Phyllis Dodd, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Phyllis Dodd


Perhaps one of the most interesting houses on Institute Street in Valparaiso is the 134-year old house of Mrs. Phyllis Dodd. It was built in 1841 in what was then, the outskirts of town. It stood in a corn field, at the corner of Maple and First Streets, which was one of the first additions to the town of Valparaiso. Today, the street names have been changed to College and Institute. During the era of the Civil War, the house was bought by the John W. Hayden family, who had moved from Malden in Morgan Township. According to stories that have been passed along, John Hayden moved to this location so that he and his family would be able to hear the news of the Civil War.

The house has many characteristics that make it unique. Many years ago, it had a soft water cistern that caught rain water for drinking. The nails used in the house are iron. All are handmade, possessing a unique square shape. No two in the entire house are alike. Many of the original windows still exist. Mrs. Dodd, the present resident, has many samplers located around the house, some from the last century. Mr. William Dodd, who purchased the house in 1941, has refinished all the family antique furniture, which consists of such items as a cherrywood dresser, kerosene lamps, a player piano, and a wooden table brought from England in the 1800's.

Mrs. Dodd's late husband, William E. Dodd, was born across the street from this house that he was to later own. Born in 1912, he was a painter, decorator and contractor for most of his life. He recently died in 1974. Still living are a brother John who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, his wife, Phyllis, and twin daughters; Judith Lynn (Mrs. Jeffrey Sievers of Tennessee) and Joyce Dale (Mrs. John Harcharik of Florida.)

Mr. William E. Dodd came from a family who has resided in Valparaiso for 95 years. His parents were Susan Kleist Dodd and William R. Dodd (who moved to Valparaiso at the age of 9 months from Adrian, Michigan.) Formerly, William R. Dodd's family had come to New York from England in order to settle in a land where they would have more freedom of speech, religion and education. Open land and land grants were especially prevalent in this area. When the father of William R. Dodd, moved to Valparaiso, he operated the Valparaiso City Garden, which was located behind the old Mica Factory on Factory Street. William R. Dodd started primary school at the old Central High school. Later he dropped out of the second or third year of high school to go to work. After earning a little money, he entered the Brown-Kinsey University where he took a commercial course. At that time, it was not necessary to have a high school diploma in order to go to college.

Mrs. Phyllis Dodd, still resides at the 507 Institute home. She was born in 1915 to Amanda Lemster Lietz and Adolph Lietz in Chicago. Her mother's parents, the Henry Lemster's, originally came from Germany where they built a home at Locust and Indiana Avenues. Mrs. Phyllis Dodd's grandfather was a brick mason and contractor who had moved to Valparaiso with a group of Germans from the same section of Germany. Many can still see some of his work: Immanuel Lutheran Church, the Old Christian Hospital, the first paving of route 49. Mrs. Dodd's mother married and moved from Valparaiso where she married Adolph Lietz, an electrician.

Mrs. Dodd returned to Valparaiso during the depression because her father had died and she needed to work. She became a clerk at Lowenstine's gift department for $7 a week. In 1939, she married William E. Dodd. They moved to their permanent home at 507 Institute in 1941.

Mrs. Dodd, an invalid for 14 years from Multiple Sclerosis, is a very avid collector of works, memoirs and postcards of Abraham Lincoln. Into her life, she has incorporated Lincoln's famous words: "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 100

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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