The Archives of Phi Gamma Delta

Archives Home Founders Traditions Today in History Historic Sites Leaders Exhibits/References Blog Contact

______________________________________________________________________

 

Two Chapters at Northwestern

In the late 1860s Phi Chapter Members Migrated to Evanston from Baker University Kansas

Adapted from The Phi Gamma Delta magazine 1931, with additions from the Archives

By Hargrave A. Long (Chicago 1911)

Back to History Articles page

Many Fijis have read that for a short time two of our chapters maintained themselves at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, independently and in rivalry. Some have heard that the charter of one of those chapters was revoked and certain members expelled from the Fraternity for disloyalty.

But as most of these unusual occurrences happened in the years just before and after 1870, the true story of just what happened has not yet been written.

The known facts are comparatively few, and (to encourage an Irish bull market!) some of these are doubtful! Around and about those facts and many surmises and conjectures, have been written several very interesting stories of what happened to Phi Gamma Delta at Northwestern in the years from 1867 to 1875.

The revival of the Phi Chapter authorized by the 82nd Ekklesia at San Antonio, Texas, on January 1, 1931 by the grant of a charter to the Scribblers fraternity of Northwestern University, and its reinstallation at Evanston March 14, not only revive our former chapter there but also rekindle our fraternity's interest in the history of the early Fiji groups there.

STORY OF DELTA DEUTERON

From the many sources of information listed at the conclusion of this article, none of which is comprehensive and few of which are in exact harmony with the others, and without attempting here to explain my reasons for every statement, it appears to me that the history of Phi Gamma Delta at Northwestern, prior to the Scribblers' petition for revival, was substantially as follows:

On October 24, 1867, the Grand Chapter at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, issued a charter for the establishment of Delta Deuteron Chapter* at "NorthWestern University" (note the original spelling!) in Evanston, Illinois, to nine men whose names and classes, according to the charter and other evidence, were as follows: George W. Winslow, 1867; Jacob Randolph Allen, 1869; Hiram Curtiss, 1869; Ira Belknap Henry, 1870; Thomas Craven, 1870; Joseph Hamilton Gill, 1870; Michael Finity, 1870; Thomas Stribling Berry, 1872; J. Seymour Currey, 1870. We must presume that all of these men were initiated, although up to date the only proofs of their membership appear in college alumni records and the like, stating "Phi Gamma Delta."

*Delta Deuteron was also the name later given to the chapter established at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia in 1870, and reestablished in 1967.

This chapter continued in existence until late 1869 or early 1870, when the charter was returned to the governing body of the Fraternity, where it still reposes in the archives. A photographic reproduction of the charter illustrates page 36 of Tomos Beta of The History of Phi Gamma Delta. Members of Delta Deuteron continued in Northwestern until as late as 1876, and one of the charter members, George W. Winslow, remained in the faculty of the university until 1873.

It appears that a total of eighteen members have been more or less positively identified as belonging to this chapter, although our fraternity's official records do not show a single name, for reasons which are discussed later. It would seem that the chapter initiated about nine members subsequent to the original nine.

REPRESENTED AT CONVENTION

The chapter apparently flourished during its first two years, having at that time only the competition of Phi Kappa Psi, which was first established at Northwestern in 1864. It was represented by a delegate to the eighth convention of Phi Gamma Delta, held July 7-8, 1869, in the old Monongahela House in Pittsburgh, Pa., and its representative, James H. Raymond, 1871, became the presiding officer of the convention and took a prominent part in its deliberations. The official program of that convention and the official minutes, which are still preserved in the archives, show this conclusively.

