Community School History: Lannon Elementary
History of Education in Lannon Area; Waukesha County, Wisconsin
Edited by Mike Reilly, c. November 6, 2000
As of 11/6/00, the history of the Lannon area schools has been moved from the general Lannon history web pages to here. More information about its' history and of how the State of Wisconsin, and Waukesha County influenced it will be added later. This chronological history is divided into eras that roughly parallel the development of the present-day Lannon Elementary School, this was strictly the choice of the Editor.
A note about printing these web pages - you are free to print them out and make copies, but you may want to use the "Landscape" option rather than the normal "Portrait" print setting as some of the text and pictures won't entirely fit on the page.
It appears now that Lannon's first school was Willow Springs School; perhaps in the late 1880's, a stone school house was built in the Village, then followed by the two-story wooden, and eventually the present, often remodeled, Lannon Elementary School. The history of the area's parochial schools is also included because some local students attended them, and they had an influence on the public schools too. The history is presented in a chronological manner to show how events affected the future of education in the area.
Information is also provided here about the Falls High School (the Lincoln School building) and later Menomonee Falls High School since many of the Lannon area 8th Grade and 10th Grade Graduates went on to high school there.
Help fill in the blanks - trying to determine which teachers taught when, and what grade(s), and who were the school Principals. For Lannon Elementary School see Lannon Elementary School Teachers . Willow Springs School teachers are being added to the history below for the time being. St. James' and St. John's (not yet created) schools will probably have teachers and principals added to their respective web pages.
Thank you...Mike Reilly, Editor
1785 Thru the Civil War
1830'-40's - The schools built and maintained used the "rote system" - community support, and tuition on a per child basis from parents. Tuition was often payable in a teacher's room & board, food , firewood, and other in-kind payments.
1835/36 - the earliest (?) to the Lannon area may have been a small private school established by Mrs. John Weaver, the Town of Lisbon. As many as 20 students were taught basic grammar and mathematics. If Lannon area residents used her services it's unknown. Its' quite likely though, that before the Willow Springs School was built (see below), local "Lannon" resident homes served the same purpose.
1839 - The following is some information taken from "An Act to Establish Common Schools". The Wisconsin Territorial Legislature approved the establishment of local schools to be operated by three town appointed supervisors/inspectors - chosen by town citizens, the town having more than ten families. If the town had more than 10 + families, the County Board of Supervisors could divide the Town into school districts each controlled by three school supervisors. Each town shall provide a competent schoolmaster(s) or mistress(es) to instruct the children. (Note: Some of these Town appointed/elected school supervisors ruled their districts as small "school republics", guarding their power from outside efforts for improvements by the County or State Superintendents of Schools.)
These early public schools were used as or for: churches, meeting halls (for temperance or revival groups), funerals, debates, Sunday school, and Town Meetings.
1840's: Early to Mid - These areas had public schools: Pewaukee - 1840; Lisbon - 1841; Lake Five; Richmond (Merton); Menomonee Falls (see 1843 below); Merton - all in 1843; Willow Springs, Plainville (Sussex), Duplainville - 1844.
1841 - Prairieville Academy ( in what was to become the City of Waukesha) was chartered to prepare young men for college. See 1846.
1842/Apr. 5 - 1st Menomonee, Town of, meeting held. During which the position of Commissioner of Common Schools (the position, like other town positions, paid $1 for each day worked in the Town's service) was created, and a 1/4% tax was levied on all taxable property within, to pay for schools in the town.
/Apr. 28 - the Town of Menomonee School Commissioners divided the town into six districts. District No. 1 had six persons in it (male persons only ?); No.2 had five; No. 3, three; No.4, ten; No. 5, five; No. 6, three; total, 32. The total tax given out for collection at this time, including county and Territorial tax, was $153.59 (Does any map or document exist that shows or describes this partitionment ?)
1843 - the first Town of Menomonee school was taught (in Menomonee Falls area ?) by Ellen Corbett. Because of the large number of students a frame schoolhouse was built the next year. [Note: According to "Glimpses of Menomonee Falls - Past and Present" - Menomonee Falls School History contributed by Carol Wildt, the first public school in the Falls was a log cabin school, on present-day Water Street (would this be the same as a "framed schoolhouse" ?), the second structure wasn't built until 1851.] See the "Atlas of Wisconsin, 1878" to show Section 16 and where the first school should have been built - this is were the first Town of Menomonee hall was first built in 1879 on Town Hall Road. Also page up to 1785 - remember Jefferson's Ordinance about Section 16 use and getting Federal funding after statehood?
1844 - A meeting was called to establish the first school for the community, Willow Springs School, in the area later known as Lannon Springs. During the course of the meeting, $500 was raised to cover expenses for the new building. The settlers volunteered their labor to construct the school. Mr. William N. Lannon donated land and stone for the building's exterior (Note: Many times neighbors would quarrel among themselves as to who would donate the land - they wanted the school near to their homes). The laborers quarried the rock from a nearby quarry owned by Lannon. Some settlers made oak benches, which were placed along the walls of the one room. The new one room school included a large rectangular stove for burning the nearby logs from "wood lots." The lots were supplied by the parents who sent their children to the school. The first teacher earned $18 per month and he taught the fall and winter terms. A female teacher taught the spring term, as most of the boys left to help their parents prepare fields and plant crops. To see some other Willow Springs School pictures click here.
