ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin



Schools, Public


Union School No. 1 became the high school (later armory) on East Main

Union School No. 2 now Lincoln school

Union School No. 3 now Douglas school

Union School No. 4 now Webster school




City's School System Dates Back to Year 1844


WDT 01 27 1949


Watertown's school system dates back to 1844, four years before Wisconsin was admitted to the Union.


In 1844 organized action for the support of education through a school was first undertaken here. The record on this important step is clear. It is to be found in the report of school district No. 1 of. Watertown in the following words:


"At the annual meeting of the legal voters of school district No. 1, held at A. Hoffman's shop in Watertown on the first Monday of October, 1844, Timothy Johnson, the first white settler in Watertown, was appointed moderator. The following named persons were chosen officers for the ensuing year:


"John C. Gillman, Michael Murphy, and Haven M. Morrison, trustees; John Gibb, collector; Jacob J. Enos, clerk.


"On motion of P. Rogan it was resolved that the year be divided into two terms, called the summer and winter terms, and that two-thirds of the public moneys be applied to the winter term and one-third to the summer term."


$30 for Room


At a similar meeting held April 28, 1845, it was resolved that a male teacher be employed. In October of the same year it was decided to raise $30 by taxation for the purpose of securing a school room "for the coming winter."


To illustrate the scarcity of money for school purposes those years, the annual meeting held in 1846 directed that "the trustees be empowered to sell stove pipe, the proceeds to go into the contingent fund."


The first teacher engaged was a man named Ozro Brackett. Scarcely anything is recorded of him, where he came from, where he had studied, where he lived, how long he taught.


Report in 1850


On April 1, 1850, William C. Fountain, the clerk, made the following report to the board:


"To Rev. Malancthon Hoyt, chairman: I hereby certify that the number of school children between the ages of four and 20 years residing in district No. 1, is as follows: Male, 138; female, 166; total, 304. I also certify that the school has been kept in said district by a qualified teacher for three months during the year ending with the 31st day of March, 1850."


According to old records, the teachers in 1850 were C. A. Abel, who was paid $28 per month, a Mrs. Newcomb who was paid $3.33 a week; H. P. Chamberlain who received $28 per month and Miss Jane Burnham who received only $8 per month.


In March, 1856 the state legislature passed an act authorizing the organization of the schools in Watertown under the system known as the union school system, and on April 12 of that same year these provisions were put into effect here.


Under the state act, the schools of the city were controlled by the board of education, consisting originally of 12 commissioners, the city then having only six wards and the board being composed of two members from each ward.


First School Board


The first commissioners were appointed by the council on April 7, 1856 for the term of two years.


The first board, under the new setup, included the following:


First ward—L. R. Cady and Myron B, Williams.

Second ward—Lawrence Fribert and Herbert Smith.

Third ward—Siemon Ford and Peter Rogan.

Fourth ward—James Cody and Patrick Rogan.

Fifth ward—Jacob Baumann and William M. Dennis.

Sixth ward—John Ford and Fred Hermann.


Today Watertown has a school board of 14 members, one from each of the wards which now make up the city.


William M. Dennis, who was prominent in Watertown's pioneer years, was chosen the first president of the board at its first meeting which was held April 12, 1856.


The late James W. Moore, who was a postmaster here and for many years editor and publisher of the Watertown Gazette, served as a school board member for 26 years, 13 years of which he was its president. But the late William F. Voss, banker, set some kind of record, serving for something more than 40 years.


First Superintendent


Daniel Hall was the first school superintendent. He was succeeded in 1854 by James Cody and in 1855 John Ford served in that capacity. He went out of office when the new system was set up in 1856. Since then the following men have held that office:


C. B. Skinner, C. R. Gill, F. E. Shandrew, Matthew Norton, William Bieber, William H. Rohr, T. Bernhard, C. F. Ninman, Charles F. Viebahn, W. F. Roseman, Thomas J, Berto, R. A. Buell, who earlier had been high school principal, and the present superintendent, Harley J. Powell.


In a charter election held here in 1876, the city decided to introduce free textbooks in its school system, thus becoming the first city in the state to do so, and this practice, now universally adopted, has been in force here ever since.


Grade School Built in 1863


A grade school, which was known first as Union school No. 1, was erected in 1863 and enlarged and improved in 1898. Union school No. 2, now known as Lincoln school, was erected in 1867. This building became far too small, with the growth of that school district, and in 1910 a new school was built. It was the finest school and the most modern in the city and served until its destruction by fire on Feb. 23, 1946. School No. 3, known as Douglas school, was built in 1871.


Webster school, located in Western Avenue dates back to 1883. It served as a high school for many years.


Watertown's first high school building, located at Jones and North Fifth streets, is no longer standing. It was last used as a residence and was the home of the late Herman Heinz.




Watertown Daily Times, date unknown


The late Mrs. Anna Thomas related that she attended the first school in Watertown. Classes were held in a log cabin on the site of the present E. Miller residence, near the east end of Memorial bridge.


The first record of a school directors meeting in the city was that of one held in 1844.


Melanchton Hoyt was the first superintendent of schools.


The Union School system was organized here in 1856. In 1878 the cash value was placed at about $31,000; at present, the valuation of school property in the city (depreciation allowed) is about half a million dollars.


In addition to our public school system, quite a number of religious denominations in the city have maintained their own schools since the early days of Watertown, and these have become well known for the superior educational standards they maintain.


The annual school picnic was a tradition in our public schools until abolished by Superintendent Roseman.


Professor C. Viebahn, for many years superintendent of Watertown schools, was the first teacher in Wisconsin to receive a life certificate to teach.


