I greatly enjoyed the article about the Chautauqua Movement called “Enlightened Ypsilanti” by
Derek Spinei which appeared in the Spring, 2010 issue of the Ypsilanti Gleanings. The story took me
back to one of my personal experiences which is a story I have never told, and only a few people are
aware that it happened.
In 1966, I was employed by John Porter, Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction in
Michigan, as Supervisor of Higher Education for the State of Michigan. Among my job
responsibilities was overseeing veterans programs at Michigan Colleges, creation of a higher
education directory, monitoring of the private trade schools in Michigan and supervising the private
colleges and universities in the state.
One of my functions was to check on institutions from outside the State of Michigan which were
not legitimate operations and which would advertise false degrees and programs to our citizens.
These groups would come to Michigan on weekends or for other short periods of time, often establish
themselves in hotel rooms and promise people a degree for a limited amount of effort. The exchange
was a nice sounding degree for a substantial amount of money. In many cases, they did not even come
to the state, but allowed clients to obtain a degree through the mail. I was to check on the
legitimacy of these operations and to turn violators over to the Attorney General for prosecution.
My main duty was to monitor Michigan Institutions of Higher Education to ascertain that they were
operating within the limits of their state charter. The interesting fact about private higher
education in Michigan is that each institution is given a charter under the corporate laws of the
state, and they are bound by the mandates of that charter. In a few cases, such as the Detroit
School of Music, the charter was broad based and actually permitted that institution to offer any
and all degrees which they desired to give. For the vast number of institutions, however, they were
limited in their programs and degrees by the wording of their charters. It was my role to review
all of these charters and to visit each of the private state institutions of higher education to
assure that they were in compliance with their charter.
For the majority of instances, the review and visit were simply a formality and a public
relations venture. After each visit, I would write a letter to the president and the trustees of
each visited institution, congratulating them on their program and their institutions contribution
to the people of the state of Michigan. On occasion, I did have institutions which wanted to expand
or change their charter. In these cases, they were required to submit a proposal dealing with how
they wanted their charter altered. This was reviewed by my staff and then a visitation was
arranged. The visitation consisted of a three day visit by a group of recognized experts related to
the proposed changes. The visitation committee would include curricula specialists, facility
experts, administrators in higher education and library personnel. Following the visit, the
visitation team would evaluate each aspect of the visit in writing and would submit their
recommendation. This recommendation was then taken to the State Board of Education for approval.
This entire process usually took at least a year to achieve.
During my tenure in this position, there were two occasions in which I discovered institutions
which were violating their charter. One of these was Cleary College. Though absolutely
unintentional, Cleary was awarding graduate degrees which had not been a part of their original
charter. When this was called to the attention of the officials at Cleary, they immediately started
the process to request a change in their charter. This was accomplished and approved by the State
The other institution in violation was Bayview College. As Mr. Spieni points out in his article,
the Chautauqua movement had found its way to the Bayview Colony in Petoskey, Michigan through the
efforts of the Mayor of Ypsilanti, Mr. Watson Snyder. What appears to have happened is that after a
few years of operation, there was a request by people who attended that Chautauqua for college
credit. In order to achieve this, the leaders at Bayview asked Albion College, which had a
Methodist affiliation, to grant credit from their institution. Albion College agreed, and it thus
became possible to not only enjoy the programs at Bayview, but to get college credits for doing so.
Somewhere along the way, Albion College decided to no longer honor this affiliation. It is not
clear when this happened, but for some reason, Albion withdrew from this arrangement. The
leadership at Bayview then decided to create their own college and award their own college credits.
They created Bayview College and somehow got it listed as a legitimate college in the Michigan
Directory of Higher Education. They then created their own method of providing transcripts and for
a number of years, functioned as a legal Michigan College, operating without a state charter.
When I visited them in 1967, they were made aware of the problem. Naturally, this was an issue
of great concern since they had been operating in this fashion for a number of years. They were
given the same options as were required under the law. They could prepare a proposal and go through
an evaluation which could lead to a legitimate charter, or they could simply end the awarding of
college credits. At that time, they opted to end their college designation.
It was unfortunate that their story had a negative ending. They had operated with the best of
intentions and really had been unaware of the illegality of their actions. However, the procedure
for organizing and operating a credit and degree granting institution in Michigan has assured the
citizens of Michigan of the legitimacy of their degrees in this state and protected them from
possible fraudulent operations of unprofessional and meaningless programs and degrees.
(Jack Minzey is a retired administrator and professor from Eastern Michigan University and is a
member of the YHS Endowment Fund Advisory Board.)
Catherine and Marie, her older sister, were excited about the pending arrival of a new sibling.
They lived in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and soon their family would increase in size with the
birth of a new brother or sister. Times were good for these two happy girls, but they were oblivious
to the troubles that were brewing in Europe, culminating in World War I. As so often happens,
however, events do not always work out as planned. Their brother was born, but the delivery had been
difficult. Unable to withstand the trauma, their mother passed away shortly after the birth. Their
father kept the family together, and the two young girls helped all they could. But, again, tragedy
struck when their father succumbed to the flu that had struck the country after the Great War.
Without any relatives able to take in the youngsters, they were placed in a Catholic orphanage in
the area which was run by a religious order of nuns. The three siblings lived there for a period of
time until a Mr. and Mrs. Rettinger visited with the intention of adopting. The Rettingers had
intended to adopt a single child who would enjoy living with them on their farm. The nuns, however,
persuaded them that the right thing to do would be to adopt Catherine and two siblings, and that is
what they did.
Joy was once again in the lives of the children. They were together as a family with a mother and
a father, living on a farm, and going to school. Then, disaster struck again. While working the
farm, Mr. Rettinger was severely injured and died. Mrs. Rettinger thought about returning the
children to the orphanage, but the nuns convinced her that it would be best for the children if they
could remain together with her.
During that time, and a half world away, a young man had completed his high school education at
the American Missionary Dutch Reform School. The school was located in Basra, Iraq, and had as its
headmaster Dr. John Van Ess who had left Hope College in Holland, Michigan, to run the school. The
young man was Joseph M. Sesi, and while he was happy that he had completed his high school
education, he wanted a greater education and more opportunities than were available in Iraq. He had
heard Dr. Van Ess talk about life in America, and Joe convinced his father that the right thing for
him to do was to go to that new land. Joe's father was convinced, and a ship ticket was purchased
for Joe and his cousin. They were given a small amount of money for traveling, and off they went
— not to America, but to Mexico where they had acquaintances who could get them into the
United States. The trip was not as easy as the two young men had anticipated. Joe and his cousin
were only part way to the Port City when they were set upon by thieves who stole all their money.
Luckily, the captain of the ship looked after them and saw that they were fed during the trip which
lasted several weeks before arriving in Veracruz, Mexico.
Joe worked in Mexico for a time before making his way to the United States. He continued his
journey toward Detroit where he had been anticipating working in the growing automobile industry. He
arrived in Detroit in 1923 but was unsuccessful in obtaining work in the auto industry. He did,
however, find work as a delivery boy for a grocery store. Thus began a career in the grocery
business that covered over twenty years, culminating with his opening of the New Center Market, the
most progressive supermarket in the area. The store was the forerunner of today's supermarkets. It
had a large meat counter, fresh vegetables, ample grocery aisles, a liquor department, and a new
innovation, frozen foods, which were developed by Clarence Birdseye. Because of the high quality
cuts of meat and gourmet food available at the market, the more affluent families in the Detroit
area made the New Center Market their store of choice.
During that time Catherine had moved to Detroit and obtained a position as housekeeper for the
Burns family who lived in the New Center area. One of her responsibilities was shopping for the
family and, of course, the New Center Market just happened to be the place. Many times Catherine had
noticed Joe in church on Sunday mornings and recognized him as the proprietor of the store. She knew
nothing about him and just assumed that he was married to a woman who worked in the store and who
acted like she was in charge. In those days, the owner of a grocery store personally knew all of his
major customers because of extending credit and delivering groceries to their homes.
Joe's magnetic personality allowed him the opportunity to become friends with many of the movers
and shakers in Detroit — the closest being Alan Chapel who had an office in the Fisher
Building. Alan's wife was a niece of Mrs. Henry Ford, and through the Chapels, Joe became acquainted
with the Henry Fords.
What a year 1945 was! Joe knew Mr. Burns well, both as a customer and from church. So when the
Burns family went away in March for a couple of months, he asked Joe if he would see that the family
got to church on Sundays. Not only did Joe see that they got to church, but he began stopping by the
home to see Catherine. By the time the Mr. and Mrs. Burns returned, a romance had blossomed.
Joe had boarded for over seventeen years with Mr. and Mrs. Publow, considering them his parents
in the United States. During that time he would bring a certain lady whom he had been dating to meet
Mrs. Publow. After each visit Joe asked what her opinion of the young lady was, and each time she
would say, “She is not the lady for you, Joe.” In the spring of 1945, however, he took
Catherine to the home, and Mrs. Publow eagerly responded, “That is the lady for you,
Joe,” confirming his decision to ask Catherine to be his wife.
The wedding was planned for August 14, 1945, at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. Mrs. Burns
insisted that the reception be held at their home which bordered the Detroit Country Club. Joe was
to furnish the food and beverages, which naturally came from the New Center Market.
As the newly married couple emerged from the church that morning of August 14, suddenly church
bells rang out across the entire city. Horns began blowing, and people were shouting. Japan had
notified General MacArthur its intent to surrender. Joe and Catherine, however, thought the
excitement was because of them, especially when the procession followed them to the Burns home.
Thus, what had been planned as a small back-yard reception, turned into a party that required
several additional trips to the store for more provisions.
The newly married couple settled into a rented apartment in Detroit. Almost immediately, Henry
Ford I, offered Joe an opportunity to manufacture transmission parts for Ford Motor Company which
was going back into the automobile business since the war was over. He seized the opportunity, sold
the grocery store, and purchased a home near Willow run Airport. Along with Alan Chapel, they began
Ypsilanti Industries. Alan's health, however, was failing, and in 1947, when Ford established the
Lincoln Mercury Division, Joe was offered one of the initial distributorships. He seized the
opportunity and took over both businesses which were located at 20 East Michigan Avenue.
The years moved on, and the loving relationship between a couple who, as young persons, started
out with almost nothing, continued to grow. Along with hard work and dedication, Joe and Catherine
built a relationship with generations of people, a city, a country and a church. In 1965, the
Lincoln Mercury Dealership was moved to 950 East Michigan Avenue, where it grew to be one of the
premier dealerships in the United States, winning many awards and serving a multitude of happy
In the early sixties, Joe prepared the way for his brother and his family to come to the United
States. Although Joe and Catherine had no children of their own, by assisting his brother and his
family immigrate to the United States, over time they acquired numerous nieces and nephews, most of
whom worked or still work for the Sesi dealership. Joseph Sesi Junior, the oldest of the nephews,
started out working in the Service Department at the age of sixteen. he graduated from Eastern
Michigan University and worked his way up to General Manager of the Lincoln Mercury Dealership. He
eventually purchased the dealership from his Uncle Joe, and today owns dealerships in Ypsilanti and
Ann Arbor that handle several additional makes of automobiles.
The patriotic fervor, community involvement, and generosity of Joe and Catherine Sesi are
legendary in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area. Whenever a religious, school, or civic organization
needed help promoting a meaningful activity, the Sesi's became actively involved. Many times people
would hear Joe say, “America is God's gift to the world!” and that, “Things
happened by the grace of God.” Those were not just words, but the practiced philosophy of a
couple who loved each other and all people with whom they came into contact.
Over and over, people continue to tell stories about being in places like California or Alaska
and when someone noticed their “Sesi” license plate frame, they would say, “We
used to live in Ypsilanti. How are Joe and Catherine?” Hundreds, if not thousands of children,
have dollar bills that were signed by Joe who would say to them, “Save this dollar, and you
will always have good fortune.”
A quotation from their 50th Wedding Anniversary booklet says it all:
“Catherine and Joe have impressed their friends and loved ones with their charm,
faithfulness, dedication and humility. They have touched their community with gestures of humanity,
involvement and generosity. Above all, Catherine and Joe are a symbol of love and dedication. They
share a devotion which draws its strength from a faith in God and a belief in America.”
And that is the faith that keeps Catherine going. Joe passed away in February 1999 at the age of
ninety-two, and if you happen to have one of those dollar bills, continue to hold onto it, for
surely, “good fortune will be with you.”
What a weird and wonderful winter we have had at the archives. It started very cold and then
became almost spring-like in January and February. Seems that everyday was a complete surprise
either because of the weather or the people that came from all over the United States to visit. I
know that the spring weather will bring even more people from distant places to our doorstep. Now we
only have to convince our members who live locally to come and visit. We have even had producers
from PBS who are doing documentaries about this Ypsilanti area. They found the archives rich in
information and pictures from the past. So break in those expensive sneakers you got from Santa
Claus and run on down to the archives! We are open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon
and Sundays from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.
To say that we have been busy is an understatement as we have been inundated with graduate
students from Professor Ligibel's Historic Preservation Studies program at Eastern Michigan
University. It is refreshing to see that they are being taught how to think and deduce the
“who,” “what,” “where” and “when” of ownership of
some problematic properties within the city of Ypsilanti. This is not always as easy as one might
think when studying the histories of some of these parcels of land. The recording of ownership and
transfer of properties was not always correctly attended to at the time it actually occurred, and
this has required the city to find answers to some issues 50 to 100 years after the situation
occurred. This has been a terrific learning experience for these students as they work with primary
records, surveys, and directories. Dr. Ligibel's students bring vibrancy to the archives and we
TA-DA! Our antique 1890 and 1865 maps are back. Through the generosity of Dorothy
and Rodney Hutchinson they are now protected and preserved for generations to come, and they look
Magnificent! As you may or may not know, they were experiencing some
problems that only a professional preservationist could handle. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Hutchinson
for caring so much!
