Lost in the Kappa Key

Yesterday, an email from my Kappa Kappa Gamma friend, Kylie Smith, had me lost in an 1895 edition of The Key of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

kappa lucy allen smart

What had me intrigued?

Never has an opening year brought greater occasion for rejoicing to Delta than has this. Her dream of years has been realized; at last she has her ‘golden milestone’ whence already she

‘Measures every distance

Through the gateways of the world around.’

Our plans for a chapter house were not mentioned in our last letter, for it was so difficult to secure a suitable house, that we scarcely dared hope that they could be carried out. However, before Commencement we put the matter into the hands of a local committee of arrangements with full power to decide. Who could chronicle the tribulations of those devoted girls! But thanks to their indefatigable efforts, coupled with the enthusiastic support of our resident Kappas, we returned to find a beautiful home ready for us. What that means to Delta, only ye who for twenty-two years have led the life of a homeless fraternity, can know! The house is well arranged for entertaining, as it has three parlors and a large hall. Seven of the girls room in the house, and there are also apartments for the matron. The parlors are most tastefully furnished and full of beautiful things, either given or loaned by Kappas and their friends. We owe especial thanks to Ida Fulwider (Hottel), for loaning us her fine piano.

Our house-warming was an open meeting, and on Hallowe’en a party was given, at which the girls dressed as babies and masked. One girl was an especial puzzle both to the men and to her Kappa sisters. At the unmasking she proved to be Maud Wilson, who had arrived in town that evening and had slipped in among the maskers without being discovered. The refreshments, fortune telling and games were all in keeping with Hallowe’en. 

The Delta chapter at Indiana University is Kappa’s longest continuous chapter. It was founded on October 12, 1872. In 1881, the chapter entertained the fourth National Convention, which was held in nearby French Lick. The chapter selected and proposed Kappa’s colors, the light blue and the dark blue, “they were accepted nationally. These colors are typical of the ‘true blue’ character and noble womanhood of Kappa. Delta’s design for the Fraternity official seal was also accepted.”

For 22 years, the chapter had no home to call its own, and now it has one of the most beautiful homes of all Kappa Kappa Gamma chapters. The house the committee found for the chapter in 1894 is not the home in which the chapter resides currently. The chapter’s home at 1018 East Third Street opened in 1925. Three years earlier, the chapter, backed by a “loyal body of alumnae, Delta set out to build a new castle.” The new home was occupied in the fall of 1925. The home was described as being “of English Gothic architecture in light brick and stone. Standing on a hill, one hundred feet back from the street, it makes an imposing appearance. The house was built, furnished, and landscaped at the cost of eighty thousand dollars.” (In 2015 buying power that $80,000 equates to more than $1,000,000, an amazing amount when you consider that women did not typically have discretionary funds of their own.) 

kappa house

 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Sorority Bashing Video Goes Viral – Who’da Thunk It?

Last week, a former sorority member, a public relations major in the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, released a video. In it she bashed the entire women’s fraternity/sorority system for an “overwhelming lack of compassion for other women.” Her video went viral and she had her few minutes of fame on the Today show.

She did not enjoy her time as a member of a National Panhellenic Conference organization. In her own words, she “went to parties” and “did the costume thing for a while.”  I am not really what she meant by the “costume thing,” but it really doesn’t matter.

Are each of the 3,000+ NPC organization chapters perfect? No, and I can say that confidently. Every chapter of every GLO, be it a men’s or women’s organization, from every council and umbrella group, is made up of college students, some of whom are juggling multiple roles. There are many variables which play into the day-to-day life of a GLO. A chapter that runs like a well-oiled machine one year can be on the skids the next. However, when done well, membership in a GLO can be one of the best learning experiences a college student can have. And many times the best lessons come from adversity and how a situation is handled. None of us learns very well when we don’t have to expend much energy or effort.

She joined as a freshman and resigned her membership as a senior. If the disgruntled former sorority member did not like what was going on in her organization why didn’t she try to do something to change the culture? Did she ever speak up? Did she ever run for an office? Did she ever volunteer to chair a committee? Did she ever make her views known to the alumnae advisors and headquarter’s staff?

