Two years in the life of Ruth Lewick 1913-1914


My Grandmother, Ruth Cornelia Lewick Sodt (1893 – 1979), was a scrapbooker. I recently retrieved one of her scrapbooks from the “cedar chest” that was buried in my sister Martha’s basement. When I dusted it off  I was immediately in love. I so wish I could spend the afternoon with Ruth. I’m lucky to have many cousins and siblings that remember her stories and life.

This post is a snapshot of her life from 1913-1914 and is based upon the postcards in her scrapbook collection.  

Originally I wrote this post with the assumption that Ruth left on a train in 1913 for Ypsilanti, Michigan to attend Michigan State Normal College. This was foiled after I spent the afternoon in EMU’s archives looking for evidence of her life at EMU from 1913-1916.  I could find nothing. A call to EMU’s alumni’s office revealed,  “Yes Emma and Blanch Lewick graduated from Michigan Normal College but Ruth Lewick did not.” “What” I say! “Please check again under Ruth Sodt.” Hours later the phone rings, “Yes Ruth Sodt attended but she never received a degree. She took classes between 1940 and 1950. It also looks it looks like she attended MSU as well.”  I called MSU and they confirmed that yes she attended but no degree.

So the post has been rewritten. I am still not certain what Ruth was doing in Ypsilanti in 1913. I assumed she was in school but she may have been teaching school.  My cousin Brian thinks she was was taking the necessary orientation and tests to get the State certificate that would allow her to teach. She began teaching, grades 1 through 8 all at once in a one room school house, (Lima Twp) in the fall of 1914.  This would explain why her second post card was postmarked from Ann Arbor.

Ruth’s Family

Ruth with her family, back row (left to right), Esther, Emma, Ruth and Blanch.  Front row (proud parents) Mary and William Lewick.


The Bigger Picture

1913 was the same year Woodrow Wilson was elected and the Woman Suffrage Parade marched. I wonder if Grandma Ruth followed the suffrage movement or participated in an organized event to help give women the right to vote?  I know she was a staunch Democrat and dearly loved John F. Kennedy. She shook his hand once and this apparently upset my father who was not a Democrat.

The year 1913 was sandwiched between 1912, when the RMS Titanic sank,  and 1914, when World War I began.  I can’t believe there isn’t an entry on Wikipedia for Ruth’s Life as she was an amazing woman…

Ruth’s Parents

Was it possible that Ruth’s parents, Mary Elizabeth Stevenson Lewick and William Gottlieb Lewick, were Progressives? Don’t fall off your chair laughing, I bet they were!  Just look at them.

Mary and William Lewick 1914

Ruth’s GrandParents

You may remember Ruth’s Grandfather, Andrew Lewick.

Andrew Lewick

He is the scoundrel that married Corneila Emerick (my great-grand mother) in 1852.  Andrew and Cornelia had two kids before Andrew left by boat for the gold mines in California. I recently learned that he paid someone to enlist for him in the Civil War. Yet another reason why he needed to leave town. Cornelia and Andrew’s son, William Lewick, was Ruth’s father (guy in the buggy above). Ruth’s maternal grandparents were John Stephenson and Emily Doubledee and were Mary Elizabeth Stephenson’s parents. (Mary is also seated in buggy above).  You may want to file this piece of information away, Emily Doubledee is also known as Grandma Witty and is Mary’s mother.  Her husband, John Stephenson died in 1867 when Mary was 5 years old.  Emily remarried John Witty. (I know who can remember all these details!)

And for some unknown reason, Corneila Lewick (Ruth’s paternal grandmother) was listed as living with Grandma Witty (Ruth’s maternal grandmother) on the 1900 census.  Yes, sit back and let that kick around for a minute or two.


Michigan State Normal College

The Michigan State Normal College was renamed Eastern Michigan University in 1959.

Ruth’s friend Mildred wrote to her in 1907 from the Michigan State Normal College. Ruth was just 15 years old. Students entered Normal School at much earlier ages than today. Some as young as 13.  I suspect that a few of Ruth’s friends were in Ypsilanti, Michigan at school and were hoping she’d join them.

Dear Ruth, here’s where we spend our hours althou not in these buildings but in a larger one near. The one marked X is where they hold young peoples meetings Sun. after noons, prayer meeting, Thurs. nights. If only you could come down. Lovingly Mildred D.

