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Early resident's life was filled with tragedy

March 28, 2014

This tale of a lady has a pig start and a pig ending.

The Town of Lisbon had their very first town meeting on April 5, 1842, at the Lisbon Plank Road School (Halquist area). One of the very first ordinances was about pigs running loose. A rule was adopted that stated that pigs running loose had to wear a three-board yoke or there was a fine of $1 payable to the town treasurer.

Now to get back to the sad lady tale. Her maiden name was Sophia Freed, born March 19, 1815, in Kent County, England.

She grew up in England after the Napoleonic Wars. She met her future husband, William Russell, born in May 1811, in West Wall, Kent County, England, and they were married on Dec. 23, 1840, in East Sutton, Kent County.

Russell was listed as a wood sawyer in one census, and as an agriculturist in another. They lived in a house in East Sutton, abut 8 miles southeast of Maidstone, Kent County.

Russell was part of a major family group that was leaving England for the United States, mostly Wisconsin, or Canada. Sophia had a boy, James in about 1843. They there were two more boys, born in about 1845 and 1848 —William Jr. and George — who both died in Canada. Father William also died in 1849, while Sophia was pregnant with a last boy, Charles, just as they were settling into Canada. Now she was a widow, no husband, and two boys to bring up.

There was a bunch of Russell family members living in Sussex and Lisbon at this time, and she came to Wisconsin so the extended Russell family could take care of her. She had left the dead husband and two children buried in Canada. Family history states that she came to Sussex in the 1850s.

Now tragedy struck again as son, James, age 20, died in 1863, and the other remaining son, Charles, died in 1866 at age 17. A monument went up in Sussex's God's Acre Cemetery for the dead father, and the four sons, with the three of them forever buried in Canada.

Sometime in the late 1850s she found a new husband, Lisbon farmer Joseph Pittard. This happiness with a second husband was a double loss as he became insane, and had to be put away. Born in 1811, he died a he insane asylum Dec. 10, 1888, and is buried at St. Alban's Cemetery.

She had now lost two husbands and all four of her boys.

As the Sussex historian, I knew of the unlucky sad lady, Mrs. Sophia Freed/Russell/Pittard, but could never put it all together, until just recently.

I acquired the 352-page opus produced in 2000 by the recently deceased Ronald Galuski and Nathan Weber, " Descendants of William Russell and Lydia Coulter, Married September 30, 1737." On page 9 there is an entry on William Russell, 1811-1849, who sired four sons with Sophia Freed, and their untimely deaths ... with most of it attributed to Janice Russell Peterson of Lakeland, Fla.

Incidentally, Peterson is the author of "The Weavers of Lisbon-Sussex." She is related to the founding family of Sussex-Lisbon. Both the 352-page Russell book and now the "Weavers of Lisbon-Sussex" are available at the Pauline Haass Library. Both of the books also have extensive entries of the still locally prominent Howard family.

This story of the sad, unlucky lady will be continued in coming weeks.

There will be a connection about how Mrs. Freed/Russell had her life story start with an 1842 anti-pig-running-loose ordinance by the Town of Lisbon, and pigs again at her demise.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Country Christmas Outdoor Drive-through Lights Display: Nov. 27-30, Dec. 5-31. Country Springs Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Pewaukee. Wisconsin’s largest drive-through holiday lights event features more than a million holiday lights along a mile-long trail that winds through the woods, Includes animated figures and holiday scenes. Call (262) 970-5398 for details. $15-$25. $15 per carload, $25 limo, mini-coach or large van. www.thecountrychristmas.com

 World’s Greatest Cookie Sale: Noon-4 p.m.  Nov. 28, Country Springs Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Pewaukee. Sale features homemade holiday cookies and baked goods in many varieties. Entertainment includes magic shows, cookie and cupcake decorating, face painting, holiday coloring contest and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Sale ends at 4 p.m. For more information on the World’s Greatest Cookie Sale, call Country Springs, (262) 547-0201 or visit thecountrychristmas.com/cookiesale. Free.

 German Christmas Market: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Nov. 28, 29 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 30, Downtown Oconomowoc, 100 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc. Celebrate Wisconsin’s heritage at this family festival that features heated tents, German beer, music, live bands, authentic German food, vendors, Santa and more. Free http://www.germanchristmasmarket.org. 

 Oconomowoc Winter Farmers Market: 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 30, Oconomowoc Landscape Supply & Garden Center, County Road K, Oconomowoc. Features local seasonally grown produce and artisan food products.  www.oconomowoc.org.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

All weekend happenings.