Installation of Gamma-Xi Chapter: February 15-16, 1911

Plans for the installation of Gamma-Xi Chapter moved quickly forward after its charter was approved by Kappa Sigma’s Supreme Executive Committee. District Grand Master John M. Price wished to hold it as part of his District VII Conclave. Worthy Grand Scribe Herbert M. Martin had written Price on January 3, 1911, urging him to hold the District Conclave in Columbus and to have the Denison men go there for initiation.

On January 8, William F. Becker ’11, Corresponding Secretary of Beta Alpha Delta, wrote to Martin, “All of our chapter has returned from vacation and it is needless to say that each one is highly elated over the success of our petition. We will make immediate effort to get our alumni back for the installation as soon as we hear from Mr. Price.”

Martin wrote Becker on January 27, noting that he had received a letter from Price setting the date for the District Conclave in Columbus on February 15 and 16. He urged Becker to contact the DGM to coordinate final plans for the installation.

On February 2, Martin wrote Past Worthy Grand Master Finis K. Farr, an initiate of Theta Chapter at Cumberland University and a resident of Cincinnati, asking him to install Gamma-Xi Chapter and present the charter. The same day Martin wrote Becker, informing him that the March issue of The Caduceus of Kappa Sigma would be the “Denison Number.” The editor would need articles on the installation, a brief history of Denison, a sketch of Beta Alpha Delta, and pictures of the campus, the chapter house, and the installation.

The ceremonies were the major feature of the District VII Conclave in Columbus, on February 15 and 16, 1911. At that time, District VII was composed of Alpha-Sigma Chapter at Ohio State University in Columbus, Beta-Delta Chapter at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, Beta-Nu Chapter at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and Beta-Phi Chapter at Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland. Because the conclave was held mid-week, only one representative from each of the three out-of-town chapters was in attendance.

Representing the Supreme Executive Committee was Past WGM Finis Farr, an expert on the Kappa Sigma Ritual, having, along with WGS Martin, written the Explanatory Lecture, based on the material passed on to them by Stephen Alonzo Jackson of Zeta Chapter at the University of Virginia.

Headquarters for the District Conclave was the Alpha-Sigma chapter house, and the resident brothers moved temporarily to the homes of various town men to allow the visitors from Beta-Delta, Beta-Nu, Beta-Phi, and Beta Alpha Delta to be housed together. The undergraduate members of Beta Alpha Delta came over early from Granville for a business meeting at the chapter house on Wednesday morning, February 15. The alumni of Beta Alpha Delta joined them before noon.

After lunch, everyone proceeded downtown to the A.I.U. temple, “a secret society hall with every needed convenience,” where the initiations were to be held. At two o’clock the ceremonies began and continued with no intermission until nine o’clock. First, the Alpha-Sigma officers opened their chapter and initiated two of their pledges—just to make sure that everything was in proper form. Then the Gamma-Xi Chapter was formally opened for the first time, with the Alpha-Sigma officers occupying the chairs, except that of Grand Master, which Farr assumed as the representative of the SEC. The first initiate, by tradition, was the man who would be installed as the first Grand Master of Gamma-Xi, Fred C. Parks ’11. After several others had passed through the Twelfth Gate, the new brothers were asked to participate in various capacities in the initiations that followed. The work continued until 21 undergraduate and 11 alumni members of Beta Alpha Delta had become Kappa Sigmas. The chapter was closed about nine o’clock and everyone adjourned to the Ohio Club where a banquet was waiting for them.

Ninety-three Kappa Sigmas gathered for the feast, then pushed back their chairs for the speeches that followed. Among the highlights were Fred Parks’ telling the story of Beta Alpha Delta, its struggles, its accomplishments, and its hopes for the future.

The principal address of the evening was made by Brother Farr. He welcomed the new brothers, described the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and its ideals from the perspective of a man long connected with the inner workings of the brotherhood. “The time has passed,” he said, “when fraternities pride themselves upon exclusiveness. It is ridiculous to hear of fraternities that have within ten or twelve as many chapters as Kappa Sigma speak disparagingly of her numbers. The wearers of the Star and Crescent pride themselves on their inclusiveness.”

The event closed with some rousing Kappa Sigma yells, after which all the out-of-town visitors proceeded to the Alpha-Sigma chapter house, where they slept about six deep!

Thursday morning, February 16, everyone gathered again at the Alpha-Sigma house for one more Gamma-Xi initiation—a very special one. Charles F. Burke ’04, one of the founders of Beta Alpha Delta, had not been able to get to Columbus on Wednesday, but arrived by overnight train and was greeted by a delegation from Denison and escorted to the ceremonies. Gamma-Xi Chapter was again opened by Finis Farr as Grand Master and officers of Alpha-Sigma. Burke was then initiated as the 33rd member of Gamma-Xi in the presence of all of his Beta Alpha Delta brothers, now his new Kappa Sigma brothers.

Brother Farr then gave the Explanatory Lecture—from memory, of course. Finis Farr’s Theta Chapter at Cumberland University had been chartered in 1887, and Farr joined before the end of the year. He quickly made the acquaintance of Stephen Alonzo Jackson and other leaders of the time and must have made a good impression, for Farr was elected Worthy Grand Master of Ceremonies at the 1892 Grand Conclave. His term as Worthy Grand Master from 1906 to 1908 followed. He also served a brief term as Editor of The Caduceus of Kappa Sigma in 1905 and 1906.

Later Farr returned to edit The Caduceus from 1915 to 1922, then served as Historian of Kappa Sigma from 1923 until his death in 1929, shortly after presenting the Fraternity with his masterpiece history of Kappa Sigma’s first 60 years, Kappa Sigma, A History: 1869-1929.

Farr’s Theta Chapter, however, suffered hard times during World War I, and the charter was withdrawn in 1917. In 1955, the name “Theta” was given to a new chapter at Texas Christian University on the belief that original Theta at Cumberland would never be revived. In 1993 that assumption proved very wrong when Theta was rechartered at Cumberland under the name “Theta Prime.” This author, then Historian of the Fraternity, had the honor of serving as acting Ritualist to bring Finis Farr’s chapter back to active status—acknowledging Farr’s role in installing Gamma-Xi Chapter in 1911.

After presenting the Explanatory Lecture at the Gamma-Xi installation, Farr then proceeded to install the first officers of Gamma-Xi: Fred Parks, Grand Master; Horace H. Hunt ’11, Grand Procurator; William Becker, Grand Master of Ceremonies; Carl K. Boyer ’11, Grand Scribe; Tracy M. Patrick ’12, Grand Treasurer; and Warren D. Miller ’12 and Clifford E. Reichard ’13, as Guards.

After closing Gamma-Xi Chapter, Farr turned the meeting over to DGM Price for another session of the District Conclave. Among the topics discussed were collecting dues, obtaining funds to furnish a chapter house, improvement of ritual work, and pledging—not so different from the topics that have been discussed by chapters and District Conclaves for the past century!

After lunch, Alpha-Sigma hosted an open house for all the other fraternities and sororities at Ohio State to visit and meet the members of the new chapter at Denison. That evening saw the final event of the conclave, a reception and dance at the Ohio Union of the day. Forty couples were present as dancing continued from nine p.m. to two a.m., except for an intermission for supper.

Friday morning saw many sleepy-eyed brothers gather together their belongings and depart. The alumni of Beta Alpha Delta Fraternity—now Gamma-Xi Chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity—left for their homes, and the undergraduate members returned to Granville to continue their studies and to proudly wear the badge of Kappa Sigma.

By noon all the visitors had left, and the members of Alpha-Sigma Chapter were renewing their acquaintances with their professors.

We are told that upon his return to Granville, Wilfred C. Coe ’11 headed straight for Stone Hall and presented his new fraternity pin to the Delta Delta Delta who soon became his wife.

A new national fraternity chapter had come to the Denison campus, and while Beta Alpha Delta was gone and soon almost forgotten on the hill, it continued to live in the hearts and memories of the new Kappa Sigmas and their successors—still loyal sons of Beta Alpha Delta.

Twenty-two of the thirty-three February 15-16, 1911, Initiates of Gamma-Xi Chapter

Row one: Wilfred C. Coe ʼ11, Alfred S. Orcutt ʼ11, Horace H. Hunt ʼ11, Fred C. Parks ʼ11, Elsor Heater ʼ08, William F. Becker ʼ11, Carl K. Boyer ʼ11. Row two: Raymond F. Cunningham ʼ13, Raymond E. Ladd ʼ14, Alby S. Fleming ʼ14, Claude R. Hastings, ʼ14, Clifton S. Schropp ʼ14, Eugene J. Barney ʼ14. Row three: Clifton E. Reichard ʼ13, Scott W. Camp ʼ12, Robert M. Ashley ʼ13, Lester J. Black ʼ14, Harlan C. Reynolds ʼ17, Stewart W. McClelland ʼ12, Tracy M. Patrick ʼ12, Warren D. Miller ʼ12, Joseph H. Boutwell ʼ12. Missing from the picture, which was taken a few days after the installation: James S. West ʼ04, Fletcher S. Scott ʼ06, Waldo F. Walker ʼ11, William A. Evans ʼ06, Hugh R. Hick ʼ03, R. Dean Hart ʼ10, John M. Mitchell ʼ10, Charles B. Patt ʼ05, Earl H. Foote ʼ09, George L. Hershberger ʼ09, Charles F. Burke ʼ04.