Northwestern College began its activities in Watertown in 1863 in the "Gardner" house on North Fourth street.


From a report card of 1866, we find the following list of subjects taught in Class A of the Union School No. 1:  Reading, Spelling, Grammar, Composition, Mental Arithmetic, Written Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Writing, Drawing, Geography, U.S. History, Physiology, Latin, German and Bookkeeping (all required subjects).  The report card was that of a fourteen year old pupil.


Theodore Bernhard first taught school in the old Music hall, corner Cady and North Second streets, ; and later in the Ducasse House.


As a special reward to his pupils he permitted them to look through the school microscope.  The high school in the Ducasse building offered a commercial course to its students. This was the first time in Wisconsin history that a commercial subject was taught in a high school. 





                John Chadwick school somewhere between 1838 and 1840; the first teacher in Watertown.  Became brick maker.



06 30       A number of female teachers have recently arrived in this territory from the east.  They are under the patronage of the National Education Society.   WC


1854 or later


    Former Richards’ school, built by John Richards in the late 1840s.



Patrick Rogan organized the school system here in 1855, having secured the passage of the act providing therefore.


07 08       Bible reading, Superintendent Gill  WD

08 12       Examination of teachers  WD

09 09       Teachers for fall term of the public schools   WD

09 09       Miss P. G. Jones conducts private school   WD

09 23       Failure to build two union school houses    WD



06 03       Article about Watertown teachers coming 15 min. early to read Bible to children.   WD

06 10       Supt. of schools Draper has letter about religion in the schools in 2 German papers of Wttn.  Article calls him all sorts of names.  WD



02 10       Cancel contract by P. B. Basford with the City of Watertown for the erection of two Public School Houses   WD

06 02       Charges against members of Board of Education; Jacob J. Enos; Charles R. Gill, removed from office   WD

09 01       Select school proposed for city   WD



05 17       Ashley D. Harger keeps one of the best schools in this city.   WD

10 12       Miss Susan Perry opened private school   WR



07 18       The summer term of our public schools will close next Friday, after which the teachers will have a vacation of six or seven weeks at least, and the scholars a playing spell of the same length of time.  In consequence of the forfeiture of school lands and the failure to pay interest, the fund derived from the state has been greatly reduced.  We learn that it is quite uncertain when the schools will open again.  It has been usual to commence the fall term on the first Monday in September.   WD


08 22       The fall term of the common schools of this city will commence on the 16th of next September.  From a notice in this paper, it will be seen that the examination of teachers will commence on the 9th of the same month.  There has been some fear that our public schools might be suspended for want of means to continue them.  We are glad they will go on as usual.  The Board of Education will do all in their power to make them efficient, useful, and in all respects what they should be.   WD



01 01       VACATION IS OVER

The winter term of the public schools of this city will commence next Monday, the 5th.  The boys and girls have had a fine spell during the holidays and now they should take to their lessons and books with a new interest and determination to learn all they can.  It may not be quite so pleasant to be shut up in the school room as it is to be out on the ice skating, but it is necessary and best they should be at school, though it may be hard for them to believe it, when they think they are losing so much sport.  They cannot always be young and the duties and business of life require that they should be intelligent and well informed men and women.   WD



The man or woman who drops into the school house often and shows an interest in the pupils and their comfort is a public benefactor.  Both teachers and scholars are encouraged to good behavior and to extra efforts. 


A school visited two or three times a week, the visitors insisting that no show or change of program be made, but that all things go on in regular course, will generally be twice as prosperous as the school never visited. 


No one should leave others to attend to this matter.  The public school should be the pet and pride of every good citizen of the district.


Visit it often as a recognized friend – not a miserable critic.


If, during your visit, the good deeds of the school be sought out and appreciated, an occasional hint for improvement, in a kind tone, will be kindly received and acted upon by both teachers and scholars.  Speaking evil or disrespectfully of the teacher, [with]in the hearing of your children, or to those who will repeat the words in their presence, inflicts a lasting injury upon them.  Get the best teacher possible and uphold him, or her, so long as employed, for the children’s sake.


A dollar to two a piece extra from each parent to secure and stimulate a good teacher is repaid a thousand fold in the present and future.


Just as the twig is bent, the tree is inclined.  WD



Common Council Proceedings:  Ald. Cody, chairman of Committee on Education, reported in favor of the petition of the School Board for the 100,000 brick which the city is to receive from D. S. Chadwick and recommend the adoption of the following resolution:


RESOLVED that the Mayor be authorized to deliver to the Board of Education of this city an order for 100,000 brick agreed to be delivered to the city by Mr. Chadwick, said brick to be used by said Board in the erection of a Union School house as contemplated in their communication to this Council.  Report and resolution adopted.   WD



The brick walls of the new Union School building are going up.  The mason work is of a firm and substantial character and looks as if it would do good service.  When completed, this will be a fine and commodious structure and a credit to the city.  It is to be finished off in the best style and furnished with the latest improvements of modern school houses.   WD



The closing of school is an event joyfully anticipated by all children and in the country the ending of the summer term is always welcome in harvest times.  There is so much sport in the fields and woods for them, but in our district it was a day of great anticipation and little tongues rattled on during sleep as well as in waking hours.


Their teacher, Miss Ellen Gillett, had projected a treat for them and sent out invitations for their parents to attend.  Such a thing was unknown to them at the close of their school, and when the day came pleasant and bright their happiness was unbounded.