We will probably be selling copies of the 1890 map in a very limited, full sized edition, on
special acid free paper to raise funds for other preservation projects involving our Ypsilanti City
Directories. The directories are in heavy use every day and we have to come up with a way to be able
to use them while protecting them. We will keep the membership advised through the
“Gleanings” about the map and preservation projects. If you are interested in purchasing
a map or would like to see what this is all about, come and visit the archives. We will be taking
orders in March; the cost will be about $50.00. We expect to make no more than 100 copies and we
expect an early sellout. Call me at the archives at 482–4990 during regular hours or at home
at 572–0437. The maps will probably be available in May and will come in their own protective
Community education is an educational concept that became prominent in the early 1900's in
several places throughout the United States, and indeed, throughout the world. It fostered programs
which combined recreational activities with the public schools. Outstanding programs developed in
Arthursdale, West Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Mississippi (The Tennessee Valley Authority);
Georgia; Kentucky; Nambe, New Mexico; and the Philippine Islands. Professionals associated with this
movement included John Dewey, Elsie Clapp, Calos Johnson, Maurice Seay, Dorothea Enderis, and
One of these professionals was a man named Wilbur Bowen. Professor Bowen was a faculty member at
Michigan State Normal College, and he wove this concept and the classes which he taught and into his
writings. In 1924, Bingo Brown, the dean of men and another legend at Michigan State Normal College,
persuaded his brother in law, Frank Manley, to come to Ypsilanti to get his college education. Frank
wanted to be a physical education teacher, and his choice of profession put him in constant contact
with Professor Bowen and his philosophies. When Frank graduated in 1927, he was given a job in the
Flint School System as a physical education teacher where he continued to promote the community
education ideas which he had learned from Professor Bowen.
One of the people intrigued by Frank's ideas was Charles Stewart Mott. Mr. Mott was an
influential industrialist and a politician. Fortuitously, he was also the largest stockholder in
General Motors and was thus able to add financial assistance to Frank's ideas. He originally gave
Frank $6,000 to develop community education in six elementary schools. This eventually led to
placing a full time community educator in each of the Flint schools and the development of the
premier community education laboratory in the world. The concept grew from one of recreation to
changes in the school curriculum, maximum use of school facilities by the community, programs for
adults, coordination of community agencies and the development of community councils. Soon, over
16,000 people a year were coming to visit the Flint Program.
Frank realized that there was a need for professional training of his community school directors,
and he turned to his alma mater to provide this training. In 1950, Michigan State Normal College
hired Dr. Fred Totten for the express purpose of providing graduate training for the directors in
Flint. Flint was designated as a residential center, and in the ensuing years, every community
school director in Flint possessed a graduate degree from MSNC.
However, as community education began to expand to other communities across the country, Flint
began to lose its trained directors. Frank then conceived the idea of a leadership-training program
which would involve seven Michigan Universities with Eastern Michigan University being one of these.
The plan was to identify 50 people who demonstrated great leadership skills and bring them to Flint
where they could spend a year earning advanced degrees and also becoming community education
experts. The idea was that then, as these young people pursued successful careers in education, they
would practice their professions based on the principles of community education. To make this
program attractive, the stipend for the participants was equal to the salary of a school
superintendent. This program, dubbed the Mott Intern Program, gained national renown and employers
lined up to hire its graduates
Frank's next idea was to franchise community education through universities across the country.
These community education centers were to develop programs regarding dissemination, implementation,
and training related to community education, and they were to have seed monies for the purpose of
financially motivating school districts, universities and state departments of education to get
involved in community education. There were eight original centers of which Eastern was one. This
number was later increased to sixteen and included institutions such as the University of Oregon,
Arizona State, University of New Mexico, Texas A and M, University of Connecticut, University of
Virginia, Florida Atlantic, and the University of Alabama. This number was then expanded into
cooperative centers with each original center given the responsibility to develop satellite centers.
Eastern's territory for development was southeastern Michigan, northern Ohio, Pennsylvania and
western New York, and the cooperating centers which Eastern developed were Kent State, Syracuse,
Indiana University (Pa.), Shippensburg, and the Departments of Education in New York, Pennsylvania,
One of the driving forces in perpetuating Eastern's role in community education was President
Harold Sponberg. He used his influence to convince the Mott Foundation to take the community
education center at Oakland University and give it to Eastern. He strongly believed in the community
education philosophy and willingly gave his time to community education activities, including giving
speeches at several community education conferences. He used university resources to manage Mott
funds for their internship and other training programs. He also financially supported the National
Community Education Association, especially during the year when the federal tax laws caused the
Mott Foundation to withdraw their financial support. It is true that President Sponberg visualized a
Mott-Manley College of Education building, but he was truly a community educator at heart.
Eastern's role in community education then became legend, including the following
• Literally hundreds of school districts in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada were
impacted by the Eastern center through in-service and training. • Almost every school district in southeastern Michigan received service from Eastern and
most received financial assistance. • Eastern had the most sophisticated graduate training program in the country. In 1975, a
survey by the Mott Foundation discovered that 75% of the Community School Directors in the U.S. had
received their training from Eastern. • Eastern was instrumental in getting a basic community education class as part of the
Michigan Administrator's Certification. • In 1972, Eastern housed the National Community Education Association, and Eastern
became the first institution to take out an institutional membership. • John Porter, the former president of Eastern, has served on the Mott Foundation Board
for the past ten years. • Eastern awarded an honorary doctoral degree to Harding Mott and to Bill White, the
current president of the Mott Foundation. • Eastern has employed more community education trained personnel than any other
institution in the United States. That list includes Jack Minzey, Clyde LeTarte, Bill Kromer, Pete
Clancy, Jim Satterfield, Bill Hetrick, Jackie Tracy, Art McCafferty, George Kliminski, Tom Anderson,
Donna Schmitt, Orv Kabat, and Duane Brown. All individuals in this group have been Mott
Some of the highlights of these Eastern education trained personnel, other than being on
Eastern's staff, are:
• Jack Minzey-Director of the Center for Community Education at Eastern, Board Member,
President, and Treasurer of the National Community Education Association, board member of the
Michigan Community School Association and one of original eight people involved in founding that
organization, member of the Editorial Board of the Community Education Journal, recipient of two
distinguished service awards from each of the national and state community education associations,
author of over 100 published articles on community education, presenter of over 500 keynote speeches
throughout the United States and six foreign countries, contributor to 11 community education books,
and co-author of three community education text books, elected to the National Community Education
Hall of Fame. • Clyde LeTarte-Associate Director for the Community Education Center at Eastern, one of
the founders of the National Community Education Association, executive secretary of the National
Community Education Association, recipient of the distinguished service award from the National
Community Education Association and co-author of the three main texts in community
education. • Donna Schmitt-Associate Director and Director of the Community Education Center at
Eastern, authored numerous community education articles, editor of a book on community education,
president of the Washtenaw County Community Education Association. • Jackie Tracy-Board of Directors of the Michigan Community Education Association, first
woman President of the Michigan Community Education Association, Director of Community Education for
the Chelsea Schools. • Bill Hetrick-Associate Director of the Center for Community Education at Eastern,
distinguished service awards from the Florida and Mississippi community education associations,
distinguished service award from the national association, Director of the Center for Community
Education at the University of West Florida, Director of Community Education at Mississippi Southern
University. • Bill Kromer-President of the Michigan Community Education Association, Director of the
National Center for Community Education, Director of Community Education at the Hazel Park Community
Schools. • Pete Clancy-Assistant Superintendent for Community Education in Flint and then became
General Superintendent, Director of the Community Education Institute at Eastern. • George Kliminski-Center Director for Community Education at Kent State, Director of
Community Education at the University of Wisconsin, acting executive secretary of the National
Community Education Association, recipient of the distinguished service award from the national
organization, elected to the National Community Education Hall of Fame. • Duane Brown-Director of the National Center for Community Education, recipient of the
distinguished service award from the national organization, elected to the National Community
Education Hall of Fame. • Jim Satterfield-developed a community education training program at the University of
Kansas. • Orv Kabat-Director of Community Education for Rudyard, Michigan, President of the
Michigan Community Education Association. • Art McCafferty — Director of Community Education at Grand Rapids,
Michigan • Tom Anderson-developed a community education training program at Ferris State
All of these people have gone on to other successes, which have included deanships, college
vice-presidents, college presidents, college professors, and the Michigan House of
Community education remained relatively strong at Eastern until about 1992. After that date, the
programs and services began to decline. Materials were discarded, the center ceased to operate and
the training program was greatly diluted. It did appear that the community education era at Eastern
was reaching its end.
