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Genealogy: Family Histories

The Painted Lady - Families: Russell, Johnson, Caesar, Youngbauer, Weissman, and Ihlenfeld

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

Last Revised 07/16/2009

New owners restore 'painted lady' to its original brilliance

First of three parts

Posted: Living Sussex Sun, June 30, 2009

On the south side of Main Street east of Maple Avenue, just as one reaches the hill going west out of Sussex, is a beautifully restored old Victorian house at N63 W24123 Main St. known as the Russell-Youngbauer-Ceasar home, but more quaintly as "the painted lady."

Three years ago this house, built in 1871 and since converted into a duplex, was getting a little seedy and was put up for sale at an advertised price of $183,500, but found no takers.

Lt. Jerrad Ihlenfeld of the Sussex Fire Department and his wife, Devlynn, eventually bought this fixer-upper, which included almost an acre of land.

They have since gutted it and extensively remodeled the inside, in the process turning it back into a single-family home. They also applied a multicolored exterior paint job to make it a historically significant piece of eye candy.

The house was built by George Russell, whose family moved to the United States from Ashford, Kent County, England, in 1849 when he was one year old. (He was born Jan. 25, 1848.)

The family was part of the large Russell clan that helped settle the Town of Lisbon. Some of them owned major land holdings in downtown Sussex and in outlying parcels in Lisbon (where the Coldwater Creek subdivision, now part of Sussex, is today), plus major parts of the Fairways of Woodside Golf Course north of Coldwater Creek and just south of Lisbon Town Hall.

The most famous member of this clan was probably William Edward Russell (1869-1950), a Lisbon-Sussex farm implement dealer who also sold buggies, wagons and cream separators.

In 1922, he was one of the 32 charter members of the Sussex Fire Department, and he was one of the 16 who signed a petition in September 1924 that succeeded in separating Sussex from Lisbon and incorporating it as the Village of Sussex.

George Russell married Marian Elizabeth Brown on Nov. 1, 1869. She was 19 at the time and George was 21. He bought the land that the Painted Lady home was built on soon after they married, but on Nov. 8, 1871, shortly after he built the house, Elizabeth died. This two-year marriage produced no children.

George waited almost 12 years after the death of his first wife to marry again on March 8, 1883. His new wife, Sarah Butler, was born Feb. 9, 1854, one of 12 children of William and Agnes Butler, a north Lisbon family.

An interesting side note to this story is that her next younger sibling was the infamous Jack Butler (1855-1915) who killed his wife Mary with an ax on July 5, 1897. He spent the rest of his life in the state prison at Waupun for Lisbon's most famous murder.

George and Sarah had two children: Adelbert on July 1, 1886, and Lulu Belle on April 25, 1891.

Adelbert and Lulu both attended Sussex Main Street (Lisbon No. 10) School and both went on to attend Whitewater Normal College, today's University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Adelbert moved to Evanston, Ill., where he practiced pharmacy. Lulu taught school, but left the profession to become a farm wife.

More on the history of Sussex's Painted Lady House

Posted: July 7, 2009

To bring you up to date on the Painted Lady home in Sussex, the so-called Russell Youngbauer-Caesar home at the top of the Main Street hill (N63 W24123) was built around 1870-71 by an 1849 English immigrant for his first wife. By 1849, George Russell, born in Kent Co. England, on Jan 29, 1848, was in Sussex, Wis. He grew up, married for the first time at the age of 21 and built his home on Sussex Main Street west. By the time he was 23 he was a widower as his wife Maria Elizabeth Brown died at the age 21 on Nov. 8, 1871.

He waited 12 years and remarried at the age of 35 a second time. This time he married Sarah Jane Butler, (1854-1939), one of the 12 children of north settlers William and Agnes Butler. The wedding was on March 8, 1883, at St Alban's. Three years later on July 1, 1883, they had a son, Adelbert. Five years later on April 24, 1891, came their only daughter, Lulu Belle. George was 43 years old.

George would live as a man who looked his age and more. He died a tragic death at the age of 57, on Dec. 2, 1905. It was reported that he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage 20 minutes after falling while assisting a neighbor to cut wood, then the primary source of cooking food, and heating a home.

He was buried at St Alban's joining his first wife, and later his second would follow in 1939, and his daughter now, Lulu Belle Howard, in 1955.

Lulu was raised on Sussex Main Street in the Painted Lady home. She would follow her brother to Whitewater Normal (today University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) where she took an intensive six-week teaching degree course that qualified her to teach at the rural one- and two-room school houses of early Wisconsin.

When Lulu was young, her father wrote a will that on her 21 birthday she would receive $500 from his estate, and that her mother could live out her days in the home.

Lulu, with her teaching degree, taught her first year at the Lisbon Plank School which today is a stone museum on the Halquist Stone Co. land on Highway K, (Lisbon Road). She earned $50 per month for teaching all grades at the one-room school house. After four years at Lisbon Plank School she transferred to the Merton School because it paid $5 more per month, earning $495 for nine months at Merton.

At age 23, a local farm boy named Alfred Royalston Howard married Lulu. He was brought up on Hillside Road at the corner of Howards Lane. He was named after Alfred Weaver, a color bearer sergeant veteran of the Civil War, as the Howard family had married into the very important extend Weaver family.

Once married, the unwritten - and sometimes written rule of a teaching woman restricted Lulu from further teaching. Alfred Howard was the same age as Lulu, both being born in 1893. Two children were born to Lulu, Doris Betty, and the family named Russell Howard, who took his name from the surname of his mother and the family name from his father.

Both died as the 20th century came to an end. Russell Howard, at first a farm boy by the 1960s, started the Russell Howard Insurance Agency now run by his son Robb.

Lulu Russell Howard died May 31, 1955, with husband Alfred Howard following on Aug. 18, 1957.

Back at the Painted Lady, Lulu's mother lived out her life after their children Adelbert and Lulu left. However she became frail and old, and in her final years, lived with the Alfred-Lulu family farm home and the Old Main Street home was sold. She died just as World War II was starting, on Sept 2, 1939.

A Johnson family became the owners of the Painted Lady home, but then in the depths of World War II, the John and Idabelle Youngbauer family, with two sons fighting in the Pacific War, came to own the Painted Lady ... and thus gain a prominent name for the home, the Russell, Youngbauer, Caesar home.

The final chapter of the 'Painted Lady'

Posted: July 14, 2009

The Sussex home known as the Painted Lady, which was built in 1870-72, is on a hill leading west out of the village. It's been restored to a beautiful Victorian jewel once again, thanks to owners Jerrad and Deevlyn Ihlenfeld. It has also been known as the Russell, Youngbauer and Caesar home, for its builder and two longtime owners, the Youngbauers (1854-1939) and Gordon Caesar.

Sarah Jane Butler Russell, the second wife of builder George Russell (1848-1905) would live in the home from 1883 to the late 1930s when she went to live on Hillside Road (near Howards Lane) with her daughter, Lulu Howard, who was married to Alfred.

The Johnson family was the next major owner before selling it to John and Idabelle Youngbauer. The Youngbauer family became family in Sussex, and to this day is still part of the fabric that makes up the community.

The Youngbauers came to Sussex in 1943. They had two sons in the military during World War II. Harry was in the Navy and was at the Dec 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor. His brother John was also in the Pacific, at Iwo Jima and Okinawa Island.

Today, 64 years after the war's end, their names are among the 56 from Sussex who served during World War II. Their names are carved into the WWII stone monument in front of Village Hall. The 56 who served was about 10 percent of the village's population of 548 people in 1940.

Back in Sussex with John and Idabelle were three other children: Alice, Charles and Jeanne (today Jeanne Schmidt). Charles was in his first year of high school at Sussex High while Jeanne was in first grade, both attending the Sussex Main Street School, today the Sussex Village Hall. In 1945, Charles graduated from the Sussex's two-year high school and went on to Menomonee Falls High. His Sussex High School class of 18 included Robert Fryda, Gordon Pfeil, Art Magnusson and Harold Krueger, among others.

A story is told about Charles' experience when he was asked to report for a physical before probably induction into the Army in the aftermath of the Korean War. Charlie had very poor eyesight. At the induction center, when it came to the eye chart and Charlie could not even read the big "E," the examiner was persistent, thinking Charlie was a malingerer.

He instructed the stark-naked Charlie to get up and advance toward the eye chart until he could finally read the "E" and any other letters. Doing as he was told, Charlie got up and staggered like a blind man, as he was not allowed to wear his glasses.

As he came forward, he could not see the extension cord that was holding up spotlights and various other applications and snagged it, causing the light standard and many other things to come down with a resounding crash. The examiner had seen enough and blared loud and clear, "Get out of here! Get out of here!" Charlie was never again bothered by the draft board.

Meanwhile, his father John, a former farmer, worked his Sussex years at the Mammoth Spring Canning Co., actually dying at the plant at the age of 59 in 1955. Idabelle took over the home and lived out her life, dying just short of her 80th birthday in 1977. She would see two of her five children build homes in Sussex: Charlie on Elmwood Avenue-Old Mill Lane and Jeanne on Hillview Drive. Charlie was married to local farm girl, Ruth Bogue, while Jeanne would marry Richard Schmidt. Charlie and Ruth had eight children, while Jeanne and Richard had three boys.

Grandpa John and Grandma Idabelle were both laid to rest at the St James Catholic Church Cemetery.

On Idabelle's death, Gordan Caesar bought the house and the adjacent land. He did some major house repairs, and did the first paint job in modern times on the old home; when he got it, it was a somber gray color. With this paint job, in the early 1990s, the house acquired the name "Painted Lady."

In turn Caesar sold it to Bill and Cathy Weissman and the Wiessman's sold it about three years ago to Capt. Jerrad Ihlenfeld of the Sussex Fire Dept. He has remodeled the inside, and has seen that the outside was again painted as in 1992.

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