As to what happened when Raymond returned to Evanston from the Pittsburgh convention, there is much uncertainty, excepting that plenty of trouble resulted. The history of the Northwestern chapter of Sigma Chi, which was established June 23, 1869 (note the date just a few days before the Fiji convention), says that upon Raymond's return he found his chapter "soul and body in a Psi Upsilon craze," so enthralled that they severed their connection with Phi Gamma Delta and "individually and as a chapter" petitioned Psi Upsilon for a charter, which was promptly considered and with equal promptness refused. (Parenthetically, it may be noted that there is ample evidence that a group of Psi Upsilons in Evanston and the university, beginning as early as 1869 and continuing well into the 1870s, made repeated efforts to procure a satisfactory petition from Northwestern students. In one authenticated instance their efforts went so far as to sign up the entire personnel of the Sigma Chi chapter and two members each of Beta Theta Pi and Phi Kappa Sigma. The petition failed by one vote, but the unsuccessful applicants resumed their original fraternity memberships, apparently without penalty! This occurred subsequent to the disruption of Delta Deuteron.)

MEN ARE OSTRACIZED

Of this Psi U. situation and its bearing upon the fraternities, the Sigma Chi historian says that the Phi Gamma Delta chapter (Delta Deuteron, undoubtedly) "was composed of good men, and but for this Psi Upsilon movement it would have continued and been our strongest opponent." He says further that after the rejection of their petition to Psi Upsilon "its twenty members found little comfort in the solitude which separated them not only from their old order but from all the Greek-letter fraternities. They felt the loss keenly, and especially since they were so 'cordially hated' by the Phi Gamma Deltas for their ingratitude. The bond of good fellowship which attains its highest perfection in a college secret society was forfeited by this act, and, worse than all, has been denied them forever."

The foregoing narrative, which can logically be traced to James H. Raymond so far as the "inside" story of the Phi Gamma Delta chapter is concerned (he and the Sigma Chi historian being fellow Evanstonians and friends for many years) is sharply contradicted by the reported investigations of Charles A. Watson (Yale 1876), who wrote in 1914:

Let it suffice for now that such evidence as is available at this late date shows that Mr. Raymond was the Grand Mogul of the chapter, which had, at best, a very loose and haphazard system of government and that he was himself the prime mover in the attempt to go over to Psi Upsilon. Anyway, the first notice some of the men had of the whole a fair was when Mr. Raymond sprang the matter in a meeting, proposed a return of the charter and by the gift of gab that made him a bright light in the days of oratorical contests, took the boys by storm so that they voted unanimously to return the charter, "the only unanimous vote that was ever had at a chapter meeting," as my informant told me. Although it is certain that the members of the chapter were expelled from the fraternity and the charter revoked by whatever there was of central authority in those days, it is my opinion that we must allow that such action was preceded by the vote to return the charter. In other features, the account is erroneous.

Brother Watson did not point out the other erroneous features, nor did he name his informant.

Just how long the Psi Upsilon movement occupied the attention of Delta Deuteron members is a matter of conjecture, but the best evidence seems to be that the charter was surrendered some time during the college year of 1869-1870. The members remained in college, however, some of them as late as 1875 and 1876, but we can only guess to what extent and in what manner they attempted, if at all, to maintain a chapter existence.

CONTEMPORARY SHEDS NEW LIGHT

The founder of the Sigma Chi Chapter at Northwestern, Hon. Lorin C. Collins, Sr., 1872, who entered as a freshman in the fall of 1868 after a year at Ohio Wesleyan, and organized the group that fall which became Omega Chapter on June 23, 1869, says that:

When I entered Northwestern in September, 1868, the Phi Gamma Deltas and the Phi Kappa Psis were both operating, but not very actively. They had, between them, most of the prominent upperclassmen, but not many younger men, and I don't recall ever hearing of their initiating new men after I arrived. Their badges were quite prominent at first, but we saw fewer and fewer of them, and when I graduated in '72, there were hardly any left of either crowd. The Phi Gams, as we called them then, had a fine crowd, but nearly all older men, most of them studying for the ministry. They were all very busy, and we younger students saw little of them around the campus.

After we fellows got our Sigma Chi charter, we had no competition from the Phi Gams or the Phi Kaps. In the summer of 1870, I found in the attic of a house my folks had rented, the old minute book and initiation records of the Phi Gamma Delta chapter. If we Sigs had regarded the Phi Gams as rivals then, I am sure I would have taken those records to our chapter, but I distinctly remember leaving them here they were in the attic, after reading them, of course. The house belonged to a very prominent physician in Evanston, Dr. James S. Jewell, as I recall his name. I always thought he was a Phi Gam. [No such name appears in our membership catalogue.]

Concerning the Psi U.'s, I recall considerable talk at different times. They never approached me, but they did approach other Sigma Chis. I recall we had to expel one very fine fellow in my class because he signed a Psi U. petition. A very prominent member of the faculty, Dr. Robert Cumnock, was an ardent Psi U. who worked hard for them. You mentioned Wilbur Peet, '72, as a Psi U. from Genesee College who transferred to Northwestern. I remember him well, but not as a Psi U. Cumnock was a great friend of the Raymond family, and of "Jim" Raymond, but I do not recall ever hearing anything definite about Jim being mixed up with the Psi U.'s. Jim and I saw a lot of each other in after years, especially when we were both trustees of Northwestern for a long time together. I served 20 years, he somewhat less than that. Jim was a handsome, talented fellow, a fine singer, a wonderful orator, and in his younger days very quick and impulsive. He was always a leader.

PHI MEMBERS MIGRATE

To go back a few years and to change the scene, let us transfer ourselves to Baker University at Baldwin City, Kansas, an important Methodist college in those days, almost as old as Northwestern. To a group of Baker students, sometime in the year 1865, probably in the fall, the Grand Chapter of that time granted a charter for the organization of Phi Chapter. It was duly operative and its members continued their chapter existence at Baker until 1868 or 1869. Eleven members were initiated, perhaps more, but our several fraternity catalogues name only the following eleven brothers as members of Phi chapter: AIpheus A. B. Cavaness, 1873; James M. Cavaness, 1870; Walter I. Dallas, 1870; Asbury Keiffer, 1870; Charles E. Lambert, 1873; Draper A. Lindsey, 1873; A. R. Robinson, 1874; John Robinson, 1870; Joshua Robinson 1874; Josiah B. Siess, 1874; Julius W. Thomas, 1870.

Becoming dissatisfied with college conditions there at the time, five of the Phi members picked up the chapter charter and paraphernalia and migrated in a body to Northwestern University, and there attempted to operate as a chapter. The best information is that this occurred in the summer of 1869, as the five Phi members all show in the Northwestern catalogues as having entered in September, 1869. The five migratory Fijis to the East, who reversed Horace Greely's famous advice, were: Alpheus A. B. Cavaness, Charles Edward Lambert, Albert Richard Robinson, Draper Alonzo Lindsey, and Josiah Benjamin Siess.

When the five Phi Argonauts landed with their charter on the Evanston campus of Northwestern, they discovered the Delta Deuteron chapter there existing. It is probable that they did not know of its existence when they left Baker University. The Phi Chapter was not represented at any national convention of the fraternity; there was no fraternity magazine at that time; and the uncertain methods of communication of those days and the loose methods of central fraternal government make their ignorance of Delta Deuteron's existence quite natural.

HAYSEEDS AND YOUNG BLOODS

A. A. B. Cavaness wrote in 1914 that the Phi Fijis found the Delta Deuteron chapter "was made up of high toned young bloods, city bred, and the idea of associating with a lot of 'hayseeds' was not edifying to them. A few country boys fresh in the college could do nothing, could make no headway as a Greek fraternity against others of more repute and without any such handicap in character of membership. I do recall that we initiated at least two fine fellows, men of fine qualities but without dress coats. One was Thomas Van Scoy, but the name of the other has escaped my mind. Both these men achieved distinction in college and Van Scoy did in later life."

According to Brother Lambert, in a letter written in 1928 at the age of 86 years:

[W]hen we five reached N. W. U., we found that the local chapter had disorganized before we came. Every effort we made to enlarge our numbers proved unavailing. The men of the local chapter which was disorganized were too influential. They were, as a rule, Civil War veterans and were, of course, at least three years behind in their studies and gave as their reason they had no time. Cavaness and Siess returned to Kansas after their first year, leaving only Robinson, Lindsey and myself of the old lot. I should have graduated in '73, but two years before then I became a nervous wreck and returned to Kansas to recuperate. When I returned in the fall of '73, Lindsey and Robinson had graduated and I was alone . . . I can give you no information with reference to members, except Van Scoy. He and I graduated in '75. He succeeded me as president of Willamette University, and in later years taught in Portland, Ore., and in Montana, where he died.

Also according to Brother Lambert in the same letter, the members of Phi Chapter who did not migrate to Northwestern "remained in Kansas and I have neither seen nor heard from them to date."

WAS DELTA DEUTERON DISLOYAL?

Neither Brother Cavaness nor Brother Lambert mentions disloyalty in Delta Deuteron. They both express an unfavorable opinion of the attitude of the Delta Deuteron members toward the newcomers, but not disloyalty. We, therefore, have, no charge before us by any member of the Fraternity having firsthand knowledge of the situation that the Delta Deuteron members were disloyal; although such suspicion is certainly strong. Charles A. Watson says, in his 1914 article, that

there are men who are proud of their membership in the Northwestern chapter of Phi Gamma Delta who never heard of the expulsion, but they do remember men, who, in turn, recall the activities of Mr. Raymond after the fall of 1870, when the Delta Deuteron charter was given up. It is probable that when the Delta Deuteron's petition to Psi Upsilon failed, these men had a change of heart and tried to worm themselves back into the fraternity by assuming charge of Phi Chapter.

I have been informed by a Fiji resident in Evanston that he knew Brother Draper Alonzo Lindsey, one of the five Phi migrants, in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1924 or 1925, and that Lindsey told him more than once that the Delta Deuteron Fijis whom he knew all placed the blame for the Psi U. movement on James H. Raymond. Opposed to this, of course, is the Sigma Chi narrative, probably based on Raymond's account, which pictured Raymond as trying vainly to stem the tide of disaffection which he found on returning from the 1869 convention.

Historian William F. Chamberlin (Denison 1893) wrote in Tomas Beta, at page 149, in a footnote commenting upon the 1869 convention at Pittsburgh, as follows:

The name of J. H. Raymond, who was president of this convention, will not be found in any of the catalogues, and perhaps the mystery of omission would never have been known save for a letter written November 22, 1870, by G. W. Burton (DePauw 1871) to W. D. Frazer (Wabash 1873). J. H. Raymond was the leader of Delta Deuteron Chapter at Northwestern University. This chapter was given the name of Phi when students from Phi Chapter at Baker University, Kansas, entered Northwestern because of the ban placed on Greek-letter societies by the faculty at Baker. There existed at Northwestern for a time two distinct chapters. Attempts to amalgamate failed and the fraternity's existence at Northwestern was doomed. J. H. Raymond joined a body of students petitioning Psi Upsilon, before our chapter at Northwestern became extinct, and his name was withdrawn from the rolls by the Grand Chapter. A chapter of Psi Upsilon was not established at Northwestern. Thus regretfully the record is made.

With all due respect to Brother Chamberlin's monumental achievements in historical research, two active chapters did not co-exist at Northwestern. And Delta Deuteron was never given the name of Phi.

THE GRAND CHAPTER'S PERSPECTIVE

Proof comes from the Grand Chapter's report to the 1870 Convention. Their perspective on the situation sheds light on the expulsion of Delta Deuteron's membership. As a contemporary account, we may perhaps regard this as the most accurate of any provided. The errors are mistakes of transcription, as this was one of dozens of copies made and sent to the various chapters.

By far the most important an inexplicable event of the year has been the action of the Delta Deuteron chapter at Evanston, Ills. Its representatives at the last convention were apparently so enthusiastic in the cause of "Deltaism," held such prominent positions in that body and were so conspicious [sic] in their endeavour as to advance the interests, welfare, and harmony of this order and all its members that one might have supposed its fountainhead, the source of all its vitality lay at Evanston Ills. How natural then was our surprise at the letter-- a personal letter-- from Mr. Jas. N. Raymond to one of our brothers in New York, which informed him (and begged him not to mention the fact) that "Delta Deuteron" had voted to return her Charter, Constitution and other documents and sever and sever [sic] her connection with the Fraternity." [sic] We stood aghast at the intelligence and many believed it a hoax, in view of the very pleasant relations of "Delta Deuteron" with the entire Fraternity. Time however only confirmed it. We endeavored to send a representative to scene of action but circumstances prevented, and after a voluminous correspondence to arrange the difficulty, whatever it might be, had proven unsuccessful, on the 6th of Nov. 1869 the charter of "Delta Deuteron" chapter was formally revoked. Their action it seems was influenced by a professor in the University, a member of the "Psi Upsilon" fraternity who urged them to apply for a charter from that fraternity. The latest intelligence from Evanston informs us they have not yet received that charter. All the members of "Phi" chapter at Baker University, having left that institution, that chapter was on February 28th 1870 declared extinct. Some of the members went to the Northwestern University at Evanston Ills. But there being no chapter of the Fraternity there and not desiring to bear any part of the odium which has naturally attached itself to the name of "Delta Deuteron," petitioned us to remove the "Phi" chapter to that place and allow them to organize under that name. On the 25th of April 1870 that petition was granted. We wish them and we ask you to wish them "God Speed; and much success in their worthy efforts to brighten the somewhat tarnished record of "Phi Gamma Delta" at the N. W. University.

Thus the record stands as to the forfeit of the first Delta Deuteron Chapter, and the subsequent expulsion of its members from the Fraternity rolls.

PHI REMAINS STEADFAST

And as to Phi and its members, there has never been even the suspicion of the taint. To our revived chapter, the name of Phi should typify the courage of its migrant members to combat adversity, the ambition to achieve, and the satisfaction of having honorably discharged their fraternal duties in the most efficient manner they knew. To their faith, Phi members remained steadfast and firm.

Lambert, Lindsey and Van Scoy were Civil War veterans. Lambert and Van Scoy became college presidents. Lambert, Van Scoy, Lindsey and Robinson all took degrees, two or more each, at Northwestern and all taught in schools or colleges. Robinson and Van Scoy were Phi Beta Kappas; Lindsey was a 33-degree Mason. Lindsey died a lawyer; Van Scoy died as president of Montana Wesleyan University; Cavaness became a college teacher, newspaper proprietor and poet. Their records reflect glory on Phi Gamma Delta and credit to themselves and Phi Chapter.

Let us regard our fraternity's unusual early history at Northwestern as a unique example of the operation of fraternal associations of the earlier days, and let us find in the careers of the early members an inspiration to worth-while accomplishment by their well-endowed successors. To Phi revived, all hail!

The data upon which the foregoing article is based were obtained principally from the following sources:

  • An article published in The Phi Gamma Delta for April, 1914, by Charles A. Watson (Yale 1876).
  • History of Omega Chapter of Sigma Chi at Northwestern, published in book form in 1885 by Mr. Frank M. Elliott of Evanston.
  • Correspondence between Brother Watson and Alpheus A. B. Cavaness of the original Phi Chapter.
  • A letter in 1928 from Charles E. Lambert, also of the original Phi Chapter, to John A. Pollard (Ohio State 1924, Yale 1927).
  • Northwestern University catalogues of various dates.
  • Sundry histories of Northwestern University, especially that of Professor Wilde published in 1905 in four volumes.
  • Sundry articles in Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities.
  • William F. Chamberlin's The History of Phi Gamma Delta, Tomos Beta.
  • Personal interviews with and data supplied by Evanston Fijis and sons and daughters of former members of Delta Deuteron Chapter now deceased, who are hereby an duly and appreciatively thanked ensemble.
  • Grand Chapter report to the 1870 Convention, from the Hanover Chapter records in the Fraternity Archives.