Gamma Phi Carissima on Founders’ Day

Frances Haven grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Evanston, Illinois, as her father, Dr. Erastus Otis Haven, headed up the University of Michigan and then Northwestern University. When Dr. Haven was elected Chancellor of Syracuse University, Frances moved to Syracuse, too, and enrolled at Syracuse University.

The first social event she attended was a church oyster supper. There she met Charles Melville Moss, a Psi Upsilon, who would later become her husband. She also met two members of Alpha Phi, a women’s fraternity founded at Syracuse in October of 1872. Instead of accepting the invitation to join Alpha Phi which had been offered to her, she joined with three other women – Mary A. Bingham (Willoughby), E. Adeline Curtis, and Helen M. Dodge (Ferguson) –  and they created an organization of their own, Gamma Phi Beta, on November 11, 1874. 

In the Songs of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, published in 1887, there are two songs written by Chas. M. Moss.

Charles Moss

Charles Moss


CHarles moss

Moss spent most of his professional career teaching Greek at the University of Illinois. The Mosses are buried in a cemetery at the edge of the Illinois campus. Frances was instrumental in the founding of the Gamma Phi chapter at Illinois and their daughter was a member of that chapter. I suspect Charles Moss wrote these songs when he was at Syracuse, but that is conjecture on my part.

The gravestone of Frances Haven Moss and her husband Charles.

The gravestone of Frances Haven Moss and her husband Charles, in a small cemetery adjacent to the University of Illinois campus.

Honta Smalley was a member of the second chapter of Gamma Phi Beta. Upon the installation of the chapter at the University of Michigan, Honta’s brother, Syracuse University Latin professor, Frank Smalley, used the word “sorority” and brought it into modern usage. (Some say he coined it, others cite its use centuries before. In any event, it hadn’t been part of the collegiate vernacular until Smalley uttered the phrase and Gamma Phi Beta took it as their own. I’ve seen issues of the Crescent which use the word “sorosis” in describing Gamma Phi, too,)

Frank Smalley

Frank Smalley


Honta Smalley (Bredin), Frank Smalley's sister, a member of the Beta chapter of Gamma Phi Beta at the University of Michigan

Honta Smalley (Bredin), Frank Smalley’s sister, a member of the Beta chapter of Gamma Phi Beta at the University of Michigan


Honta was part of the songbook committee. She went on to serve as Grand President. She, along with Nettie Daniels wrote Gamma Phi CarissimaThe Air: Lauriger Horatious is familiar to us as Oh Tannenbaum and Maryland, My Maryland. Renditions of Lauriger Horatious are available on the internet.

Honta Smalley

Honta Smalley


The contents page of the 1887 Songs of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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