Fred H. Keller | Retrospect
Belles of Sussex, 1945
This is a Kodak box Brownie camera photo in the early spring of 1945. The camera belonged to Betty Lou Fuller who lent it to someone to catch this shot of the "Belles of Sussex." Betty Lou is today 84-year-old Betty Mindemann who now owns the restored former Bear Gerken, Van Valin big house that is a downtown Sussex landmark, just to the east of the Pauline Haass Library and west of the Sussex Village Hall.
As Betty Lou explained it, this photo of 1945 on Silver Spring Drive also shows the concrete bridge over the Sussex Creek. This is a type of bridge abutment that was made famous by Wisconsin Gov. Robert La Follette just as the 20th century was arriving. It was a universal Wisconsin construction type, one-fits-all type of bridge barrier on each side of the road that funneled at that time, horse and buggy travelers and then automobiles in later years. And because of the sometime acute angles or narowness, they became death and injury bridge side barriers for speeding automobiles. The last of this type of bridge in Sussex-Lisbon was on the Crooked Bridge Road which is now called "North Road," and crosses the Bark River as it proceeds north to County Line Highway Q from North Lisbon Road. Meanwhile, the bridge behind the girls was replaced in the mid-early 1950s when Sussex had its massive rebuilding of Silver Spring Drive.
Betty Lou stated that the barn behind the girls is the Clancy Golner barn on Silver Spring Drive, just to the west of present day Sussex Post Office and Hickory Drive.
In order, from left, the girls are Betty Lou (age 16), Betty Jane Bailey (19) , Audrey Stier (12 or 13) and Shirley Schlei (14 or 15).
Betty Lou was born in northern Wisconsin, and at age 5 caught the dreaded disease, polio, and spent three years recovering at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee. While she had some education during that ordeal, she did not start school until she was 8 years old. At age 11, the Fuller family with Betty Lou moved to Sussex and started attending Sussex Main Street School. Her childhood most famous home was the remodeled Sussex Creamery building on the northwest corner of what is today Maple Avenue and Champeny Road. Built in the mid-1890s, it was finally torn down just a few years ago. It had a name of "The Cheese Factory," but it never produced a pound of cheese, but instead specialized in butter and at one time it also produced ice cream. After going bankrupt, it was converted to a family residence and later an apartment.
Betty Lou would be just reaching 20 years old when she married a Lisbon farmer, Reuben Mindemann, and she spent the first part of her married life as a farm wife with as many as 50-plus cows. Later, Reuben would go into trucking and Betty Lou for now over 45 years has been an antique dealer/appraiser.
Audry Stier was the only daughter of a king pin family in Sussex, Roy and Jessie Stier, who lived on Main Street in the home immediately next to the St. Alban's Cemetery, and adjacent to Sussex Auto, which now owns it. Her father was a longtime village trustee, and later a multiyear Sussex Village President. He also served as the Sussex Fire Chief. Audrey married and moved to California, where she recently died.
Schlei graduated in 1946 from the Sussex two-year high school. She married a local farm boy, Charles Zimmermann, who later became a carpenter and owner of Sussex Lumber-do-it Center. Shirley, after three children, became a cashier at the Do-it Center, which has now been replaced by the Bone Yard Restaurant. Today, Shirley is a longtime prominent member of the Sussex Lioness Club. She was a charter member in September 1965.
Today, the Golner farm and an adjacent small open acreage is for sale, and it is expected to sell and be a major redevelopment in downtown Sussex. The barn in the photo has long disappeared, but the homestead and outbuilding still exist.
- St. James first-grade class photos donated
- Retrospect 12/04/2013
- 'Pepper' Steffen still lives in Sussex
- 'Pepper' Steffen: 85-year Lisbon-Sussex resident
- Isabelle "Issy" Mielke, turns 100
- Plainview School Classes 1946-1950 1947-1948 1948 1949-1950
- Brotherly love: Humphrey Rankin, 1840-1901
- Corp. William Rankin's letter, 1863
- Cheryl Opsahl Maas, fifth generation of Lisbon pioneers
- James and Mary Rankin, early Lisbon pioneers
- Fifth-sixth grade school 1941-42
- The Rifle Club, also known as the Sussex Gun Club
- Sussex columns, ads show unique history
- Maude Kraetsch, 'Mrs. Scratch,' reported on Sussex-Lisbon
- Are there still any hops in Lisbon-Sussex?
- Jeremiah Smith's scrap book
- History of the Hardiman family
- Willow Springs School, class of 1948
- Sussex High School building saved in 1988
- Main Street School now Village Hall
Top stories from the Lake Country area. Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
A Lake Country Twist
on holiday favorites
Click here for stories
on community pride
Do you have news or a nonprofit event that you would like to share with the community? Whether it's a community organization, a business, a local school, or a notable neighbor, we'd love to hear about it.
- CPA Presents - "Avner the Eccentric"
- Hamilton National Honor Society hosts food drive
- Hamilton students selected for Honors Band Festival
- Need some holiday gift ideas for that golfer in your life?
- Elation Dance Center Presents: Wonders of the Season
- Cornerstone Community Bank Hosting Cash Drive for Menomonee Falls Area Food Pantry
- Santa Lucia Festival & Craft Fair Dec. 7
- Local Chiropractors Discuss: Fun With Google Body Browser
Lake Country residents share their views on news, happenings and current events.
LivingLakeCountry.com features more than a dozen community bloggers - a group of volunteer conversation leaders who are up on the latest topics and never short on an opinion. Just a few are pictured here. Check out the rest and see what they have to say!
View All Blogs
Do you want to become a Community Blogger? LivingLakeCountry.com welcomes your thoughts and opinions. Contact us for more information:
I want to blog