History: Local: Community
Lila B. Graser Chapter No. 159,
Order of the Eastern Star - Sussex
The principle fraternal
organization for women in Sussex-Lisbon was the Sussex Order of the Eastern
Star, an auxiliary of the local Masonic lodge. The Eastern Star was organized in
Sussex in 1906. A "Worthy Matron" (leader) was chosen each year
thereafter. Each succeeding Worthy Matron had to go through a series of steps to
attain the sole leadership role. Normally the Worthy Matron served only one
year, but in Sussex because of limited population, thus limited Star membership,
the leadership role was conferred on the same person several times. At the 25th anniversary
of the Order's founding (1931), a portrait picture was taken of all the past
Worthy Matrons of the Order of the Eastern Star. They were not only leaders of
their club but also leaders in the Sussex area as well.
Left to right: with terms of office
following their names are, front row; Nettie Howard - 1918, '19, '20 and
'21; Ella Campbell - '06,'07 and '08; Elizabeth (Libby) Harris - '12, '13
and '14; Emily Evert - '22 and '23; Shirley Morgan - '27; Second row; Meta
Lingelbach - '25 and '26; Mary Stier - '09, '10, '11 and '15; Elma Munz -
'30 and '31; Elsie Busse - '24; Adella Evert - '16 and '17; Pearl Boots -
'29; and Alice Kraemer - '28. Source: Fred H. Keller, Sussex Sun, Tuesday,
March 29, 1977
Sussex women Masons celebrate 100th year
Fred H. Keller, Sussex Sun Staff Writer
Friends, family, former members and 128 members showed up
March 4 at Sussex Methodist Church to celebrate the 100th
birthday of the Sussex Lila B. Graser Chapter 159 of the
Order of the Eastern Star, the women's branch of the Masons.
Sussex Village President Michael Knapp presented a
framed village proclamation to the chapter's namesake,
Lila Busse Graser, who traveled from her retirement home
in The Arboretum in Menomonee Falls for the centennial
celebration of the club she has been a member of for 77
The Lila B. Graser Chapter began its second
century with 57 members.
Its first century began in September 1905, when
nine Sussex area friends—Catherine Buck, Ella
Campbell, Lulu Buck Gauthier, Helen Jones, Ida
Small, Mary Stier, Jane Worthington, Richard
Jones and John R. Small—went to Menomonee Falls
in a one- horse shay to be initiated into
Menomonee Falls Aurora Chapter 84 of the Order
of the Eastern Star, and to look into starting a
The Aurora Chapter paid the $7 for the livery
service. Mary Rowell and C.F. Henrizi were then
the chapter's worthy matron and patron. The
grand officers who helped initiate the Sussex
chapter in the ensuing months were Emily Evert,
Dodelia Davidson, Ada Grogan, Elizabeth Harris,
Mary Harland and Don Campbell.
The Sussex chapter charter was granted Feb. 21,
1906, for $20. The group charged $3 for
initiation and $1 yearly dues.
Chapter 159 grew rapidly in its first years. It
met in the upstairs hall over the Gauthier and
Buck store, later Lees General Store (where the
Piggly Wiggly Store on Main Street is today).
The old building burned down in 1966.
The group raised money for supplies and
equipment, including star chairs purchased at
the local Malsch Furniture Store for 50 cents
each. Each star-point officer painted a chair
the color of her station.
During the World War I years, 1914-19, 36 people
were initiated into the chapter.
The Ashlar Lodge built the current Sussex
Masonic Temple in 1922 at a cost of about
$9,200, with members donating much of the
material and manpower. Emily Evert and Michigan
Elliott were the first worthy matron and patron
to serve as leaders of the Sussex Eastern Star
chapter in the new building.
The group's growth slowed considerably during
the 1920s and '30s, but it continued to stage
entertainment after its meetings, which included
card playing and dancing in the dining hall.
Members and visitors swung to polkas, the fox
trot and waltzes. The chapter also staged local
talent plays, such as "The Path Across the
Hill," "A Wild Flower of the Hills" and "The
Wild Oats Boys," charging 25 cents for
Some other productions were a Lawrence Welk show
in 1956, a hat parade in 1958, a Jack Parr show
in 1961, School Days in 1964, Blue Buzzard Revue
in 1965 and Sussexville Bringling Sisters Circus
in 1966. Many of those shows were taken on the
road to other chapters.
During World War II, the chapter sent boxes and
gifts to those from the local Sussex-Lisbon area
serving in the armed forces.
The Past Matrons Club was organized in February
1935 at Cora Wendt's home, with 12 members
present. The 97-year-old Lila Busse Graser, the
chapter's namesake, is the only member of that
original group alive today.
Graser is a 77- year member of the Order of the
Eastern Star in Sussex. In September 1957, she
was installed as Grand Marshall of the Grand
Chapter of Wisconsin. As the Sussex chapter's
first grand officer, it voted in 1961 to rename
the local chapter in her honor.