Miss Gillette welcomed them to a neat, cool room, embellished with green maple boughs and a fair sized tamarack tree in the center, hanging full of all sort of “goodies” for her young pupils and they joyfully sang the patriotic songs and the “Happy Land” in English and German, and many others she had taught them daily during the term.  In their studies they exhibited a surprising proficiency in the first rudiments of the higher branches, taught by a routine altogether new to them.


We could not help contrasting last Saturday afternoon with many another last days of school we had witnessed; and when the exercises were all over, the children dismissed and ready to leave, it seemed regretfully on their part, we concluded that a highly educated teacher was a good thing, but a winning and successful teacher is, in our humble opinion, much to be preferred.  At least, give us a teacher who is not above making studies attractive to children and whose sole aim is not merely the money they are paid.   WD



05 11       “SCHOOLMAMS”

An Old Watertown Printer.  Mr. George Hyer, formerly newspaper publisher in this city, who has recently been traveling in Oregon, writes as follows about Mr. S. H. Taylor, whom some of our older citizens may remember as the proprietor of a paper in Watertown, though we have never heard that a journal called the Jeffersonian was published here.  We copy the extract below from a letter written by Mr. Hyer dated “Astoria, Oregon, Feb 25th, 1865” as it may be interesting for some to know what becomes of those who wander from our midst to the Pacific shores:


“The old printers of Wisconsin will remember a printer by the name of S. H. Taylor.  He was for a time, while working as a jour [?], engaged as editor of the Madison Statesman, was afterwards employed on the Milwaukee Sentinel, and later published for a time the Watertown Jeffersonian, succeeding Judge Butler.  He came overland to this, then a territory, with his family and died near Portland some five or six years since.  He left a “printer’s fortune” and his children have been educated by the Masonic fraternity, of which he was an honored member.  I happened to meet with his widow a short time since, who, among other incidents of early times remarked the difficulty with which “schoolmams” were kept at their calling, and in illustration of it showed me a contract drawn by her late husband between an applicant for a school and the district board, from which I copied the following as an item.


“And it is further agreed and understood that if the applicant fails to fulfill her agreement, or should marry during the time, and from that cause abandon her school, she shall forfeit 20 per cent of her wages, which sum the school board are hereby authorized to retain until this contract has been satisfactorily fulfilled on the part of the applicant.”


“This, I was told, was a condition common to all similar contracts – the teachers were seldom engaged for a second term, they having contracted other and more acceptable alliances.   Many a man here owes his prosperity in life to his good fortune in securing a Yankee school marm for a wife.  There is now in this state a Mr. Higgins purporting to be the agent of a Massachusetts society for colonizing a portion of the excess population of that state.  Families in want of help are engaged to receive the girls thus sent out, detaining a portion of their wages until the passage money is refunded.  In this way, the Oregon bachelors will eventually be supplied with help mates.”   WD






Mr. John Ford was first Superintendent of Schools under the union plan, afterward Commissioner of Schools for the Sixth Ward for one year, and in 1878 was Commissioner of Schools for the First Ward. 



08 14       A. Luboueveau resigned as Principal of Union School No. 2; John Kaltenbrumm appointed    WD



08 23       Mrs. H. Gallup's private school, fall term begins   WR

08 23       School census for the present year shows 3,678 children between the ages of 4 and 20   WR




The compulsory school law which was passed last winter goes into effect next September and it behooves parents to heed its requirements.  In brief the statute requires all guardians of children between the ages of seven and fifteen years to furnish them instructions at least twelve weeks in each year, unless excused by the board on account of physical disability.  It does not require parents to send a child to any particular schools, but the twelve week's instruction the child must have.     WD




Prof Charles Viebahn, Principal and Superintendent of School (1880-1904)


While he was principal of the schools of Manitowoc in 1873 he established the first kindergarten in the state to be operated in connection with a public school.



07 13       PROF. WHITING

The School Board has made arrangements for Prof. Whiting to remain as principal at Union School No. 2 for the coming year at a salary of $800.  We are pleased that the School Board has seen fit to retain Mr. Whiting in our schools giving him the salary asked for, and we believe every friend of our schools will feel well pleased on hearing of this information.


07 13       EDITORIAL

[same date] Many of our citizens seem to be dissatisfied with the action of the School Board in concluding to build another school house, claiming that the present school accommodations are sufficient to meet the requirements of the number of children here, believing that the expenditure of so many thousands could be far better utilized.  Among the many reasons brought forward in support of their claim are the following:  In case of fire Union School No. 1 is badly provided for, sufficient water not being attainable in that locality to quench an ordinary blaze, although a cistern was sunk there for that purpose, but of a kind that is almost useless.  A few hundred dollars might be well expended for the purpose of remedying this.  Others want a bridge across the river at the foot of Washington street on the west side, it deemed of far greater importance and necessity than the erection of another school house at the present time.  Still other portions of our citizens consider the necessity of providing a suitable "lock-up” and a better and safer building than that now used by the Pioneer Fire Co., for the use of the company. 


We might use a whole column in giving the different views of the citizens of Watertown on this subject, but believe the above sufficient to show what the sentiment is in the matter.  It is our opinion that a new school is not an absolute necessity and the money expended in it is needed more for other purposes: we do not condemn the School Board for the course taken by it. We believe that it has acted conscientiously, and the money expended will be well invested.



--------   The average salary paid in 1887, including high school teachers, was $45 per month; in 1908 it was $60.50






The year of instruction, which hitherto began with the spring term, will hereafter begin with the fall term, in September.  Then will take place the promotion of classes and the reception of beginners.  Though this change defers the regular promotions for one term, school work will be so conducted that the progress of the pupils will not suffer.


