Charles Byron Kerr: Lisbon farmer, milk hauler
The Kerr farm was the old Alfred and Angelia Wileden farm, which was a quarter mile east of Hillside Road and half a mile west of Maple Drive. Today, the farm house and barn still stand on the south side of Good Hope Road. It was most recently the home of Robert and Donna Zimmerman, who sold it and moved to a modern log cabin in the back acres of the property. The cabin was the retirement home of Donna's parents, Dave and Ruby (Stone) Kazmerchak. Ruby was the daughter of Grace Wileden, sister of C.B. Kerr's wife Sylvia.
Alfred Wileden was a small-time farmer on the 62-acre farm, and to make ends meet for his wife and six children, he had a side job as a mason, which included quarrying out the stone or using field stones harvested from his farm on a convenient stone row fence.
It is assumed that Alfred Wileden built the square silo that is attached to the still-existing barn. In the early days of silos, the Wisconsin farmers did not have it exactly right, and several square silos were built in Lisbon. Notable were those of Alvin Kraetsch (where the Birchwood apartments are in Sussex today) and John Watson/Charles Will (on North Lisbon Road, west of Hillside Road). The Watson/Will and Wileden/Kerry square silos still stand today, and hopefully when these areas are developed in the future, these stone fortresses will be saved.
Kerr came from an extended farming family in Hartland, Nashotah and Pewaukee, and was born in 1881 or 1882. His wife Sylvia, born in 1887, was the youngest of Alfred and Angelia Wileden's six children. They were married Dec. 29, 1907, in the still-standing farm house. A few years later, Kerr took over the Wileden farm. Initially, it was 62 acres, but when the North Western Railroad came in 1910-12, he lost two and a half acres to the tracks on the farm's southern border. He followed in his father-in-law's farming footsteps with the remaining acreage, and also had a second job, as a milk hauler.
The milk hauling job lasted 31 years, with a beginning route in Lisbon, close to Sussex. His first hauling job was for the Sussex creamery which stands today as a four-unit rental property at the northwest corner of Champeny and Maple Avenue. Later, he would haul for Winkler's in Merton, John Hearle of Hartland, Carnation of Oconomowoc, Thompson Malted Milk Foods of Waukesha and eventually for Golden Guernsey of Waukesha, his final longtime position.
Kerr and his herd of Guernsey cows were part of the Golden Guernsey cooperative started by Gavin McKerrow of south Lisbon. For many years, a massive sign denoting his membership stood on the front driveway to the Kerr farm. It featured the logo of Golden Guernsey, a take-off on the company's ice cream and food road house on Bluemound Road. The 1930s-built milk-jug shaped building was a promotional icon for the company until the 1960s, and today it is gone and long forgotten except for senior citizens with long memories.
The Kerrs celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Dec. 29, 1957 at the Dave Kazmerchak home. Sylvia recalled that at her wedding, when she was just 20 years-old, she wore a white "crepe de chein" dress.
On Dec. 27, 1962, they celebrated their 55th anniversary at the Ernst Nursing Home in Pewaukee with only the closest friends, as the couple were in poor health. In comparison, 65 people attended the celebration five years earlier. Charles Byron Kerry died March 8, 1963, at age 80. Sylvia lasted less than a year more, dying Feb. 11, 1964. They are both buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.
The Kerrs didn't have children and they left no will. The property was passed over to Ruby Stone Kazmerchak and her daughter Donna Zimmerman, who would become the longtime occupiers of the property. The barn and old farm house were sold after a land split.
A bit of ghost history about the property: On the evening of July 5, 1897, the family dog howled for apparently no reason. The Wileden's tried to shut it up, and by 10 p.m. they found out that their neighbor Mary Butler had been killed that evening approximately 1,000 feet away, when her estranged husband James Butler took an axe to her. The Wileden house became an immediate center of multiple reporters covering the horrendous murder.