If one expects an experience to be “perfect” on its own and without any effort, that person is quite deluded. In fact, I would argue that there are no “perfect” things or experiences. Despite the industry of television shows, magazines, and websites that try to find people the “perfect” house, the “perfect” bridal gown, the “perfect” job, vacation, spouse, and family, those things really don’t exist. Perfect is a matter of perception. A friend who has been married more than 50 years says that the secret of her happy marriage is that she and her husband have never wanted a divorce at the same time. Being part of a couple, being a member of an organization, being an employee, being a parent, none of that is going to be “perfect” 100% of the time. Nothing might ever be “perfect,” but how one deals with the situation is what matters the most.

The disgruntled sorority woman was part of the problem if she didn’t try to be part of the solution. I don’t think the going to parties and the “costume thing” qualifies as being part of the solution if there was indeed a lack of compassion among the members.


An article about the National Panhellenic Conference Executive Director Dani Weatherford appeared in an Indianapolis newspaper over the weekend.  She is a member of Delta Gamma. http://www.indystar.com/story/money/2016/02/05/s-not-your-mothers-sorority-anymore/79783668/

npc buttons crop


 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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#GoRedForWomen With a Splash of Sigma Chi

Heart disease is a killer. More women die from the complications of heart disease than all cancers combined. Today, February 5, is Wear Red Day. These are some of the posts from my twitter feed.

Today’s the day! RT if you’re wearing RED with Alpha Phi! #GoRedWearRed #heartmonth #WearRedDay


Alpha Kappa Alpha@akasorority1908 2h2 hours ago

#PinkGoesRed today to drive awareness & prevention of Heart disease! Post your #GoRed pics! #AKAImpactDay #AKA1908



My Pi Phi friend Marci has been working for the National Panhellenic Conference since graduating from Butler University. Today is Marci’s last day with NPC, but I have a strong feeling that she will continue to be involved in fraternity and sorority life. I had the wonderful chance to have breakfast with her last week at Pi Phi’s College Weekend. Best wishes, Marci, on your new adventure!

Marci Kolb@mercedessue14

Celebrating #GoRedWearRed and my last day at NPC. Red sweaters and pink heart cupcakes. 12547132_1276571722369845_506523461_n



Today is National Wear Red Day! Wear red to show support for heart health with #GoRedWearRed & #UNLPanhellenic


One hundred years ago today, the Sigma Chi Club of Philadelphia met. Here is the notice of the meeting from the Sigma Chi Quarterly:

The annual meeting of the Sigma Chi Club of Philadelphia was held February 5, 1916 at Phi Phi Chapter House, 3604 Walnut Street. At this meeting the election of the board of trustees resulted as follows: Watkins Benerman, Phi Phi, 1912; John H. Franz, Phi Phi, 1907; Michael J. McCrudden, Phi Phi, 1905; E.R. Wilson, Phi Phi, 1913; Warren C. Graham, Phi Phi, 1903; Ward W. Pierson, Omega, 1902; and W.B. Mcintosh.

….The campaign for the permanent home of the Sigma Chi Club of Philadelphia and Phi Phi Chapter is progressing more satisfactorily than was at first anticipated. As a result of the generous response from the members of the club, it is now thought possible to break ground early next year provided we are as successful with the campaign during the next six months as we have been during a similar period just past.

The University of Pennsylvania chapter of Sigma Chi did not build a new house. In 1920, the chapter moved into a home at 3809 Locust Walk. A Penn website has the chapter moving into the house in 1928, but the chapter was using that address in a 1921 Sigma Chi Quarterly.

An 1891 ad featuring a future Sigma Chi.

An 1891 ad featuring a future Sigma Chi.

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Old Newspapers, a Mentor, a Golf Tournament, and Jeopardy!

I chuckle when people say they want to return to the “good old days.” As one who looks at old newspapers on a regular basis, it’s evident that bad things happened in the “good old days.” One of these events took place in 1928, another in the spring of 1952, the third happened in the fall of 1952, and the most recent one in 2015. The only noticeable difference is in what was stolen.