While promotions of entire classes occur but once a year, special promotions are made whenever pupils are found able to do the work of a higher grade.


New pupils, already possessing some schooling, are received at any time and placed into the proper grade.


As to beginners, it is advised not to send them to school until they are about six years of age and let them begin with the opening of the fall term, for, only then will new classes be started.


The spring term will open Tuesday, April 8.


C. F. Viebahn

Superintendent of Watertown Schools                 Watertown Republican, 04 02 1890



Three thousand three hundred and twenty—six children are recorded in the city this year between the ages of 4 and 20 --- 1,717 males and 1,609 females.  Of these 730 between the ages of 7 and 14 have attended the public schools the required twelve weeks, and 637 the private and parochial schools.



The fall term of the public schools, except the grades in the High School building, which will open a week later, will begin next Monday, September 1.  Then is the time for beginners to enter.  Pupils of the Intermediate, Grammar, and High School grades who were not present at the examination last June, will be examined for promotion next Saturday, August 30, at Union school No. 1.  New pupils for any of the grades named may also attend this examination.






03 19       UNION SCHOOL NO. 1, 700 E Main, drawing, Weltberger

       Demolished and replaced by motel



On Friday and Saturday last Watertown witnessed one of the most interesting and auspicious gatherings in her history.  It was the annual convention of the southeastern Wisconsin Teachers' Association, and a thorough success it proved to be.  Not for more than fifteen years when the state association met here, had such a large number of convened in our midst, and the importance of the occasion seemed to be manifest on every hand.  Watertown, with its excellent railway facilities, should have more of such conventions, and they are profitable both morally and naturally.  The evening trains of Thursday brought in the advanced guard of the teachers and the hotels were rapidly filled.  This force of early delegates were largely augmented Friday forenoon, when it seemed that every monarch of the school room from Jefferson and the surrounding counties was pouring into the city to take in the expected "feast of reason." . . .   WR



The committee who had charge of the teachers' convention wish to thank most heartedly those citizens who so kindly offered entertainment to our visitors.  The committee regret that owing to circumstances beyond their control some unpleasant irregularities occurred.  Some of the teachers that had announce themselves did not come; others came without previous announcement.  Nearly all of those that applied did so between the hours of 9 and 12 Friday forenoon, making it very difficult to assign all to their proper places before the dinner hour.  Some did not go to the places assigned to them, but went with friends whom they happened to meet.  But, notwithstanding some little disappointments and annoyances, the gathering was a great success and our visitors went away highly pleased with the reception Watertown had given them.   WR


05 11       War on the Abominable Blackboards   




A party from outside the city are trying to arrange the School Board of this city to have a summer school next summer in one of our public school buildings, and the probabilities are that one will be held here.  It would be a very nice thing for this city, as it would bring here quite a number of people during the months of June and July.   WG



The contract for erecting the new addition to School No. 2 has been let by the board of education to Ferdinand Behlke.  His bid, $1,694, was the lowest, and includes the entire construction except plumbing.  Work will begin at once.    WG



It is expected that about three hundred teachers will attend the institute to be held here Friday and Saturday of this week.  Many of them will have to be provided with board and lodging.  Persons willing to entertain teachers at a fair price will please notify any of the city teachers.    WR



The city was quite lively with teachers last Friday and Saturday on account of the joint institute for Dodge and Jefferson counties held at the high school.  Over three hundred were in attendance.  As a rule the teachers from out of town were entertained in private homes during the meeting, their comfort being looked after by City Superintendent Viebahm.    WR


1900       ANNUAL SCHOOL PICNIC, Concordia Island

06 26       Owing to the threatening weather of Friday, the annual picnic of the public schools was postponed until the following afternoon.  The necessity of postponing it was a sore disappointment to the children, but they were nevertheless handsomely rewarded for waiting, as a more perfect day for picnicking than last Saturday could not be imagined.  The pupils marched to Concordia Island shortly after 1 o’clock in charge of their teachers and to the music of the Sinnissippi band, and during the afternoon parents and friends joined in the festivities.  There was plenty of good things to eat and drink, and what with various games and pastimes the hearts of all were made glad and happiness reigned supreme.  This yearly outing provided by the board of education for the special enjoyment of the scholars after their school-room labors is long anticipated with a great degree of pleasure, and it is an institution which it is hoped may always be maintained.   WR



On Wednesday evening last the graduating exercises of the two eighth grades of the public schools were held in the high school auditorium.  As year after year passes the interests in the work of this department advances until it is now nearly on a par with that of the high school itself.  The attendance was very large, the auditorium being crowded with the friends of the pupils and patrons of the schools.  An entertaining program of declamations was excellently rendered by members of the class, interspersed with musical selections by some of our local artists.  Before presenting the diplomas Superintendent Viebahn gave an address to the graduates, in which he advised them of their course in the studies of the high school upon which they will enter next fall, and highly complimented them upon their uniformly good work thus far, and upon the creditable manner in which those participating in the evening exercises had acquitted themselves.  WG


06 29       The annual picnic of the public schools was held on Concordia Island last Saturday afternoon. The picnic had been arranged for Friday, but the day being rainy, it was postponed to Saturday, which was an ideal day for a picnic.  About 1600 children were in line, accompanied by their teachers and the Sinnissippi band.  The children of the different schools met at the Main Street bridge, where the procession was formed, and all marched to Concordia Island, where a fine feast was in waiting, and all passed a most delightful afternoon together.  A large number of parents were present as well as friends of the school.   WG




