W. J Maxwell.

Greek letter men of Central New York, south online

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fraternities may justly be judged.

William Eleroy Curtis.







Arcana coelesiia ;
Sic sunto perpettia.

DURANTE vita ; aye to end of life,
What hallowed, golden memories are rite
O'ertopping Recollection's thronging plain.
Uprise the colums of a lofty fane.
No hooded monks nor priestly denizens
Its altars guard, or dole its benisons
To cringing devotees whose every word
Is by direction of some mitered lord.
The humblest pilgrim to this mystic shrine
A monarch is, by kingly rights divine ;
While most exalted of this knightly clan.
Despite his rank, is but a fellow man.
Here brothers on a common level meet,
The ancient ties to weld, the new to greet ;
And hither may the wanderers return
Whose hearts for friendship unalloyed still yearn.
Inscribed above this portal as you pass
Appears the simple word '' Fraternitas."
temple beautiful, temple fair,
What fond associations cluster there 1
The hopes, ambitions, loves of Springtime days.
That linger in a mellow Autumn haze
A fellowship which casteth out all fears.
Unshaken in the flood of passing years.
Fit emblem thou of that millenial good —
Humanity's united brotherhood.
These sacred memories shall still be rife,
Forsooth durante vita. — during life.

Albert Judson Fisher.



T N the striking development of the American college the growth of the social
'■ side has kept close and steady pace, crystalizing in what is termed the
Fraternity System. So perfectly and systematically has the fraternity or
brotherhood idea grown that to-day there are few colleges of reputation, rank
or size that are not largely influenced and controlled by it.

The birth of the system dates from the historic year of American Inde-
dependence. Like the nation, small and trembling, but brave, the first chapter
of a Greek Letter Society announced its advent in the patriotic village of
Williamsburg, Va., on a bleak December night, 1776. It was here in this
secluded village, amid the primeval forests, that had been founded in the clos-
ing days of the seventeenth century the second oldest college on American soil.

Perhaps the Virginia colony lacked that devotion to religion and education
that characterized the self-sacrificing men who established Harvard ; yet the
love of that culture born only of education and liberty was exemplified in the
founding of a college so early in the history of the colony.

Near the old college walls stood a modest hostelry where hospitality was
dispensed in true colonial fashion. College and tavern grew old together, and
their frequenters little dreamed of the place in history both were destined to
take. But within the Raleigh Inn the voice of Patrick Henry, in tones which
perpetuated his name, uttered the first battle note of the struggle for independ-
ence, and in the year that witnessed the same sentiment, armed with legislative
authority, five students of William and Mary, while seated at the hospitable
board of the Raleigh Inn, expressed their bond of fellowship in a written
constitution. This society was known by the Greek letters " Phi Beta Kappa."
Secrecy may have been a useless appendage to this small band of congenial




students, but their aim was considered best so subserved and its members were
only known by a badge in the form of a small golden key upon which was
engraved " Phi Beta Kappa," the initials of their motto.

In 1779 a newcomer arrived among the students of William and Mary in
the person of Mr. Elisha Parmele. Mr. Parmele was initiated into the mys-
teries of Phi Beta Kappa, and so thoroughly was he convinced that the Virginia
dinners enjoyed by this society would taste equally as well at Harvard and
Yale, where he had formerly studied, that he journeyed one fine fall day, by
horse and stage, to New Haven, where, in December, 1779. he established the
chapter at Yale, and a few days later there was added to the Hasty Pudding
and Institute of 1770 at Harvard the Southern society of Phi Beta Kappa.
Thus were the first chapters of the oldest Greek letter society founded.

But the Alpha chapter was destined to soon experience the evil effects of
war, which has twice clothed the college of William and Mary in poverty. In
1781, General Gornwallis, advancing near Williamsburg, forced this university
to temporarily close. The chapter necessarily became extinct. Harvard and
Yale, however, rapidly extended the order, and chapters were soon thriving at
Dartmouth, Williams, Bowdoin and Amherst. More than seventy years after
the suspending of the parent chapter, one of the original members, although
nearly a centenarian, made the long journey from Philadelphia to William and
Mary to re-establish the chapter.