A burglary occurred Saturday, Aug. 22 at a residence (fraternity house)Officers responded Monday, Aug.24 after receiving a call that a backpack that contained over $1,500 worth of electronic devices was stolen.

“Three Houses Report Thefts” was the headline in a student newspaper. The subhead was “Two Fraternities, One Sorority Looted By Robbers Over Week End.” The article which appeared in the Daily Illini on November 23, 1926, continued:

Two fraternity houses and one sorority house were robbed during the week-end activities following the Ohio game last Saturday afternoon. As yet no trace of the thieves has been found….In the Phi Kappa Psi House two gold watches and a silk scarf were taken by the thieves early Sunday morning. The loot stolen from the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity house consisted of three wrist watches, two gold watches, and 20 dollars in cash. It was thought that the thieves entered this house some time between the hours of 4 and 6 o’clock. A raccoon skin coat which belonged to Albert Mohr, a graduate of the University, was reported stolen from the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority house Saturday night. Along with the coat, two silk scarfs were taken. This is the third series of thefts reported this year. 

Another headline, this one from October 28, 1952, tells of another burglary on the University of Illinois campus, “3 Fraternities Burglarized of $880 Cash, Valuables Early Monday.” The article continued:

A warning to fraternities to keep your doors locked and a man on watch at all times was issued by George H. Bargh, dean of fraternity men, at Monday s Interfraternity Council meeting….The warning was issued, on the heels of disclosure that three fraternities had been burglarized of at least $350 in cash and an estimated $530 in valuables before dawn Monday….A fourth fraternity, Alpha Chi Rho, 311 E . Armory Ave., was burglarized of approximately $35 in cash Wednesday or Thursday…The house hit Monday and their losses were Phi Kappa Tau, 310 Gregory Dr., $237 in bills and six watches valued at $450; Psi Upsilon, 313 E. Armory  Ave., $70 in cash and three watches valued at $60; and Phi Kappa Psi, 911 S. 4th St., $46 in cash. Dick Edwards, Phi Kappa Tau president, said the thief must have entered his house between 2 and 4 a.m . He speculated that entrance was gained through a French door, and that the thief left through , the main door. Representatives at Psi Upsilon placed the time of the burglary at their house at between 3 and 5:30 a.m. Psi Upsilon was burglarized, of $150 and three watches last May.


From the twitter and facebook feeds….

Check out this spotlight on brother @CortDaddyFresh and the great work he does for our community. #TrueGentleman



Thank you ASU Fraternity & Sorority Life staff for coming out to volunteer with Phoenix Panhellenic Association and support critical funding for scholarships for Arizona sorority women! Phoenix Panhellenic has raised of $750,000, since 1975, volunteering for The Thunderbirds at Waste Management Phoenix Open. ‪#‎phxpan‬ # ‪#‎shine‬ ‪#‎npcwomen‬‪#‎greenestshow‬ ‪#‎wmpo‬

The Phoenix Alumnae Panhellenic

The Phoenix Alumnae Panhellenic with the Arizona State University Fraternity and Sorority Life staff working the Waste Management Phoenix Open.


Amanda Rosner, a Delta Zeta at Northwestern University, will appear today on Jeopardy’s College Championship. Gus Woythaler, who will appear tomorrow, February 4, is a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi at Stanford University.

 Delta Zeta at Northwestern University member Amanda Rosner on Jeopardy's College Championship

Alex Trebek and Amanda Rosner on Jeopardy’s College Championship.

 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Decorating With Candy Day? A Cookie Shine Shout Out, No Doubt!

Decorating with Candy Day? Yes, it is a very real thing and it happens to fall on February 1. And if I told you that I could link this dubious celebration to GLO history, would you even believe me? Well, of course I can and it ties into how I spent my weekend.

More than 650 Pi Phis collegians, alumnae advisors, fraternity officers, and staff members gathered in St. Louis for College Weekend. Among the activities, after dinner on Saturday, was a Cookie Shine. It wasn’t a good old fashioned Pi Phi Cookie Shine for that would require pickles, olives, and oysters, among other foods which have gone out of fashion. The thing I find most amazing about a Cookie Shine is that the tradition’s long history, back to 1873, ties almost every Pi Phi together.

Six years after Pi Beta Phi was founded as I.C. Sorosis at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois on April 28, 1867, the Kansas Alpha chapter at the University of Kansas was chartered. Between the two dates, there were several other chapters founded. Among them was the chapter at Lombard College in Galesburg, Illinois, which was founded on June 22, 1872. It was founded by Mary Brook, sister of Pi Phi founder Libbie Brook,* who founded the second Pi Phi chapter at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Among the charter members of the Lombard chapter was Sara Richardson. Sara grew up in Wisconsin, but her family moved to Lawrence, Kansas. Sara’s sister, Flora, attended Lombard for a short while, until she enrolled at Kansas University.

When Sara Richardson heard that a chapter of Beta Theta Pi was being formed at Kansas, she encouraged Flora, along with her other sisters, Alma and May, to form a chapter of Pi Beta Phi. That they did and on April 1, 1873, the Kansas Alpha chapter was established. Among the other charter members was Gertrude Boughton Blackwelder who spoke at the 1893 Fraternity Day at the Chicago Exposition.

That June, when Sara returned home from Galesburg, the chapter had a little spread to honor her efforts in establishing the chapter at Kansas. John Fraser, Chancellor of the University of Kansas was invited to attend. Fraser was born and educated in Scotland. Prior to his tenure at Kansas, he taught at Jefferson College (now Washington and Jefferson College) in western Pennsylvania and served as the third President of Pennsylvania State University. He also served in the Civil War and was a prisoner of war. Fraser Hall at Kansas is named for him. (For more information about Fraser see https://journals.psu.edu/wph/article/viewFile/4363/4180.)

John Fraser

John Fraser

 “Cookie Shine” was Fraser’s name for any kind of informal social gathering brought together by accident or design, and it is likely tied to his Scottish upbringing, where the term was often used. The women loved the name “Cookie Shine” and it caught on and spread quickly throughout the Pi Phi world. Cookie Shines have been a main stay at chapter events, regional Pi Phi gatherings, chapter installations, anniversary celebrations, and at convention. 

cookie shine


Knox College Co-eds in 1908 at Whiting Hall

Knox College Pi Phis  Whiting Hall enjoying a Cookie Shine.




Pi Beta Phis enjoying an outdoor Cookie Shine at the 1958 convention.

Pi Beta Phis enjoying an outdoor Cookie Shine at the 1958 convention.


Cookie Shines vary from chapter to chapter and event to event. My chapter used a large cookie, often cut in an arrow design. It would be passed from sister to sister, with each member cutting off a piece, circling it under the pan, three times, making a wish, and passing it along to the next sister. Sometimes, each member would share a brief story or comment when it was her turn with the cookie. Other chapter have other traditions. Sometimes there are cookies and sometimes there’s candy. There’s a Cookie Shine song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvehdPFg0VY).

*Pi Phi’s travelling car, in honor of the upcoming 150th, is named Libbie after Libbie Brook (Gaddis) who left Monmouth College and enrolled at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant, Iowa with the intention of starting another chapter.

My Missisissippi Alpha friends in front of Libbie the Ring Ching Road Show car.

My Mississippi Alpha friends in front of Libbie the Ring Ching Road Show car.

 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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When This New Pin Grows Old!

When I went searching for something to write about for Kappa Alpha Theta’s Founders’ Day, I came across this ditty and it was too good not to share. It was also one of those works that made it around the Greek-letter world. It was published in a number of magazines and the sentiments are as real today as they were a century ago.


We’ve slipped the bandage from your eyes,
We’ve drawn aside the veil
That hides our sacred mysteries
From men beyond our pale;
And now upon your glad young breast
We pin a badge of gold—
You cannot know how richly blest
Till this new pin grows old.
This badge.proclaims the newest part
Of our old endless line,
As hand to hand and heart to heart
We form th’ eternal sign:
Grip tight the links of this dear chain,
God grant they long may hold;
You cannot make such friends again
When this new pin grows old.