Providing satisfactory bids for the work are secured, the board of education will build an addition to School No. 3 this spring and furnish the entire building with a water system.  The addition will give two more rooms, which are much needed.   WR



At the meeting of the Board of Education last Saturday night it was decided to remodel and enlarge Public School No. 3, work on which will begin the fore part of June next provided satisfactory bids are received.   WG



Sealed proposals will be received by the Board of Education of the City of Watertown, Wis., on or before May 20, 1901, for building an addition to and remodeling School House No. 3, in the 6th ward of said city, including all materials.  Materials and labor for the foregoing shall be furnished and executed in accordance with the plans and specifications prepared by F. L. Linsay, architects, copies of which may be had at the office of said F. L. Linsay, 212 Main Street, Watertown, Wis.  Each bid shall be accompanied by a certified check in the amount of two hundred dollars.  The right is reserved by the Board to reject any and all bids, or parts of bids.    WG



Watertown has 28 public school teachers, two of them gents and 26 ladies.  Superintendent Viebahn has been connected with our public schools for 20 years; Prof. Whiting 17 years; Miss Ella Reubhausen 13 years; Miss Laura Barber 8 years; Miss Nellie Shinnick 3 years; Miss Bertha Marquart 18 years; Miss Ella Wilder 15 years; Miss Anna Holland 12 years; Miss Mary Weise 11 years, Miss Ida Kopp 22 years, and the Misses Emma Schoechert and Celia Boughton each 23 years.  The other teachers have served from 6 months to 9 years.  Among the corps are teachers holding college and university diplomas, three are Normal school graduates, eight hold First-grade certificates, six second-grade certificates, and seven third-grade certificates.  The monthly pay roll of teachers amounts to $1316.  The attendance at the present time is 1067, a fraction over 38 pupils for each teacher.



At a meeting of the Board Education held last Wednesday evening, Miss Marie Killian was transferred from 5th grade, No. 4 to the position of high school teacher, at a salary of $40 a month, leaving a vacancy in the 5th grade in that building, which will be filled at the next meeting of the School Board.   WG



Four school buildings will hereafter be used in this city for public school purposes.  School No. 1, in the 2nd ward, school No. 2 in the 4th ward, school No. 3 in the 6th ward, and school No. 4 in 1st ward.


School No. 1 will hereafter be used for 8th grade and high school classes exclusively.  For all classes below the 8th grade the city is divided into three district as follows:  The district of school No. 2 comprises all west of the river and that part of the east side which is west of Second and north of Milwaukee Street.  The remainder of the city is divided by Main Street into the other two districts, the district of school No. 3 lying north, and the district of school No. 4 south of this street.  Each of three district schools will have seven grades.


All the schools except school, No. 3 which is not yet ready for occupancy, will open Tuesday.  Pupils that belong to 7th grade No. 3 may for the present attend one of the other schools.  The other pupils of that school must extend their vacation.


Now is the time for new beginners to enter school.  Parents are advised not to send children that are too young and too immature.  As a rule children that are less than six years of age or who will not be six years old within the next six months, are not fit subjects for formal instruction.   WG



The teachers of our public schools were treated to a most pleasant surprise last evening at the High School building where they were congregated for the regular monthly meeting, a Santa Claus luncheon having been prepared for them by the Misses Ella Wilder, Mabel Fletcher, Lucile Bertram, Marie Killian, Myrtle Huber and May Kelly.  When the meeting was adjourned the teachers were requested to present themselves in the assembly room, and upon entering the same they found it converted into an attractive dining hall, festively trimmed with holly and bright with paper lights and handsome candelabra.  A handsome Christmas tree in all the glory of shimmery ornaments and waxen light formed the center of attraction and shed its beauty upon the surrounding tables so tastefully set for this Yule spread.  Expressions of delight and appreciation were uttered by all of the surprised ones and the fair perpetrators were the recipients of gallant thanks.



                Death of Orlena Moak (and sister); taught at No. 4 School



10 16       Superintendent of Schools William D. Roseman gives the following excellent advice to parents relative to signing the monthly report cards of students:

"You are earnestly urged to examine the cards carefully and sign them in English or German. Please do not delegate this duty to your child. The interest which you show in examining the cards will, to a great extent, determine your child's progress in school. If the marks are low, inquire why, and encourage them to earn higher marks next month. It takes much time and energy, on the part of the teachers, to issue report cards and unless you examine them, and sign them personally, the result will not warrant the expenditure of the same. It can be spent to a greater advantage in other directions."



11 12

Some day, perhaps, we will return to sane methods in the teaching of children: Speed that day. At the present time the little ones are the victims of education gone mad. Their small heads are troubled with things beyond their understanding and they are made to say things like a parrot. Fancy a little grammar student of 10 attempting to diagram a sentence taken from a history of mythology! And fancy a child of 9 struggling to read ancient history with all the latter's unpronounceable names! It is all - all wrong. We are not teaching children in these days. We are simply attacking their nervous systems and racking their undeveloped brains.   WDT




The enrollment of the city schools according to the report of W. P. Roseman, city superintendent of schools, is as follows:

High School ………... 217

Eighth Grade ….…..… 40

School No. 2 …….… 228

School No. 3 …..….. 185

School No. 4 …..….. 340

Total …………..…… 1,010


It is a light enrollment, owing no doubt to the existence of parochial and private schools in the city and not a “race suicide,” for the people here are healthy and love children.



