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Adapted from "Recently Discovered Records Shed New Light on Existence of
Second Chi Chapter at Monmouth From 1869 to 1871" in The Phi Gamma Delta magazine.

Chi Chapter at Monmouth, 1869-1871

By Danner Lee Mahood (Davidson 1922, Virginia 1923)

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The history of our Chi Chapter* at Monmouth College, which our records tell us existed from 1869 to 1871, may never be written with confidence in the verities of all the situations which only scattered documents suggest.

* There have been three Chi Chapters in Phi Gamma Delta: at Monmouth College, 1869; at Racine College, 1880; and at Union College, 1893. In the early days the demise of a chapter was hidden from alien Greeks by giving its name to a new chapter. The Grand Chapter chartered a Chi Chapter at Waco University in 1866; however, this chapter was never installed and does not exist today on the roster of inactive chapters.

A trail which covers a span of more than 80 years and includes papers which have been discovered from California to Pennsylvania leaves many gaps where the Historian must rely on mere assumption and surmise.

No substantial data were available until Mrs. Thomas F. Swigert of Arroyo Grande, California, found an old ledger and minute book in 1942 which proved to be the records of our Monmouth unit.

She sent these papers to the college and on July 11, 1942, a columnist of The Daily Review Atlas of Monmouth printed a digest of the minutes of Chi Chapter. It is through the kindness of the late Mitchell E. Holliday (Illinois Wesleyan 1925), a son of William S. Holliday (Monmouth 1874), that the Historian has a complete transcript of these minutes.


The active operations for the establishment of Chi Chapter began in the fall of 1868. Early Baird's Manuals have given the date 1866, but there is no foundation for this very evident error. A petition was forwarded to the Grand Chapter at Canonsburg. There is very little mystery in the fact that this petition was not acted upon promptly. After the consolidation of Washington College and Jefferson College, there was a period when students went to the preparatory school and the lower classes in Washington and attended Jefferson for the upper classes.

The Grand Chapter, made up of officers in the Alpha Chapter, was moved back and forth between these two colleges in the three years before the petition arrived. Canonsburg and Washington were at swords' points throughout this period and the college administration had condemned fraternities in 1867 and exacted promises from entering students that they would not become pledges. Imagine the life of an undergraduate during this period and the laxness in taking care of correspondence for the fraternity may be forgiven! Just at the time that this petition should have been acted upon the chapter at Jefferson College was going out of existence and the duties of the Grand Chapter were being handed over to the undergraduates of Upsilon Chapter at the College of the City of New York.


The petitioning group at Monmouth kept together during these days when there was little hope for action by the Grand Chapter.

Their anxiety grew until finally, with no executive branch of the fraternity functioning, Gamma Deuteron Chapter at Knox College took the initiative. On May 15, 1869, Thomas E. Pope (Knox 1869), William B. Hague (Knox 1871) and George M. Bergen (Knox 1868) came to Monmouth and initiated John M. Howard, 1869; George Slonecker, 1870; William T. Campbell, 1870; Joshua L. Knapp, 1871; George W. Hamilton, 1872; William H. Baird, 1872; Josiah H. Gibson, 1872; William S. Mackey, 1872 (the catalogue gives W. A. Mackey); Robert C. Monteith, 1872; F. George Roberts, 1873.

The Grand Chapter in New York accepted this as a fait accompli, for in the March, 1919, issue of THE PHI GAMMA DELTA, page 395, the Field Secretary reported that he found the charter of the Monmouth Chapter in the chapter-house at Bucknell. The names on the charter were identical, with the exceptions of Knapp and Mackey who were not mentioned (see below). The instrument was dated October 2, 1869, and was signed by Eugene L. Bushe (City College 1867) and David D. Lloyd (City College 1870) as officers of the Grand Chapter. Since then the charter has been lost.


