Boyd-Lehnerer

THE BOYD-LEHNERER STORY

By Alice McCombe Block, March 14, 2001

This article is written by Alice McCombe Block, who lives in Corvallis, Oregon with her husband, John Block. Much of Alice’s knowledge about her family’s history comes from her mother, Charlotte Boyd McCombe who wrote for The Landmark in the 1960s.

The 150-year-old, two-story limestone house located the Busse Rd., not far from Interstate 94, has a story to tell. Some chapters are connected to my family, the Boyd-Lehnerer Family.

In 1880, my great-grandparents, John and Janet Boyd, purchased a 140 acre farm from William and Wilhemina Hembd. (Location is in the NW Quarter of Section 26 and the SW Quarter of Section 23, Township of Pewaukee.) The farm was built on the site of a former sawmill and chair factory which was powered by Pewaukee River water. Across the road there was a small village of log cabins known as Bucknerville. By the early 20th century, all that remained was the millrace, the dam site and a very old small house which can be seen in the picture behind the big stone house. The oldest house was constructed of hand-hewn boards and plastered on the inside with mud and twigs. There was an unusual French-styled brick oven in the kitchen. A fire was built in the oven until the bricks were hot. Then the coals were removed and the bread was put in to bake. Could the house have been built by an early settler with the French name of Beau? Our family found six small maple chairs in the loft of this old house. Possibly these chairs were made in the local chair factory. Today, two of those chairs sit in our Corvallis, Oregon livingroom.

John and Janet Boyd were first cousins, children of immigrant brothers, James and Thomas Boyd who came from the Parish of Slamanan, Sterlingshire, Scotland in 1846 and 1849 respectively. They followed an older brother McNair Boyd who came in 1842 and settled near Prospect Hill. Descendants of Thomas Boyd continue to live in the area today. James Boyd’s son John, born June 22, 1849, and Thomas’ daughter Janet, born May 12, 1850, were married March 11, 1873 in Prospect Hill. I have a prize possession: Janet’s three-piece olive green silk wedding dress complete with tassels and a bustle.

My grandfather, James Thomas Boyd, born March 30, 1876, was named for his two grandfathers. His sister, Jessie May, was born April 1, 1880. About eight months later, the parents bought the Hembd Farm and resettled with their two young children. John Lehnerer came as the hired man.

Now the drama thickens. On October 30, 1881, small Jessie May died from pneumonia. I have a poem of lament written by one of her grieving parents. There is a small stone in the far NE corner of Prairie Home Cemetery marking her grave. On December 5, 1881, John Boyd, at age 32, was stricken with a ruptured appendix and died a sudden and painful death. He was buried next to his infant daughter. His wife, Janet, left with a 5 year old son and a 140 acre farm, did the most practical thing a woman could do in those days, she married her hired man, John Lehnerer on December 18, 1883. His family also came from the New Berlin area. He and Janet along with hired help, worked hard to earn a living and paid off the farm mortgage.

Grandpa Lehnerer, as he was known by my mother and her siblings, was a good grandfather and a steward of the land. He practiced crop rotation. In the early years, wheat was the main crop, requiring much hand labor. Quantities of potatoes were also raised and sold door to door to Milwaukee customers. The Lehnerers always kept a productive garden and a bountiful apple orchard with many varieties. Mother claimed there were very few wormy apples prior to the advent of pesticide sprays. The farm supported chickens, hogs and a mixed breed herd of milk cows. Grandpas Lehnerer liked horses and usually kept four or five before he acquired his first car. An interesting fact: in 1925, he traded one horse, two heifers and $400 to Davies Brothers for a new Model T Ford coupe.

When my grandfather, James Thomas Boyd married Lucy Miller, a former teacher at the Quarry School, September 5, 1900, he was given 33 acres from his father’s estate on the north side of the Pewaukee River. Lucy’s brother, Henry Miller, who was a master carpenter, built the house and barn (originally with a cupola). Later about 20 more acres were added to the farm. It was a struggle to make a living on limited acreage. This is the place where my mother and her two sisters and brother were born and raised. Over the years the family raised turkeys, chickens, Shropshire sheep, Chester White pigs and a fine herd of Guernsey dairy cows. Most profitable was honey production and market gardening during the Depression years. The current farm owner, Jean Jones, sends yearly Christmas Greetings to all I-94 travelers with a lighted display on the roof of the old honey house.

Janet Boyd Lehnerer died from breast cancer on May 12, 1923. John continued to work the farm with hired help until 1938. His hired man, Joe Leitinger, purchased the farm. Even though it was reasonably priced, James and Lucy Boyd were cautious about taking on a mortgage during Depression times. Grandpa Lehnerer lived his remaining years with his brother George, who had been a builder of many barns, with cupolas, around Waukesha County. John died at age 85 on February 14, 1943.

It should be noted for posterity that three Indian mounds were once visible in a field along the Busse Road on the Boyd-Lehnerer Farm in the early 20th Century. Every spring, as the fields were turned by horse and plow, fine specimens of Indian arrowheads were uncovered. My grandfather had an amazing collection!!  Today, subdivision ranch homes are located on top of those once sacred mounds.

Until the 1960’s, only the peaceful Pewaukee River flowed through this once Indian campground and later farm land. Today, I-94 traffic roars day and night through these same lands. It is called progress!!

Irene Koch-Brellenthin

IRENE KOCH-BRELLENTHIN
TEACHER 1923-1925

By Dan Savin

Dean Terlinden (Quarry School student 1926-1934) sent me information about his Aunt Irene. He wrote that she is 96 [in 1999], still quite active, and is the last in his moth-er’s family of twelve. I mailed several Quarry School stories to Irene and waited for her response. On Decem­ber 20, 1999, I received her response. Her letter follows.

Hi to all the Quarry School fans! Thanks for the stories about our school. I taught there for two years, 1923-24. Then I left so I didn’t get to hear about all that was going on. Hearing about it again makes me feel younger. I’m 96 years old now. Several years before I taught there, my sister, Rose Koch, taught there for two years. What years that was I just don’t remember. [Rose Koch taught in 1918-1919.]

You can keep the pictures with the names of the students on the back. [Irene sent two photos with her letter. One  is the 1923-24 class photo and the other photo is of Irene and Mildred Christoph in front of the Quarry School.] I remember the names of Pinky and Punky Beck. I had a kid whose name was Joseph Czachesz (pronounced zaz). I had a hard time remembering how to spell it, but now I still remember (Czachesz). I heard when he was older he changed the spelling.
I taught at the Quarry before the Terlinden kids started school, and that’s a long time ago (75 years). The picture is all I have left to remind me of the Quarry School. I’m surprised I could even find it alter all these years.

Respectfully,
Irene Koch Brellenthin

After receiving Irene’s letter, I called her to set up a time when we could meet and talk about her days as a Quarry School teacher. I agreed to visit her at her home in Clinton, Wisconsin, on January 3, 2000. She lives by herself in a pleasant mobile home. After our meeting, she fed me lunch before I left for my hour-drive home. The following is what Irene remembers.

I was born in Cambellsport on a farm with my eleven brothers and sisters. Their names were John, Emma (Terlinden), Alma (Ode­kirk), Elsie (Buss), Edwin, Herbert, Leonard, William, Frieda (Halverson), Rose (Ferber), Irene (Brellenthin) and Alice (Broukhoff). My parents were August Koch and Augusta (Kocher) Koch. I was lucky to be one of a big family. We had everything but money. Out of all my brothers and sisters, I am the only one left. I never had a fight with any of them.

My sister Emma married Charles Ter­linden, and he was the Quarry school clerk [1917-34]. I lived with them when I taught at the school, and my sister Rose stayed with the Terlindens also when she was a teacher in 1918 and 1919.

I graduated from high school when I was 16. I wanted to go to nursing school, but I was too young, so I went to the “normal” school for a year in Milwaukee. I taught  for two years in a one-room school near Ke­waskum, and I taught at the Quarry School in Pewaukee for two years. I quit teaching to go home and take care of my sick parents. I was the only one not married at home, so I took care of my mom and dad till they passed away. There were no nursing homes back then. My mother died in 1926, and my father died in 1930. Soon after that, the farm was sold, and I went to live with my sister Elsie in Kewaskum.

I liked teaching at the Quarry School. School began at 9 o’clock in the morning and went till 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I rang the school bell a lot to call the children to class. Mildred Christoph was teaching the lower grades, and I was teaching the upper grades. I didn’t keep in touch with Mildred after I left. I moved away and didn’t come back to visit. I didn’t do much socializing because I didn’t know anybody. I knew some of the parents. The Murrays lived near the Terlindens. I knew “Grandma Murray,” as we called her. I also knew Iva Graf, but that was about it. I walked to school most of the time. The Terlindens lived only about a quarter of a mile away from the school.

There were some colored folks who lived in the “shacks.” What we called “shacks,” were houses built by the Quarry for its workers. They caused trouble by drinking and then one man stabbed his wife at the tavern. One time there were two boys fighting on the playground. They were the same age, but one was black and one was white. So I went out and had one in one hand and one in the other. The mother of the colored child was across the street, and I thought I would have troubles, but nothing happened. A cross was burned by the corner near the tavern, and the colored people moved on again.

One of my students, Charles Davis, was causing trouble one day. I don’t know what it was, but I shook him up. I took him by the nape of the neck. He was sitting down or he would be bigger than I was. I busted all the buttons off his shirt, but I didn’t have any trouble after that. The other kids had their eyes opened. As little as I was, I wasn’t going to have them run over me. But now you can’t touch a kid anymore. We had discipline. When the kids were in school, I had discipline.

One day, after we started in the morning, it got black as night. We couldn’t see across the street. The kids were so scared that I had them put their heads down on their arms, and I talked to them all the time. It didn’t last too long, but I didn’t know what it was. I never heard what caused all that blackness.

The Terlindens had a “hup” mobile and I would take the car and go downtown. I had my drivers license then, and I got a new drivers license when I turned 96 years old last year.
While visiting my sister Alice in Clinton, I met my future husband, Ed Brellenthin. Ed was from Elkhorn, and he would travel all around the state repairing roads. We were married in 1934. I traveled with him from job to job. Road work stopped for Ed in 1941, and eventually we settled down in Clinton. ✤