10 17       New compulsory education law   WL



02 05       Truant Officer appointed

--------        The average salary paid in 1887, including high school teachers, was $45 per month; in 1908 it was $60.50

09 11       Eighth grade transferred from High School to vacant room in School No. 4   WG

10 16       Public school teachers entertained by Board of Education   WG

11 20       Public night school twice a week began in the High School building   WG

11 27       The Horace K. Turner art exhibit will be under the auspices of the public school teachers and pupils   WG

12 04       Diphtheria in public schools, report on cases   WG

12 08         “Rules Defining Duties of Janitors – adopted by the Watertown Board of Education, December 2, 1908.”

12 18       American National Red Cross campaign; stamps placed in schools   WG



02 19       Pupils of 4th grade No. 4 School enjoyed a sleigh ride; teachers of No. 2 School gave a valentine party    WG


06 25       Eighth grade graduation at Turner Opera    WG



04 15       Visiting day at public schools    WG



   Public School teachers



05 25       No Public School Picnic This Year

Almost from the beginning of the public school system in this city it has been the custom here for the teachers and pupils of the public schools to hold an annual picnic at the close of the school year:  a band was engaged for the occasion and the pupils and teachers marched in a body to some central picnic ground and enjoyed the day (at least so it has been thought) in feasting and in merrymaking.  The pupils carried U.S. flags and banners, and in gay holiday attire presented one of the happiest-looking sight's that could be witnessed anywhere.


For some years past, however, there has been considerable murmuring against the picnic from teachers, parents and pupils, and this year again much fault-finding was heard regarding the holding of the picnic, and even going so far as to say that only the Board of Education wanted the picnic.


Just how this custom first originated we know not, but during our long experience on the Board of Education, we know the Board simply arranged for music, the place of holding the picnic, and furnished lemons, sugar and ice in behalf of the people, and always supposed that a great majority of the teachers, pupils and parents were so set on having this picnic that the members of the Board thought it was as much as their lives were worth to think of abandoning the same.


Some two weeks ago, however, the Board decided to test the matter by having a vote taken of the teachers and pupils on the matter and instructed the superintendent to first have the pupils lay the matter before their parents.


The result of the vote was as follows:


School      For  Against

Lincoln      41    207

Douglas     169      9

Webster      69    279

High School  68    216

Total       347    711


Teachers in favor of having picnic   5

Teachers opposed to having picnic   28


On the announcement of this result at an adjourned meeting of the Board last Thursday evening, it was decided to do away with the picnic this year. 


At the same meeting of the Board Superintendent W. P. Roseman submitted his resignation to take effect July 1st.  WG



06 01       Trained Nurse for Schools  /  One Will Be Furnished By Red Cross During Month of June.

As a result of the sale of Red Cross seals last Christmas, Watertown draws a prize.  Miss Lydia Pease and Supt. W. P. Roseman, who conducted the campaign, announce that 25,725 seals were disposed of, and as a result the city is to have the services of a trained nurse free of charge during the month of June.


Miss Sarah West Ryder, employed by the State Anti-Tuberculosis Society, is in the city today and is giving such assistance as the city authorities, charitable societies and individuals direct.  It is her mission to visit the public schools and parochial schools and give counsel in all cases directed by the authorities of those institutions.  She will also visit the homes of parents whose children are found to be suffering with diseases common to their age and give such advice as the various cases demand.  In cases where children are suffering from tuberculosis, the parents will be advised on points appertaining to the care and treatment of such children.  Where medical treatment is deemed advisable, the family physician will be consulted and in cases where parents feel unable to call a physician,  Miss Ryder hopes, by cooperating with the local physicians, they will take care of such cases.


It is estimated that there are from 20 to 30 cases of adenoids in the public schools and, no doubt, there are fully as many in the parochial schools.  This is a defect that can be easily remedied, and the children removed from the embarrassment of being classed with the backward or dull pupils.


It has been stated that there are several cases of tuberculosis in the incipient stages in the schools which if attended to in time may be cured, and the spread of the disease among other children in school checked.  Miss Ryder's headquarters are in the lecture room of the public library building and she asks the cooperation of all our citizens.  Further information may be had from Miss Lydia Pease or Supt. W. P. Roseman.   WD


08 26       Visiting Nurse in Watertown

The follow report was made by Sarah West Ryder, who visited the schools in Watertown last June:


“The month of June was spent in Watertown, where I gave almost the entire time to medical inspection in the three grade schools, that being the work desired of me by Mr. Roseman, superintendent of schools, who, together with Miss Lydia Pease, was actively interested and instrumental in making the record Christmas seal sale.  The method of work was similar to that done in Chippewa Falls and consisted in studying the children while at their studies from that “point of vantage,” the teacher’s desk.


It was not difficult to pick out ailing children.  During the course of my investigation I learned that a number of children had been out for illness – measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, etc. – which accounted in part for their anemic appearance.  There were children who are undoubtedly pre-tubercular, if not already in the incipient stage.  According to the list, 326 children of an enrollment of 920 are either physically defective or anemic.  Of these there are:


56 with probable defective sight;

3 with defective hearing;

70 who are good subjects for tuberculosis;

27 and probably more who come from tubercular families;

5 who are tubercular (and probably more);

2 who have formed immoral habits (there are probably more);

30 who need oversight of a truant officer (they would keep an officer busy constantly);

139 mouth breathers;

27 who are backward because of probable physical defects or because of rapid growth;

16 who are plainly backward;

7 unmistakably feebleminded.


The habit of coffee drinking and the keeping of late hours is common among the children in all of the grades to an alarming extent.  Sitting up late would not be so bad if practiced in the open air, but too many of the children’s evening are spent in poorly ventilated nickel theatres.