Mildred's note Ruth form School 1907

Train from Chelsea to Ypsilanti

In 1913 Ruth took  the train from Chelsea to Ypsilanti, Michigan.  She was twenty years old.

“I think I shall like it here very much.” she wrote to her mother on a postcard in 1913.  “Mr. Gilbert was on the car. He came and sat with me. We had a long visit. Had been to Cavanaugh. Mrs. Whalian is better.”

Ruth Lewick to Mary Lewick

Mr. Gilbert probably got on in the train in  Chelsea with Ruth. They were joined by a third person in Ann Arbor. Ruth wrote,  “A Howell girl who is a cousin of theirs sat with me from Ann Arbor here. Oh but it’s warm.”

Ruth signed off with “Lots of love,” R.C.L.

Noted on the card is the address “106 Adams.” I suspect this was her address. (Now you can see why I thought she was headed to Ypsilanti to attend school.)

Image from post card from Ruth Lewick to Mary Lewick

Postcards to Rueben

In 1914 Ruth was corresponding with a“Reuben Sodt” in Manchester, Michigan. She would eventually marry Reuben Sodt on, June 24, 1916.  These were my grandparents. Reuben and Ruth had 5 children:  Marjorie, Carole, Louis , William and Willard Sodt.  The middle child (Louis) was my father.

How Ruth met Reuben remains a mystery.  I’d love for it to be solved. But for now we have to settle for the postcards.

July 1914 — Postmarked, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Ruth addressed this to Mr. Reuben Sodt in Manchester Mich

Hello – How’s the world using you? spent Sat and Sun. in Detroit, and am now back at the old grind. We girls intend to take an auto ride to night. Will perhaps see you Hope so at the least. Well it is 6:45 so I’ll have to “beat it” for school. Am coming home Fri so I hope to see you in the near future. As ever R.C.L.

Ruth Lewick to Reuben Sodt 1914

This card was sent to Mr. Reuben W.  Sodt on Aug 5, 1914 from Ann Arbor and was signed R.L.

“I am having a fine time but the exams are hard.  Received my Specs. Thank you.  Went to the circus Thurs in the rain. It was fine. Part of the work is tomorrow. Go home tomorrow noon. (I hope.) Isn’t this weather lovely? there are a lot here taking exams. R.L.

Ruth's note to Reuben 1914

Front of card…

Barton Damn Ann Arbor Michigan, Postcard from Ruth Lewick to Reuben Sodt 1914

Thanks for Your Help

This post would not have been possible without the help of many individuals. Thank you friends, family, librarians and school administrators who helped locate content for this post.

Special thanks to Brian, Mary and Martha for dusting off pictures and sharing stores. Carol and Isaac you are fantastic proof readers! I couldn’t write without you. Lastly, thank you Chuck for being patient with me when my computer wasn’t working.

If you have more content to add please leave a comment, call or email me!




  1. Nice Job !

  2. Lovely. You have a nice voice with the queens English. I think Ruth was taking the necessary orientation and tests to get the State certificate that would allow her to teach. She began teaching, grades 1 through 8 all at once in a one room school house, (Lima Twp. I think) in the fall of 1914.

    • Love your detective skills! This is a legacy! Can’t wait for the next installment! Any wedding pictures?

      • It takes a village! I couldn’t do this without Brian and Mary. They are the researchers! I am the reporter. I can’t wait to post Ruth and Reuben’s wedding but I’m waiting for Karen to return to Michigan.

    • thank you Brian. I couldn’t do this without you and Mary. I’m loving every minute.

      • Get a good nights sleep Wednesday. You may be up late Thursday. Just sayin…

  3. Your conclusion is correct: Grandma Ruth never got a degree. She was teaching under a provisional certificate until she retired (sometime in the 60’s-at least 70 yrs of age.)
    She always had to take credits towards a degree to maintain the certificate. One of her “cherished” memories was taking an MSU class in Jackson on “deviant juvenile behavior” during the summer of 1962 with her grandson (me!) We and two other of her fellow teachers from Chelsea drove to Jackson once or twice weekly for the class. At the end of the course she delighted in telling the professor that he had been teaching a grandmother AND her grandson and bet that it had not happened before! (We both passed but to my chagrin,I had the “A” and she had the “C” which didn’t bother her at all! We spoke of her finishing her degree but she said it was “too much bother.”