As the Century was nearing the end of its first quarter, time-honored Phi
Beta Kappa had already lost the social characteristics of a Raleigh Inn dinner,
and, more and more, an election to its membership was considered as a reward
of scholastic merit. The golden key, so proudly worn by Virginia youths as
the insignia of genial fellowship, was now taken as evidence of the possession
of book lore and literary attainments.

Under these conditions, it is not strange that in 1825, at old Union College,
four members of Phi Beta Kappa should reincarnate the lost spirit of the youths
of '76 and boldly launch a secret society called Kappa Alpha. This was the
first of the modern Greek letter fraternities, and it was not a great departure
from the original idea of Phi Beta Kappa. They also had chosen a motto, by
the initials of which they were known. Their badge was not a departure from
the original idea of the older society. They also adopted a key, the only
change being that they suspended it from a corner instead of from the center
of its equal sides.


It was & stormy sea upon which this new craft embarked. The faculty
was unfriendly. The student body, long accustomed to open literary societies,
found no room for the new project. Yet the society prospered. It won its
way into the heart of college life. Friend and foe acknowledged the courtesy
of its members and the genialty of the wearers of the new badge.

Sigma Phi soon followed Kappa Alpha on the same campus, and in the
short course of a few years other fraternities appeared, and the system of Greek
letter brotherhoods became fairly and firmly launched.

It is interesting to reflect on the early days, when the Greek letter men
were invariably the minority of the student body, and conditions everywhere
seemed hostile to their existence. But the fraternity, contrary to expecta-
tions, proved to be an association whose influence was to broaden, rather than
to narrow, the friendship of its members. It was a plea for friendship rather
than a protest against it, and its influence became felt beyond the banded
fellowship of its own conservative circle,

^ In the early days the chapter was a fraternity in itself, and if the mother
chapter had planted charters in other colleges, the association between the two
was not as intimate as it is to-day. It was seldom they came together. The
fraternity interest seemed to be measured by the days in college, and was
counted only a pleasant memory in the years which followed commencement.
Those who organized these fraternities and shaped their policy in the early
days builded far wiser than they knew.

Many are the men who answer to the roll-call of the classes of the thirties
and forties, who, years after they had worn the old fraternity pin, found some
genial youth displaying on his vest the old familiar insignia, and upon inquiry
as to when and where such good fortune befell him, learned that the fraternity,
which had grown dim and almost forgotten, had become an organization of
strength and power, and its chapters were on the green campus of colleges of
standing, from gulf to lakes, and from sea to sea. Such was the glad surprise
to many and many of the "Older Boys," who had wandered into the commer-
cial and professional world, leaving behind the pleasant memories of youth.

Richard Lloyd Jones.






' I "HE road that winds among the rocks, and lifts
i The toiler up to heights where all the gifts.
Most manifold, of nature, are enhanced.
And vistas open to the mind entranced
With hopes half realized, is rough and steep.
The level paths are easier to keep.

There are no bruised feet upon the plain ;
No sighs for hopes that proved to be in vain ;
No eyes that ache and yet refuse to weep
Aweary grown with looking up the steep
Ascent for that which, failing of a name
Men call, for lack of better reason, fame.

No balm has yet been found for such as feel
No bruise. That rest alone is sweet and real
When Labor first prepares the couch and makes
Immediate, magic cure of all our aches.

Whatever cause may underlie, 'tis true.
That fame has been monopolized by few
While millions failed, or else did not aspire.
The tide of fortune lifts few from the mire.
Who, beside Caesar passed the Rubicon?
At Waterloo, who stood with Wellington?
Who, with Napoleon, braved the Russian Bear?
With Washington, who crossed the Delaware ?