It was written by Charles Kellogg Field, a Zeta Psi. And who was Charles Kellogg Field? He was born in Vermont, but grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. Field graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, in 1895, when it was a young institution. I suspect he was a charter member of the Zeta Psi chapter, since the chapter was founded in 1893. He wrote books, plays and poems all the while working in the insurance business for 13 years. He became Associate Editor of Sunset Magazine in 1908 and was named Editor in 1911. His pen names included Cheerio, Himself and Carolus Ager. 

In the mid-1930s he began a career as a broadcaster on KGO-AM. He was known as Cheerio. In 1936, he authored, The Story of Cheerio and in 1940, he wrote Cheerio’s Book of Days; Comfort, Cheer and Encouragement for Every Day in the Year,  a quotation of the day book. He died in 1948.

Some say he is best known for something he wrote in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.

If, as some say, God spanked the town
For being over frisky,
Why did He burn the Churches down
And save Hotaling’s Whisky?


 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Kappa Alpha Theta and the First Phi Beta Kappa Women

Kappa Alpha Theta was founded at Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University) in Greencastle, Indiana. The force behind the founding was one of the first women admitted to the college.

The Indiana Asbury graduating class of 1871 included the first four women graduates - Alice Allen, Laura Beswick, Bettie McReynolds Locke, and Mary Euphemia Simmons - in the center of the class composite.

The Indiana Asbury graduating class of 1871 included the first four women graduates – Alice Allen, Laura Beswick, Bettie McReynolds Locke, and Mary Euphemia Simmons (courtesy of DePauw University).

Her name was Bettie Locke. On January 27, 1870, Bettie Locke (Hamilton) stood before a mirror and repeated the words of the Kappa Alpha Theta initiation vow she had written. She then initiated Alice Allen (Brant), Bettie Tipton (Lindsey), and Hannah Fitch (Shaw).


The first two women admitted to Phi Beta Kappa were also members of Kappa Alpha Theta. One hundred years ago, the story of these two women Lida Mason (Hodge) and Ellen Eliza Hamilton (Woodruff) appeared in the Kappa Alpha Theta:

Conservative Vermont took the lead in granting Phi Beta Kappa to women, and Lambda numbers among her alumnae Mrs. Lida Mason Hodge ’75 and Mrs. Ellen Hamilton Woodruff ’75, the first two women to win keys at Vermont. And the story of the winning of the keys is a most interesting one.

The story begins as long ago as 1791, when the charter of the University of Vermont was granted. In 1800 the first class entered, and in 1804 the first commencement took place, when four young men were graduated. In 1848 Vermont became the eleventh college to organize a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Through the efforts of President John Wheeler, who had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa by Dartmouth, the charter was granted and a constitution was adopted. The next event that attracts our attention took place August 1, 1871, when the trustees of the University of Vermont voted to admit women to all courses in the academic and scientific departments.


The next year, 1872, two women entered Vermont from other colleges. Miss Lida Mason entered the freshman class at the beginning of the winter term, and for the remainder of that year was the only woman in the college. She was regarded by the conservative friends of the college and by the townspeople as somewhat of a monstrosity. Even the young men in her class confessed to having imagined she would be a very large, bold person, and were surprised when she proved to be a rather slight, entirely self-possessed and modest young woman. For some time she was conscious, whenever in a public place, of awed whisperings around her: “There’s the girl who is going to college here.” That fall, Miss Ellen E. Hamilton entered the sophomore class, and the two girls completed their course together.

Lida Mason (courtesy of UVM)

Lida Mason (courtesy of UVM)

It was the custom, at that time, to grant Phi Beta Kappa to one-third of the graduating class. There were twelve ready to graduate in 1875, including Miss Mason and Miss Hamilton, who both stood high in their studies. Two of the men, Mr. Frank E. Woodruff, who later married Miss Hamilton, and Mr. Taggart, also ranked high, while the remaining two-thirds of the class stood on a noticeably lower level in regard to scholarship. At the Phi Beta Kappa meeting that year Professor Peabody ‘exploded a bomb’ by moving that persons eligible on the grounds of scholarship be received as members without regard to sex. Such a thing had never been thought of before. Indeed, there had never been any occasion for thinking of it, but now, here were two women graduating with honors! It is reported that there was an ‘animated discussion.’