However, in the spring of 2005, a significant thing happened at Eastern that enhances the
reputation of Eastern Michigan University related to Community Education and portends possibilities
for the future. John Fallon was appointed President of Eastern Michigan University. John is a former
Mott Intern and was actually in that program twice. He was later the community school director at
Galesburg, Illinois and was a Community Education professional at Ball State University, which was
one of the original sixteen community education centers. He was President of the National Community
Education Association in 1979.
His wife, Sidney, was also a Mott Intern on two occasions and actually was in the Eastern
Michigan University cohort group. She holds an Eastern Michigan University Master's Degree in
Community Education. She also served as President of the National Community Education Association in
1980. In addition, she has a wealth of experience in community education. She was Program Associate
for Community Education in the Flint Laboratory which was involved in the training of community
educators. She also held positions as the Director of Training at the Midwest Community Education
Development Center at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, Director of Research and Training at
the Community Education Center at Ball State, and Interim Executive Director of the National
Community Education Association.
It is not likely that there is another institution in the United States that could match the
record of the number of outstanding employees at Eastern Michigan University with a background in
Community Education, and more particularly, have a history of training as Mott Interns.
The tomato plants are all gone, the summer sun has gone into hibernation and the onset of a cold
winter is afoot in Ypsilanti. While this wonderful weather lasted we had visitors from Oregon,
California, Colorado, New Mexico and even Toledo, Ohio! What a fantastic group of visitors we had
this summer and fall! One thing you have to understand is that even though they come from all parts
of these great United States and Canada they have their family roots planted deep in the Ypsilanti
soil. And the most compelling reason for most of our visitors is genealogy and the exploration into
that soil. Somewhere and sometime in their life they came across a reference to this quizzical
little town called Ypsilanti. What a strange name this place was given. This invariably results in a
general search into a place called Ypsilanti City where their family came from. Soon then the
question arises, what did they do there, where did they live, and why were they there to begin with?
Hopefully most found answers they sought, as we saw and spoke with a lot of happy people who came to
find these answers here in the archives. Maybe, you have lived all of your life right here in Ypsi
but just never understood why grandma Minnie and grandpa Benjamin came here to live in 1902. This is
your chance to break in those new shoes of yours and scamper down to the archives and find out.
Wow! We have been inundated by the students of Eastern Michigan University or Michigan State
Normal to some of you older folks. They are budding historians, in most cases, here to learn how to
find tidbits of the history of the area and to practice the methodology of historical writing and
research. I try to be extra nice to these young people as someday they will be writing about all of
us in this time and place. When the students are in the archives, I believe, I learn as much as they
do about our Ypsilanti history and the heritage we share. Welcome to you all!
Along with his graduate students from Eastern, Dr. Ligibel has donated a lot of articles and the
like from about 40 years ago for our files on a variety of subjects. Likewise, Mrs. Smeaton-Burgess
has contributed a book on Dixboro, Michigan and a history notebook about Michigan State Normal
College. We did not have either of these items in the archives until now. Thank You!
Thank you to Carol Mull who contributed a pre-press copy of her forthcoming book about the
Underground Railroad in Washtenaw County. Over the summer Carol has done extensive research here at
the archives and elsewhere in the county. The book is very well documented, researched and many
familiar Ypsilanti names are to be found within its pages. It is available here for research
purposes and for copying and is a great historical read for those interested in this subject. Come
in and take a long look at this book.
Finally, if you have any interesting stories about ghosts, spirits or the paranormal involving
Ypsilanti please send us your information for our new file here at the archives. People are always
interested in these articles and, who knows, maybe the ghost of aunt Bertha may be the talk of Ypsi
While doing research for this article I was impressed and amazed with how much influence certain
individuals can have on a community. Just as amazing is how quickly we can forget about these
individuals and their contributions with the passing of time. William and Lucy Osband were two
people who had a significant impact on the Ypsilanti community during the late 1800's. One written
account, found in the Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives, referred to the Osbands
as”…two citizens who influenced the life of this part of the country for half a
“Her primary motivation came from the conviction that physical exercise was
important to the health and welfare of the students she cared so much about.”
William and Lucy Osband were involved in many community activities. William, in particular, was a
member of several civic organizations and was often elected to leadership positions in those groups.
Lucy was an early member of the Ladies Literary Club and twice served as the organization's
president. However, the primary reason this couple had such an influence on the Ypsilanti community
was the fact that William was the editor and proprietor of The Ypsilantian, the
local paper. Archival resources referred to The Ypsilantian as a paper of
“high literary quality and that the articles reflected a wide range of interests”
(Ypsilanti Archives). Another source indicated that it was “outspoken and fearless.” The Ypsilantian was considered as lively reading, and people of the community regarded
it as their own.
Lucy Osband wrote most of the editorials. She also wrote a column called “Ypsi
Dixits.” Lucy had a keen sense of humor and the “Ypsi Dixits” gave her an
opportunity to express her insight and knowledge on a variety of topics. (Ypsilanti Archives) To
reflect on all of the accomplishments and contributions this couple gave to the City of Ypsilanti
would require more space than could be provided in this article. Since my initial interest in doing
this research was centered on Lucy Osband, this article will focus on her career as a professor at
the Michigan State Normal School and the influence she had in starting the Physical Education
Wilber Bowen, Lloyd Olds, Fanny Cheever Burton, Ruth Boughner, and Augusta Harris are names from
the past that are frequently mentioned when referring to the history of the Physical Education
Department at Eastern Michigan University. All of these persons were important and all deserve
recognition. However, one name that frequently appears in archival records has received virtually no
recognition. This person arrived on the Michigan State Normal College Campus in the 1880's and
promoted “Physical Culture” before anyone else. Without her influence, Wilber Bowen
would very likely have remained in the Normal College Math Department, the Physical Education
facility completed in 1894 would never have been built, and the Physical Culture Department
established in 1894 would never have been realized.
Why haven't the contributions of such an influential and dynamic individual been recognized? Why
has the name of Lucy Aldrich Osband all but remained anonymous whenever the history of Physical
Education at the Michigan State Normal School been discussed? The purpose of this article is to
recognize this “Forgotten Lady” and highlight her role in the establishment of one of
the nation's first Physical Education preparation programs.
Lucy Aldrich was born in a log farmhouse in Arcadia, New York. She came from a strong Quaker and
Puritan family background. Very early in her childhood. Throughout her life she was weak and frail.
Several times during her teaching career, she needed to take long leaves of absence to recover from
the stress related to her teaching responsibilities. Because of ill-health, Lucy was not always able
to attend school. Consequently, her parents, who were both teachers, supervised most of her
education at home. They insisted on good study habits and expected Lucy to recite every lesson
perfectly. Lucy later attributed her conviction for thorough and accurate work to her parents.
