Sesquicentennial is a big word. It’s a fitting word because it means “of or relating to the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of a significant event,” according to that big internet dictionary in the sky. Kappa Alpha Order was founded at Washington College, now Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia on December 21, 1865. Today is the day on which the Order is celebrating its 150th anniversary of its founding.
Today, the fraternity is hosting a “KA Gives – Day of Giving to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Order.” A special website at https://kagives.razoo.com/giving_events/KA/home offers the opportunity to celebrate the Sesquicentennial in a special way. The giving tally is updated every 15 minutes. At 8 a.m. CST, the tally was more than $22,000. Every 50th donor wins an appreciation prize. At 1 p.m., it was more than $50,000!
Kappa Alpha Order’s founders are James Ward Wood, William Archibald Walsh, William Nelson Scott and Stanhope McClelland Scott. Samuel Zenas Ammen, an 1866 initiate, who had fought in the war, is revered as a “Practical Founder.” Ammen’s “constant refinement of the ritual and creation of the constitution, by-laws, grip, symbols and regalia of the Order, along with his lifelong commitment,” afforded him that honor, according to the fraternity’s website. Robert E. Lee, the President of Washington College when the fraternity was founded, was named a “Spiritual Founder” at the 1923 convention.
Its original name was Phi Kappa Chi. Phi Kappa Psi was the first fraternity to have a chapter at Washington College and that organization protested the similar sounding name. The fraternity took on the name Kappa Alpha in April of 1866. Although the organization changed its name early in its history, it is sometimes confused with Kappa Alpha Society, one of the Union Triad, founded at Union College in 1825.
Kappa Alpha Order is part of the Lexington Triad, the three men’s fraternities founded in Lexington, Virginia. Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Nu were founded at Virginia Military Institute, in 1865 and 1869, respectively, at a time when VMI permitted fraternities to exist on campus. Lexington is the home of both the Kappa Alpha Order and Sigma Nu headquarters (ATO’s HQ is in Indianapolis).
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. 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/