A Coolidge and a Sisson and a Patriotic Convention

It’s July 4th, the date upon which America celebrates its independence. Here are some 4th of July appearances in the GLO world.

Yesterday’s most viewed most was the one about Calvin Coolidge being the only U.S. President to be born on the 4th of July. I suspect the readers were trying to find the answer to a trivia question.

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., the 30th President of the United States, was born on July 4, 1872 in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. He attended Amherst College in Massachusetts where he became a member of Phi Gamma Delta.

After graduation, while working as a lawyer in nearby Northampton, he met Grace Goodhue, a Pi Beta Phi who had recently graduated from the University of Vermont. She was working at the Clarke School for the Deaf. They married in the Goodhue family home in Burlington, Vermont. Although they spent their married life living in Massachusetts with a side trip to Washington, D.C. , Vermont seemed to be always in their hearts.

Festivities to honor President Coolidge are planned for today in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. I wish I could be there.

cal cool grave


Below is the guest book for an event which took place on July 4, 1891, somewhere in Galesburg, Illinois. When I took a quick picture of it, in the archives of the Illinois Beta-Delta Chapter at Knox College, I was under the impression that it had been attended by Francis H. Sisson, a Beta Theta Pi from Knox’s Xi Chapter who would later serve as Beta Theta Pi’s National President. The Sisson Award was named in his honor. Upon closer examination, I noticed that there is no dot over what should have been an “i” and furthermore, I know all too well that the feminine spelling of the name has an “e.” The Sissons who attended this event were the Beta’s cousins, according to a family tree prepared by Cara Sutcliffe, a member of Pi Phi’s Grand Council. (For the story of the Sissons, Francis Hinckley, who would serve as Beta’s National President, and his wife Grace Lass Sisson who married the Beta during her tenure as Pi Phi’s Grand President, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-eD).



I love the graphic below and so I am “borrowing” this from something I wrote for the Pi Phi blog a few years ago. It’s about the convention which took place at the Inn at Charlevoix over July 4, 1918.

Pi Beta Phi’s 50th Anniversary Convention was to have taken place in 1917, but it was postponed due to the country’s entrance into World War I. When the convention finally took place a year later in Charlevoix, Michigan, many concessions were made. Due to wartime restrictions and rationing, there wasn’t a dedicated Pi Phi Express train to get Pi Phis there and meals were served family style on the advice of Grand President May Lansfield Keller.

On the morning of July 4, 1918, a patriotic program took place. An address by Eva Jones, Principal of Rupert’s Land Ladies College in Winnipeg, Canada, started the program. She was not a Pi Phi, it was noted in The Arrow, but her choice as speaker was explained, “For a long time the selection of a right speaker for the Fourth of July program troubled Grand Council. Then came the happy suggestion; ‘Why not ask our Canadian girls to select a representative Canadian woman to address us?’ It was certain that such a speaker would have a real message and the idea seemed most appropriate because England was planning to observe our national holiday for the first time in history. Everyone was charmed with the representative selected by our Canadian sisters and readily believed them when they declared they had secured for us ‘one of the foremost women speakers in all Canada.’”


It is a rather wet and rainy Fourth here in the midwest. I hope the weather is better for you. As you celebrate this holiday, please remember that freedom isn’t free.

© 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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