Despite poor health and a home education, Lucy Aldrich became an outstanding teacher and scholar.
During her teaching career, she taught courses in calculus, analytical geometry, literature, modern
language, botany, physiology, and “Swedish Drill.” Her college studies and professional
background were primarily in the natural sciences. Botany was her major area of interest. She
eventually became head of the Natural Science Department at Michigan State Normal College. It is
unusual and remarkable that someone with such serious health problems and extensive academic
background would support and promote physical activity.
At the age of sixteen, Lucy Aldrich entered the Newark Union School. She was the only girl in a
class of thirteen. Because Lucy was a girl, there was no guarantee that employment would be
available upon graduation. However, the quality of her academic efforts was recognized and at the
age of nineteen she was able to obtain a teaching position at Phelps High School in New York. Within
a year she was appointed Preceptress of Walworth Academy. Miss Aldrich remained in this position for
two years. Soon the efforts of teaching once again affected her health. She needed a better climate
to ease her lung problems. In a letter to Fredrich B. McKay, a member of the Eastern Michigan
College Faculty, Lucy Osband's daughter indicated that her mother suffered from “incipient
T.B.” at that time in her life. (M. Osband 1944).
Lucy Aldrich became principal of the Sylavan Villa Seminary, a young ladies school in
Standardsville, Virginia. Judging from several historical accounts, it was during this period of her
life that Lucy Aldrich was introduced to outdoor activities and the benefits of physical exercise.
One account indicated that”…Here she learned the lessons taught by the foothills of the
Blue Ridge, and often joined parties of excursionists to the natural places of the state. Altogether
it was an out-of-door life for the mind as well as the body.” (Aurora, 1894, p26).
After two years in Virginia, Lucy Aldrich returned to New York and entered Genesee College in
Lima, New York. Genesee was only the second college in the country which did not discriminate
against women in its admission requirements. Lucy did so well in her studies that she earned the
distinction of being class valedictorian. In the same graduating class was William M. Osband whom
Lucy married two months after graduation.
The Move to Michigan
After graduation and their marriage, William and Lucy Osband taught at the Gouverneuer Wesleyan
Seminary in New York. In 1864 and 1865, they both accepted positions at Albert University in
Belleville, Ontario, Canada. They arrived in Michigan when William became the principal of
Northville Union School. After three years, they purchased a home in Ypsilanti. The birth of their
only child, Marna and homemaking duties kept Lucy temporarily out of the classroom. However, when
William accepted a position at Oliver College, Lucy was coerced into teaching Greek. Within one
year, Albion College offered both William and Lucy department head positions. He took over the
Natural Science Department and she became head of the Modern Language Department. Lucy also served
as the university Preceptress. After six years at Albion, William and Lucy returned to their home in
Women's Physiology Class in the Old Main Building — 1880s.
Lucy Osband's interest in the natural sciences increased when she taught in Virginia. Her travels
in the south and east familiarized her with the plants from those regions. Marine Life also
fascinated her. With these interests and background, she became an instructor in the Natural Science
Department at Michigan State Normal College in 1883. When a chairmanship in that department was
established in 1884, she was hired to fill it. The accomplishments of Lucy Osband in the Natural
Sciences are too numerous to describe in this article. Attention will focus instead on an area for
which she also accomplished a great deal and received very little recognition — Physical
Lucy's Interest in Physical Culture
Immediately upon arriving at the Normal School, Lucy Osband started teaching classes in
“Swedish Work.” These classes were taught in addition to her responsibilities in the
Natural Science Department. She received no extra pay for teaching “Swedish Work,” only
the satisfaction of knowing that exercise was contributing to the health and welfare of the
students. Lucy would take her physiology classes into the University Chapel, stand students in the
aisles, and lead them in “Swedish Routine Movements” with dumbbells and Indian Clubs.
(M. Osband 1944). Eventually she was give a basement room in the Old Main building, where her
program included military marching, wands, pulley weights, and “Swedish Apparatus.” The
former campus gymnasium had burned down in 1873 so there wasn't an appropriate place to hold
Physical Culture classes. Lucy Osband would eventually change that.
The two photographs shown were probably taken from the new Physiology and Hygiene Course
developed by Lucy Osband in 1886–1887. The new course included “practical work” in
the application of the physiological laws of gymnastics. These sessions were held on a weekly basis
in the basement of the Old Main Building.
1894 — Gymnasium.
Lucy Osband persuaded many others to join her physical culture classes. Normal School instructors
from other disciplines were “fair game.” Two of her recruits, Wilber Bowen and Carolyn
Crawford, made significant contributions to the field of Physical Education. Wilber Bowen was an
instructor in the Normal College Math Department. Lucy convinced him that physical education was a
growing discipline and that he should consider pursuing a career in that area. He agreed! While
teaching math, he studied physiology at the University of Michigan. He also began teaching physical
culture classes at the Normal School in 1888. Bowen eventually became the first Physical Culture
Department Chairman. Bowen wrote eleven books and published many research articles. He was
recognized as a leader in the field for over forty years and is referred to as the “Father of
Physical Education in the State of Michigan.”
Lucy Osband's daughter Marna, recalls”…at the Normal School, besides building up the
Natural Science Department, her mother established out of her physiology classes, the Department of
Physical Education.” (M. Osband 1944). Lloyd Olds, in an article titled “A Brief History
of the Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletic Department” noted that Lucy Osband
“arranged for additional classes on the theory and practice of Physical Culture.” (Olds
N-D). This course was first offered at the Normal School in 1888 and was one of the first teacher
training courses in Physical Culture at any college or university in the country.
The New Gymnasium
One achievement for which Lucy Osband received some recognition was the construction of a new
physical education facility which was completed in 1894. “How a Wily Woman Got a Gym for
E.M.U.” is how Ralph Chapman described Lucy Osband's approach for obtaining funds to build a
new physical education facility. (Chapman 1977). Lucy's approach provides an interesting and
The Normal College had been without a “Physical Culture” facility since the first
gymnasium was destroyed by fire in 1873. Due to the lack of a Physical Education facility, Wilber
Bowen left the Normal College in 1891 to teach at the University of Nebraska. Lucy Osband convinced
Professor Sill, Normal School Principal, that a new gymnasium was necessary. However, convincing the
State Board of Education was another matter. The State Board, in the early 1890's, did not think
favorably about “Physical Culture.” The timing and approach for requesting funds had to
be just right!
The opportunity for a formal appeal presented itself during a visit to the Normal College by the
State Board of Education. Professor Sill appointed two professors to speak on behalf of the
building. “Mrs. Osband knew enough about legislators to know that speeches would have no
effect. So she prepared a dozen exceptionally skilled girls to put on a sample of what the actual
class work was.” (M. Osband 1994). However, Professor Sill refused to allow the girls to
perform. He did not like anything unusual and felt too much confusion would result in clearing the
stage. Another Normal School professor trained some boys to clear the stage in just two minutes.
Principal Sill still refused. “Then for one of the few times in her life, Mrs. Osband resorted
to a ‘woman's weapon,’ she cried. Sill relented.” (M. Osband 1944).
