evenings and times when it was not prudent to be on the roadways.

Meanwhile Helen attended eight years at North Lisbon School and then went on to Waukesha High School before going on to the State Teachers College in Milwaukee.

She was a teacher when there were rules that women teachers could not be married, and for periods of time between when she first got married and then had two sons she was unemployed until the restrictions were modified and she took the lower grade teaching jobs in the Sussex schools.

Getting back to the old class photo of 1895, there are some family stories here. Alma Reisling married Herman Munz, and they lived on Waukesha Avenue in olde Templeton (east Sussex). He worked for a long time at the local lumberyard in Templeton and then his last years during and after World War II at Sussex Mills where the Sussex Mills Apartments are today. Cora Connell married classmate Harvey Melville. Libbie Brown married Harry Hartkopf.

These North Lisbon classmates spent many years on a 70-acre farm, which is today Sussex Village Park. They called this farm Silver Maple Park, and to this day silver maples line the old path from the former farmstead to the middle park of the park.

The enclave of land around North Lisbon School did their shopping in downtown Colgate, which had the Frank Stirn General Store. Stirn also served as postmaster.

Meanwhile, Colgate also had a blacksmith shop, an important railroad depot on the Wisconsin Central Railroad and a cheese factory.

Close by was a butter factory on Town Line Road and the intersection of North Lisbon Road.

The Butler family adjacent to the railroad track crossing of North Lisbon Road had a custom saw mill that one could bring logs to and have them cut into beams and other lumber materials.

Harvey Jeffery died May 6, 1962, and Helen at age 85 on Sept. 4, 1996.

Today the third North Lisbon School, built in 1958 and only used until 1975, is the Lisbon Town Hall on Woodside Road.

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