Ellen Eliza Hamilton (courtesy of UVM)

Ellen Eliza Hamilton (courtesy of UVM)

We who have attended coeducational institutions can imagine rather vividly the probable nature of that animated discussion. In the end the motion was laid on the table, and another motion, to vote for the two highest men in the class, was carried. Again the matter was brought up, but all that was accomplished was the passing of a resolution directing the secretary to communicate with the other chapters of the order in regard to the eligibility of women. The two men were initiated without delay, although they demurred somewhat, believing that the women should be equally honored. Some of the members of the worthy fraternity must have done as much thinking as sleeping that night, for we find that the next day Professor Peabody’s proposition was again considered, and the admission of women was authorized! The two girls were initiated that same day, thus becoming the first women to wear Phi Beta Kappa keys.

The next year after Miss Mason and Miss Hamilton entered college six more young women enrolled. After a few weeks all the girls in college banded themselves together to form a Greek-letter fraternity. A committee was chosen to select a name. They were instructed ‘first, to find two Greek letters that would sound well together; second, to find some Greek words that the letters could stand for; and third, to make the words into a motto that would be suitable for the fraternity.’ Alpha Rho was the name decided upon that seemed to possess all these virtues. In 1881, Alpha Rho was given a charter by Kappa Alpha Theta. and became Lambda chapter of that fraternity. In June, 1882, Mrs. Hodge was initiated into Kappa Alpha Theta. In November, 1899, Mrs. Woodruff came back to Vermont on Mrs. Hodge’s invitation, and was initiated into Kappa Alpha Theta at the same time that Mrs. Hodge’s daughter. Hatta, was received.

Hodges’ daughter Helen was initiated into the Kappa Alpha Theta chapter at the University of Vermont in 1898. The Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Vermont also has the distinction of having elected and initiated George Washington Henderson, class of 1877, the first African American  Phi Beta Kappa member.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyedthis post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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After the Snow – John Collum, a Baby, and Gamma Alpha Omega

Snow, snow, and more snow was the weekend’s theme. Facebook friends on the east coast keep me abreast of how much snow they were getting. Here in my neighborhood in the middle of the country, it was cold, but sunny. The snow – and here two inches of snow constitutes a snow emergency – which had fallen earlier in the week was melting.

Life goes on when it snows and the President of the Delta Tau Delta chapter at Stevens Institute of Technology had a good reminder of that during Storm Jonas. He’s also a member of the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He and his team helped a baby girl come into the world when her family could not get to the hospital. See the story at http://abc7ny.com/1171737/

The team that delivered the baby girl l-t-r) Anthony Grasso, Scarlett Guajala, Michael Vales

The team that delivered the baby girl (l-t-r) Anthony Grasso, Scarlett Guajala, Michael Vales


The talented, award winning performer, John Cullum, is a Phi Gamma Delta. Here is a wonderful interview from the University of Tennessee Alumni magazine.

John Cullum

On Collum’s wikipedia page there is mention that he “starred in ‘Chucky Jack’, an outdoor drama about Tennessee Governor John Sevier, at the old Hunter Hills Theater in Gatlinburg.” Of course, that had me looking for information about Hunter Hills Theater. (Be forewarned – it’s a rabbit hole http://www.bcyesteryear.com/node/156).



Happy Founders’ Day to  Gamma Alpha Omega. The sorority was founded at Arizona State University. The sorority is a member of the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO).  It was founded by eight young Latina women, Michelle Seanez, Amy Alvarez, Patsy Guardado, Clara Lopez, Annette Escalante, Valerie Mendoza, Roxana Quinones, and Sandra Saenz. The organization’s motto is “Nos Una Crescemus” (United We Will Grow). The sorority publishes an on-line magazine, The Rose Vine. It is available at http://www.gammaalphaomega.org/meet-us/our-magazine/.


© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyedthis post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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January 21, P.E.O., and the Original B.I.L.

P.E.O., a “philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women; educate women though scholarships, grants, awards, loans and stewardship of Cottey College; and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations” was founded as a collegiate organization on January 21, 1869. The seven founders – Franc Roads [Elliott], Hattie Briggs [Bousquet], Mary Allen [Stafford], Alice Coffin, Ella Stewart, Alice Bird [Babb] and Suela Pearson [Penfield] – were students at Iowa Wesleyan University, one of the oldest institutions of higher education west of the Mississippi River.

Although it began as a collegiate organization, in 1902 it became a community-based one. The collegiate chapter at Iowa Wesleyan became Alpha Xi Delta’s second chapter. P.E.O. chapters spread across the country from its Midwestern roots.

Lucinda Laura “Lulu” Corkhill was one of the first initiates of the chapter at Iowa Wesleyan even though she had yet to enroll at the school. She was 14 at the time. Lulu went on to play a major role in the establishment of the Illinois State Chapter of P.E.O. There is a post about Lulu available on the top of this page.

Her husband Hemmerle was a Chicago businessman. (I’ve seen him listed as a Rev., but I am not sure of that. Lulu’s father was a clergyman, so maybe that is where that started.) Hemmerle is the original “B.I.L.” and he gave that title to the husbands of the women who wore the P.E.O. star.

1001 - H & L CW

In 1855, the J.W. Williams Company was founded. It made pianos and organs. In 1884, it became J.W. Williams and Sons. In 1889, it became the Williams Piano and Organ Company. In 1922, Hemmerle B. Williams was listed as the President of the company which was located at 14 West Washington Street in Chicago. The pianos were advertised in publications for ministers. They were touted as, “Honest Instruments for Honest People at Honest Prices.”


The home in which the Williams lived at 1940 Sheridan Road now seems to be part of Northwestern University.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyedthis post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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An Accidental Pi Phi, 40 Years Later

When I went through rush at Syracuse University four decades ago, it was on a whim. All I wanted to do was go on house tours and be done with it. I remember walking around Walnut Park on the day I moved into my freshman dormitory. We did not have any sort of orientation back then. Sink or swim might be a good way to describe it. Check in, move in, and have at it is how I remember it. 

The Alpha Chi Omega house (now the residence of Delta Phi Epsilon), high on a hill next to the Phi Delta Theta house (today the DEKEs live there) and two away from the Chancellor’s residence, was one of the houses that intrigued me. The Delta Gamma house with its anchor on the lawn is on the same side of the park as the Alpha Chi house. Between Alpha Chi and Delta Gamma is the Gamma Phi Beta house, with several fraternities mixed in between them. The Chi Omega house, a stone’s throw from the Bird Library, was at the top of the park. On the other side of the park is the Alpha Phi house. Although some liked to quote that the Alpha Phi house was the first sorority house owned by a sorority chapter, there was more to the story, but I did not know that at the time. Yes, the Alpha Phis at Syracuse were the first to own their own home, but I later learned that it was not that home, but another one which was torn down years before. The Kappa Alpha Theta house is next to the Alpha Phi house. I loved its Tudor Revival look and wondered what was behind the front door. The stately Tri Delta house with its columns caught my eye. What did it look like on the inside? I don’t know if I even thought much about the Pi Beta Phi house that day I first saw Walnut Park. When I told my roommate that I wanted to see the insides of the houses, she’s the one who suggested I sign up for rush and drop out after house tours. I had no clue that was even a possibility.

Today this house is the Phi Delta Theta chapter house.

Today this house is the Phi Delta Theta chapter house.

I like to say that I am an accidental Pi Phi. I had no clue about any of it. I remember learning that the organization was founded in Monmouth, Illinois. Frankly, as a New Yorker, Illinois was somewhere “out there” to the west of the Hudson River. Never did I once think that I would be in the very room where the organization was founded, or that I would be entrusted with the care of its history. At that point, I did not think about things like that. I had not yet realized that the more I gave of myself to Pi Beta Phi, the more I would get in return.

Today, on a significant anniversary of becoming a duly initiated member of Pi Beta Phi, I thank those 12 young women in that small prairie town who had the wherewithal and fortitude to start something so much greater than themselves. That I am today, nearly 150 years later, enjoying the fruits of their labor, never ceases to amaze me.

Thank you New York Alpha for extending me an invitation to membership in Pi Beta Phi. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be one of your number.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyedthis post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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