As was expected, the speeches proved to be ineffective. Members of the state legislature told how
they got exercise by cutting wood. “The affair fell flat until a dozen pretty girls, graded as
to height, came on stage. At their superb military marching, the legislators pricked up their ears
and showed interest. The Indian club drill had them stirred and the dumbbell drill made them
enthusiastic. “Later Principal Sill and the State Board president came to Mrs. Osband and
“told her that her girls had almost surely won the building.” (M. Osband 1944). They
were right-$20,000 was appropriated by the state legislature, and the citizens of Ypsilanti
donated a building site on West Cross Street. The new gymnasium was dedicated on May 18, 1894. It
served the university for 71 years until the Joseph E. Warner Gymnasium was completed in 1965.
Once funds for the building had been obtained, plans for the building needed to be developed.
Lucy Osband contacted Dr. Dudley Sargent at Harvard University and Dr. Luther Gulick at Springfield
College. They provided many ideas for the building. Gulick even sent detailed plans of the building
he designed for Springfield College. Lucy Osband indicated that many of Gulick's
suggestions”…were used in the planning of our building.” (M. Osband 1944).
It was still to be decided who would head the new Department of Physical Culture. Lucy Osband
recommended to Professor Sill that Wilber Bowen be appointed to lead the new department. She also
recommended that Carolyn Crawford, who studied under Luther Gulick, be his assistant and direct the
Women's Program. Bowen was recruited back from Nebraska. However, Fanny Cheever Burton was hired to
head the Women's Program.
From every account and description Lucy Osband was an outstanding teacher. Consequently, it would
be appropriate in closing to share with you a portion of Lucy Osband's philosophy on preparing
teachers. This passage is taken from a presentation she made at a Michigan State Teachers Conference
on December 27, 1877. The title of her address was “The Relation of our Teachers to the Moral
and Religious Culture of the Future.” The essence of this message is just as appropriate today
as it was over 100 years ago.
1894 — Inside Gymnasium.
“History is a record of struggle, but the moral sense of mankind discriminates between
those who strive for their own salvation and those who labor for the welfare of others. From the
outset then, we shall consider the teachers words not so much with reference to the present as to
the future; not as an end, but as a means to the end. The need of the times is not for qualified
instructors only; we want men and women of honest purpose, of strong moral fiber, and unyielding
principles, of cultured brain and ardent soul.”
Lucy Osband was Chairman of the Physical Science Department from 1884 until her retirement in
1895. This was her primary responsibility and she made many significant contributions to that
department and the field of botany. However, she also taught classes in “Swedish Work,”
trained and recruited teachers in “Physical Culture,” developed professional courses,
obtained funds for a new gymnasium, and helped recruit faculty to head a new department. She did it
all without extra pay, released time or recognition. Her primary motivation came from the conviction
that physical exercise was important to the health and welfare of the students she cared so much
about. She was truly an amazing woman!
Despite having physical problems most of her life, Lucy Osband lived to be 76 years old. She was
a strong advocate of physical exercise and the benefits she obtained from being physically active
probably added years and quality to her life. Selected passages from her memorial reflect her
struggles with poor health and the impressions she made in spite of those problems:
• “Hampered by frail health, she was a wonderful example of the triumph of intellect
and spirit over physical conditions.”
• “The range of her knowledge was marvelous, and her memory was equally so. She never
seemed to anyone to be old, she was so alive to all progress in every line of endeavor and her
spirit was so young.”
One of the purest, loveliest of souls refined by years of worry and pain and in life a
source of inspiration and helpful living to thousands of men and women in all parts of the
world.” (The Ypsilantian, p.9)
The Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance at Eastern Michigan University
celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 1994. Much of what was celebrated would never have been
realized without the efforts of a “Forgotten Lady,”-a lady whose efforts no longer
Chapman, R., How A Willy Women Got A Gym for EMU, Ypsilanti, Michigan, Information Services,
IsBell, E.R., A History of Eastern Michigan University 1849–1965. Ypsilanti, Eastern
Michigan University Press, 1971.
Johnson, J., A History of the Professional Training Curriculum in Physical Education for Men at
Michigan State Normal College, Ypsilanti, Michigan, Masters Thesis, Eastern Michigan University
(University Archives) 1952.
Kent, C., Wilber Who? MAHPERD Journal, Fall 1982.
Michigan State Normal College Yearbook (1895–96), Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Courier Printing
Olds, L., A Brief History of the Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics Department,
Unpublished paper, m.d. Ypsilanti, Eastern Michigan University (University Archives)
Osband, M., The Beginning of Physical Training in the Michigan State Normal College, Letter to
Fredrich McKay, September 14, 1944. Ypsilanti, Eastern Michigan University (University Archives)
Norton, A., Luch A. Osband, M.A., Ypsilanti, Michigan, AURORA 1894, pp. 25–29.
Putnam, D., History of the Normal College 1849–1890, Ypsilanti, Michigan, The Scharf Tag,
and Box Co., 1899.
The Normal News, Mrs. Lucy A. Osband, Biographical Dates, (V.12: No. 17, May 12, 1893, Ypsilanti,
Michigan, pp. 266–267) Eastern Michigan University (University Archives)
Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives, Marna Osband File, Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Just when you thought that it was “safe” to walk around Ypsilanti and avoid those
areas that were once graveyards and old burying grounds, be advised that there are still a few more
eerie tales I have yet to spin about our unseen cemeteries. If you suffer from the
“willies”” or are faint of heart— read no further! But if you like a good story, let us continue to talk about the places that are hidden from us
by the curtain of time. Or is it really that we do not wish to think about such
eventualities that makes them vanish from our limited view?
I have a question for your. What part of Ypsilanti would you least expect to find the final
resting place of Ypsilanti's dearly departed. Certainly not where there is youthful vitality, high
spirits, and an almost universal belief in one's own invincibility! No. No one would ever expect
such a thought among the young in attendance at school. But at one time, there was actually a
cemetery right on the campus of Michigan State Normal College. You know that school, filled now with
more than 22,000 fun loving and vital souls of its students. Oh yes, the lower campus of our own
Eastern Michigan University (MSNC) had a cemetery. About 120 years ago right where Phelps-Sellers,
Walton-Putnam Residence Halls and the Wise-Buell Dining Commons are now located.
As a student you may have even lived on campus there or taken your meals right over this deserted
cemetery. Maybe you had odd or unexplainable experiences living and studying there on campus. Now
you known why! Pretty spooky, huh! It would seem that sometime during the years of 1888 and 1889 the
cemetery of St. John's Catholic Church was moved from there to its present location on North River
Street near Highland Cemetery. The exact reason for the cemetery move was due to poor drainage of
the soil. Water logged cemeteries have the nasty tendency to allow wooden coffins to sometimes
“float” to the surface during the spring rainy season. This is something that the living
find quite disagreeable, and is definitely not allowed by the Catholic Church until Resurrection
Day! But it must have happened enough that it was decided to relocate the entire cemetery-a rather
difficult and disagreeable venture for “everybody”” concerned.
I am sure that The Ypsilanti Commercial made the boastful claim at the time,
that all the residents had been escorted to their new “final” resting place! They were
certain to make the same claim later when the city fathers moved Prospect Cemetery. But maybe, just
maybe, not everyone really made the change to their new home like so many other past delinquents in
Ypsilanti. So the next time you drive or leisurely walk past the campus down near Ann and St. Johns
Streets-look around. Do you see those light-colored yellow and red brick dormitories? Yes, it was
many years ago that this was once St. John's own water-logged church cemetery. Reeeaaaaally!
