Marathon County Wisconsin

Marathon County Wisconsin Genealogy Trails Site -- History -- Biographies

History of Spencer Schools

WAUSAU - The Pioneer Schools - Common Schools and High Schools up to 1912




Adams School
Grand View School
Monroe School
Naugart School
Stubble Hill School


County Line School
East County Line School
Gabe Green School
Polk School
Tyler School


Daisy Dell School
Sacred Heart Catholic


Balsam School
Johnson School
Sunshine School


Barstow School
Dewey School
Farewell School
Forestville School
St. John's Lutheran School
Sunrise School


Drake School
Lindbergh School


Granite Hill School
Ludington School


Fenwood Public School


Hoard School


Cole School
Guenther School
Little Eau Claire School
Ryan School


Barney School
Craig School
Maple Grove School
Thayer School


Fair View School


Eau Claire River School
Eau Claire Valley School
Fallow School


Corinth School
Dixon School
Ladd School
Milan Public School
Whiton School


Dancy Public School
Knowlton Public School
Kosciusko School
Victor School


Lyon School
Orton School
Paine School








Byron Valley School
Cassoday School
Church Hill School
Pleasant View School
Red Granite School
Taegesville School
Town of Maine School
Valley View School


Woodlawn School


East Kirwin School
Timlin School


Oleson School
Rocky Ridge School


Norrie Public School


East Reid School
Pike Lake School
Rosenberry School


DeCourcey School
Hillside School
Rib Falls School
Washington Heights School


Mosinee Hill School
Mountain Side School

Rib Mountain Schools


Carpenter School


History of Spencer Schools

Spencer High School (Graduation – 1968)
Spencer High School (Graduation – 1979)


Stettin's Schools in 1960 

Mitchell School
Rib View School
Spooner School
Spring Valley School
Stettin School
Vilas School
Woodland Dale School


Butternut Grove School
Granite School (Meihans Corner)
Husting School
Jefferson School
Lenroot School
Marshall Hill School
Riverview School
Trappe School
Twin Oaks School


McKinley School
Willies School


Cloverbelt School
Columbia School
Franklin School
Grant School
Highland Grove School
Hillgrove School
Humboldt School
Irving School
Lincoln School
Longfellow School
Washington School
Wausau Business College & History


Hawthorne School
Kelly "Lower" School
Town Line School
Upper Kelly School
Weston School


Farrell School
Scotch Creek School
Strupp School

Town of Cassel Schools
Source: Cassel Centennial Booklet (1891 – 1991) p. 45-47; submitted by Marla Zwakman


This school was a joint district between the Towns of Cassel and Marathon. It was located on the corner of 107 and Four
Mile Road, on the land which belongs to Toby Karlen. His father, Peter, was a former school clerk, and thus he
preserved the records for posterity.

According to the ledger, this school dates back to 1860. the first years budget was $355.00 and that included the build-
ing of the schoolhouse for $200.00. School was in session for only 6 months of the year, from October till April. Peter
Zimmerman was hired as the first teacher for $75.00 for the school term.

In 1891, a new schoolhouse, woodshed, and outhouse was constructed for $345.00. John Lemmer got the old school
building. In 1901 the length of the school term was increased to 8 months of the year. German was taught, as much as
allowed by law, for 3/4 hour each day. By the year 1931, a teacher received $95.00 a month wage. The last recorded meeting of the district is dated in 1931, and so it is presumed that is when the school closed. The building was moved to Wausau in 1946 and used as a temporary church for the Holy Name Congregation.


For the residents living in the northern part of the township, a school was built amid a field of wild daisies, thus the name,
Daisy Dell. The exact date of the building and some of its first teachers are not known. About the year, 1921, Mrs. Lillian
(John) Lensmire started teaching school there for her neighborhood children. Lillian had an infant son at home at the time which she left with a sitter, and every noon she had to return home to breast feed him, then walk back to school to continue with her classes.

Some of the teachers after her were a Miss Sellung, Benedict Wilson, Geraldine McDonald, Frank Szymanski, Ray Lepak,
Virginia Wadinski, Johanna Michlig, Adeline Hunstock, Joan Wirkus, Janice Michlig, Mrs. Loskot, and Gertrude Karlen. In 1963 the school closed its doors when it was consolidated with the Marathon School District.

It was not easy being a teacher in a one room school house with children in all eight grades to teach. Besides teaching, a
teacher also had to keep the wood furnace going and keep the schoolroom clean with the help of her pupils.

Joan Wirkus recalls one winter in early November, we were hit with a blizzard and the roads became impassable, so all the
children and Joan, their teacher, had to spend the night in school. With the help of close neighbors who provided them with
meals and some blankets, they were able to endure it. Joan says they sang songs and told stories and covered up with their
coats. It was just like camping out. The children, no doubt, enjoyed this adventure.

Daisy Dell School 1963-64
Teacher, Gertrude Karlen, D. Bauman, T Hessey, G. Baumann, R. Ross, Krueger R. Hanke, R. Gavitt, D. Dailman, G. Baumann, M. Knieger, J. Schaur, J. Baumann, R. Matthiae, D. Baumann, K Ross, S. Baumann, F Hanke, M. Matthiae, F Ross

(by Joanna (Soczka) Michlig)

Fillmore School was my home district school. This gave me a great pleasure to teach in the same school I attended as a
young girl and graduated from the 8th grade.

All eight grades were taught with 10 minute classes for primary grades and 15 minutes in upper grades. The largest
class consisted of six children.

In the Fall, the fire was built by the teacher in a pot belly stove with a protective jacket around it. Since I was living at
home, having only about 1/4 mile to school, my brother started the fire for me. The room was nice and warm before the
children arrived. The children carried the wood from the wood shed, the last recess for the next day. The children carried
their own lunch in a pail and placed it behind the stove on a shelf. Later when it got cold, it kept the lunch nice and warm.
Water was hauled from the neighbor because the school well tested as unsafe. The water was poured in a large bubbler
that stood on a table with a wash bowl and a soap dispenser next to it.

