Eugene Laurent & Breezy Hill School
Contributed by Elaine (Wood) Greene/Jenson
Laurent Eugene Laurent had a long run as the teacher at Breezy Hill School during the early 1930ís. He was recognized as a fine teacher, both by students, and other teachers. His family were long time residents of Clark County. Eugene later became County Superintendent of Schools in Clark County. (Picture provided by Dean Hubbard)
Starting in 1885, Worden & Reseburg Children Grew Up at Breezy Hill
Back in 1884, C.D. Richards and his wife agreed to sell 144 square rods of their land to the Joint School District of their land to the Joint School District of the Townships of Worden and Reseburg for the purposes of building a school. The wifeís name was recoded as either "Allis" or "Allie" in the property document, which was dated July 8, 1884.
The district had to shell out a whopping $25 to the Richards as consideration for the little more than seven tenths of an acre that they needed to build their school. Sometime shortly thereafter, probably in time for at least part of the 1884-85 school year, the building was ready to in inhabit.
Somewhere, a history exist of this school, which was put together by Margaret Baures and Ethel Alger, and which include reminiscences of this time. Unfortunately, nobody could find it in time to include in this report. Bauresí father, Otto Beckman, provided many of the memories before 1912. He went to school around the 1884 date and later served on the Board at Breezy Hill.
We do have some information from other sources. Dean Hubbard listed some teachers from 1925 through consolidation, including one whose name is Harriet Buntin. There was also Christine (Millus) Jankoski, Mary Henke, and Mayme Herman. Hubbard had knowledge of some of these names, because his family used to provide a room to teachers at the school.
We also received some information from Margaret (Beckman) Baures along with Mike and Jennie Clerf. The Clerfs said that the School actually started sometime before 1884 on a plot of land owned by Agibell and Salander Torid. The log cabin school was about ľ mile from the eventual site of the school.
Other teachers include Ann Tormey, who was believed to be a niece of Cecil Tormey, a prominent local teacher who was the namesake of Thorpís American Legion Post. Also listed were Mathilda Van Der Loop (Braun), Tina Burss and Howard Landry in 1913. Emma Fieblkorn from the Berlin, Wisconsin area, was a long term teacher at Breezy Hill, as she taught there for about 4 years. One other teacher that the Clerfís remembered was Zilda Schneider, about 1918.
Galen Misfeldt also remembered a teacher named Ethel Reineke in the later 1920ís.
Old Breezy Hill Schoolhouse
(Click on thumbnail photos to enlarge them)
Breezy Hill School, at least the version pictured above was constructed in 1884, and it remained open until 1954, when state mandated improvements and inevitable consolidation forced it to close. This picture from Galen Misfeldt was taken sometime in the 1930ís. --from the Courier darkroom
The records do not pick up again until the Register of Deeds office shows the School Census for the 1920ís.
During the 20ís, Board members seemed to have a great deal of staying power, as many served extended terms on the School Board. Starting with 1923, the first year that records are available, H.J.Baures was treasurer in the district. He stayed treasurer until the start of the 1930 school year.
Others who were on the Board in 1923 include William Oberle and William Clerf.
There were two changes to the Board shortly after. In 1924, John Misfeldt took over as clerk and Charles Frinack became a director in 1925. After that the board remained the same until 1929, when Robert Broeren took over as clerk, and he was to continue as the clerk until the 1939 school year.
One of the memories the Mike Clerf shared with us was the death of a student in 1927. The entire school had the day off, and six of the students were pall bearers at the funeral of Maggie Jacobs, who died of pneumonia.
Returning to the Board, we find that in 1930 William Krause became treasurer.
The Casper Haas family was very important to the school, as they purchased the forty that the school was located on , as well as an additional 80 acres to the east and south. To this day, Casperís son, Casper Jr., still owns the same land in the northeast quarter of section 24 in the Town of Worden. The school itself was located in the northwest corner of that quarter. That puts it four miles south of Thorp and Ĺ mile west.
Casper Sr., didnít feel that owning the property was enough, he felt it was important to take a direct involvement in the school, so in 1931, Casper Hass became the director. It was a post he was to hold for the next 16 years.
Dean Hubbard gave us this shot of a group of Breezy Hill School Boys examining their lunches on a cool day. The boys were identified as Galen Misfeldt, Dean Hubbard, Robert Soeller, Henry Fischer, Albert Huberty;, Roland Misfeldt, Henry Haas, Billy Krause, and Freddy Pagel.
Ėfrom the Courier darkroom
About 30 Attend
For most of the years in the 20ís and 30ís, according to a number of sources, the attendance at the school was relatively stable. In 1933, the Directory of Clark County schools puts the attendance at 29. This would fluctuate depending on the needs of the agricultural community, or on how many students chose to walk the 5 miles to the parochial school in Thorp;, or whether or not there was a medical reason to stay home.
In 1933, the teacher was Eugene Laurent. He was described by both Galen Misfeldt who was one of his student and Philip McCaffery, his successor as teacher as one of the best teachers around. He was at the Breezy Hill School for four years from 1932 until 1935, and given the turnover of teachers in that era, a four year stay alone testifies to his ability. The only change on the Board during Laurentís tenure was in the treasurerís post, which was taken over by Alex Soeler who was replaced by John Misfeldt in 1937 and 38, who in turn was replaced by the previously mentioned Otto Beckman, who continued on until 1948.