Thirty children are reported as attending school irregularly without sufficient reason.  Many half days of each school month are lost because of slight ailments, sore throat, etc.  The chronically sore throats usually occur in children who are suffering from enlarged tonsils and adenoids.  Were a physician consulted he should soon discover the source of the trouble. 


Two sisters lost, one 81 days, the other 57 1/2 days, out of the school year.  Both are suffering from enlarged tonsils and adenoids, two out of the many who are handicapped in the same way.  Their brother, 15 years old, is in the fifth grade.  He is ambitious and has been constantly humiliated by his inability to keep up with his class.  He has been the despair of his teachers.  He was operated upon and tonsils and adenoids removed.  The tonsils, according to the doctors, were each as large as a small hen’s egg, while the adenoids constituted a mass equal to both tonsils put together.  There was very little space for the admission of air, as the nasal cavity and throat were almost completely filled with these morbid growths.  Improvement after the operation was almost immediate. 


Three girls in another family were taken to a physician, one had a goiter, all three had defective eyesight.  One of the three was tuberculosis.


Three children in another family, a boy and two girls, are sadly in need of attention.  The boy needs the attention of a nerve specialist.  Two have enlarged tonsils and adenoids.  Both will be operated upon as soon as there is room at the hospital.


These cases were taken at random and there are undoubtedly many more who would be benefited in many ways by timely attention to such defects . . . “   WD




The recognized need for more widespread training for people who work demands that some form of education be provided for their benefit equivalent to that which may be gained in the schools and universities.  To this end it is necessary not only to carry the educational opportunity to them wherever they may be, but frequently to arouse and stimulate their interest by demonstrating to them the value of an increased fitness . . . There exists in every community a considerable class of people whose early education has been neglected.  Such people have a claim upon the state for educational opportunities outside the regular form.


If a sufficient number interested in any one subject can be secured the university Extension will send an instructor at regular intervals to meet the class and give them such personal help as they may need.   WG







03 31       Prof. W. P. Roseman elected superintendent at Sheboygan; served at Watertown for seven years.



11 02       William Voss [1847–1921] served a number of terms embracing two long periods as president of the school board.  His interest was almost passion.




No graduation exercises for 8th grade pupils of public schools will be held anymore because of a state law which provides that children attend high school or industrial school until they have reached the age of 18 years.   (at the time, graduation must have meant the end of ability to learn)



-- --           HANDBOOK FOR PARENTS


Your Child in the Elementary Grades


Derived from Archived_Digital_Reference_File:  Elementary_School_Handbook_1949.pdf









First row [L-R]: Kathleen Murphy, Emily Herrmann, Virginia Block, Dolores Pirlot, Kathryn Dunning, Patricia Ormsbee, Heather Dopkins.


Second:  Amy Perry, Hilda Kaercher, Eva Warner, Barbara Shunk, Marion Spangler, Audrey Lamp, Dorothy Strayer, Lenys Dietzrman,


Top: Audrey Herbrand, Charlotte Pischke, Ramona Peardon, Glenn A. Schwoch, Jim Thompson, Lucille Biege, Frances Bright, Joan Pierson.



07 12       Margarethe Schurz School, construction of   WDT



04 23       Watertown Citizens Council for Better Schools formed   WDT



02 06       Roger B. Holtz, Superintendent of Schools, resignation of   WDT

05 05       Board of Education organization meeting   WDT

08 22       New hot lunch service equipment; three elementary schools   WDT

08 29       David R. Ross, new principal, Junior High School   WDT

10 14       Open House, Schurz Elementary   WDT

10 28       Watertown School District expected to increase   WDT

11 16       Buildings and Grounds Superintendent, new position created   WDT



02 22       Proposed seven man board of education, elected from school district at large   WDT

03 17       Position of elementary supervisor abolished   WDT

05 05       Henry Winogrond elected president of board of education, succeeds A. E. Bentzin   WDT



12 22       The Watertown Board of Education last night discussed informally several moves which may herald the start of far reaching changes in the Watertown school operation setup. The plan, if implemented and carried to a conclusion, would establish a unified school district made up of the city of Watertown and the areas annexed to the city for school purposes. Last night’s informal discussion had been preceded in recent months by brief mention of a unified school district possibility but not until last evening was the issue brought squarely into the open.   WDT



08 25       The school bell here rang for all Public School students of the Watertown School District this morning.  With the start of the 1962-63 school year, a new epoch in the history of the Watertown school system will have begun.  Up to 1955 the Watertown School District had as its school district boundary the city limits of Watertown.  In 1955 the township of Emmet and part of the township of Watertown were annexed and the school district grew from 10 square miles to 52 square miles. In 1959 the Wisconsin State Legislature passed the bill requiring that all areas of the state be in a high school district by July 1. 1962.  Thus began a period of three years within which people of unattached areas laid plans and petitioned to attach to a high school district.  Today the Watertown School District comprises an area of 150 square miles, having grown three times its size within four years.   WDT

09 24       The first step calling for the creation of a new position — that of an assistant superintendent of schools — for the Watertown School District was taken at last night's meeting of the board of education.  Spearheaded by School Commissioners Lee Block and Claude Towne, the subject was brought to the floor of the meeting by Mr. Towne and was supported by Mr. Block.  They called for support for such a plan.  Following lengthy discussion, Mr. Towne finally offered a resolution to create such an office and defining the duties of the office.   WDT



06 12       The Watertown Board of Education last night, in an effort to break the deadlock which exists between the Common Council and the board over expanded school facilities determined to request the council for approval of an outlay of $1,500,000 for the construction of a three grade junior high school.  The board’s action was taken following a two hour discussion on the school building problem with a committee of the council which had been designated to discuss the building problem with the board.  Council members who met with the board were James Bloor, Wallace Block and Ronald Moser.    WDT