When fire was in the stove, a pail of water was put on top of the stove to keep the air moist in the room.

We had a large playground here. In the Fall and Spring, the older children (boys as well as girls) played baseball while the
younger children played games such as Ring Around the Rosy, Drop the Hankerchief or Tag. We had no playground equipment. In the Winter we usually stayed in. The children got enough fresh air walking to and from school, so the played games inside when it rained or was very cold.

The teachers were required to teach basic skills in all subjects. The subjects taught were; Math, Reading, Geography,
History, Science, Health, Language and Spelling. Some Art and Singing especially around Christmas and Easter.

A county supervisor visited the school at least once a year observing classes taught by the teacher and the children
working at their seats. This report was sent to the District Clerk.

Christmas Program was a time to get together with the parents. They had a chance to watch their children act in plays
and hear some recite poems. At last the Santa Claus came and distributed the gifts the children exchanged and gave each one a small box of candy. This was the only time the parents visited the school.

1933 graduates of Fillmore School - R. Imhoff, D. Fischer, A Imhoff, R. Karlen
1925 graduates of Fillmore School - A Soczka, Clara &Joe Fons, C. Schneider


Land was purchased from Conrad King, located in the SE1/4 of Section 18, Range 5 East in the Town of Cassel on June 8, 1901, for the purpose of erecting a school house. At the meeting of the local residents, it was decided to build a brick
schoolhouse. School was to be started by November 1 of that year and to hire a female teacher if possible. Each family
had to buy their own textbooks that first year. A Miss Elmere Gervais was hired as the first teacher, but apparently she quit
before the school year was over, as John King had to substitute for the last 3 months. Her salary was $38.00 a month. In later years when a male teacher was hired, his salary was $45.00 a month, then when a female teacher was hired her
salary went back to $38.00 a month, so that is why a female teacher was usually sought after.

In the first years, school was held for only 7 months of the year, until 1917 when it was changed to 9 months of the

Names of the teachers in subsequent years are; Anna Bradley, Nicholas Miller, Angelina Sloan, Helen Bowe, Vigil Bowe,
Helen Resop, Beth Means, Helen McEwen, Adela Meyer, Marcella King, Florence Wirkus, Adeline Schroeder. The last year the school was in operation was in 1945, and the salary of the teacher at that time was up to $80.00 a month.

Class of 1925
Leanard Wiesenberger Rudy Lang Envin Adamski, Billy Eggert, Wilbur Paul, Milton Kirchman (teacher), Viola Adamski, Angeline Sellung Angeline Hornung Mary Bargander, Clara Adamski, John Skrypchak. Front Row; Winifred Hornung, David Adamski, Clarence King, Clara King, Mary Weisenberger Theresa Bargande; Dorothy Lang

Reunion class of 1929
Stanley Szymanski, Eleanor Lepak, Lottie Burger, Emily Murkowski, Henry Koppa


The congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, wanting to install Christian values and instruct their children in the Catholic faith, built its own school in 1910. It was a two-story building, constructed of brick, with a chapel and living quarters for the nuns attached to it. The bottom floor classroom was for grades 1 thru 4, while the upper level held classes for grades 5 thru 8. It was staffed by the Felician Sisters, usually two sisters for teaching and one as a cook and housekeeper. In later years as the parish grew, another sister was hired for teaching.

Mass was held every morning in the school chapel before classes began. In those early years, fasting from midnight was required to receive Holy Communion, so those children who participated in receiving the Eucharist, had to bring their own breakfast as well as lunch to school. In the last years a hot lunch program was established.

Polish language was taught, and polish readers were used till about 1937, when it was discontinued. At the end of every
school year a big program was presented with every class participating in a play or skit. It closed with graduation ceremonies when the graduates received their diplomas.

The school was closed in 1970, due to the shortage of teaching nuns. The living quarters are occupied, but the rest of the
building is standing empty.


What was our Town Hall, located on the corner of Highways "S" & "N", was the former Taylor School building. The
school closed in 1939. Many of the children went to the parochial school at Sacred Heart then, while a few went to
Marathon. Alex Szymanski was the schools last teacher. Other teachers throughout the years were, Quirrin Lensmire, Ernest Pilz, Isadore Lepak and Frank Joswiak.

Taylor School 1924-25
Frank Joswiak, teacher
Taylor School pupils - Edward Pospychalla and Emily Wadinski are two identified pupils

Marathon City Sschools (1897)
Source: Wausau Daily Record (Wausau, Marathon County, Wis.) 1897

The citizens of Marathon City are proud of their schools and it has ever been their endeavor to keep them up with the times and give the youth of their village every opportunity of acquiring the needed education to made good citizens. The school
directors are men of push and enterprise and have left no stone unturned that would advance their school system. The first school building was erected in 1873, and since that time has been remodeled and furnished with all modern improvements and apparatus. The school has an enrollment of 85 and is in session nine months each year. The principal, Joseph Muschinski, is a man well qualified to fill the position entrusted to him.

History of Spencer Schools
Source: Spencer Centennial Booklet (Spencer, Marathon County, Wis.) 1874 – 1974 (pages 24-26)

After providing a roof over their heads, the thoughts of the early pioneers turned to the education of their children, and so it was sometime in the autumn of 1874 that Elizabeth (Libby) Swan rang the school bell for the first time in Spencer, Wisconsin. Classes were held in a small building (on the west side of the railroad tracks – north of the Railroad House and between Clark and Main Streets) furnished with desks and seats made by a local carpenter.