School location was always a matter of importance to residents, regardless of whether it ended up on or near their property, parents at less had some concern if other factors would adversely affect their children. One such situation was remedied by the students themselves - in the Ottawa School district, one school was located near a saloon. In these early years, beer (and perhaps liquor) drinking was done pretty much by the entire family (it was many times safer than the water supply, especially in urban areas); but in this case, some of the boy pupils stopped by the saloon and got themselves sufficiently drunk to go back and tear down the schoolhouse. Now this gave the parents ample reason to seek a better location for the new school. Why did the boys tear down the school? Perhaps the reason is to be found in some local newspaper, archived somewhere? Some good guesses would be they didn't like the teacher, maybe they were disciplined by the teacher, or perhaps they just hated going to school and tearing it down was their answer?
Male teachers were thought to be able to deal more effectively with the "boys" than a female teacher. Male teachers were typically paid four times or more than their counterparts. Besides teaching, they (man or woman) were responsible for "keeping the stove lit", "sweeping the floors", and even "splitting firewood". Boarding with local families kept their expenses down, but could lead to some awkward situations.
The subjects taught by the teacher may have included - the alphabet, reading, writing, orthography, grammar, and mental & practical arithmetic. But textbooks weren't always available; students were expected to furnish their own in some districts. Blackboards were often nonexistent, so small slate boards were passed around for the student and teacher to write on. (Editor's Note - It wasn't until the 1870's that "tablets of paper" and "copy books" became readily available and began replacing the small slate boards.).
When books were available, they might have been Sander's Reader, or McGuffey's Reader; Kerkham's Grammar; Adams & Colburns Arithmetic; Mose's Geography, and Webster & Sander's Speller. Sometimes the teacher had to prepare lessons and tests using several different textbooks on the same subject, because that's what the students may have had.
Reference book like atlases, encyclopedia, dictionaries were considered a luxury, and few schools had them. Those school districts that set up "dictionary funds" for their purchase, found that buying the cabinet(s) to keep them locked in, cost more than the books themselves.
1846 - the Prairieville Academy is rechartered as Carroll College Academy preparing students until 1860 when the Civil War closed it temporarily.
The Territory of Wisconsin's population had grown to over 60,000 residents, one of the requirements to begin the petitioning for statehood. Statehood provided the opportunity to create a "tax-supported" ("free schooling") public school system with the aid of Federal school lands (see 1785).
1848 - Besides Wisconsin becoming the 30th state of the Union, the founding of the University of Wisconsin was provided for in our State constitution (July 26, 1848), and "free schooling" was to be provided for children ages four to twenty, and of course, Waukesha County went from being part of the Wisconsin Territory to part of the state of Wisconsin. Where did children in the Lannon area go for schooling up to the later 1880's? (and beyond), probably Willow Springs School? It in the early days of education, there were grades 1-5, then the student could quit school or take some additional "higher school" courses. (Note: Willow Spring(s) School has a history going back to 1844.).
A number of "common" schools sprang up in Waukesha County soon after; one of them was called "Lannon School" but it was in the town of Delafield (see page 282 in "From Farmland to Freeways: A History Of Waukesha County" edited by Ellen D. Langill and Jean Penn Loerke; the article "The History of Education in Waukesha County" by Ellen D. Langill) . Menomonee Falls built the Lincoln, Bailey, Sunnyside (north of Sunnyside cemetery), Oakwood, and Nelson schools. Some of these school, like Sunnyside, may have been used by Lannon residents.
1850 - The entire Town of Menomonee is School District No. 7 (probably as early as 1848). In this year this school district purchased the land which later was sold (?) to St. Anthony's Catholic Church for the building of a parochial school. (see 1857)
1857 - St. Anthony's Catholic school is opened in Fussville. An early or 1st teacher at the school may have been a Sister Augustina. Both St. Anthony's and St. Mary's (1858) may have played a role in the education of Lannon area students whose Catholic families wanted a non-public education alternative. How the students got there and back, had to be a long wagon or horse-back ride. St. James in Lannon (soon to be annexed by Menomonee Falls a few years later, didn't have a school until the later mid-1950's).
1858 - St. Mary's Catholic school is established in Pewaukee.
- By this year, the Village of Waukesha structured some of its' school districts (being independent of the County Superintendent of Schools, as was the Village of Oconomowoc, see 1861 below) into a "graded system" of "Primary" (grades 1-3), Intermediate (4-5), and "Grammar" (6-8). Later (circa 1870), "High School" (9-10) was added.
During the 1850's and 60's, education in Wisconsin was slowly being promoted, but still, school attendance levels only averaged about 50% (see 1879), with a State illiteracy level of 20%.
1860 Federal Census of Menomonee Township reveals there were (14) County School Teachers living within the Town: (also see the 1870 Federal Census on the next web page)
Susan Al___o, age 17, born NY
John Gray, age 21, born Eng.
