Delta Zeta and Alpha Epsilon Phi Founded on October 24, Seven Years Apart, With a Broadway Twist

Delta Zeta and Alpha Epsilon Phi, both members of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), were founded on October 24. In 1902, Delta Zeta made its debut at Miami University in Ohio; Alpha Epsilon Phi was founded in 1909 at Barnard College in New York City.

Delta Zeta’s founders are Alfa Lloyd, Mary Collins, Anna Keen, Julia Bishop,* Mabelle Minton, and Ann Simmons. Delta Zeta’s history includes the heritage of several other NPC organizations. Between 1941 and 1962, the members of four other NPC groups became members of Delta Zeta. Delta Zeta absorbed or merged with Beta Phi Alpha, Theta Upsilon, Phi Omega Pi, and Delta Sigma Epsilon. Prior to these groups becoming a part of Delta Zeta, some had themselves merged with other groups.

Alpha Epsilon Phi was founded in Helen Phillips’ room. She had the inspiration for the group as a way to stay in closer contact with her friends. The other founders are Ida Beck, Rose Gerstein, Augustina “Tina” Hess, Lee Reiss, Stella Strauss and Rose Salmowitz.

The seven shared their Jewish heritage. A second chapter was quickly founded two months later at nearby Hunter College. The founding chapter at Barnard was closed when the college banned Greek-letter organizations in 1913.

Actress Barbara Barrie is a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi. She was initiated into the University of Texas chapter as Barbara Ann Berman. While at UT she was awarded the Kappa Kappa Gamma Donna Dellinger annual scholarship. (It was established in 1952 in memory of Donna Dellinger, a Kappa Kappa Gamma member, who was killed in an automobile accident. Those eligible for the award were seniors or graduate students who showed “definite drama interest and ability.”)

Barrie has performed on Broadway, in movies and on television. She spent nearly two years in Company, one of my favorite Stephen Sondheim shows. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance. Barrie also played the mother in Breaking Away, the 1979 film about Indiana University’s Little 500 race. She was nominated for an Academy Award for that performance. She has appeared in many television shows, including a 1975-78 stint as Elizabeth Miller, fictional detective Barney Miller’s wife. Most recently, she played Brooke Shield’s grandmother in Suddently Susan.

Barbara Barrie, Alpha Epsilon Phi

Barbara Barrie,           Alpha Epsilon Phi

Florence Henderson, who began her career on Broadway, has a place in 1970s sitcom history for her role as Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch. She is an alumna initiate of Delta Zeta. On the FAQ (frequently asked questions) part of her website, she includes this question and answer:

Are you really a member of the Delta Zeta Sorority?
I am an honorary member of Delta Zeta. They do a lot of work for the House Ear institute and the hearing impaired and so do I, so it was a good match. I was never an officer or an active member of the sorority.

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To read more about Princess Martha of Norway, a Delta Zeta, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-qA

* For a post about Julia Bishop Coleman, Delta Zeta Founder and P.E.O. State President see  http://wp.me/p20I1i-18s

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Right Reserved.

Posted in Alpha Epsilon Phi, Barnard College, Delta Zeta, Founders' Day, Fran Favorite, Miami University, Notable Fraternity Women | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

About Jenn Coltrane on Kappa Delta’s Founders’ Day

Kappa Delta was founded on October 23, 1897 at the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia. Its founders are Lenora Ashmore Blackiston, Julia Gardiner Tyler Wilson, Sara Turner White and Mary Sommerville Sparks Hendrick.

Kappa Delta is likely the only National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organization which can claim a U.S. President’s granddaughter as a founder. Julia Gardiner Tyler Wilson’s grandfather was John Tyler. Her father was the President of the College of William and Mary. She designed Kappa Delta’s badge. Wilson spent an additional year in Farmville and then transferred to Dana Hall in Massachusetts. There she prepared to enter Wellesley College. She graduated from Wellesley in 1904.

Jenn Winslow Coltrane was initiated into the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College chapter of Kappa Delta on October 27, 1903, The chapter was founded earlier that year on January 28. Although she was born in Marshall, Missouri and she died in Bellevue Hospital in New York City, she spent most of her life in Concord, North Carolina.

Jenn Winslow Coltrane

Jenn Winslow Coltrane

She served as her chapter’s president. After graduation in 1906, Coltrane served as Kappa Delta first Inspector. She spent five years as National Treasurer before becoming National President in 1912. She served until 1915 and was present at the meeting when Kappa Delta joined NPC in 1912. She also served as Business Manager of and a contributor to The Angelos.

Coltrane served on the state board of the Federated Women’s Club. From 1920-23, she was Historian General of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She qualified for membership by descent from her great-great-grandfather, Colonel Beverly Winslow of Virginia.

During World War I she worked in the War Risk Insurance Bureau and helped organize a Red Cross chapter in her county. In 1930, she founded the Junior Charity League in Concord. Its original focus was to provide soup, crackers, and milk to hungry schoolchildren. The Junior Charity League continues to this day.

The December 4, 1932 edition of The Tuscaloosa News reported, “Miss Jenn Coltrane, former national president of Kappa Delta Sorority, has returned to her home in Concord, North Carolina, after a short visit at the Kappa Delta House in Colonial Place.” She died on September 4 1934. In 1997, she was inducted posthumously into the Kappa Delta Hall of Fame.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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The Search for a Grand President

Yesterday, I traveled from southern Illinois to western Illinois for the Holt House Committee meeting in Monmouth. I was a woman on a mission. That mission meant I had to leave home at about 6 a.m. I made my way to Illinois College in Jacksonville where I was the first public researcher to use the new Illinois College Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives. Jacksonville Female Academy was home to a short-lived Pi Beta Phi chapter back in the 1880s and I was searching for information about it. 

After I was done, I met up with a Pi Phi I had never met in person. We “met” two weeks ago in the comment section of a Pi Beta Phi Facebook post. She and I had one Facebook friend in common, and on the power of that friend, I contacted her and she responded. Turns out she moved to Jacksonville about 11 years ago and discovered that Amy Burnham Onken, Pi Phi’s Grand President for 31 years, had lived in nearby Chapin and was buried in the family plot in Jacksonville. We greeted each other like long lost friends and then visited the cemetery.

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The Onken family plot

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She gave me instructions on finding the home in which Miss Onken, as she was called, lived. “How will I know which home it is?” I asked. She said it was the biggest home in town and I couldn’t miss it, but she also gave me a page of pictures.

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The home from the front.

She was right. It was very easy to find. The side view below is what you first see on the way into Chapin.

The side view of the old Onken home. The second floor turret room was where Miss Onken had her Pi Phi office.

The side view of the old Onken home. The second floor turret room was where Miss Onken had her Pi Phi office.

Then I followed the road around to the “Business District.” The John Onken and Brother General Store was right there. It had operated as an old-time general store well into the 1970s and was written up in several newspapers and magazines.

The General Store as it looked four years ago.

The General Store as it looked four years ago. At that time, the sign was still up.

The old Onken General Store. Currently, an antique store is open on weekends, with an everything must go sale.

The old Onken General Store in 2014. Currently, an antique store is using the space. It is open on weekends, with “an everything must go sale” taking place.

The back part of the Onken Store.

The back part of the Onken Store.

The old Chapin Train Station where Amy Burnham Onken departed and arrived when she took her trips on beha

The old Chapin Train Station where Amy Burnham Onken departed and arrived when she took her trips on behalf of Pi Beta Phi. The station is no longer there.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

 

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Celebrating a 100 Years – Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, the Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic celebrated a century of service, scholarship, and sisterhood. What a fabulous time it was! Centennial Co-Chairs, Sally Belknap, Alpha Sigma Tau, and Ilene Garrett, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and their committee did an absolutely wonderful job of coordinating every aspect of the day’s events. An added bonus was meeting Ilene’s daughter, a new member of the Bucknell University chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, who was home on fall break.

The venue was the historic Indiana Landmarks Center. It was built in 1891 for the congregation of the Central Avenue Methodist Church. For many years, it was home to Indiana’s largest Methodist congregation. I heard one attendee say that her parents had been married there. Another asked for a picture in the front of the building as she had been baptized there.

The Indiana Landmarks Center.

The Indiana Landmarks Center.

The dome of the Indiana Landmarks Center.

The dome of the Indiana Landmarks Center.

By the 2000s, the building had become a community center and it was in deplorable condition. It closed in 2008 after a section of the domed sanctuary fell on the pews. Luckily, the Indiana Landmarks Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to historically significant and architecturally unique  properties, came to its rescue. Bill, Gayle, and Carl Cook of Bloomington, Indiana, directed the restoration and funded $16 million of the $20 million cost. (The Cooks also spearheaded and funded the renovation of the West Baden Springs Hotel, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-12a. Thank you Cook family for your dedication and generosity!).

Each member organization of the Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic had its own display. The high tea began with a procession of flags, one for each member of the National Panhellenic Conference.

The displays before the attendees arrived.

The displays before the attendees arrived.

Scholarships were awarded to sorority women from the Indianapolis area attending Indiana colleges. From its beginnings in 1914, supporting local sorority women was an important part of the Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic’s efforts. At that time, Butler College (now University) was located in Irvington. Over time, the organization added altruistic projects of its own, but the scholarship component has remained.

A toast of sparking cider was raised to the memories of those women who gathered in 1914 with the express intention of assisting the women who wore the badges of the National Panhellenic Conference organizations. Hope Davis (Mecklin) Gordon, Kappa Alpha Theta, was the first president. The president for the 1919-20 year was Icy Frost Bridge, Alpha Chi Omega, a 1917 graduate of DePauw University (in 1973, her husband, Don U. Bridge created the Icy Frost Bridge Scholarship at DePauw in her memory. Sorry folks but I could not help but mention her name!).

The women who began the organization in 1914 could not yet vote for the President of the United States, the men who represented them in Congress, or their local officials. Those women attended college in a time when most women did not do so. And as with all efforts celebrating the centennial of anything, the ones who celebrate the milestone are not the ones who were in on the ground floor, building the foundation that would last 100 years and laying the cornerstone for future excellence without a real blueprint to guide them. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the celebration. Congratulations Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic and best wishes for an even greater 100 years to come!

The logo and materials were created by Willow Marketing. Herff Jones created a special pin for the occasion upper right corner)

The logo and materials were created by Willow Marketing. Herff Jones created a special pin for the occasion.

P.S. A great big thank you to all my Pi Phi friends for making my trip to Indiana one I will never forget!

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

 

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Founders’ Day! From A to Z (AXΩ and ZTA) With a Touch of Ida Shaw Martin’s “The Sorority Handbook”

October 15 is the day on which both Alpha Chi Omega and Zeta Tau Alpha celebrate Founders’ Day. In 1885, Alpha Chi Omega was founded at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Thirteen years later, in 1898, Zeta Tau Alpha was founded at the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia.

Alpha Chi Omega’s  seven founders, Anna Allen, Olive Burnett, Bertha Deniston, Amy DuBois, Nellie Gamble, Bessie Grooms and Estelle Leonard, were students in the DePauw School of Music. With the guidance and support of James Hamilton Howe, Dean of the School of Music, they created an organization that at its beginning insisted its members possess some musical culture. The first appearance of Alpha Chi Omega was in Meharry Hall of East College. The seven women wore scarlet and olive ribbon streamers.

Alpha Chi Omega entry from the 1907 edition of The Sorority Handbook.

Alpha Chi Omega’s entry from the 1907 edition of The Sorority Handbook (My apologies for the fuzziness of the photo.)

1907 entry, part 2

1907 entry, part 2

The entry below is from the 11th edition (1931). The 3rd edition (1909) noted that the flag “is in preparation,”  the Open Motto was “Together let us seek the Heights,” and the call was “Hi! Hi! Hi! Alpha Chi! Chi-O! Chi-O! Alpha Chi Omega!”

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Alpha Chi Omega entry fro the eleventh edition of The Sorority Handbook.

Alpha Chi Omega’s entry from the 11th edition (1931) of The Sorority Handbook.

Zeta Tau Alpha‘s founders are Alice Maud Jones Horner, Frances Yancey Smith, Alice Bland Coleman, Ethel Coleman Van Name, Ruby Bland Leigh Orgain, Mary Campbell Jones Batte, Helen May Crafford, Della Lewis Hundley, and Alice Grey Welsh.

1907 First edition

Zeta Tau Alpha’s entry from the first edition (1907) of The Sorority Handbook.

Zeta Tau Alpha entry from the first edition of Ida Shaw Martins Sorority Handbook.

Zeta Tau Alpha’s entry from the 11th edition of Ida Shaw Martin’s The Sorority Handbook.

Ida Shaw Martin was the married name of Delta Delta Delta founder Sarah Ida Shaw. She was an authority on women’s fraternities/sororities and edited The Sorority Handbook.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

Posted in Alpha Chi Omega, DePauw University, Founders' Day, Fran Favorite, Longwood University, Women's Fraternity History, Zeta Tau Alpha | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Irvington, Indiana, and the Sad Story of Madge Oberholtzer

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet a fellow Pi Phi with whom I have shared e-mail conversations. She loves history, too. She lives in Irvington, Indiana. From 1875-1928, Irvington was the home of Butler College (now University). Today, the only Butler University school building which survives on the Irvington campus is the former Bona Thompson Memorial Library, now known as a center rather than a library. The Center has a model of the former Butler campus as well as pictures of the campus buildings and a map of where they were located.

The first e-mail I received from my  history buff friend years ago was about verifying the membership of Madge Oberholtzer, a former resident of Irvington. She is listed in a Butler yearbook as a pledge of the Indiana Gamma chapter of Pi Beta Phi. I confirmed that she was initiated in 1916.

Madge

Madge Oberholtzer

Oberholtzer’s story is a sad one, but through her death, she played a role in the rapid decline of the Ku Klux Klan which took place in the 1920s. We drove by the Stevenson mansion and the home a few blocks away where Oberholtzer lived with her parents. When she and David Curtiss Stephenson crossed paths, Oberholtzer was manager of the Indiana Young People’s Reading Circle, a special section of the Indiana Department of Public Instruction.

Stephenson, who was Grand Dragon of the Indiana Branch of the Ku Klux Klan, and Oberholtzer met in 1925 at a gala honoring Indiana Governor Edward L. Jackson. She was helping with the distribution of name tags. Stephenson hired her to help write a book, One Hundred Years of Health. His plan was for it to be the book that would be used when the legislature required that a course in diet and health be taught in the public schools. He would make sure that the only text which filled the requirements set forth in the bill would be his book.

Some say he lured Oberholtzer to meet with him late in the evening on March 15, 1925 by saying he needed to talk about the book. Others say he told her they needed to discuss the Reading Circle program and her job, which she thought was about to be eliminated. Sometime after 10 p.m., Stephenson sent a bodyguard to Oberholtzer’s home to escort her to Stephenson’s home. After being forced to drink alcohol, she was kidnapped and put on Stephenson’s private train to Chicago. 

The Graham Stevenson House as it appears today.

The Graham Stevenson House as it appears today.

While on the train she was raped repeatedly and Stephenson bit her all over her body. There were many deep wounds from her face and neck down to her ankles. The alcohol she was forced to drink affected her ability to fight back. They never made it to Chicago. They got as far as Hammond, Indiana, where they checked into a hotel.

Oberholtzer ingested poison which she was able to purchase while being chaperoned by Stephenson’s henchmen. She became violently ill and the group headed back to Irvington. After hiding her for a short time in an apartment above Stephenson’s garage, she was taken to her family home and deposited in a bedroom. Two days had elapsed since the rape.

Her family was told she had been in a car accident. The Oberholtzers summoned a doctor. On March 28, 1925, she recounted her ordeal and signed a statement attesting to its truth so that it could be used in future legal actions. The statement of her ordeal was ultimately used to convict Stephenson. 

She died on April 14, 1925. The cause of death was a staph infection attributable to the bites. There was also kidney failure from the mercury poisoning.

During the trial her Pi Phi sisters sat in the courtroom, making the trek from Irvington to Noblesville, where the trial was held. Stephenson was convicted of second-degree murder on November 14, 1925. He was sentenced to life in prison. He was paroled in 1950 but spent a little more time in prison for violating parole. His accomplices, Earl Klinck and Earl Gentry, were acquitted.

Stephenson’s home was built in 1889 for William H. H. Graham. Before Stephenson purchased it in 1923, it was rented by the members of the Butler chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma for use as the chapter house. Stephenson added the the Ionic portico after he purchased it. After his conviction, the home was rented to Chi Rho Zeta fraternity and Phi Delta Theta fraternity.  Soon afterwards, the chapters moved along with the rest of the University to the new location.

The Graham-Stevenson home when it was the chapter house of the Butler Unversity chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. (Photo courtesy of vintageirvington)

The Graham-Stevenson home when it was the chapter house of the Butler Unversity chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. (Photo courtesy of vintageirvington)

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Happy Founders’ Day, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Sorry not to have a Kappa post. The above picture will have to suffice for now. I promise a Kappa post in the near future, my Monmouth Duo friends.

(c) Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

 

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Happy Founders’ Day, Alpha Phi!

The first women’s fraternity/sorority to own its own home? It’s the same organization that is the oldest of the Syracuse Triad. The home belonged to the Alpha chapter of that organization. And that organization celebrates Founders’ Day on October 10. Alpha Phi it is!

In September of 1872, Martha Foote (Crowe), Clara Sittser (Williams), and Kate Hogoboom (Gilbert) pondered the thought of women having fraternal organizations comparable to those of the men.  They invited all the college women to discuss the possibility.

Ten women – the original three plus Jane Higham, Clara Bradley (Burdette), Louise Shepherd (Hancock), Florence Chidester (Lukens), Ida Gilbert (Houghton), Elizabeth Grace (Hubbell), and Rena  Michaels (Atchinson) met and pledged allegiance to the sisterhood. Minutes from the first meeting noted that Michaels was chosen president, plans were made for weekly meetings at which literary exercises would be part of the  program, and a 25¢ tax was levied for the purchase of a secretary’s book.  The first debate was “Resolved – that women have their rights.”

At first, the chapter met in the homes of chapter members. Dr. Chidester, Florence’s father, allowed the use of his Irving Avenue home office on Monday evenings. The first chapter room was on Salina Street, over Sager and Grave’s carpet store. The chapter room remained there for six years until it was moved to a suite of rooms on the fourth floor of the Onondaga County Savings Bank Building.

In 1884, the Alpha Phi chapter gave up the meeting rooms it rented in the bank.  Plans were made to rent a house “where the out-of-town girls could live and where one room could be used for a chapter hall.  The experiment proved a success, and at the end of a year it was suggested that the girls build and own a chapter house.”

Jennie Thornburn (Sanford), an 1887 Alpha Phi initiate, recounted the story of Alpha Phi’s chapter house and she gave credit to Grace Latimer (Merrick), for “making practical by figures, by argument and by enthusiasm the possibility of building and owning a house.  At first we thought it a crazy idea; it was certainly novel – no girls had ever owned a chapter house.”

In May of 1886, a 56’ x 178’ lot at 17 University Place was purchased by the members of Alpha Phi for $1,400, or $25 a front foot. A few Alpha Phi fathers acted as a Board of Trustees. A $2,500 bank mortgage was arranged and another Alpha Phi dad loaned the chapter $2,700.  The father of a chapter member was  a building contractor.  He contributed his services and asked the firms with which he dealt to contribute some materials. An eyewitness described the start of the building process, “At 2 P.M. June 22, 1886, on the lot opposite the campus of Syracuse University, which had already been purchased by the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi, were held the exercises attending the laying of the corner stone of the first chapter house owned by the society.  Ida Gilbert DeLamater Houghton, ‘76, one of the founders of the organization, struck the gavel upon the unfinished foundation wall.  Carrie Shevelson Benjamin, ‘81, read a paper, at the conclusion of which a song composed by Lydia Thompson ‘83 was sung.  After a short address by Chancellor Sims (an Alpha Phi father), Dr. W. P. Coddington laid the corner stone in the name of the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi.  In closing all joined in a familiar college song and the interesting ceremonies were completed.  This was the first chapter house built by women and the day was the fourteenth anniversary of the founding of the Alpha Phi society.”

The Alpha Phi chapter house on University Avenue in Syracuse. It was the first house built and owned by a women's fraternity. The house was sold in 1902 and the chapter moved to its current home on Walnut Place.

The Alpha Phi chapter house on University Avenue in Syracuse. It was the first house built and owned by a women’s fraternity. The house was sold in 1902 and the chapter moved to its current home on Walnut Place.

The chapter moved into its new home in November.  The chapter hall was dedicated in January, 1887, and on Washington’s birthday, the chapter opened the house to 300 invited guests.  In order to pay the mortgages, “it was decided to have the members make an annual subscription to a house fund, each girl giving what she thought she could afford.  This was done, the largest amount given being fifty dollars.” In 1896, the chapter house was redecorated at a cost of $600.  By 1902, the debts had been paid.  It was time to move again.”

As the house became too small, the Bacon residence on Walnut Park, the home of an Alpha Phi family, became available and it was purchased.  The old chapter house was sold to the university for dormitory use. Thirty women could live in the new house.” That home on Walnut Place is the home in which Alpha Phi still resides.

(c) Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

 

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R.I.P. Jerrie Mock, Phi Mu, the First Woman to Circumnavigate the World Alone

Geraldine “Jerrie” Fredritz Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world, died on September 30, 2014 at the age of  88. Mock, an initiate of the Phi Mu chapter at The Ohio State University, “shared her stories, always modestly, with Phi Mu so we could celebrate her accomplishments,” according to a post on Phi Mu’s Facebook page.

She took her first plane ride at age seven, in a Ford Trimotor airplane. In 1958, she earned a private pilot’s license. Her flight around the world began on March 19, 1964. She left from Columbus, Ohio and returned on April 17, 1964. She called the single engine Cessna 180, “Charlie,” although its official name was the “Spirit of Columbus.” 

columbus

The 22, 860 mile trek took 29 days and it had 21 stopovers. And it was not without its challenges. Shortly after take-off she realized her long-range radio was not working properly. And then she realized the brakes were a little off, too. She was able to get both problems fixed along the way.

mrs mockAmong her stops was one in Saudi Arabia where the men who greeted her kept waiting for a male pilot to emerge from the plane. They were a little shocked when they realized that she was the pilot.

sets matk

Mock set many records and was the recipient of numerous awards. There are two life size statues of her Ohio. Both are the works of Renate Burgyan Fackler. The first was unveiled in Mock’s hometown of Newark, Ohio. It is in the courtyard of The Works Museum. On April 17, 2014, another statue was unveiled at the Port Columbus International Airport. Mock’s plane, “Spirit of Columbus,” is in the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. 

jerri

 (c) Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

 

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In a NY State of Mind…The Union Triad and Other Thoughts

On Thursday afternoon we left for New York State and a family wedding. We made it as far as Erie, Pennsylvania. The next morning we headed off the rest of the way to our destination, Skaneateles, New York. While the weather could have been a bit sunnier and the leaves a bit more colorful, we were indeed happy to be together for a little while.

I first heard of Skaneateles in high school when I told one of my teachers that I was going to Syracuse University. He was a Saint Bonaventure alumnus and told me to make sure I made it to Skaneateles and Cazenovia during my years in Syracuse. I followed his advice. In later years when our daughter was in grad school, we made it a point to visit these villages and share a meal at the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles. When we realized our niece’s wedding would take place closer to Skaneateles than Syracuse, we remembered the lake houses available for rent. It was wonderful to be able to spend some time with my husband’s mom, sisters and their families.

The water in Lake Skaneateles is clearer than any lake I’ve ever seen. If you ever visit Skaneateles you can walk on the public pier and see for yourself. When I posted the picture below to Facebook, a friend said:

I went sailing on Skaneateles a couple of times with a sorority sister and it was the clearest water I’d ever seen, even at 8-10 feet deep.

The water off the dock at the lake house. I suspect it is at least two feet deep there.

The water off the dock at the lake house. I suspect it is at least two feet deep there.

Sad to say, there wasn’t very much time to do anything other than attend the wedding. No side trip to Syracuse to see Phi Delta Theta letters on my Pi Phi house. No chance to take pictures of favorite sites. We did manage a lunch at the Sherwood Inn before the Connecticut and Maryland contingents arrived.

To make this more than a Becque family travelogue, I offer this excerpt from a history of higher education course pack I wrote with my dissertation advisor.

Union College in Schenectady, New York, is called the birthplace of the American fraternity system. It was there that the founding of the three “Union Triad” fraternities: Kappa Alpha Society (1825), Sigma Phi (1827), and Delta Phi (1827) became the model for the American fraternity system.

Prior to the emergence of the fraternity system, debating clubs and literary societies provided extracurricular activities for the students. Most schools had two societies and the membership of both clubs roughly equaled the number of students enrolled. The societies had grand sounding names, Adelphian, Diognothian, Alexandrian, Socratic and Zetetic, to name just a few.

The societies provided educational and social opportunities outside of the oftentimes monotonous recitations and class work. The literary societies were noted for their extensive libraries whose collections sometimes outnumbered the college’s volumes.

The rise of the fraternities, or Greek letter societies as they are also known, heralded the descent of the debating and literary societies.Phi Beta Kappa was founded in Williamsburg, Virginia, at the College of William and Mary in 1776. Although Phi Beta Kappa is now a scholastic honorary, it was at the time of its founding similar to the present day fraternity. By 1825 when Kappa Alpha Society was founded at Union College, the five chapters of Phi Beta Kappa already had become scholastic honoraries.

Other men’s national fraternities were founded prior to the Civil War. The war, however, put a damper on fraternity activities and expansion. After the war, several fraternities were founded in southern colleges and they expanded throughout the south. One southern fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, was founded at Virginia Military Institute with the prime objective being to “restore the Union by uniting fraternally the young men of the South with those of the North” (Anson & Marchesani, 1991, p. III-20).

New York State is also home to the Syracuse Triad, the three women’s organizations founded at Syracuse – Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta, and Alpha Gamma Delta. For a post about them, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-6h.

Sunrise on the lake before we left on the 13 hour ride home.

Sunrise on the lake before we left on the 13-hour ride home.

 (c) Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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Mary Love Collins, 1915, “Sequestered Ignoramuses to Intelligent Young Animals”

One of my favorite ways to waste time, and forgive me if I’ve said this before, is to page through fraternity and sorority magazines. Reading the old Arrows in the Pi Phi house was how I started down this path of Greek-letter organization history.

Last week, I came across this report written 100 years ago. It is from a report of the 1915 National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) meeting held at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, California. The Panama–Pacific International Exposition took place in San Francisco that year, so it’s a good bet that some of the delegates visited the Exposition before or after the meeting. (Remember this was in 1915 and getting to Berkeley from Chicago and any eastern city meant several days aboard a train.)

MORALS AND DRESS

Mrs. Mary C. Love Collins, national president of Chi Omega and that fraternity’s delegate to the NPC, as chairman of the NPC Committee on Conference with College Presidents, reports that on many of her visits to college presidents she was confronted with the questions, ‘Well what do you think of the dress of our young women of today?’ And ‘what do you think of their morals?’ To the former, Mrs. Collins replied that if the modern dress is open to severe criticism it is a sad commentary on the men of today. To the second question she replied that she believed their morals are better. Mrs. Collins backed up this statement with the fact that any age is judged by its accumulative contribution and that she believed that the young women of today in the process of their evolution from sequestered ignoramuses to intelligent young animals were making an accumulative contribution to the world which would be the ultimate judge of their morality.”

While a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Mary Love belonged to a local organization, Omega Psi. In 1907, it became the Delta Chapter of Chi Omega. Mary Love, as she was known to her Chi Omega and NPC friends, was initiated into Chi Omega as an alumna. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and became a lawyer. She served as Chi Omega’s National President from 1910-52. Mary Love began her stint as Chi Omega’s NPC delegate in 1909 and she served as NPC Chairman of the 1919 meeting.  

Omega Psi at Dickinson College. It came the Delta Chapter of Chi Omega in 1907. She is included in this photograph.

Omega Psi at Dickinson College. It came the Delta Chapter of Chi Omega in 1907. She is included in this photograph, bottom row, right side. (photo courtesy of the Dickinson College Archives)

Mary Love Collins, 1914

Mary Love Collins, 1914

Mary Love Collins at her cabin in Pennsylvania with her dog, "Frolic," c 1932 (photo courtesy of Chi Omega Archives)

Mary Love Collins at her cabin in Pennsylvania with her dog, “Frolic,” c 1932 (photo courtesy of  the Chi Omega Archives)

(c) Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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