From 1921 to 1974, new officers of the men's
Ashlar Lodge and the women's Sussex Eastern Star
were installed jointly. That changed after 1974
because of a change in the fiscal year by the
During that era, it was customary to have an
annual bountiful oyster stew, made in a large
copper wash boiler and served by the men. (For
those who didn't like oyster stew, sandwiches
were also offered.)
Since 1980 there has been more involvement
between the men's and women's branches of the
Masons in Sussex.
The local chapter had its second state officer
when Joy Zastrow-Mulcahy was elected grand
marshal of the Grand Chapter in 1988.
As the 1990s began, the Ashlar Lodge and Eastern
Star sponsored a joint baked potato booth at
Sussex Lions Daze, becoming the two groups' main
That booth has become something of a tradition
now in the community as customers say, "We wait
all year for one of your baked potatoes."
The Sussex Eastern Star then went on to
participate at Falls Fest in Menomonee Falls, as
©Sussex Sun 2007
A look at the historic Sussex
Order of the Eastern Star
The photo that accompanies this
feature was taken around 1931 when the Sussex
Order of the Eastern Star was celebrating its
The club started as an offshoot of the Sussex
Ashlar Masonic Lodge which traces its origin
back to a charter meeting on June 10, 1874.
While the Ashlar Lodge of Sussex was for men the
Order of the Eastern Star was for women that
were usually wives of Ashlar Lodge members.
Catherine Buck, Lula Gauthier, Ella Campbell,
Helen and Richard Jones, Ida and John Small,
Mary Stier and Jane Worthington made a horse and
buggy trip from Sussex to attend as guests to
the Menomonee Falls Order of the Eastern Star
Aurora No. 84 meeting and inquire how the
Sussex-Lisbon group could start an Eastern Star
chapter in Sussex-Templeton and Lisbon.
The group later organized and held their
charter meeting on Feb. 2, 1906. Ella Campbell
served as its leader or Worthy Mason, Lula
Gauthier as Conductress, Helen Jones as
Associated Conductress, Richard Jones as the
Worthy Patron and Jane Worthington as Associate
Matron. The cost of the charter was $20,
initiation fees were $3 and dues were $1 per
The Order of the Eastern Star is a social,
fraternal and quasi-religious organization. When
the Sussex chapter was formed it served as a
social outlet for area residents.
The first meeting was held in the Sussex
George Lees General Store's loft which was
located where the Piggly Wiggly is today.
After 1922, the Sussex Eastern Star met in
the new Sussex Masonic Hall which still stands
today on Main Street across from the 1937-built
Lannon Stone Community Hall.
In September of 1957, Lila Busse Glaser of
Sussex was installed as Grand Martha of the
Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star
of Wisconsin. She was the first Sussex chapter
member to serve as a state grand officer. In
appreciation and as an honor, on May 10, 1961,
the name of the Sussex Order of the Eastern Star
was changed to Lila B. Glaser Chapter No. 159
Order of the Eastern Star.
This photo was donated to the Sussex Lisbon
Area Historical Society recently by Janet Bigus
and Elaine Sherba (need Podolske). The photo was
taken at the Chapman Studio in Hartland and
pictured are the leaders of the Sussex Eastern
Star from its inception to the 25th anniversary.
Some pictured include: Nettie Howard who was a
teacher at Sussex Main Street School. She was
born Annette White in Brookfield and married
Lisbon farmer Leo Howard from a Lisbon pioneer
Ella Campbell who was the wife of a local
black smith who ran the Sussex Post Office. She
later became the Sussex Postmaster serving from
Shirley Morgan was the wife of Ray Morgan and
the step-grandmother of the photo's donors Janet
and Elaine Podolske. She ran a rooming house
while her husband was the depot agent for the
North Western Railroad from 1916-33. The depot
was up on Maple Avenue and today it has been
moved to downtown Sussex and serves as the
Sussex Lisbon Area Historical Society's museum.
Mary Stier was a granddaughter of pioneer
Jeremiah Smith and is also related to Melinda
Weaver the first woman settler in Lisbon. She
married Fred Stier who can trace his family
roots to Eisenhower and General Joe Warren who
died as a general officer at the Battle of
Bunker Hill. They had four sons. Their second
son, Roy Stier, served as Fire Chief and Sussex
Village President and was a founding member of
the Sussex Lions Club.
Elsie Busse was the mother of Lila Busse
Glaser, which the Sussex Eastern Star is now
named after. Elsie and Charles Busse ran a
butcher shop in Templeton for more than 50 years
and Charles also served as Sussex Village
President and as a representative on Waukesha
County Board of Supervisors.
Pearl Boots was a Sussex teacher and later
the postmaster of Sussex from 1926-34 and then
again from 1940-54.
Alice Kramer became the owner of the Sussex
Malsch Furniture store after her father died and
left it to her.