One of the truly wonderful features of Ypsilanti is a walk through some of our inviting parks
down by the Huron River, which flows through the heart of our fair city. We just love this area for
its restive atmosphere. It is almost an inducement to deep contemplation about the here and now and
what may lie ahead in our uncertain lives. But over two hundred years ago Riverside and Waters Edge
Parks were a very inviting place to another peoples too, the Huron Indians. But Ypsilanti's first
citizens had other uses for this beautiful shoreline. In such a restful and peaceful place they left
their deceased relatives to the care of the Great Spirit sometimes referred to as the Great Manitou.
But unlike their Ypsilanti's more mobile cemetery populations of later centuries, they left their
relatives for all eternity. So next time you stroll the peaceful shores along the Huron River
between what is now Pearl and Catherine Streets, think about those who came and stayed right where
they intended to be all along. For them, moving to another place was something they would just never
When graduates from Eastern Michigan University gather and reminisce about teachers and coaches
who influenced their lives, one of the first names to be mentioned is that of Lloyd Olds. Olds
taught at Eastern Michigan University from 1921 to 1963. Recollections and stories of Olds usually
revolve around his career as a track coach and director of the intramural program.
Born in Ypsilanti in 1892, Dr. Olds received his bachelor's degree from Eastern when it was known
as the Michigan State Normal College. He later earned a Master of Science degree in 1928 and a
Doctor of Public Health in 1939 from the University of Michigan. Before returning to the Normal
School at Ypsilanti, Olds served as Supervisor of the Grand Rapids physical education program and
assumed the same responsibilities in the Ann Arbor Public School System from 1920–1921 (The
Alumnus, p. 4).
The Track Coach: With the success Lloyd Olds enjoyed as a track coach, it is only
reasonable to expect that track and field is where his legacy began. Olds worked with the Michigan
State Normal College track and cross country teams for 25 years. His reputation as an outstanding
coach was known throughout the country. Olds developed the Normal School track and field program
into a national power. His track teams won over 85 percent of their duel meets, while his cross
country squads attained a 926 winning percentage (Dedication, p.5). Olds Track squads experienced
this level of success in spite of having to work out during the winter months in Briggs Hall where
26 laps would equal a mile. By the late 1930's, the Michigan State Normal College was known as a
Olds success with the Normal College Track program led to many honors. In 1932 and 1936 he was
named as assistant track coach to the U. S. Olympic Track and Field Squads. Olds served as chairman
of the A.A. U. Track and Field Sections from 1940 to 1943. He was also chairman of the National
Track and Field Association from 1946 to 1950. In 1937 he was appointed chairman of the Pan American
Athletic Association and later served as manager of the U. S. Pan American Track Squad that competed
in Mexico City in 1957 (Dedication, p.5).
Intramurals: Olds influence extended far beyond the track and field arena. Just
as impressive as his accomplishments in track were the unique and innovative ideas he developed for
intramural sports. Olds was a disciple of Wilber Bowen. Both shared the philosophy of
“Athletics for Everyone” (Pedersen, p.33). Olds believed that intramurals provided the
opportunity for everyone to enjoy the benefits of sport. In a 1971 interview, Olds pointed out that
“all kinds of learning are facilitated by maintaining a healthy body. And, for that reason
physical education and intramural programs are an important part of any school
curriculum”” (The Alumnus, p.4). The intramural program at the Michigan State Normal
College was under the direction of Lloyd Olds for 39 years. When he arrived at the Normal School in
1921 he immediately established campus wide competitions between dormitories, fraternities and
school organizations. His rules and guidelines for competition, eligibility, awards, officiating and
record keeping evolved into one of the countries first intramural handbooks. When arriving on campus
in the fall, every student involved with intramural competition would receive their own handbook.
The handbook served not only as a source of information, but provided a place for students to record
the details of their intramural involvement.
Jack Lowe, a student who worked in the Normal School intramural office in the 1950's, recalled
that Olds was extremely well organized (Lowe). Every detail was accounted for and nothing escaped
his notice. In addition to the development of an intramural handbook, Olds originated the idea of a
striped shirt for intramural officials. He felt there needed to be a clearer distinction between
officials and players. The black and white zebra striped shirt eventually became the standard
uniform worn by officials in several sports.
The intramural program established by Olds at the Michigan State Normal College was used as a
model by many colleges, universities and school systems throughout the county. People would
frequently come to Ypsilanti to observe first hand the daily operation of the schools intramural
program. In 1982, the new student intramural building on the Eastern Michigan University campus was
named the Lloyd Olds Student Recreation Center in his honor.
The Navy and Fitness Testing: Lloyd Olds had the distinction of serving the
country in both W.W.I and W.W.II. He left the Normal School campus during the spring of 1943 for San
Diego, California where he was stationed for three years. Olds worked with Gene Tunney, a former
World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, establishing the physical fitness program for which all Navy
recruits were required to complete before being commissioned (Rynearson). Olds also developed the
vigorous training program for underwater demolition frogmen and the Navy Beachmaster Specialists. He
eventually attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander and received the Navy Citation of Meritorious
His work with the Navy provided the basis from which his publication, The National
A.A.U. Physical Fitness Handbook evolved. This handbook was used for testing the fitness levels
of millions of children in high schools and colleges throughout the country (The Alumnus, p.4). When
appointed chairman of the Physical Education Department in 1956, Olds immediately required all male
physical education majors to pass his fitness test. The 1957–58 college catalogue also stated
that the same test was to be required in all gymnasium classes (1957–58 college catalogue, p.
160). However, according to faculty from that time period, this requirement was not enforced.
Department Chairman: Lloyd Olds became Chairman of the Eastern Michigan College
Physical Education Department in 1956. He took over a program which received very little support
from the school administration. Facilities were very poor and the gymnasium had been condemned
several times during the 1950's. For safety reasons, varsity basketball games had to be played at
the local high school. For several years much concern was expressed by faculty over the
deteriorating status of the men's general activity program. Policy changes enabled a large
percentage of men attending the college to avoid the general activity requirement. Credit for
varsity sports, marching band, military science and cheerleading resulted in large numbers of men
not taking physical education.
“Lloyd Olds was one of the
most interesting, accomplished,
and diverse persons
ever to serve Eastern Michigan
University…He taught over
thirty different courses in the
professional preparation program
during his thirty nine
years at Eastern.”
At the same time the health status of young men in the United States was not good. Thirty-five
percent of the men eligible for service were rejected because of poor health. At Eastern, 25 percent
of the male freshman class was rejected by the R. O. T. C. because of poor fitness levels (Olds,
p.3). Olds presented to the faculty council six recommendations for reinstating required physical
education for all male students. Within two years, most of his recommendations were implemented.
During his tenure as Department Chairman, Olds also helped plan and supervise the development of
a new field house, gymnasium and athletic fields. In 1958 Bowen Fieldhouse was completed. After many
years varsity basketball games were once again played on the university campus. Indoor track could
now compete on an eighth of a mile track instead of running in Briggs Hall which required 26 laps to
run a mile. Warner gymnasium was finished in 1964, two years after Olds retired. However, Olds
received much satisfaction in knowing he played a big part in realizing its completion.
Although he served as department chairman for only six years, Olds reorganized the department
administrative structure, reinstated the men's general physical education requirement and supervised
the development of new athletic and physical education facilities.
A More Personal Perspective: Those who knew Lloyd Olds said he abounded in energy.