In 1875 the first school building was erected for School District No. 1 Town of Spencer, on a site located on what 1974 residences would recognize as the corner of East Clark and Douglas Streets. This frame building was 30 x 50 feet and 24 feet high and, since it was banked with sawdust, was believed to have been sitting on blocks. The school was a two-story building with Mr. Chauncey K. Richardson as the first teacher in the upper department and Miss Jennie Patch, his assistant, in charge of the lower department. Since the building was not completed when the school first opened Mrs. Richardson had the children of the primary grades come to her home (they arrived by means of a stile in the back fence) where she taught them the A B C’s. The first school building burned during an evening of Christmas vacation in 1881. With no formal building in which to continue their schooling, temporary classrooms were set up for the older pupils in the hall above John Gardiner’s store and in the Methodist Church, while the primary children went to classes in a home which would now (in 1974) be somewhere along East Mill Street. Mr. John Van Hecke was school principal at the time.

In April of 1885, a second two-story, white, frame school building, the same size as the previous school, was built on a stone foundation at the original site by contractor, Mr. Lowe, for the cost of $2,000.00. This building was enhanced by twenty-one 12-pane windows and green blinds. There were double doors in the front with a platform (surrounded on three sides with steps) extending across the entire front of the building. Inside the building there was a long hall with stairways (one for the boys, and one for the girls) extending up on either side; and under the stairs were the cloak rooms for the primary students. Upstairs, a hall extended across the south end where recitation seats were placed. The rooms were heated by large, box stoves with drums on top. Third grade (which would now be eighth grade) subjects were the most advanced studies at the time. Roxie Tyler was the first teacher to introduce Algebra to the eager students, and W. D. Ackerman was the first Physiology teacher and also the first instructor to divide the students into grades. This second building had a short history as it burned in the big fire of August 8, 1886. A news item in the August 9, 1886 issue of the Spencer Tribune says, “School House, Loss $3,000.0, Insured.” No classes were held until a third school was completed for the term after New Years of 1887.

The third school was erected on the same site as the previous buildings and was a red brick structure built in 1886 with its “Little Room, Middle Room, and Big Room” all on one floor. A hallway went straight down the middle of the building and the students could place their hats and dinner pails on the shelves which lined its walls. From time to time a good, strong gust of south wind would delight the students by sending hats and other articles sailing to the north end of the hall. Chas. Schiller was the builder of this school, using red brick from the Charles Stoltenow brick yard west of the village. Since the rooms of the building were all on one floor, there was a great deal of roof. Parents worried that the roof might collapse until finally iron rods were installed to hold the walls in place and the feared catastrophe never occurred. In 1896 Supt. Humphrey saw Edith Griffin Graves receive her diploma indicating that she had satisfactorily completed the course of study required by law, including the course of Reading, Spelling, Orthoepy, English, Grammar, Arithmetic, Geography, Writing, United States History, Constitution of the United States and Wisconsin, Physiology and Hygiene. In 1898 pupils of the Grammar department took up the study of Current History, and Mr. Soule, Principal, proposed that the students become regular subscribers to some paper and kindly offered to conduct the regular class so that they would be aware of significant current events. In 1913, 120 students attended classes in this building. This third building was razed in 1914 to make way for a much needed new structure.

The years of 1914 and 1915 witnessed the construction of a two-story brick school building on the site of the previous school buildings. The completion of the building enabled the school district to offer 12 years of education to its students. During the first year of occupancy, the high school students and the eighth grade occupied the second story and the elementary students the first floor of the building. The first four-year high school class of six students graduated in 1917. Those students were Marium Andrews Roith, Harrie Heal, Louise Parrette Soles, Frances McVean Fenhouse, Helen Pickett Richey, and Ethel Damon. The principal for the class of 1917 and of 1918 was Randall Schofield and the teacher was Miss Fuller.

This facility served the community as both grade and high school from 1916 to 1951.

As it became necessary, the first Agriculture course was initiated for the term of 1950 – 1951 when Mr. Gerald Beaster arrived as the first instructor. Mr. Beaster initiated the first program for the course and remained as instructor until April of 1956 when he left teaching for business. In these early years an average of 20 boys used this ag building for classroom, milk testing lab, woodworking and shop facilities for machinery and equipment repair. Mr. Beaster was followed by Mr. James Hicks, who was in turn followed by Mr. Clare Gretebeck, who also taught Biology. Mr. Vernon Fait became the next agriculture instructor remaining in that position today. He also teaches welding, metal work and driver education.

In the spring of 1951 ground was broken for a unit which was to contain a multi-purpose room across the south end, double, front doors and hall, four classrooms and an office. The building accommodated grades 1, 2, 3, and 4. It was the first 1st grade in that structure which opened its doors to the term of 1952-1953 which was to become the High School graduating class of 1964. This building was to be the initial step of the present school building extending along two blocks on the east side of the present, “School Street.”

Perhaps it is only proper to mention the forethought, vision and dreams of a man for the community which he dearly loved. Mr, Ray Tack dared to go ahead with his dreams for a school so far as to sketch them on paper, show them to a Milwaukee architect, hire and pay that man to draw those dream sketches into blueprints. The blueprints included the aforementioned structure of 1951-1952 and provisions for some of the future additions. The structure was considered one of the most modern in the state and was planned so that additional rooms could be added as they became necessary. Though it was completed in March of 1952, it was not used until the fall term (1952-1953) began because of the muddy condition of the grounds around it. It was not unusual to see Mr. and Mrs. Tack busily at work cleaning and washing the windows as the new addition was being readied for its first classes.

Two years later, in 1954, four classrooms were added to the north end of this structure, and the heating plant was revamped.

Once again as enrollment increased and as athletics became a more active part of the school program, the present auditorium-gymnasium, four additional classrooms, lunch room, music room, teachers’ lounge, locker rooms, and lavatories were “drawn up.” An architectural firm set the plan to scale and it became a reality to students of the 1957-1958 school term. A Spencer Record clipping list the building committee as R. J. Tack, E. J. Thuss, and Arnold Bruesewitz. On the board of Education were E. J. Thuss, director; Elroy E. Huber, clerk; Earl G. Reinholoz, treasurer; Raymond Toltzman, member; Vilas Luepke, member, and Phillip Myott, supervising principal. A study of records would indicate that thousands of dollars had been saved for the school district through the efforts of Mr. Tack.

Realizing how much time, effort and idealism Mr. Tack had put into the school, plans began to formulate quietly for a recognition dinner to be held in his honor. On December 7, 1958, a dedication program was held at 2:00 P.M. and that evening a testimonial dinner was held to honor him. Mr. Tack, who was not a man who relished notoriety, was given a plaque to thank him for his work in behalf of the school district and honored by having the new auditorium named the R. J. Tack Auditorium.

Note: The first American flag to hang in the new auditorium was given by Mrs. Anna Fritsch, whose children graduated from the Spencer Schools – four of them becoming instructors in Wisconsin schools. The beautiful Coat of Arms which hangs on the west wall of the auditorium was built and painted by Allen Jicinsky while he was a sophomore during the 1972-1973 school term. It took him about 45 hours to complete the crest which he presented to the school after its completion.

Further rooms, which include the Junior High addition, were added to the structure in 1959 and 1962.

In the early 1940’s the State of Wisconsin began recommending that all graded schools should become a part of a high school district, so it was prior to the 1949-1950 school term that the Parrette School (in the township of Brighton) ceased operation and joined the Spencer school district. After the school closed, the building was moved into the village where it was located between the high school and the agriculture building. There it provided quarters for the band for some time and also served briefly as a classroom for the eighth grade.

Consolidation continued with schools from the Townships of Spencer, Unity, McMillan, Sherman and Brighton joining the Spencer schools. Those schools (not necessarily in order of their consolidation) were the following: Parrette, Harding, Brighton, Grove Side, Cole, Cameron, Holmes, Sawyer, Mannville, and parts of Romeo, Timlin, Willow Brook, and Veefkind.

School buses began traveling along district roads in the fall of 1939. During the early days of school transportation, students who rode the buses paid a small weekly fee to the school district which helped to cover the cost of operation. The school district contracted with Mr. Harry Hermanson and Mr. William Jensen to provide the transportation. Mr. Hermanson used a 36 passenger G.M.C. on the southern route and Mr. Jensen used a 42 passenger Ford bus on the northern route. In the fall of 1941 Hermanson purchased the Jensen route and continued, for over 26 years, to provide student transportation. In 1954 Mr. Rue Burnett contracted to transport the Willow Brook School students into the village schools and as consolidation continued, his contract was extended to cover transportation for those other students as well. Now (in 1974) there are over 600 students using bus transportation to the Spencer schools each day of the school term.

This steady influx of students from rural areas was taken care of by the new additions to the Junior High and Elementary building. In the fall of 1965 principal Mr. George Nikolay opened the doors of a new high school to the ever-increasing enrollment. This beautiful, modern, two-story building contains 17,000 square feet divided into twelve academic classrooms, a library, industrial arts shop and study hall. It contains offices for administrative personnel and a lounge for the teachers.

Today there are 256 students in the high school (grades 9 through 12) with 20 teachers and 1 teachers’ aide. There are 685 students enrolled in kindergarten and grades one through eight, with 29 teachers and six teachers’ aides.

Today there are special reading classes and special education rooms for students who need them. There is a guidance counselor (Mrs. Jean Zogg) ready to assist them at all times. Spencer students can study algebra, advanced algebra, trigonometry, geometry, consumer math, physics, world culture, English, U.S. history, chemistry, biology, home economics, agriculture, industrial arts, language (French or Spanish), art and driver education. They can continue in advanced learning in some of these subjects for several years. The student with excess energy can “go out” for wrestling, football, basketball, golf, track or volleyball. They can also increase their talents by means of excellent forensic and drama training.

“Touch” football was played for several years prior to the start of tackle football which was initiated in the fall of 1946. The first Homecoming weekend was October 18 an 19, 1946, and that football game was played against Nekoosa (games were played in the village park) with Spencer winning 32-0. As the school developed on its present site, games were played on a field east of the school. As the 1973-1974 school term opened Spencer students stood tall and proud as they watched the completion of a new athletic field located north of the high school. The new football field is well lighted; there is a graveled track, a baseball diamond, excellent bleacher facilities and ample parking space for interested spectators. Spencer played its first homecoming game on the new field on October 5, 1973, and won the game (against Pittsville) with a score of 22-12 under the coaching of Mr. Bruce Stewart.

Basketball has been recorded in Spencer school histories as early as 1917-1918. Members of the first Spencer High School basketball squad were Werner (Rusty) Raabe, Ted Tack, Byron Heal, Lester Mais, Phyllis (Squiz) Bonneville, Harry Drews, Norman McVean, with Art Phillips, and Carroll Graves as substitutes. The school (1918-1919-1920) also boasted a winning girl’s team. In the “old” days, players took long rides in horsedrawn vehicles or paid their own fare as they traveled by train to nearby towns. Today Spencer has a boys basketball team coached by Mr. Bruce Stewart and a girls’ team coached by Miss Linda Fenske. They play competitively against other schools in the Marawood Conference.

From 1874, the Board of Education consisted of three citizens elected annually by the voting residents of the district. In 1955 the Board of Education was re-organized into its present structure of five members who each serve a three year term. The official designation became Joint District No. 1, Village of Spencer, Towns of Spencer, Brighton, McMillan, Unity and Sherman. The supervision of schools by the office of County Superintendent came to an end and the supervision of local was placed in the hands of the local district superintendent. In this present year of 1974, Mr. James DiUlio is district administrator, with Mr. Robert Sladky as high school principal and Mr. Robert Sladky as high school principal and Mr. Robert Hinrichsen as principal of the Junior High and elementary school.