Yet there were those who well deserved the meed
Awarded to the one. Their country's need
Became their own, and they as freely gave
Of their heart's blood — nor deigned one drop to save-
As he on whom the laurel wreath was laid. .
One name shines through the years, while others fade.

Yet fame is ever circumscribed by fears.
Success breeds cares and victory hath its tears.
The happiest homes are not in palace halls,
Nor hearts found truest where the ermine falls.

In truth, to climb Aornus were an end

Most meet, if on the heights were found a friend

Whose trustful soul against your own would grow.

Too close to be cast off at any blow

Aimed by the tongue of envy or of hate.

They scarce deserve the name of friends who wait

On Fortune, when the brook grows shallow — fools —

Casting about their line for deeper pools.

These last comprise the most of humankind.

And even fame is not so hard to find

As the pure love from friendship's sacred mine,

Which, purged from dross, becomes almost divine.

Not hoarded treasure gained by years of toil,

The finer senses being dulled meanwhile ;

Not high position, with its motley horde

Of clinging sycophants, whose every word

Belies the real desire for pslf and place ;

Not the brief honor of the winning race

For fame, where false ambition sets the pace ;

Not one or all combined can fill the space

Of individual life, from dawn to dark

With full content, whene'er there lacks the spark


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Within the breast which makes of all mankind

A brotherhood. As well attempt to find

A pearl or diamond in the serpent's nest.

As rare content or perfect peace and rest

Where naught but sordid avarice abides

And greed has scorched the soul it all but hides.

Let that fair word, Fraternity, sink d;ep

Into your hearts and lives, for round it sweep.

At ever varying range, half of the light

And sunshine of this life. It brings no blight,

But bloom instead. It proves a healing balm

To minds diseased. It finds a haven calm

For storm-tossed souls which elss might have been lost.

It tells the truth whatever proves the cost.

Fraternity — thou child of college halls.
Although not circumscribsd by any walls —
To thee we pledge the cup and faith renew.
To joys you add, in measure more than due.
And to the sorrows, bid us kiss the rod.
Seeing in them, fraternity with God.

Donald D. Donnan.




.■ LcniGti ~ union *]





ONE of the most important and interesting of the subjects relating to the
growth of the American college fraternities is that cf their chapter
houses. These have been fitly named the college homesteads of the Greek
letter men. When the young collegian goes up to his chosen college or
university, one of the most interesting, oftentimes most exciting and per-
plexing, of the events of his scholastic career is the final acceptance of
election to one of the fraternities. Not surprising, then, that the chapter
house should be regarded with no little interest by the novitiate.

Thf, increase in the number of chapter houses has been coincident with
tlie maturity of the fraternities, varying as to cost or architectural pretensions,
according mostly to the age or financial ability of the proprietary chapter.
Chapter houses or lodges are found now at nearly all the institutions where
the Greek letter fraternities have established themselves. The earliest of
these structures was, indeed, the pioneer of its class ; but whether the dis-
tinction of having the first lodge or chapter house belongs to Kenyon
College, or the University of Michigan, is in dispute. At all events, it was in
the West, and like the houses of the sturdy pioneers who developed that
section, it was a log cabin. It is certain that a structure of this kind on a
secluded spot in an outlying forest, was us-d for its secret conclaves by at least
one of the three fraternities which, established at Michigan in the middle


" forties," successfully withstood the ban and outlawry of faculty interdiction.
But probably the cabin in this case, unlike that used at Kenyon ten years later by
the men of Delta Kappa Epsilon, was not built for the purpose. The latter was a
fairly well-built structure of its class, forty-five feet long. The interior, ten
feet in height, was nicely ceiled, and there was a suitable furnishing with
carpet, chairs, tables, and the walls were adorned with a few pictures. "A
cooking-stove, with skillet, griddles and pots complete, was the pride of the
premises," writes an old member, " where each hungry boy could roast his
own potatoes or cook his meat on a forked stick in true bandit style." In the
early days, the prevailing prejudice against fraternities at most of the colleges,
which in some cases was expressed in actual strict and fierce inhibition, with
severest penalties, made it necessary that the members should rendezvous
stealthily, and therefore the chapter could not have a fixed meeting place,
much less possess a lodge or house of its own. But with the second gen-
eration of the fraternities, when their founders were sending their sons in
increasing numbers to claim collegiate and fraternity honors, the need for
commodious lodgement was as natural as the vitality of the societies and the
recognition which they had wrested from college authorities. Indeed, among
the most earnest and influential of those to favor chapter house schemes have
been Greek letter men of the highest standing and authority in the faculties of
the great institutions where the fraternities maintain their strongest position.
It has been remarked that with the development of the chapter house a
process of evolution is going on, by which something like a dormitory system
of a new species is coming to be established. The maintenance of a college
homestead, with a well ordered manage, certainly induces a communal life
among the members, and although objection has been raised that in one or
two cases the club feature has led to abuses, to extravagance, and to dissi-
pation, yet there can be no question that the influences surrounding the
collegian who has the good fortune to be domiciled in a comfortable and well-
appointed fraternity house are wholesome and uplifting. We have the testi-
mony on this point of that distinguished educator and statesman, Andrew D.
White. In an address at the dedication of the Psi Upsilon House at Cornell,
he expressed the opinion that; " Both theory and experience show us that
when a body of young men in a university Hke this are given a piece of
property, a house, its surroundings, its reputation, which for the time being
is their own, for which they are responsible, in which they take pride — they




will treat it carefully, lovingly, because the honor of the society they love is
bound up in it."

And on the subject of the usefulness of the chapter house, in its relation
to the college life of the Greek letter man, Charles Kendall Adams, President
of the University of Wisconsin, in a letter recently published, giving his views
upon the tendencies to extravagant expenditure and to caste among college
students, and upon the true ideal of a college life in a democratic republic,
declared that, " while there is unquestionably some tendency to waste a good
deal of time in unimportant social affairs, yet on the whole it is doubtful
whether more is not gained than lost by such associations." Pursuing the
subject, he added : "The importance of such communal life in the friendships
that are established and carried out into the world ought not to be overlooked.
Usually the fraternities are more or less under the supervision of officers of
the faculty who when in college were themselves members and who continue
to take an interest in the success of the institutions with which they have been
so closely identified. All of the best fraternities are an important means of
restraining the wayward, of keeping up standards of scholarship, and of pre-
venting lawlessness and neglect of university studies. It must be admitted that
these are advantages which are not furnished by the dormitory system. While
here and there objections to their existence are raised, it must be evident to
those who have observed their establishment and progress that they are des-
tined to remain, and it is to be hoped that they will furnish very much of the
good and prevent very much of the -evil that are commonly supposed to be
characteristic of the older system of dormitory life."

William Raimond Baird, author of the valuable work on " American Col-
lege Fraternities," fitly summarizes the following cogent reasons for the useful-
ness of fraternity chapter houses : " It is a common fact in human experience that
people are more deeply interested in things upon which they have spent time,
effort, or money, than in things which they have acquired without either, and •
■ the interest cf alumni has never been so fully aroused and maintained by any
feature of fraternity life as by the efforts which have been made to build chap-
ter lodges and houses. The creation of building funds, the frequent consulta-
tions as to plans and the consideration of ways and means, have intensified the
interest of alumni in a way that nothing else has done. All of this has resulted
in direct benefit tc ihe colleges, and the wiser among college officials are
encouraging the development of this feature of fraternity life in every way


possible. The advantages of the chapter-house system are not altogether on
the side of the student. They relieve the college from the necessity of increas-
ing the dormitory accommodations, and also of many of the details of super-
vision over the actions of the students."

The number of houses owned by the twenty-five fraternities represented
in this work is one hundred and forty-one. The number of houses leased
exceeds two hundred, and these are soon to give way in many cases to houses
owned or erected by the chapters, plans for that purpose having been already
adopted. The structures are of two classes. The earliest type was a lodge or
temple, as mostly at Yale, designed and built for the exclusive purpose of a
place where the formal conclaves are held. It was soon found that for the
active members of a fraternity, closely associated together throughout the
whole college term, there was needed a structure containing, besides the hall
or room for meetings, the complete equipment of rooms for living and social
purposes. In the majority of cases, so rapid has been the development of the
chapter-house system, instead of houses specially planned and erected, pur-
chase has been made of eligible private residences, some of them possessing a
style of architectural elegance which challenges admiration. In such cases,
after the required alterations and fitting up, a lodge is afforded as sumptuous
and complete as if planned specially for the purpose. The styles of architecture
are as varied as the caprices of architects at different periods and localities.
In the larger cities one naturally expects to find a style of chapter-house archi-
tecture following somewhat that of the city residence or club house, while in the
country localities he will meet the vagaries of the Queen Anne period, mingled
here and there with stately reproductions of the best work of the Colonial
style. A distinct differentiation is noticeable in one of the houses at Amherst,
and at another place an entirely novel type of architecture presents itself — a kind
of cloister connecting the larger part of the building, where the members have
their living rooms, by a gallery or covered way with the chapel or lodge room
where the proceedings are held. In interior arrangement and decoration there
is as great a difference as in external appearance. Not a few of the houses
are furnished with everything which can be suggested by luxurious and refined
taste or supplied with the aid of unstinted resources. The wood-work, furni-
ture, objects of art and paintings are of a kind to please the requirements of a
critical ffistheticism. In some cases, as denoting a tribute of honor and
reverence in loving memory of deceased members, will be found bpautiful


I i



windows and tablets, and in this connection should be mentioned the
house which Alpha Delta Phi has erected at Hamilton College in
commemoration of the institution there of that fraternity by its founder,
Samuel Eels. With the progress of time, it can well be believed that there
will be more of these deserved memorials.

Besides the social feature, there must be considered also the economic
side of the question. The cost of the chapter houses, of the ground which they
occupy, and of their interior appointments and furnishings, varies as greatly
as the style of architecture employed, being governed for the most part by
the financial ability of the proprietary societies. In the smaller institutions,
where chapter houses have been acquired by some of the younger and less
prominent, but no less ambitious fraternities, the expenditure in a f3w cases
has not exceeded sums varying from five to ten thousand dollars, lut in
general it will be found that the investment exceeds ten thousand dollars for
land and building alone. In not a few institutions, including all the greater
universities and colleges, there are chapter houses valued at fifty thousand
dollars and upwards. It is not easy to reach exactness on this point, especially
as there has been in many cases considerable enhancement of value arising
from improvements on the property itself or in its neighborhood. From
inquiries made among alumni of several institutions and from careful investi-
gation, it is estimated that the average valuation, conservatively, of the houses
as they exist to-day is not less than twenty thousand dollars, so that, allowing
a reasonable amount for the belongings in leased premises, the aggregate
value of all the chapter house property of Greek letter fraternities in the
United States is not less than two and ons-half million dollars.

It may well be expected that because of the matured age of the fraternities,
and the increase in their membership and financial resources, the college
homesteads of the future will be vastly superior to the structures of to-day,
and that it will not be long before the buildings which are to be erected will
be of a splendid type of architectural beauty and perfectness ; moreover,
it is certain that they will be designed with strictest reference to suitability and

The strengthening influence which is exerted in the direction of promoting
the vitality of the fraternities through the development of the chapter-house
system, as a necessary and indispensable feature of fraternity organization,
cannot be too highly estimated. Besides the advantage springing from the


communal life of the active members whose interests centre so closely in their
chapter-house, there is to be considered the fact that in after life the college

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Online LibraryW. J MaxwellGreek letter men of Central New York, south → online text (page 2 of 10)