06 13       Eugene W. Tornow has resigned as superintendent of Watertown Public Schools, effective Oct. 1. The letter of resignation was submitted to James Craine, president of the board of education, following Tuesday evening’s board meeting with a committee of common council members.  Mr. Tornow in his letter said that he is resigning in order that he may enter the University of Wisconsin on a full residence basis this fall to complete his work on a doctor’s degree.   WDT




Lt. Alfred Krahn of the Watertown Police Department told the Watertown Safety Council last night at the Legion Green Bowl how the city saves $36,000 from its budget every year.  Local School Safety Patrols, protecting crossings near all elementary schools accomplish this.  These school children, conscientiously doing their volunteer jobs every school day, in good weather or bad, have never had an accident occur while they were on duty, the officer said.    WDT











08 21       Computerized braille word processor for blind students . . . example of mainstreaming handicapped students into regular classrooms   WDT



02 14       Special Education Program, Watertown School District will run its own in 1984-85   WDT

03 17       Asbestos in ceilings at Watertown High School and Schurz Elementary may be removed   WDT

07 07       Reuben Feld surprise retirement reception   WDT

10 09       Enrollment lowest in two decades   WDT



01 12       Wayne Strayer scholarship fund, former vocal teacher   WDT

02 14       Special Education Program, Watertown School District will run its own in 1984-85   WDT



05 03       Mrs. Jeanne P. Reed, a 17 year veteran of the board of education of the Watertown Unified School District, was re-elected president at the reorganizational meeting of the.  Other officers elected at the meeting were Ron Strege, vice president; Kenneth Berg, clerk; LeAnne Fredrick, treasurer; and Angeline Scheid, deputy clerk and secretary to the board of education. Reed was first elected to the board in 1969 and has been re-elected every three years since that time.   WDT



01 23       Dr. Suzanne Hotter, director of curriculum and instruction for the Watertown Unified School District, has been named acting superintendent of schools.  The board of education named her to that position Monday evening.  As acting superintendent, she will fill the position of Dr. Richard Stolsmark, who is on a leave of absence while at a hospital for impaired professionals.  Hotter came to Watertown as principal of Douglas and Concord Elementary schools in May of 1988.  A year later she was named director of curriculum and instruction for the school district.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in home economics, a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate degree in educational administration.   WDT



08 25       30-year-old school completes$250,000 facelift   WDT



03 26       All-day kindergarten proposal   WDT

08 01       Proposed laws concerning student conduct in public schools   WDT

09 25       Riverside Middle School is bursting at the seams with an eighth-grade class numbering 325 pupils.  WDT

10 18       Federally Subsidized School Breakfasts; half of schools in Watertown Unified School District participate   WDT

10 23       Educational foundation dedicated to promoting and strengthening public and private schools in the Watertown area   WDT



02 27       Former Douglas School property; land division and changes to an existing conditional use permit approved   WDT

04 21       Two full-day kindergarten sections may be added next school year   WDT

03 25       Feed Your Brain; after-school homework   WDT

05 21       Network schools; District received loan of almost a half million dollars   WDT

08 28       Enrollment, Watertown Unified School District   WDT

10 02       Asbestos; class-action suit to recover the cost of removing   WDT



03 29       Declining enrollments in Watertown public schools will mean cutting approximately $400,000 from the proposed budget for the 2001-02 school year.  If enrollment projections hold, the budget will have to be reduced by $2.5 million in the next five years.  Elementary enrollments have declined 62 students in the past five years and live births are on the decline, the director said.  The estimated kindergarten enrollment for the 2001-02 school year is 210 students and the estimated average for the next three years is 195 students.   WDT




Dr. Douglas Keiser, director of curriculum and instruction in the Watertown Unified School District, will become the new district administrator on July 1.  He will succeed Dr. Suzanne Hotter who is retiring at the close of this school year.   WDT




The Watertown Unified School District nutrition staff is one of the first in the nation to be certified for food handling after participating in a two-day program earlier this week. “We have a wonderful staff throughout the district,” Jackie Walsch, director of nutritional services, said. “We make it a priority to hold in-services and offer courses to the food staff throughout each year that enhances their knowledge and keeps them informed on different aspects of food and food service.” The program called Healthy Edge included a curriculum on nutrition, nutrition education, preparing and serving healthy school meals and building partnerships and marketing. More than half of the 40 nutrition staff members attended the voluntary program. The middle school staff had all but two attend.   WDT




The Watertown Unified School District Board of Education reviewed conceptual floor plan designs for the remodeling of Webster and Schurz schools and the proposed new elementary school during a special meeting Thursday night.  Matt Wolfert, of Bray Associates Architects, Inc., updated the board on the preliminary plans for the schools.  These designs were created to give the board of education a start and a plan from which to work.  Miron Construction representatives also attended the meeting and gave an estimated cost of all three projects as a range of $28,822,394 to $29,367,369.  Conceptual floor plans for the new elementary school included 108,975 square feet, an increase from the first projection, for an estimated total cost of about $17,436,000 to $17,980,975.   WDT



10 04       Vision of more college classes taught in Watertown.  “We need more people with more education.”   WDT

11 05       $22,385,000 referendum approved for additions and renovations; second referendum to exceed revenue limits defeated   WDT



06 15       School district to upgrade in communications system; includes installation of antennas at all city schools; Full text, WDT article   WDT



Cross References:

                Douglas School, chapter on

                Lincoln School, chapter on




Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin