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  Genealogy: Family Histories

Topping Family

Last Revised 12/02/2010

by Fred H. Keller, Village Historian

published December 1, 2010, Retrospect, Living Sussex Sun

Dave Topping married the wealthiest girl in Lisbon

The "1880 History of Waukesha County" has this notation about Dave P. Topping:

"Dealer of dry goods, notions, groceries, etc. was born in Sloansville, NY Feb 9., 1842, came with parents George and Maria Topping to Sauk Co., Wis., moved thence to Columbia Co. where he engaged in the mercantile business in that county for some time; in 1870 he came to Sussex, Lisbon and since that time has done a leading business in Sussex. He married at St. Alban's Episcopal Church Serena Weaver, daughter of the Honorable Richard Weaver, they had two children, Nellie R. and May."

What this thumbnail sketch doesn't tell is that Richard Weaver was Lisbon's first millionaire and Serena was his only living daughter.

Richard Weaver (1827-1906) was born in Sussex, England, came to New York at age 3 and Lisbon at age 10. He grew up and went into business with his father, James Weaver, as a grower, buyer and seller of hops a key ingredient to beer. In time his brother, William Weaver II, became his partner as their father aged. In the 1880s, Richard and William through telegram found out that there would be a shortage of hops in the world. They used the inside information to corner part of the world supply of hops buying it at 15 cents a pound and when the world realized there would be a shortage, it sold for $1 a pound. They reportedly made $600,000 in a matter of 90 days.

Richard was also a politician. He served multiple Lisbon Town Chairman terms, Waukesha County Supervisor terms and in the state legislature.

In 1868 on Christmas Eve, David Topping married Serena Weaver St. Alban's in Sussex. He was 26 and she was 18. Her father built a small house for his daughter on the southwest corner of Maple Avenue and Main Street. Then in 1870, he built a building adjacent to the small home so that David could have a general store. Today, this former general store building is the Jon Debelak's plumbing shop and residence at N63 W24043 Main St.

In 1885, the small home was no longer big enough for Serena, David and their two children, Nellie and May, so a large home was built that still stands today as the Best Reality Group office. It was the former home of the Orval Cullen family.

In 1886, Topping became the postmaster of Sussex replacing James Templeton. He served until 1890 only to lose his postmastership because Democratic President Grover Cleveland was voted out of office; Topping was a Democrat.

Topping sold his store around 1900 to Sam W. Worthington. Worthington sold the store to the Fred Boots family. The last proprietor was the Eugene Meyer family. It went out of business in the early 1950s.

Richard Weaver died in 1906. David Topping died at age 79 in 1921 and Serena died in 1928 at age 78. All are buried at St. Alban's God's Acre Cemetery.


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