From quarries to quarrels
by Fred H. Keller
Originally published in the Sussex Sun,
Tues., Sept. 10, 1996
These are trying times for Lannon, a village that is
two-thirds of a century old (started in 1930).
The long-delayed municipal sewer system is being installed, and the
village is trying to save money by simultaneously putting water mains in
the broken-up streets. The issue has divided the community into warring
factions, with disorderly, muddled, jumbled, tangled, unrestrained, messy,
confusing village board meetings.
It has grown to near arrests of protesters and now a recall petition to unseat a 16-year veteran trustee,
LaVern Ehley, and the village president of the 1990s, Terry Gissal, who is a grandson of an original village
incorporator. But it wasn't always that way.
When you think of Lannon, the first things that come to mind are stone quarries, baseball and taverns. The
stone quarries are so important that the state put up a historical marker in
1979 marking the native Niagara rock reef that produces Lannon stone.
Lannon has more members in the Land 0' Lakes Baseball Hall of Fame than any other community. This year
the Stonemen LOL team was undefeated in league play and is a finalist in the grand championship
playoffs, where it is the defending champ.
Lannon has its share of taverns, but probably the BaiMliamous is . The Dug Out which is a frequent watering hole
for the likes of the Milwaukee Brewer standout and baseball hall of famer, Eddie
Mathews. Tavern owner Tony V~agonessss waathe,. apea's most. famous propftetoT
and'coi Amunity boo~gj~ include one that was a former church parsonage <Lannon House).
. iBgt~BOw the Village of Lannon is into putting in sewers, something it ,has u~ off since 1962. ..
Nick Quartaro, a Lannon trustee, fought against installing sewers in 1962 and '63. There was also mention
of putting in municipal water at that time, but the bigger question was sewers. Lannon had even gone so far
as to get land from Menomonee Falls to put in a sewer plant, but Quartaro spoke against it. Quartaro was elected
by a two-vote margin as the new president of Lannon, and sewers (and . water) were out the window.
Quartaro, an outstanding person in the history of Lannon, went on to serve 24 years as president. He was an
expert at municipal accounting, handling most of the village's budgeting, forecasting and borrowing.
Quartaro resigned in late 1986 as the longest-serving of the nine village presidents that Lannon has had.
Lannon has many other outstanding facets in its 2-1/2-square- miles, some of it still rural and
undeveloped. It is known for its friendly, hard-working, people, its first-rate fire department, its schools
(two in the corporate boundaries), and lately, its growing industrial park.
Isaac Howard was the first settler in Lannon, coming from Vermont possibly as early as 1835 with his 16-
year-old wife. He was only 18 at the time. He is credited with opening the first quarry in 1838, just north of
present day Good Hope Road and east of Lannon Road. In 1855 he opened a lime kiln to make burned lime.
The Irish families (and Catholic) that followed were the McCartys, Walshes, Murphys, Kinsleys, Lannons,
Burkes, Crawleys, Flanagans, proprietor and community b( Kennedys, DeLanys, Sheridans,
Brogans, Keatings, Goldens, McLaughlins, Pendergasts, Salmons and Gills.
Menomonee and the Lannon area were the slowest growing communities in Waukesha County, having a
population of only 59 in the 1840 national census. By the 1850 census Menomonee and Lannon had grown to
third in population with 1,340.
The Village of Lannon and its underlying stone is named after William Lannon, who was born in
Ireland Oct. 20, 1814, and died in Lannon April 13, 1897. He and his wife, Anna Gallagher, had five
children, but there were no grandchildren and thus the direct descendent line died out.
Lannon had a farm north of Willow Springs School that was called Lannon Springs and when he became the
postmaster the area took on the name of his farm.
A new postal application, naming the community after the biggest quarry operator, Joe Hadfield, was
made on June 18, 1890. The name Hadfield was crossed out and "Stone City" was inserted, only to have that
crossed out and "Lannon" inserted as the final choice. It was Lannon
officially as of Aug.2,1890.
The growing quarries of the area needed lots of-workers, and there was a notable
number of Italians, Poles and Germans joining the Irish families. The Germans started St. John's
Lutheran Church in 1895.
Before the current brouhaha, the biggest argument in Lannon was in 1930 when the Town of Menomonee
refused to put in a few street lights ,the Lannon villagers had asked for. Lannonites fixed the Town of
Menomonee and incorporated under a theme of "Let there be light in Lannon." The five petitioners were
John Flanagan Jr., Albert Walters, Albert Feltes, John Wessner and Cuono Quartaro. Thus a
representative from all the ethnic groups of Lannon were included.
The incorporation vote was held Jan. 14, 1930, after an earlier petition had failed in 1928. Voters cast 116 yes
votes and only six no votes.
The original Lannon included 300 acres and 338 citizens. The first slate of village officers included the family
names of Quartaro and Gissal. Also on the board were Otto Rossman and Charles DeLany. Rossman's son,
Harvey, came on board as an elected official a few years later and served the village for 37 years, while DeLany
served for 55 years.
Lannon remained a relatively small village of a half square mile until 1958
when the old Town of Menomonee was split up by the Villages of Menomonee Falls, Butler and Lannon. Lannon got
about two additional square miles.
In June 1962, 30. acres was ceded by Menomonee Falls to Lannon with the land to be used for a future sewer
plant. In times past there has been great' cooperation among Lannon citizens. In
1950 citizens decided the championship Lannon Lakes baseball team should have a field befitting its
exalted position. They rolled up their sleeves and, aided by the Lannon Advancement Association, quarries,
and donated money, built a field with covered stands, a concession stand, and advertising panels in the outfield.
It was so successful that a prominent Milwaukee sports editor chided Milwaukee, saying if little Lannon
could do it why couldn't big Milwaukee? Lannon went on to win five grand championships in the 1950s
and has won more than their share since. Village residents worked together again in 1951 when a noisy motorcycle
gang bombed through the village at night and woke everyone up. Village Marshal Percy Schuiz was unable to
restore order so he set off the firesiren, The Village volunteers horded the
noise-makers into the firehouse and Justice of the peace John Loden held court. The cyclists
~aot come back.
lfaU else failed tokeen he peace Amottg '• Lannon
viflSaige1ftfti&n8.,oy~r tile years, annual' picnics'l~pa~~i smooth out hurt feelings. Oae iiiefl
happening was the 1980 year-long golden anniversary party. Another was tfae«1991
75'h anniversary celebration of the fire department.