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  Genealogy: Family Histories

Then and now, Christmas 1890 and 124 years later

    by Fred H. Keller

Posted Living Sussex Sun, February 11, 2014

also see Meissner Family

A pioneer home in Lisbon, possibly started in 1852, but maybe as late as 1860, is now the remodeled home of Mary Knapp (N88 W22936 North Lisbon Road.)

Mary Knapp (nee Pirocek) spent part of her life in western Menomonee Falls near the Town of Lisbon. On getting married, she spent time from 1972 to 1984 on Hillside Road, north of N. Lisbon Road. In the process of life, she had two daughters and then divorced her husband. Knowing the north Lisbon area, she looked for an appropriate new abode, and in 1984, she purchased the former Harvey Jeffery farmhouse on N. Lisbon road, just down a short stretch from the Wisconsin Central crossing. She came into a former Lisbon pioneer farm home with the most prominent former owners being Henry T. Jeffery and his son Harvey B. Jeffery. Harvey had taken over the farm in 1904, just after he completed an agricultural course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He would farm his 54 acres for the next 60 years.

In the 1923 Rural Waukesha Farm Directory, Harvey had a wife Louise, two horses and 14 cows. He was also known to have pigs and chickens. Then there is the 1928 Waukesha Prairie Farmer directory entry for Harvey, which lists his wife as Edna Wildish.

Knapp had 3.7 acres with her home, that partly had been refurbished before she bought it. now she really got to work with her own elbow grease, and subcontracted out remodeling contracts of the things she couldn't do. It took 9 years, until 1995, for her to essentially complete the remodeling, but she has kept at touch ups and replacements (heating system, etc.) since then.

One significant item was the basement, built with field stone and mortar. She found the base was 36 inches through while the top still was 24 inches thick.

A property map from 1891 shows that the Jeffery farm was called "Evergreen Home." Back then, the paint job was cream colored accentuated with green trim.

In a side note, Harvey Jeffery attended the North Lisbon Methodist Church until it was torn down in 1929. His farm and home was part of a cluster of Jeffery extended family holdings near the corner of Colgate Road and North Lisbon Road. Today, all Jeffery holdings have passed on to new owners and developments.


Sussex teacher, Helen May Jeffery Meissner

Posted Living Sussex Sun, Dec. 23, 2013

 

Helen May (nee Jeffery) Meissner had a set of sons: Roy J. and the Rev. Lee Albert. In March 2007, son Roy donated from the estate of Helen May Meissner a scrapbook she had kept from 1954 to 1974, while she was teaching at the Sussex Main Street School, and the adjacent Orchard Drive School, and then transferred to the Maple Avenue School.

Her classes over the years in the Sussex metro area for kindergarten, and first grade (with one small time in second grade) amounted to 683 students from Sussex and Lisbon.

She taught under a string of principals, such as Clinton Swanson (54-56), Eugene Belonge (56-58), Doyle Alexander (58-63), Roger Bottoni (63-65), Syl Rasinoski (65-69), Terry Tuttrup (66-69) and Gerald Schaut (69-74). The reason why there is an overlap is that there were two main school complexes, Sussex Main-Orchard Drive School and Maple Avenue School.

Helen May was born in north Lisbon near Colgate on a pioneer Lisbon Scottish farm, adjacent to the Soo Line-Wis Central Railroad on Dec. 6, 1910. She would die at age 85 on Sept. 4, 1996.

In an extended Meissner family history, she has an entry about her early life that goes like this (written in 1990): "I was born 80 years ago in the Town of Lisbon, a mile south of Colgate. This farm on the corner of Colgate and North Lisbon Roads was part of the territory of Wisconsin and the acreage was originally bought in 1847. The acreage became less than 80 acres when the Wisconsin Central Railroad went through it diagonally in 1910-12 (just after I was born.)

I was taught interesting things to do, like carrying wood, collecting eggs, helping in the barn, feeding animals and playing with kittens. Later I was taught how to fill lamps, trim wicks with no horns and make the chimneys sparkle. That was not 'my thing,' but a part of growing up. Our first math lessons at home were to learn to count. The passing trains being so close, we first counted the cars on the passenger trains, then cars on the freight trains.

I had a sister by the time I started first grade. I attended North Lisbon School for eight years. The school was 3/4-mile west of our farm. I seldom walked alone, either joined by those from the east or others I joined on the way. As I look back now and being an ex-teacher, I feel I received a fine education.

During my summer months, my sister and I had a permanent job, watching cows. The cows would eat grass and weeds along the roadsides while we read and played games. We were always glad when they put the cows in fenced pastures, as then we could play in our playhouse, the former 'setting house.' We made it beautiful with artistic decorations.

I remember when dad rode with a neighbor to Menomonee Falls and drove home our first Ford Touring car. That was really something. I learned to drive at age 13, and I am still driving (at age 80). I also learned how to change a tire and put a patch on an inner tube on this Ford.