The chapter minutes state: "We then got along very well and on the 15th of June we came out with our pins on. And then there was hurrying to and fro and whispering among the Delta Tau Deltas and Betas. So closed the college year of 1869."

That spring Howard went to law school at the University of Michigan, where he founded the Phi Delta Phi law society. Mackey went to Ohio and affiliated with the Ohio Wesleyan Chapter. Knapp entered West Point and Roberts went to Chicago.

Despite the fact that the new chapter was a functioning organization, on September 15 another petition was sent to the Grand Chapter in New York City. In the interim before the charter was granted, Chi Chapter held two initiations in which William T. Crichton, 1870, William S. Holliday and Linus N. Lafferty, 1874, were admitted. The charter finally reached the chapter on October 8, 1869.

Now that Chi Chapter was really legally constituted, the first business meeting was held at the Baldwin House on October 18, 1869, with seven members present, two members absent, but one of the absentees allowed to vote by proxy. Crichton was elected President. Eight men were proposed for membership, a committee was appointed to draft by-laws, a member was appointed to procure a record book and two members were appointed "to procure a lodge room for permanent meetings". The meeting of October 27 was routine, except that the Gamma "read the minutes of the last convention of the fraternity and other documents," and "the committee on by-laws reported and with one exception were adopted." (At this point and in subsequent meetings the vagueness of the secretary leaves the natural curiosity of the reader in the air!)

A new note entered the chapter proceedings when Chi met on November 3. "On motion it was decided to have readings from Dicken's [sic] Pickwick Papers and Byron."


In the meetings of November 11 and November 24 the literary exercises were dispensed with, but John M. McArthur, 1872, and George Quinby, 1873, were initiated. On November 30, however, the President gave readings from Byron and on December 7, "Frat. Hamilton read an essay on which various criticisms were offered which were very good. Chapter next discussed the comparative efficiency of the moral and civil law to prevent crime. Baird leading off on the aff." Another committee was appointed "to get a room" and this time they met with success because the next two meetings were held in the College Building, but by February they were back in the Baldwin House and following that all subsequent meetings were held in the Bay State House.

On December 16 D. L. Akey, 1872, was initiated. "Gibson then read a few extracts from Billing's [sic] on ice and the [Secretary] from an album."

At the meeting on February 1 only the officers were in attendance, but they proceeded to initiate James P. Davis, 1871. "On motion Delaware, Ohio, was declared to be the choice of this chapter as the place for the next convention."

The meeting of March 3 must have been a very long one. Only about half of the members were present, but Akey gave a declamation - "very well done - after which came an essay on 'Amateur Extravagance' by Crichton. Baird and Lafferty delivered orations." The entire cabinet resigned, Baird became the second Pi of Chi Chapter, and "on motion the retiring officers were appointed a com. to investigate the finance affairs." (A Sherlock Holmes is needed here to probe this sequence of events.)

Some wrangling must have taken place when "a motion was made that we do not send a delegate to the next convention. On motion it was agreed to vote by roll call and absent members be allowed to record their votes. On motion the original motion was laid on the table till next meeting." This question was such an important one that at the next meeting on March 21 the literary performances were dispensed with and "the motion which was laid on the table at the previous meeting was then brought up 'that we do not send a delegate;' Carried. A motion was then made that we send a delegate if it would not cost over $25. Carried."

The money must have been forthcoming, for the minutes of the Convention held at Delaware, Ohio, on May 4 and 5, 1870, show that George Sloneker was the delegate from Chi Chapter.


The meeting of April 26 seems to have been one of the most brotherly of all; the minutes are here quoted:

At 7:30 p.m. Chi met. After the usual fraternal circle conversation R. C. Monteith acting [President] called to order. Crichton. . . called roll Seven brothers present. Two candidates discussed, Robinson, '74, elected [headquarters has no record that he was ever initiated] and Short appointed to spike. The other candidate laid on the table for the present, some of the brothers not being prepared to vote. The brothers looked forward to the coming year. Crichton, Lafferty and Findley appointed to do some [?]. By universal consent McArthur was appointed to feel Pinkerton. After the highest fraternal feeling manifested by all with mutual advice and encouragement Chi adjourned to meet next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

We do not know whether this projected meeting was ever held, for the next recorded meeting was held at the beginning of the new college year on September 14, 1870.

Something had certainly happened with the college and the fraternities since the past spring. The time of informal meetings had struck Chi, for the minutes record: "The order of business being absent proceed miscelaniously [sic] ." The most noteworthy minute was that "Chi voted down the resolution to enter into an armistice with other fraternities until Jan. 1st, '71."

The last meeting that we have any record of was held on September 21, 1870. Again "the order of biz was abs." Whatever the fight was, it had become hotter by this time for the chapter "proceeded first to the discussion of the resolution offered to the chapter by a convention of all of the fraternities in the college. Speeches were made by all of the members present and after an animated discussion resolution was adopted unanimously. The boys thinking that the resolution would strengthen us as a fraternity."

Then there is a long discussion about a man who was pledged without the full chapter vote and "a feeling of dissatisfaction exists among the members in relation to his election." A resolution was passed and a committee appointed to "explain and adjust matters as peaceably as possible." This note of dissension in the chapter is the last recorded word we have from the chapter itself.


Since by common agreement all authorities say that Chi Chapter ceased to exist in 1871, we may accede to this view. Certain it is that none of the initiated members was older than of the class of 1874. The reason why Chi became inactive is left entirely to conjecture, but there are still certain unsubstantiated clues to be observed. Phi Gamma Delta and Delta Tau Delta both ceased to exist at Monmouth in 1871, yet in the same year Phi Delta Theta and Phi Kappa Psi established chapters there. The 1928 membership catalogue of Phi Kappa Psi gives the names of McArthur, Baird, Hamilton and Lafferty among their members. Did these men join Phi Kappa Psi when Chi Chapter ceased operations? Just what was the pall which seemed to hover over Chi Chapter at the end which caused the editors of the 1878 catalogue of Phi Gamma Delta to deem "it advisable to omit several chapters in this edition, for which the following explanation is given: Chi: The majority of whose members are in Gamma Deuteron and the remainder expelled." The archives of the fraternity do not have any [complete] convention minutes between 1870 and 1877 and this obviously is the time when the mystery could be solved.*

There was a lingering interest in the fraternity situation at Monmouth which caused The Phi Gamma Delta magazine to print a ringing denunciation of the administration of Monmouth in its issue of May, 1880. The college was offered $25,000 if it would pass a law forbidding any student from joining a secret society. Chapters of Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Chi died in 1878 with this edict, but Phi Delta Theta and Phi Kappa Psi apparently remained sub rosa until 1884, but in 1880 the latter fraternity was apprehended and three members were dismissed from college and the remaining ten members had to sign an agreement to disband. In any event, 1884 was the final date of the early Greek-letter societies at Monmouth for even Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma, founded at Monmouth College, became inactive then.

Chi Chapter, with two years of life and only twenty-five members, must be remembered with fraternal regard. Was it in any way distinguished? What other chapter with such a limited membership produced fourteen masters of arts, nine doctors of divinity and two doctors of medicine? And their sons and grandsons are members of our fraternity today.

Indeed, Phi Kappa Psi had something to do with the failure of our chapter. A history of Alpha Tau Omega's Monmouth chapter records the following: "By April of 1871, Phi Gamma Delta and Delta Tau Delta were in poor shape, leadership was absent and the fraternities were on the verge of collapse. Phi Kappa Psi was created out of revolt by members of the other fraternities. Four Fiji's and four DTD's joined together with five other men and petitioned Phi Kappa Psi for a chapter.  A charter was granted (Illinois Gamma) and William P. Kane traveled to Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA, to be initiated into Phi Kappa Psi. Upon his return, he initiated the other members." - Archivist

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