    BTW Jean put together a nice remembrance book of Grandma’s courtship, marriage & early years about the same year that Uncle Bill died. I remember showing it to Brian and later we made a copy for him. I also have her original teaching contracts for her first years of teaching. I will share later.

    • Thank your Peter for sharing this wonderful story! I would love to see Jean’s remembrance book. I may have to journey to Ohio with my scanner. I have on my list to create a blog entry Ruth and Reuben’s early years. It sounds like you have some great content to contribute. Ruth had an amazing life and I’m anxious to share it with the next generation.

    • B You have a fedex pkg arriving Thursday. I’ve included a copy of the scrapbook Peter mentioned.

      • it will feel like Christmas when the Fedex Man arrives! I have two stories I am dying to write — Ruth and Reuben’s early years and the Kansas adventure! Thank you Brian!

        • Did you get the copy of the scrapbook, Brenda? We are back in OH where I could access files and found the following corrections and additions!

          Grandma Ruth taught the following years and locations:
          1912-13 #7 Sharon Twp for $360/yr
          1913-14 #7 Sharon Twp for $360/yr
          1914-15 #13 Lodi Twp for $52/mo (9 months)
          1915-16 #13 Lodi Twp for $52/mo (9 months)

          I also have “Special Certificates” for her teaching each year at #4 Everett School, Sharon Twp for years 1947-52. Then #2 Beach School, Lima Twp for years 1952-55.

          I also have a personal letter from her while wintering in TX with Aunt Marjorie in 1975 in which she mentions “30 years of teaching.” The above were her first 12; were the others all in the Chelsea School system? Another 18 years would take her to 1973 when she would have been 80 years old. Can you find any documentation with the Chelsea Schools or Chelsea Standard newspaper re: her retirement??

          • Hi Pete, Brian sent me a copy of the scrapbook. It is wonderful that Jean made it and we have it now! I would love to get better scanned images of the photos.

            I’m sending you an invitation to our Box Account which is a collaboration tool for sharing files. Please check it out and, as always, more content is welcome.

            I have a lofty goal of documenting our family’s history via my blog with the dream of converting it to a book some day. In the short run, it has been a great catalyst for discussion. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful stories!

            Mary has pulled some stories from the Chelsea Standard and I have reached out to the Chelsea Schools. These are in the Box Account.

            I need to weave another story about Ruth’s early years as a teacher. I would love to include an image of your personal letter from her “Remembering 30 years of teaching”! The post is almost writing its self.


  4. We are returning home to OH from FL tomorrow (3/6.) I will try to remember to add more next week.

    • Thank you Pete. I knew you could best tell the story of you taking that class together that summer. I know that she taught at the country school on M-52, but did she teach elsewhere?

      • Grandma Ruth started teaching (before she was married) in Lima Center (as I recall. I have her signed contracts and will share the details when I get home to review them.) She later taught across the road from the Everett Farm home where they lived on M-52. I think this may have been after Grandpa died in 1951.) Her final teaching years were in the Chelsea School system and I visited her in her classroom for a college project in what I remember was called “North School” on the north side of the city.

        • I know after she retired from the Chelsea School System she sub’d in Manchester for a number of years.

          In Chelsea as you mentioned she taught at the North School but she also taught in a rural one room school “just one 1st grade class” for at least 2-3 years. I had visited her there when I wasn’t much older the 8-9 y/o.

          • Would that have been in Beach School? We know that she taught there 1952-55.

          • Pete, I think you are correct. I remember G-Ruth talking about the Beach School. I think it was out on Lima Ctr Road.

  5. There was a picture of Grampa Sodt and Uncle George. Grampa was standing with crutches and George was standing next to him. Grandma always had that picture on her bookcase. Does anybody have it and would be willing to share?

  6. I love this story and it is so nice to hear stories from home. Funny to think that she was probably one of my grandfather’s teachers in Chelsea:)

    • Ruth taught school for many years! I bet she probably was one of your grandfather’s teachers. I’m working on more posts about her life and hope to post more soon!

  7. Very sorry…someone posted a comment and we accidentally deleted 🙁 The comment was asking about a Mary LeMarre who had been a nurse in Alpena. Just wanted to let you know that Mary LeMarre who commented was not a nurse in Alpena. Sorry for deleting your comment.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest