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Genealogy: Family Histories

Annette White Howard Family

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

Last Revised 10/28/2014

Annette White-Howard

Photo courtesy of Charmaine Becker

'Nettie' White chronicled Sussex history

Oct. 9, 2014, Living Sussex Sun

Mrs. Leo Howard (Annette White Howard, 1879-1977), affectionately called "Aunt Nettie," was convinced to write a history of Sussex and Lisbon during the 100th anniversary of St. Alban's Episcopal Church (Oct. 3, 1942). The former Main Street School teacher produced 15 pages of hand-written history, produced by a variety of fountain pens.

I acquired her hand-written history in the early 1980s and initially wondered what I would do with it, so it could be saved and passed on to the future. In 1985, I mounted her history on extra large pages and then copied it with a portable typewriter to make it easier for future researchers to read.

Her lifetime keepsakes were going to be trashed, so I added some newspaper clippings, photos and miscellaneous other debris to the document.

I saved the 15 hand-written pages, plus a hand-written oration delivered by Andrew Weaver on Oct. 3, 1942. Weaver went on to become the big man at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the high point in his life.

Later, I was able to obtain a copy of Weaver's 16-page study of the history of the first 100 years of St. Alban's, which he presented to the Wisconsin Historical Society to commemorate the event.

There is a further addition to the book: a sort of quaint set of scorecards, happenings and a complete list of the 17 members of the "Sussex Birthday Club" rounds of card parties that occurred from July 19, 1952, to Dec. 28, 1954. It seems this group would play a highly competitive game of "500" whenever they scheduled a card party usually at a birthday of a member. The 17 attending would be divided up into four tables of four with the 17th person serving as host and servant for the party. George Podolske of the local hardware store was the president of this club and Nettie Howard was the secretary.

In 1985, with all of this material, I put together a 13.5-by-11.5-inch hard-cover book to keep this historically significant material available for future researchers of Sussex-Lisbon and St. Alban's Episcopal Church.

Just recently, this book of material relating to Nettie Howard was given to the Sussex Lisbon Area Historical Society, and it can be inspected by interested scholars.

She was born Dec. 1, 1879 in Bigelow-Irving, Kansas (now Maryville), and was baptized as Viola Annette White, but quickly got renamed as "Nettie," as she did not like the name Viola. Her grandparents were original settlers in Brookfield. Her parents, Herbert White and Anna Robertson, were married in Sussex but soon left for Kansas. The White family did not do well in Kansas other than have five children. When they came back to Brookfield, they had three additional children to bring the total to six boys and two girls, with Nettie being the oldest.

Upon coming back to Brookfield, Herbert White got his life job of 28 years as a mail carrier. Nettie attended Hadfield School and Waukesha High School. This was followed by a "summer school" education at Whitewater Normal, a state teacher school that has evolved into the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The summer school at Whitewater Normal led Nettie to take a Northwestern University correspondence course that gave her a grade-school teaching certificate.

This led to her first employment in 1901 at the two-room cream brick grade school on the eastern edge of the then-little community of Sussex.

Next week: Part two of this series on Nettie White.

"Nettie" White becomes Sussex teacher in her early 20s

Oct. 15, 2014

Upon graduating from Whitewater Normal (today the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater), Annette White was in her early 20s. She had a history teacher at Waukesha High School, Julie Rockafellow, and she saw promise in Nettie if she became a grade school teacher.

Rockafellow had just attained a position that would ultimately lead to being the Waukesha County school superintendent. She put in a good word for Annette ("Nettie") and was accepted to teach at the Sussex Main Street School, in the lower four grades.

In all, there were more than 60 children, split between first- to fourth-grade and fifth- to eighth-grade. She had more than 30 students. She mentioned years ago that the youngest and smallest children were allowed to sit on the raised edge of the teacher's desk plateau in front of the class. That way she could protect and cuddle the smallest of the small.

The school was the first of three that would occupy the area on the far eastern edge of unincorporated Sussex. The center of the Sussex world back then was at Maple Avenue and Main Street, but by 1901, when she started, it was slipping quickly to the school area, as the main store (Marsden building) was up as was the Brook Hotel (hotel/tavern).

The original Main Street School was built in 1849, a wooden building on the east side of Maple Avenue, where today one finds Paul's Service at this intersection.

It was replaced in 1867, a year after Lisbon built their Lisbon Town Hall on Sussex's Main Street, west of the Maple Avenue crossing. Lisbon used it until 1955 when it built its centrally located Hillside Road and Good Hope Road and the new town hall. The 1867 school like the Lisbon Town Hall, built with cream bricks from Milwaukee and locally shaped window and door limestone sills.

White taught from 1901-03. The school would remain in place until 1912-13 when a new, red-brick, two-story, four-room school was built for $13,000. It burned in 1922 and was replaced by a $26,000, four-room red-brick building in September 1922. Today, this former four-room school is the Sussex Village Hall, but there is a movement to tear it down and build a completely new Sussex Village Hall in the next few years.

In 1903, she was visiting relatives in the state of Oregon and she took a teaching job there, sending her regrets back to Sussex that she would not be there for the 1903-04 school year. She taught there for three years before she got a summons from the teaching fraternity at Sussex Main Street School, plus a raise. She taught in Sussex again from 1906-09. She was now 30 years old.

In 1908, there was a big, three-gabled, three-story home being built immediately east of the school and one of the carpenters was Leo Howard. It is said that he paid more attention to the school marm (White) than he did to the roofing boards he was putting in. Meanwhile, his attention to the school marm was encouraged by the community jokester, Harcourt Weaver, the roofer. The result was that for the next nearly 80 years, this house's roof leaked.

However, with school out in 1909, Nettie White and Leo Howard were married at St. Alban's Episcopal Church. They were married for nearly 50 years, living on a farm that was initially 80 acres and then went to 120 acres. They shipped their milk to Golden Guernsey after it was formed in 1929.

They had one child, stillborn, who they initially buried in the farm woods. Some years later, they took the body to St. Alban's God's Acre Cemetery for proper burial.

Next week: Part three of this series on Nettie White.

Class photo shows early 1900s Main Street School in Sussex

Oct. 23, 2014, Living Sussex Sun

This picture of the combined eight classes of the Sussex Main Street School in 1908 belonged to the late Roy Stier (1902-83). He is the little boy with the wide, light-colored lapel collar standing just below the school marm (Annette "Nettie" White).

Stier, who was just starting first grade when this picture was taken, could only remember four names of the 60 people pictured when he was asked about it in the 1970s.

Two months of detective work produced the names of 40 people, so 20 will have to remain anonymous.

Those pictured include Esther Motz, Adella Connel, Cora Motz, Mary Dronavik, Harvey Connel, Ervin Motz, Ervin Malsch, Elsie Viergutz, Isabell Small, High Campbell, Claude Kaderabek, Art Zander, Ervin Kohlmorgan, Etta Brown, Elsie Radtke, Florence Schroeder, Bernette Rosier, Ralph Lingelbach, Merlin Gerka, Francis Stier, Harry Viergutz, Virgil Baer, Clarence Waever, Herb Malsch, Erv Marx, Carl Marx, Roy Stier, Anetta Malsch, Esther Schultz, Alice Malsch, Elizabeth Schneider, Gertrude Kohlmorgan, Eleanor Baer, Eleanor Motz, Elsie Marx, Jerome Taylor, Roman Kanawick (a Russian immigrant) and Lillian Marx. The other teacher is Mr. Layman.

This class of more than a century ago was made up of the children of local farmers and business people. A large share continued in their parents' footsteps. Jerome Taylor became a dentist. Three became fire department chiefs (Carl Marx, Claude Kaderabak and Roy Stier). Stier was elected village president several times. Most of the girls became housewives; a few became teachers.

Kanewic, the large man on the right side of the picture, was a recent immigrant from Russia, and although he was close to 20 years old, he enrolled in the school to learn English. He must have learned it well, because he went on to Marquette University and became an engineer. After knocking around footloose for a while, he came back to the Sussex area. He opened up a blacksmith shop north of the canning company on Main Street. He lived out his life as a recluse, earning a living as a toolmaker and repairer for the local stone quarries.

The school, the third in the Sussex-Lisbon area, was built in the 1850s with Milwaukee cream brick. Later, a gray coat of paint was applied to the exterior. The north-south axis building stood in the area where the Orchard Street School annex stands. The building was basically a two-room schoolhouse with two cloak rooms, one for boys and one for girls. The boys entered school from the east side while girls were restricted to the west entrance.

Water was available in a pail at the back of the room with a dipper; one dipper for the whole class.

Bathroom facilities were two outhouses. Again, the east (boys) and west (girls) designation was in use. Both privies had a discrete cedar tree ahead of the entrance.

The school was torn down in 1914 after Sussex had built a modern, two-story multi-room building for the princely sum of $13,000 in 1913. The new school was built immediately in front of the old building.

The two-room school had first- through fourth-grades in the north room and fifth- through eighth-grades in the south room. Usually, a man taught the upper grades while a young woman taught the lower grades. "Nettie" White was one of a succession of young girls who taught for a few years and then married the town's most eligible bachelors, and then retired from teaching. This was the norm. White married Leo Howard, a local farmer and carpenter.

Alice Marsch (Mrs. Alice Kramer), the little girl with the bonnet, fifth from the left in the front row, was a principle source of information for the article and she wasn't even a member of the school class when the picture was taken. A 4-year-old, she was a school visitor and got her picture taken with the school group. She was one of two visitors that day; the dog in the foreground also fits in that category.




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Copyright Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society, Inc., , 2002 - 2016, Except as noted: All documents placed on the website remain the property of the contributors, who retain publication rights in accordance with US Copyright Laws and Regulations. In keeping with our policy of providing free information on the Internet, these documents may be used by anyone for their personal research. They may be used by non-commercial entities, when written permission is obtained from the contributor, so long as all notices and submitter information are included. These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit. Any other use, including copying files to other sites, requires permission from the contributors PRIOR to uploading to the other sites. The submitter has given permission to the website to store the file(s) for free access. Such permission may be revoked upon written notice to the website webmaster. Website's design, hosting, and maintenance are donated by Website Editor & Webmaster: Michael R. Reilly (Mike)