Francis Hesk or Browne, male, age 25, born Eng.
Adeline Clark, age 25, born NY.
Susan Johnson, age 26, born Vermont, daughter of Edward and Polly Johnson, both from Vermont, she was 17 in the 1850 Federal Census and attended school that year (1850). Susan is another person who may have taught at the school on Howard's property. Edward's property consisted on 80 acres directly northwest of Howard's. The Johnson family arrived in the area from NY c. 1853; they had moved from Vermont to NY, then on to Wisconsin.
Georgiana Brencroft, age 20, born NY.
Bianca Smith, age 18, born NY.
Mary Ann McCarty age 20, born NY; the 1850 Federal Census shows a Mary A. McCarty, age 12, born in NY living with Jas. and Sarah Fox, from NY and Ireland, respectively. She may have very well taught at the school on the Howard land ? Sarah Fox may have been related to Thomas McCarty and she and her husband may have lived on his 200 acres in 1870. Both Mary Ann McCarty and Susan Johnson could also have taught at either Willow Springs or Sunnyside schools.
Ann Emmore, age 19, born Ireland
Gertrude Meyers, age 16, born NY.
Mary Wittman , age 37, born in Bavaria (Germany)
Mary A. Davis, age 22, born in Michigan.
Anna Mellnxore, age 16, born in Ireland
Jerome Phillips, age 29, born in NY.
1861 - The office of County Superintendent of Schools was created, replacing the "local superintendents. The position's purpose was to coordinate the development of education on a county-wide basis. The County Superintendent was expected to visit each school/district at least once a year (by 1880 there were approx 90 separate school districts i Waukesha County, in 1900, 115) and "help" them in the right direction. Each school district was required to prepare a report of their yearly activities, and in turn, The County Superintendent prepared a county report from these, which was submitted to the Wisconsin State Superintendent of Schools; then an annual convention would be held for the County Superintendents. (Editor's Note: The reason the Villages of Waukesha and Oconomowoc remained independent of County school authority for some time was because of a State law called "Constitutional home rule" which allowed cities and villages to determine their local affairs, but with reference to the State Constitution.)
1862 - By this year the County Superintendent was also responsible for giving teacher applicants, examinations of competency. Based on their knowledge level on a number of subjects, the new teachers were awarded certificates to teach, but they were only valid for one, two, or three years, then the teacher had to be recertified. Of course the examinations became increasing difficult, so to remain in the teaching profession, a teacher had to continue to upgrade his or her skill levels, especially if they wanted to be employed for more than a single year. Many of these teachers only had an 8th Grade education themselves, so they had to attend a "high school", college or academy, or go through Normal Training. In fact, their certificates were only valid in the issuing county, and in no other; limiting opportunities, and creating teacher shortages in some districts. The only way around this was to become State Certified, but to obtain this license, the teacher was required to complete some additional "high school", college or academy course, or go through Normal Training.
- The teacher shortage was actually made more serious because of the Civil War, but because the male teachers were off to war, their vacancies left many opportunities for their female counterparts, not only for women teachers, but the girl students were treated in a more equal manner (many probably found new educational inspiration). See 1875.
1860's - During the summer months, the Waukesha County Superintendent of Schools would hold "Teacher Training Institutes" where teachers could upgrade their skills. Or they could attend one of three Normal Schools in Milwaukee, Whitewater, or Platteville also established in this time period.
- In the classroom, the sexes were kept separate; girls on the right, boys on the left (also see 1871). Furthermore, the pupils were divided into "recitation groups" according to academic achievement - the top student were seated on the left end of the bench, while the worst performer was on the far right end. The term "to go to the head of the class" was the goal of many to avoid the embarrassment of being the "dummy" or "dunce" (remember sitting in the corner or at your seat with the "dunce cap" on?) (Editor's Note: I remember attending 1st grade (and 2nd Grade) in a combined Saukville classroom, and having to sit at the rear of the room in an over-sized desk, because I was too tall for my age and unable to fit in the rows of joined desks. Back in the 1860's, the larger students also sat in the back.)
Reference Sources: "From Farmland to Freeways: A History Of Waukesha County" edited by Ellen D. Langill and Jean Penn Loerke; the article "The History of Education in Waukesha County" by Ellen D. Langill; "Public Education in Wisconsin" by Conrad C. Patzer, Superintendent of Practice Teaching - Milwaukee State Normal School, 1924. Issued by John Callahan, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Schools; "Memoirs of Waukesha County", Theron W. Haight, editor, 1907; the works of local historian Fred Keller, some of them printed or reprinted in the Sussex Sun newspaper; and the microfilm Menomonee Falls News articles and "Glimpses of Menomonee Falls - Past and Present" - Menomonee Falls School History contributed by Carol Wildt, at the Maude Shunk Library; and the microfilm Waukesha Freeman articles at the Waukesha Public Library; plus the historical archives held by the Waukesha County Historical Society Museum; in addition to interviews with current or former Lannon residents: Keith Richard Gissal, Donald E. Miller, Shirley DeLorm (nee Wandsneider), and other individual input.