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July 2014

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Fred H. Keller | Retrospect


Maude Kraetsch, 'Mrs. Scratch,' reported on Sussex-Lisbon

The byline for many features in local newspapers from about 1932 to 1962 for Sussex-Lisbon newspapers (Menomonee Falls Now, Waukesha Freeman and Hartland news, which is now the Lake Country Reporter) was Mrs. A.C. Kraetsch, the married name of a Lisbon farm wife. Mrs. Maude Brown Kraetsch collected news in Sussex, Lisbon, Colgate and Lannon in her columns and it was published weekly in these three newspapers during that period of 30 years. She was what was called a stringer reporter or more properly a freelancer, as she worked up a clientele of area newspapers who paid her by the inch for her columns.

The population of Sussex, Lisbon and Lannon could expect telephone calls from Maude, affectionally known as "Mrs. Scratch," almost on a weekly basis, and she would pick and pluck tidbits of social events, be they news, parties, visits, trips, births, illnesses, deaths, etc., and the occasional hard news.

Recently the Sussex Lisbon Area Historical Society research center picked up a June 9, 1949 Menomonee Falls Newspaper, and Mrs. Scratch had three columns in the back pages of the paper that were labeled in turn, "Sussex News," "Lannon News" and "Coglate News."

Subscribers would look forward to these columns in the local newspapers to see if their names were in, or neighbors.

Maude was born in western Lisbon in 1884 and married a Lisbon farm boy, Alvin C. Kraetsch, in 1903. They ended up on a farm in what is today downtown Sussex. Today it is right across the street from teh Sussex Village Park main entrance. There home and frame buildings were where the Sussex Meadow View Apartments are today, just to the west of where the Bug Line Walking trail bysects Main Street by the Sussex Fire Department. Meanwhile, the subdivision east and to Locuts Drive and north to the Union Pacific RR was their farm land.

Still standing today is a 100 year old plus Ginko tree by the apartment entrance drive to the Kraetsch farm of old. It was planted by Alvin.

Maude never had any children, but she and her husband did take in 20 to 30 foster children over the years.

The "Waukesha County Rural Directory" of 1923 has the Kraetsch family farm on a 70-acre farm with six horses and 22 cows and a Lisbon telephone number of 68. Later, the 1928 "Prairie Farmers' Home and County Directory of Waukesha County" has the extra tidbit of the farm being called "Twin Oaks Farm."

Alvin Kraetsch was born in 1876 and died in 1962. Alvin and Maude were married in 1908. Maude was 10 years younger than Alvin, and was born in Dec. 1886 and died in Sept. 1964.

Now in the June 9, 1949 papers, Maude penned a column with these tidbits of local news:

"Charles Youngbauer and Harold Krueger spent their vacation for the past week motoring through northern Wisconsin, and around the Great Lakes in Canada, Buffalo and Niagara Falls in New York."

"Sonja Dee Howard, the infant daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Howard, was baptized Sunday morning, May 29, at St. Alban's Episcopal Church. James Connell Jr. and Misses Betsy Riewe and Doris Howard were sponsors."

"(Hillside Road farmer) Donald Howard recently sustained a broken leg by stepping off into a cultivating machine when dismounting from his tractor."

"The Sussex Lions Club entertained their wives at a fish dinner at the Krueger Hotel in Templeton (Tailgators today). Sixty-five attended."

"Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Wandschneider welcomed their first born daughter at teh Waukesha Memorial Hospital (Wife Lois later became a longtime Sussex Village Clerk.)"

"Sussex welcomed Rev. Theodore Reykdal as the new pastor of the Sussex Methodist Church."

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