Eugene Beatty, a member of Olds' track team from 1931–1933, described him as the
“personification of dynamic energy” (A.A. News, p. 1). He was also described as
aggressive, full of drive, and “bombastic-in a positive way””. He was always
totally involved in whatever he was working on whether it was coaching, teaching, administration, or
professional involvement (Rynearson).
Olds also knew how to avoid conflict when necessary. Jack Lowe recalled several humorous
incidents while he was working in Olds' office. Gussie Harris, head of the women's major program,
would frequently visit Olds' office. He could tell by the slow or quick clicking of her heels on the
stairs whether she was in a good mood or bad mood. Whenever he noted a quick rhythmical sound coming
up the stairs, Olds would quietly sneak out the back door of his office to avoid Gussie's wrath.
Lowe noted that Olds was amazingly accurate in being able to predict Gussie's mood (Lowe).
Lloyd Olds was one of the most interesting, accomplished, and diverse persons ever to serve
Eastern Michigan University. Lloyd Olds was a professional leader, director of intramurals,
department head, and a track and cross country coach. He taught over thirty different courses in the
professional preparation program during his thirty nine years at Eastern. When he retired in 1963 he
was still an active member of nineteen professional committees. In addition to the honors already
mentioned, Olds received the Eastern Michigan University Distinguished Alumni Award, and was elected
to both the N.C.A.A. Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Eastern Michigan University Sports Hall of
Fame. In 2004, he was admitted into the Eastern Michigan University College of Education Hall of
Lloyd Olds passed away on December 2, 1982 at the age of 90. Many mourned his passing. Two of his
former students reflected the feelings of many with the following tributes. After learning of Olds'
death Eugene Beatty said, “When you live to be 90 years old and do as many things as Lloyd
Olds did, well, you just thank God for L.W.” (A.A. News, p. 1). Dean Rockwell, a former
Michigan Normal College athlete and 1964 U. S. Olympic wrestling coach called Olds a big man.
“I mourn his loss,” Rockwell said, “but the world is a lot better place that
someone like him went through it. He was a big man” (A.A. News, p. 1).
The Alumnus (1971). Men and Women of Eastern-Dr. and Mrs. Lloyd Olds,
Ypsilanti, Michigan, Winter, 1971, p.4.
Ann Arbor News (1982). EMU Sports Legend Lloyd Olds, Ann Arbor, Michigan,
December 3, 1982, p. 1.
Eastern Michigan University (1982). Dedication of the Lloyd W. Olds Student
Recreation Center, Ypsilanti, Michigan, October 16, 1982.
Focus EMU (1982). Lloyd Olds Dies in California, Ypsilanti, Michigan, December
7, 1982, p. 1.
Lowe, Jack (1994). History of Physical Education at Eastern Michigan
University, interview held in the Physical Education Department Conference Room, Warner
gymnasium, Eastern Michigan University, April 17.
Pedersen, E. J. (1996). A History of Physical Education at Eastern Michigan
University, Eastern Michigan University Printing, Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Rynearson, J. (1998). Lloyd Olds at Eastern Michigan University, telephone
interview, Dexter, Michigan, October 7, 1998.
It is always good to hear from Historical Society Members, especially those from out of town. We
recently heard from Mrs. Helen Kirk Wright, who had noted her father's name (J.P. Kirk) in the
article about “The Hiker” monument in the last issue of the “Gleanings”. Mr. Kirk was a
prominent lawyer and a member of the 31st Regiment that is commemorated on the statue.
Genealogy queries have recently been received from several States: Minnesota, Idaho, New Jersey
and Washington asking for material on ancestors who once lived in the area. Due to the resources
here, we are able to furnish information.
Two graduate classes from Eastern Michigan University Department of Preservation and History have
been utilizing our material the past few weeks. The local history topics that have been chosen by
some of the students include Hotels and Taverns; The Opera House, Depot Town, Early Mayors and the
Does anyone have a picture of the Horse drawn car that once took passengers from N. Washington
Street at Cross Street to the Michigan Central Railroad Depot? We would like to have one.
A book entitled Buildings of Ypsilanti written by and given by Denis Schmiedeke, a local
Architect, is an account of the many types of Architecture in the City including homes, churches and
business places. The book will become a part of a 70 volume series entitled Buildings of The United
This enormous undertaking is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, The
Society of Architectural Historians and The Oxford Press.
Copied from Michigan Pioneers
1937 published by J.L. Hudson. Co.
Hero of the Greek War of Independence whose valor and whose ideals of freedom provided
inspiration and a name for a pioneer Michigan settlement.
Ypsilanti - Peace and Plenty
Ypsilanti had its beginning as a trading post where Gabriel Godfrom, an astute Frenchman and two
comrades met Indians of the Huron, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Chippewa tribes to exchange wares of
civilization for fruits of the hunt. From 1809 to 1820 Godfroy's Trading Post flourished and trails
beaten by the aborigines were the welcome beginnings of roads whcih facilitated pioneer travel.
In 1823 Benjamin Woodruff with a hardy group from Ohio, camped on this sightly spot and they were
so deeply impressed by its beauty and advantages that they returned for their families and goods. As
Woodruff's Grove and later Waterville, the community grew and prospered with Major Woodruff the able
counselor and guide. Later came neighbors and relatives from the home country who notably brought
with their stores of provisions, roses, lilacs and other shrubs to embellish the site.
Soon along the navigable river, grist mills and sawmills appeared, then barrel and wagon
industries. Later paper mills flourished and a great knitting plant was established, which through a
huge advertising program, considerably in advance of the times, became nationally known.
The naming of the city strikes an interesting keynote. Early inhabitants, deeply impressed by the
bravery of the Greek General, Demetrius Ypsilanti, 1793–1832, agreed that this would be a suitable
name for the settlement which they sponsored and thus “Waterville” gave way to
The first Independence Day Celebration as in 1824. Elaborate preparations were made for the
occasion, all delicacies being brought from Detroit. It is reported too that Clark Sills walked to
Detroit and carried two gallons of liquor back on his shoulders. There was a full attendance of
white residents of the county, 31 in all. Judge Robert Fleming presided at the table and opposite
him sat the Indian Chief, Blue Jacket. The table was loaded with fish and venison.
Hardship was visited upon he Ypsilanti Pioneers in the winter of 1824 following a poor growing
season. Chills and fever forced many to their beds… Mrs. Woodruff acted as community nurse
preparing a huge kettle of porridge each day from which potions were distributed to the sick.
Principal food during that winter was turnips. Rations were drawn from time to time from a limited
supply of beans, potatoes and corn.
The most stirring reminiscences of the city's history have to do with the sympathy of the
populace for negro slaves fleeing to the Canadian border. Here harried fugitives found refuge and
were aided in their flight as they had been in other stations in the famous Michigan “Underground
Michigan State Normal College, established in 1852, was the first institution of its kind to be
found west of the Alleghenies. Many pioneers in Michigan education received their training in
Ypsilanti. Today the Normal College with Cleary Business College draws students from many cities of
Michigan and neighboring states.
Ypsilanti is a well located, typical American small city. Her industries are diversified and
reach out to all parts of the county. She treasures her aloofness from the noises of the metropolis
while she values the nearness of its advantages. Among her choicest assets are her educational
institutions, splendid churches, public library, literary and garden clubs and musical groups,
contributing their spiritual and cultural influence.