Spencer school annuals (year books) have been published intermittently since 1920. Until 1955 the publication was called the “Echo.” In 1956 it became the “Rocket” and continues so today. The first books contained information mainly concerning the high school but today it pictures and names students in all grades, both elementary and high school and completely covers athletic and all other activities that occur.

The swing of a boom can demolish a building but it cannot destroy millions of memories. An October 13, 1966 clipping relates the following: “Spencer residents have noticed that a familiar landmark is gone. After fifty years of service the Spencer High School is gone, having been deserted for better things.

“Gone are millions of memories. Gone is the place where dreams were made, and dreams were broken. Gone is the scene of young love and youth-filled happiness.

“It survived two world wars and eight presidents – and then with the swing of a boom it fell to the ground.”

Yes, the 1915 building is gone but many of those who trod its steps remain and remember. They have helped to erect a new structure where their children and grandchildren can dream their dreams and receive an education which will enable them to enter any advanced school of learning.

From the beginning, our school’s students have gone forth into fields of endeavor far too varied for us to list here. Some of them served in the armed forces of our country and some gave their lives for that cause. One hundred years ago pioneers craved an education for their children and so today parents and citizens continue to strive for better facilities and better education so that their children might go forth to become intelligent, trustworthy citizens of tomorrow.

Spencer High School (Graduation – 1968)
Source: Marshfield News-Herald (Marshfield, Wood County, Wis.) Monday, 27 May 1968; contributed by Ron Flink & transcribed by Marla Zwakman

SPENCER – Commencement exercises for 42 Spencer High School seniors were held Saturday at the R. J. Tack auditorium.

The invocation and benediction were given by the Rev. R. James Hagen, pastor of the Spencer Methodist Church. Addresses were given by Susan Stelson, Patrick Staege, Karen Wachholz, Barbara Matter and Joseph Hagen.

Announcement of the various awards were made by Mrs. William Theisen, president of the Clark County Homemaker Council, and Roland M. Krueger, high school principal.

The music was furnished by the Spencer High School band, and the diplomas were presented by George Nikolay, superintendent of the Spencer Public Schools.

Graduates are Karl Anderson, Linda Anderson, Donna Jean Barker, John Boge, Gary Bonitz, Carol Bruesewitz, Bruce Cook, Ellen Cook, Larry Dering, Georgia Fisher, Doris Fleischman, Robert Frank, Larry Gauger, Faye Gorst, Melody Graff, Joseph Hagen, Joyce Harries, Richard Hebert, Roger Hebert, Kathleen Holterman, Nicky Hoops;

David Jacobitz, Gary Jensen, Gary Klein, David Krause, Michael Krohn, Terry Lee, Ronald Luepke, Barbara Matter, Marian Meinders, Dennis Mellenthin, Donna Oestreich, Steven Prechel, James Prikosch Jr., Patricia Reigel, Patrick Staege, Susan Stelson, Karen Wachholz, Gerald Weinfurtner, Leo Wojcik, and Cynthia Yonker.

Spencer High School (Graduation – 1979)
Source: Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood County, Wis.) Wednesday, 16 May 1979; contributed by Ron Flink & transcribed by Marla Zwakman

SPENCER – Spencer High School seniors will receive diplomas at the school’s commencement ceremony at 8 p.m. Friday in the R. J. Tack Auditorium.

Sixty-three students will be graduated with Janis Diers, Amy Gardner, Thomas Weister, Lori Luepke, Rhonda Jicinsky and Janet Krause honored as the top students in the class.

Principal Joseph Colletti will announce the recipients of the E. J. Thuss Scholarships and the student body’s Unsung Hero Award.

Jon Burnett, Marcia Kuehnast, Dawn Hopfensperger and Gardner will speak at the ceremony.

The class motto is “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” The class selected light and royal blue as their class colors and the blue rose as the class flower.

The Pioneer Schools - Common Schools and High Schools up to 1912
----Source: History of Marathon County Wisconsin and Representative Citizens (1913) written by Louis Marchetti, pages 341-351 (Transcribed by Marla Zwakman)

Wausau Business College

The first settlement was undoubtedly made at Wausau in 1839-40, but then ten years passed away, before we hear the word "school" mentioned, or find any traces of provisions for schools made, which is not surprising, however. There were no children here for years, at least not of school age. Pioneers, as a rule, are either unmarried or travel alone in the wilderness, leaving their families behind in a civilized community. The pinery pioneers were no exception from that rule.

The first settler, George Stevens, never brought his family up here. Of all the first millowners J. L. Moore and Hiram Pearson seemed to be the only ones who were married in the early forties. J. L. Moore's wife gave birth to the first white child born in the winter of. 1845-46. When J. Le Messurier came here in 1845 with his family, the whole female contingent at Big Bull Falls consisted of Mrs. J. L. Moore, Mrs. Hiram Pearson, Mrs. Baxter, and was strengthened by the arrival of Mrs. Le Messurier and Mrs. Brezette, but Le Messurier, who had a family of wife and three daughters, after a short stay moved up on Pine river for some time, where his two oldest daughters were married, one to Isaac Coulthurst and one to Thomas Grundy, and after his return to Wausau the youngest one married Ely R. Chase, a Wausau lawyer, who died lately in California.

It has been told how Miss Crown was given a party by the ladies of Wausau after her arrival here in 1852, and that in counting the number of ladies, there were eleven in all, Miss Crown included, and two of them were still unmarried.

There is a tradition that a private school was taught here as early as 1849 by a Miss Livingston, afterwards Mrs. William Fellows of Mosinee, but that evidently is based on error, so far as time is concerned. It does not seem probable that any child of school age, say older than six years, was here at that time, and less probable that a private teacher was engaged for tuition. This view is borne out by the fact that in the first public school here in 1854 the existence of which is established by at least two of the pupils living here, only six or seven were enrolled.

There was then and for years afterwards no school building and the school was held in rented places, the first one in a little building east of the Stewart Lumber Company office on Jackson street, in all probability in the little building built for a county office by T. Hinton, next in a vacant tailor shop on Jackson street near the southeast corner of Jackson and Second streets, a little later the store or warehouse of Lyman on Forest street was used, where also the Presbyterian church services were held, the other part of the building being occupied by Silas B. Stoddard. Another building used for school purposes in the later fifties or up to 1860 was a small two-story building on the corner of Second and Washington street where the Widmer Business College now stands. Dr. Harriet Wylie, wife of Dr. D. B. Wylie, was teaching there one term at least, Bert Gowan being one of the pupils. The front room was used for the school, the back room was a carpenter shop, and the family of the owner, a Gudsole, lived on the second floor. This building burned down.

Later the second floor of the millwright shop of M. D. Corey south of the Courthouse square was used and at one time there was also a school in a small house or shanty on the west bank of the river on what is now Harrison boulevard, the building facing Forest street. All these were rented places, and as may be imagined, with little or no equipment.

There is also a tradition that the first public school was taught by a young man named Rouch in 1853. None of the present pioneers remember him, but a class was taught in 1854 by W. A. Gordon in the place mentioned as being probably the first county office building east of the A. Stewart Lumber Company office. The teacher, W. A. Gordon, was at the time studying with Dr. I. E. Thayer, who was the practicing physician here, preparing himself for entrance into a medical college and taking his collegiate course, returned and practiced as a full fledged physician at Wausau. Still later Gordon left for California, where he practiced as a specialist for eye, ear and throat afflictions. The pupils attending this school, evidently the first here, were Henry McLaughlin, James Mitchell, Maria Tyler, Edward Nicolls, John Youles, and a daughter of William Gouldsbury, now Mrs. W. W. DeVoe. The following year Lyman W. Thayer, a lawyer, father of E. B Thayer, taught school, law practice being unremunerative in those days; one of his pupils was William Slosson, chief engineer at the pumping station. Miss Slosson, afterwards Mrs. John Tuttle, seems to have been the first lady teacher, engaged at the munificent salary of $4.00 per week (and board). Miss Louise Dexter (later Mrs. John Peters) succeeded her, who was teaching in the Corey building in 1857, being assisted by Miss Halsey, a daughter of the Presbyterian minister. The following named ladies were engaged as teachers here at different times until the arrival of W. H. Searles as teacher in 1861, namely: Miss Cornelia Gouldsbury, later Mrs. Daniel Kline, Miss Perry, Miss Cole, and Miss Halsey, who had a class in the Methodist church, which later burned down.

In 1861 to 1862 the first school house was built on what is now the playground of the Washington school, with W. H. Searles, afterwards Doctor Searles, as teacher.

Some of the families represented on the simple benches in these primitive school buildings were the Singles, Ringles, Millards, Slossons, Mansons, Scholfields, Poors, Bradfords, Alexanders, and others.

When W. H. Searles took charge of the school in 1862 the village had a population of about 500, and the school house stood among the stumps and rotten pine logs, but it was the largest building in the village and in the county. There were two school rooms, one on the first and one on the second floor, Miss Halsey being the assistant teacher. This school house stood until 1889 when it was sold for $225, the board reserving the bell.

W. H. Searles was a graduate of Lawrence College, left Wausau to study medicine and surgery and returned to practice his profession here for years afterwards.

James Pound succeeded him in 1863, seemed to have a stormy career in the one year of his engagement and left never to return.

School houses were built in succession as follows: Humboldt school house in 1873-74; Grant school house in 1881 (not used now) ; Irving school house in 1883; Franklin school house in 1883; Columbia school house in 1885; Washington school house in 1889; Lincoln school house in 1892; Longfellow school house in 1894.

The high school was built in 1898-99 and occupied in the fall of 1899, and in 1910 the Grant school was built in the sixth ward, the old Grant school on First avenue having been closed as unfit for its use for some years.

All these school houses with the exception of the high school and Washington school have been remodeled and enlarged since they were built.

The following is a list of the principals of the Wausau schools since 1862:
1862-63 ............. Dr. W. H. Searles             1864-67 ............. Frank Atwell
1863-64 ............. James Pound                     1867-68 .......... .. E. D. Metcalf
1868-69............. Clemence F. Briery            1869-71............    William C. Butler
1871-72............. Henry E. Wright                 1872-74.............. George W. Bowen
1874-76............. John C. Smith                    1876-80............... F. W. Houghton
1880-84............. C. D. Abbey                      1884-86............... W . G. Witter
1886-90 ............ Hugh McIndoe                   1890-92 .............. J. A. Eakin
1892-95 ............ Carl Mathie                        1895-96 ............. W . R. Moss
1896-97 ............ Carl Mathie                        1897-1911 .......... C. C. Parlin
1911-13 ............ Ira C. Painter

According to the school census taken in June, 1912, the population of the city was 17,655, the number of children of school age being 6,065.

The enrollment in public schools was 3,710, and in the parochial schools 850. The church congregations having their own schools and supporting them are: The St. Mary's Catholic congregation, the Lutheran Zion's congregation, the Lutheran Trinity's congregation, and the Ev. Lutheran Salem's congregation and the E. L. St. Stephan's congregation. In the industrial school established under the law of 1911 for children from fourteen to sixteen years of age, out of school under a permit to work, the enrollment was 150. These boys and girls are required to attend school five hours a week.

The board of education for 1912-13, which in the great majority has remained unchanged in the last ten years, consists of:
First ward .............. Mrs. Frank Kelly
Second ward ......... William Paff
Third ward ............. W. W. Albers
Fourth ward.............William B. Scholfield
Fifth ward ............... Mrs. C. B. Bird
Sixth ward .............. Walter Pierce
Seventh ward ......... Henry Johannes
Eighth ward ............ Henry Pagenkopf
Ninth ward.............. August F. Marquardt
At large: E. C. Zimmermann, G. D. Jones, P. F. Stone.

Wausau is known as an industrial and manufacturing city, with good streets, good schools and school houses, fine church edifices, beautiful residences, well kept lawns and healthy surroundings, all of which tends to make life attractive, and invited people to make here their homes.

Woman is the beautifier of the home, and when we see a tasty place of residence with beautiful surroundings, we justly conclude that it harbors refined and cultivated people. It is manifest to the casual observer that the beauty of Wausau, so far as it is artificial at least, is mainly due to the women of Wausau, although this fact is often overlooked, or, if not it is taken as so self-evident, so plainly understood as not thought to be worth

Men are pleased, of course, to find their efforts for the good of the community acknowledged and their merits in that respect appreciated, and as woman is made of the same clay as man, it is just possible that she may have the same feeling as regards due acknowledgment for her particular efforts in that line.

There is a federation of ladies' clubs here which is doing much good in many branches of commercial life, the Tuesday Musical Club has been mentioned and also the Ladies' Literary Club, and as the influence of woman is always for the better, never for the worse, a little greater field of usefulness may well be opened for them to mutual advantage.
This last mentioned fact has been dawning more and more on this community as well as upon others, and has been recognized in Wausau, almost blushingly. About twelve years ago for the first time in the history of Wausau, a lady was appointed as a member of the board of education, and was unanimously confirmed by the council. This unanimity might have been due to the curiosity of a city council being composed of one political party only. Mrs. C. B. Bird has the honor of being the first woman officer in Wausau, directly connected with the city government in that way. She took the office from a sense of duty, and the promise that another lady would be appointed on the first vacancy, as not to leave her the only woman member of the board. Mrs. C. B. Bird was born in Muscatine, Iowa, and after graduating from the high school of her home city took the full three years' course of Wayland's in that renowned institute until her marriage to Mr.
C. B. Bird in 1892, when she became a resident of Wausau.

The next lady member of the board of education was Mrs. Frank Kelly, nee Ward, who is a graduate of the celebrated Downer College, Milwaukee. She became a teacher in the Wausau schools, and her success became only interrupted by her marriage, which occurred in 1892. These two ladies are the only women members of the board of education, but make up in efficiency what they lack in numbers; they not only attend meetings, but visit schools, encourage teachers, pupils, examining school houses and grounds, and have been active in urging the beautifying of the school rooms on the assumption that clean beautiful surroundings will create in the mind of the child a love
for clean things and will make for a clean mind.

Our system of co-education makes it eminently proper that mothers have a choice in the government of schools, and these ladies have also the training which fits them for school supervisors, which is really one of the most important duties of the board, and as they are the only women holding an official position, to the welfare of the community and with honor to themselves, they have a right to this special notice.

The curriculum of the Wausau schools has been greatly enlarged in the last sixteen years, mainly through the efforts of Supts. Carl Mathie and S. B. Tobey. A close observation is kept on school attendance by pupils, and the laws passed in later years relating to that subject are kindly but firmly enforced., The law requiring school attendance of children between fourteen and sixteen years of age who are at work or at home, requiring their
attendance in school at least five hours each week, has been a source of much trouble and vexation, but the superintendent was successful in removing all obstacles by organizing separate courses for such children with good results.

The Wausau schools are all solid brick buildings, modern, sanitary, and comfortable with good furniture and equipment; a playground is at every school, and the physical welfare of the child is not overlooked. The Wausau schools are institutions in which the people can justly take pride, and the costs of maintenance are willingly borne, although they are large.

The following is a list of teachers:


S. B. Tobey, superintendent; Ira C. Painter, principal; T. F. Reynolds, manual training; Anne C. Rankin, domestic science; Estella Richards, domestic science; Judith Wadleigh, drawing; Florence A. Crane, music; Lona Slack, music and drawing; Olga Heinrich, secretary; Miss Hallie Haskin, librarian; Mr. LeRoy Day, commercial; Miss Margaret Johnson, commercial; Miss Sarah Miller, commercial; Miss Ethel Pierce, commercial;
Mrs. C. E. Trasher, commercial; Miss Sue Morey, elocution; Miss Katherine Buckland, English; Miss Mary Slack, English; Miss Elizabeth Stoddard, English; Miss Ethel Todd, English and mathematics; Miss Marilla Zellhoefer, German; Miss Beatrice Zimmermann, German; Miss Gretchen Ruedebusch, German; Miss Elsie Smithies, Latin; Mr. Carl Borsack, history; Miss Georgiana Clark, history; Miss May Graham, mathematics; Miss Florence Van Vliet, geometry; Miss Mary A. Duff, science; Mr. Noel Monroe, chemistry; Mr. James Wolf, physics; Miss Gertrude McGuine, assistant.


Miss Winnifred Carter, eighth grade; Miss Agnes Schaller, eighth grade; Miss Florence Gale, second grade; Miss Lizzie Wise, first grade; Miss Jennie Vincent, subprimary; Miss Marie Johnson, kindergarten director; Miss Margaret Roach, kindergarten assistant.


Miss Frances E. Irvine, principal and seventh grade; Miss Edna Crouse, seventh grade; Miss Amy V. McCormick, sixth grade; Miss Esther Cronk, fifth grade; Miss Edna Albrecht, subprimary; Miss Myrtle Lillie, kindergarten director; Miss Margaret Marshall, kindergarten.


Miss Jennie Johnson, principal and eighth grade; Miss Minnie Doan, eighth grade; Miss Karen Opdahl, fourth grade; Miss Hazel Price, third grade; Miss Mertie Culbertson, second grade; Miss Lelia V. Armstrong, first grade; Mr. George K. A. Shields, ungraded department; Mr. William F. Zenke, manual training; Miss Etta R. Gault, director deaf school; Miss Gertrude Rusch, assistant deaf school.


Miss Agnes C. Bessey, principal and fifth grade; Miss Loretta E. Kalk, third and fourth grades; Miss Resetta N. Johnson, second and third grades; Miss V. Marie Righter, first grade; Miss Alta R. Colby, subprimary; Miss Lucille Hebard, kindergarten director; Miss Marie Brands, assistant kindergarten.


Mr. Fred Swanson, principal and manual training; Miss Nora Nyhus, eighth grade; Miss Mary MeCarty, seventh grade; Miss Bessie D. Ellis, sixth grade; Miss Valborg Jensen, fifth grade; Miss Gertrude Corwith, fifth and sixth grades; Miss Martha E. Fleminig, fourth grade; Miss Margaret Dana, fourth and fifth grades; Miss Idele Borgia, second and third grades; Miss Mary E. Ross, third grade; Miss Florence Gardner, third and fourth grades; Miss Margaret E. Kerr, first and second grades; Miss Minnie Sustins, first grade; Miss Wanda A. Hopp, subprimary; Miss Mabes Sustins. subprimary; Miss Kathryn Nelson, kindergarten director; Miss Bonita Shatto, kindergarten assistant.


Mr. John H. May, principal and manual training; Miss Emma M. Kummerow, fourth grade; Miss Josephine Voshmik, third grade; Miss Mary Sullivan, second grade; Miss Emily Chubbuck, first grade; Miss Emma Lien, subprimary; Miss Gertrude Owen, kindergarten director; Miss Pearl Foster, kindergarten assistant.


Mr. A. A. Tews, principal and manual training; Miss Mary Rooney, seventh grade; Miss Ruth L. Brule, sixth and seventh grades; Miss Blanche Lampert, sixth grade; Miss Florence Lyford, sixth grade; Miss Daisy Ackerman, fifth grade; Miss Miriam N. Veeder, fifth grade; Miss Eunice Freeman, fourth grade; Miss Marion Southworth, third grade; Miss Lilah G. Eberly, second grade; Miss Miriam Tyler, first grade; Miss Anna Young, subprimary; Miss Dorothea L. Albrecht, kindergarten director; Miss Vera Felling, kindergarten assistant; Miss Helen Johnson, ungraded room.


Miss Minnie Cliff, principal and fourth grade; Miss Helen Flannigan, third grade; Miss Irene Kyle, second grade; Miss Ruth C. Warner, first grade; Miss Harriet Noel, subprimary; Miss Winnifred Bain, kindergarten director; Miss Edna Thon, kindergarten assistant.


Miss Clarice Olsen, kindergarten and subprimary.

An industrial school was organized in 1912 for children from fourteen to sixteen years of age who are out of school under a permit to work, but who nevertheless are required to attend school five hours each week pursuant to the Act of Legislature of 1911.

The enrollment is 150, under Karl Kraatz and Hannah Brunstad, teachers.


One of the institutions of learning besides its common and high schools, for which Wausau is distinguished, is the Widmer Business College.

It was founded in 1886 by Mr. Horton. A short time after it was founded a one-half interest was purchased by Mr. C. M. Boyles, who remained in touch with the school as partner and proprietor at various times for twenty years.

A one-half interest was purchased by Mr. Williams. This interest was later purchased by Mr. J. F. Stofer, who remained as a one-half owner of the school until it was sold to the present proprietor, E. D. Widmer, in 1906.

Due to a decline of health and desire for rest, Mr. Boyles disposed of the one-half interest in the spring of 1906, and for similar reasons he and Mr. Stofer sold the remaining one-half interest on November 10th in that same year, since which time E. D. Widmer has acted as sole proprietor and manager of the school. When the school was first founded, in 1886, it had a mere handful of students. It is now rated as one of the largest and one of the best schools of the kind in the State of Wisconsin. In the summer of 1911 Mr. Widmer purchased the large three-story building on corner of Second and Washington streets and remodeled it for college purposes. The building was admirably adapted for college purposes, and when being remodeled all modern conveniences were installed. Among them are: Single unit electric lights, steam heat, ventilation, vacuum cleaner, sanitary drinking fountains, soap receptacles, paper towels, electric class bells, intercommunicating telephones, and so forth. The rooms are particularly well arranged for college purposes. Under Mr: Widmer's management the school has undergone several changes. New courses have been added and it has been systemized in such a manner that each department is cared for by a proficient teacher. There are now six instructors of more than two hundred students, as against an enrollment of seventy-five or eighty, with one or two teachers employed, when he purchased the school.

The departments, with their heads, are as follows: Shorthand, Julia F. Wawrzyniak; academic, Margaret Bhend; typewriting and stenography, Belle C. Stofer; commercial law, John P. Ford; bookkeeping, C. A. Cowee; business manager, E. D. Widmer. Knowing that the success of every school depends largely upon the proficiency of the teachers, Mr. Widmer has taken pains to surround himself with a competent staff which has materially assisted him in bringing the college up to its present high reputation.

E. D. Widmer was born March 5, 1879, in Rockton, Vernon county, Wisconsin, a little hamlet on the Kickapoo river. After graduating from the state graded school in that village he secured a teacher's certificate and taught in rural schools of that county for four years. In the fall of 1900 he enrolled in the Stevens Point Normal School and remained there until the course was finished in the spring of 1904. During the last year of his school work in the normal he also took the bookkeeping course in the business college of that city. After completing his school he worked in the First National Bank of Stevens Point, which position he resigned to take charge of mathematics in the Merrill High School. After teaching one year he resigned and completed his course to enter in the course of life's duty in that field of work.


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