Philip McCaffery, who gave us extensive information for last monthís feature, also provided some information on the Breezy Hill School, where he taught in 1936-37, after he was recommended to the school board by Eugene Laurent. McCaffery said that the students were very bright, and that he would have competed with any school in Clark County.
He remembers getting assistance with math instruction from Mabel Misfeldt, a former teacher who lived across the road from the school, and he also needed some help from bilingual students, as he brought in a pre-schooler who only spoke Polish to try to get him some exposure to English before he entered school. The bi-lingual students translated and helped the youngster to learn the new language.
Also McCaffery said his most fond memory was of the final day of school. A teacher was required to buy ice cream for everyone in the community, not just the school. McCaffery said he didnít remember how, but the amount of ice cream purchased was always enough. The lunch was a pot luck style, and entertainment featured gunny sack race and three-legged race. In some adult games, the mothers held a spell down, and the men participated in a face measuring contest, which was always won by a bald man, whose Ďfaceí went to the back of his neck.
After McCaffery left to teach at South Worden, teaching chores went to Grace Kenny, who taught for two years from 1937-39. She was followed by another two year teacher, Minnie Embretson. During Embretsonís first year, there was also a change on the Board, as R.L. Gibbs took over the post of clerk and held it until 1947.
Three single year teacher followed Embretson , beginning in 1941 with Norman Baehr, Mrs. Minne Johnson and Mamie Gardner.
With the start of the 1944 school year, there would be only ten years left to the Breezy Hill School. During the course of that time there were only four changes to School Board. They were in 1947, when Charles Frinack became director. In 1950 he gave way to Melvin Haas who served until consolidation in 1954.
In 1948, Ethel Alger became clerk, and in 1949, Arnold Beckman took over as treasurer. Both also served until consolidation.
The teacher in 1944 was Frank Swiontek, who taught until 1946, when Juriel Flora Mattheison took over and taught until 1950. According to the school directory the teacherís salary in 1947 was $185 a month.
There were just four teachers at Breezy Hill in the 1950ís. In 1950, Agnes Meske taught. Then in 1951-53, Marjory Morgan Follingstad, now Margory Palmer, taught. Here career was discussed extensively in our original feature on the Reseburg School in the April 26, 1990 Courier.
Della (Boardman) Overman took over briefly in 1953, before being replace in mid-term by Hestor Glasshof , who served until consolidation at the end of the term.
The reasons behind closing the Breezy Hill School relatively early, in 1954 came as a result of directive for the sate, according to Ethel Alger, who was on the board at the time.
"To get everything the state wanted would have cost $10,000" according to Alger. Among the items she listed as being on the stateís wish list was indoor plumbing, and a lunch room. For a time, the school allowed students to warm their lunches on the school boiler, but Alger believes that this practice ended before the 1950ís.
She also said that there were some enrollment problems, because some students used to walk to the Thorp Catholic School when the weather was good, and only attended the Breezy Hill School when the weather turned bad.
Also, it was becoming obvious that the state was heading toward consolidation. So for all of the above reasons, it was decided not to make the required changes and to simply disband the school district.
Shortly after the building closed in 1954, it was torn down, and the lumber was used to construct a home in the City of Thorp.
Breezy Hill School, 1952-53
Marjory Plamer was able to give us this glimpse of one of the last classes at the Breezy Hill School.. Note the Victrola in the front corner of the schoolroom. According to Palmer, the people pictured were:
Back row--? Pagel;, Wiliam Miller, Margaret Hilgart and Palmer
Middle Row--Unknown , Peggy alger, George Pagel and Roger Alger
Schesel, Billly Alger and Joel Beckman
Eugene Laurent wrote the above note in an autograph book belonging to Elaine Wood and the letter to the right was sent to her parents after a visit to their home. See Elaine's memories of Mr. Laurent's Visit below.
Mr. Eugene Laurent's Visit
As I was reading his letter before
submitting it to the site, I once again remembered why Mr. Laurent visited
The entire county had gone to grain judging in Neillsville (I believe it was the last of March 1944) and nearly everyone in the county came down with the measles, including my brother and I. Our school even closed for a short spell until everyone got over them. But my brother, Donald, got so sick that he couldn't return to school for the remainder of the year.
My mother taught him at home as much as she was able, and he took his 6th grade exams on the kitchen table under the supervision of Mr. Laurent.
The other comment in the letter about my trips to Globe, were about my walking 8 miles to confirmation classes everyday. Mr. Laurent was so surprised that I could walk 8 miles in 2 hours. That was in the mornings. I started from home at 6 a.m. and had to be there by 8 a.m. We were dismissed at noon and I would walk to the first creek and sit on the bank and eat my lunch. I would also do my memory work and feed the fish from my lunch scraps. I would then continue on my way until I got to the second creek and if I didn't have my memory work complete, I would sit on that bank and finish. So it usually took me about 4 hours in the afternoon to get home.
We went 6 days a week started Monday May, 15 and we were confirmed Aug. 27.
The last time I visited my old home, which was this fall I took my husband on that very same trek that I walked. To be honest I wouldn't let any child of 13 walk that far in that area, in this day and age. Shows how times have changed.
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