I attended Wauskesha High School for four years (1925-29). I was on the glee club and especially enjoyed art classes. I entered Milwaukee Normal (UW-Milwaukee) and took a kindergarten teacher course. Again I was in a glee club and learned much about music.

In order to attend school, it was necessary for me to work for my keep. The first year I was nursemaid for two preschool children for this Jewish family. It was most interesting to learn of their culture and habits. IN my second year, I stayed with a mother and daughter, but the daughter worked, and I had many responsibilities for the mother. They were appreciative and very interested in my schooling. The daughter and I remained friends for many years, until her death.

Years ago I dreamed that when I grew up I would be a missionary, or a kindergarten teacher. So I got to be a kindergarten teacher.

My first school teaching was at Merton, first and second grade. I loved it. I lived at the Frank NOrton home while in Merton.

It was in my first year of teaching when I was invited to a local church group party at the Sam Dobbertin home. When leaving Al (Albert) Meissner asked if he could drive me home. That was the beginning of our romance, and I was married two years later.

I had hoped to continue teaching but I was married now and back in 1934, no school boards hired married women."

In the future, I will again pick up on the life of Helen May Jeffery Meissner and her 23 years in teaching.


Helen May Jeffery Meissner

    by Fred H. Keller

Posted Living Sussex Sun, Dec 30, 2013

Last Revised 02/19/2015

Helen May Jeffery was part of a major Lisbon family, the Scottish immigrant family of the Jefferys that claimed vast swaths of land in Lisbon on North Lisbon Road and Colgate Road, going back to the late 1840s. When she met Albert Otto Meissner (born Aug. 25, 1906) in 1932, he was a third generation of German immigrants in the early 1870s. It took some years, but ultimately, the Meissner expanding family was into farming in the plat area north of Lisbon.

As the family increased, there was a Meissner stamp put on the length of Lake Five Road in the Village of Merton, and then east on then Highway 74 (today Silver Spring Drive) almost as far east as present day Highway 164.

The Meissner family became a major Lisbon family, and the joining of Helen May Jeffery with Albert "Al" Otto (his father's name) Meissner was a major tieing of two huge Lisbon families together. Their marriage was Sept. 5, 1934, when Albert was 28 and Helen 23.

She was a school teacher at Merton Grade School for the prior two years while Al was courting her. She was married just as the Merton School was starting its term in September 1934, and by the rules of that time, she had to give up teaching as she was a married woman. She had earned her degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus.

She would not teach for the next 18 years, as she raised two sons and assisted her husband in his various hauling-trucking businesses. Then, in September of 1952, she went back to teaching in a rural school, first grade at Lakeside in Hartland.

In September 1954, she took on a two-decade stint of teaching at the Sussex Orchard Drive and Maple Avenue Schools, going until her retirement in 1974. At first she taught first grade (1954 to 1964) when she took a one year off period and came back the following year, September 1964 to June 1974 teaching kindergarten.

With all the teaching, she had 23 years of teaching and a total of 795 students, of which 683 were at the Sussex, Orchard and Maple Avenue Schools.

Meanwhile, her husband Al got into politics in Merton and served 20 years as Village President. He also served three years on the Merton School Board and 18 years on the Waukesha County Board. To top it off, he put in 40 years with the Merton Fire Department. One would say that was pretty good, as he only had a rural eighth grade education.

In 1934, Helen moved into a Merton home that husband Al had built from lumber salvaged from a dismantled Merton church. Not allowed to teach, she raised two sons: Roy, born May 25, 1939 and Lee, born Dec. 1942.

In a story about her life, she wrote, "I made several quilts and other crafts over the years, as well as the gardening which required canning and later freezing. Then I always had my flowers."

In a side note, in her flower garden, she had the cornerstone of her girlhood Lisbon church, the North Lisbon Methodist Church, which was roughly 3/8 of a mile from Town Line Road on the north side of the road. It was torn down in 1929, and only a concrete corner to the livery stable still stands today.

Again, going back to her life story, she wrote, "Often I was working in the basement of our home and I would look up at the 2x8 beams that had held up the old church for 64 years and well over 60 years in our home. They were awesome wonders. In the garage, there were two narrow tall windows that were from the church."

"As a family, we were able to take several interesting trips. One of the unforgettable ones was to Newfoundland. We traveled by car, boat and train. After the boys were married, we flew to Alaska to visit my sister (also born on North Lisbon and Colgate Road) and her husband who was stationed in Alaska. Another trip was to the Rose Bowl Parade."

"After leaving Maple Avenue School in 1974, I did do some substitute teaching for a few years."

She said her happiest day of her life was the day she married Al Meissner, and the saddest day in her life was in April 1989, when she had to take him to a nursing home and came back alone. He would die soon afterward.

Helen May Jefferey Meissner would live on to die on Sept. 4, 1996 at age 85. She left two married sons, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

She and husband Albert are buried at the Lisbon-Merton Lake Five Road Cemetery, with the Sussex Methodist Church doing the officiating.

 

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