This Week in DKE History May 24th - May 30th

May 24, 1931

Famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. (Delta Chi-Cornell University) designed and built from start to finish the Midvale Country Club Course in Penfield, New York.  This was the first course designed and built from start to finish by Brother Jones. However, while at Cornell, Brother Jones designed the back nine of the course which is now named the Cornell Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.  The course was not used until 1941 and Brother Jones returned in 1954 to complete the front nine of the course. After receiving his degree, Brother Jones formed a partnership with Canadian architect, Stanley Thompson and helped design several courses in Canada, including the Capilano Golf Course in Vancouver and the Banff Springs Golf Course.  The courses designed by Brother Jones are noted for their artistic landscaping, innovative use of bunkers, liberal use of water hazards, and placement of greens and hazards that encourage a high level of strategy. He believed that golf should be a “no risk, no reward sport”. Brother Jones was a founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1987. Brother Jones built or rebuilt over 400 courses in 45 states of the United States and in 35 countries. When there was criticism of his remodeling of the Baltusrol’s Lower Course in 1952 and, in particular, a par 3 194-yard hole over water, Brother Jones grabbed a club, marched his critic and a few bystanders to the tee and took a swing, The ball took one hop and went into the hole.  Brother Jones then turned and said:  “Gentlemen, I think the hole is eminently fair.”  Towards the end of his life, he was awakened in his hospital bed to see his two sons at his bedside.  Brother Jones asked:  “What are you doing here?”  He was told by one of his sons: “You had a little setback.”  “You had a stroke.”  Brother Jones replied:  “Do I have to count it?”

May 24, 1934

Joseph E. Otis (Phi-Yale University) announces that he is retiring as the President of the Central Republic Trust Company at age 87.  Brother Otis was the President of the Central Trust Company of Illinois when it merged with the Bank of America in January 1929, the President of the combined bank when it joined with the National Bank of the Republic on June 8, 1931, and the President of the Central Republic Trust Company on May 24, 1934.  Previously, Brother Otis had been the President of the Western Trust and Savings Bank in Chicago as is shown by this 1904 black-and-white lithograph.  Brother Otis was the Acting President of the Central Trust Company in 1918 when the previous President, Charles G. Dawes, went to Washington as the 30th Vice President of the United States.

May 25, 1857

Prior to this date, juniors at colleges were referred to as “actives” and seniors were “honorary”.  The bylaws of the Fraternity were amended so that juniors and seniors were placed on the same footing:  “… and have a vote on the same footing with juniors and have a vote on all matters except class politics”.

May 25, 1873

Alexander Winchell (Omicron-University of Michigan) (Honorary) is appointed as the first Chancellor of Syracuse University.  In 1854, Brother Winchell entered the service of the University of Michigan as a Professor of Physics and Civil Engineering and, in 1859, was appointed as State Geologist of Michigan for the newly-formed Second Geological Survey of the State.  While at Syracuse University, he brought the medical faculty to the College.  The depression of 1873 affected both his personal finances and those of Syracuse University and these troubles, including an inability to pay him, led to the resignation of Brother Winchell in 1874.  In 1875, he became a Professor of Geology and Zoology at Vanderbilt University.  His views on evolution as expressed in his book, “Adamites and Preadamites:  Or A Popular Discussion” (1878) were not acceptable to the administration  because his views diverged from biblical teaching so that Brother Winchell was obligated to resign from Vanderbilt  University in 1878.  He then returned to the University of Michigan where he was the Professor of Geology and Paleontology.  Winchell Hall, a dormitory for women, on the campus of Syracuse University, is named in his honor.

May 25, 1951

General William Chambers Chase (Upsilon-Brown University) returns to Taipei upon completion of his second round inspection tour of the Armed Forces of “Free China”.  Brother Chase was the commander of the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group in Formosa, where he had worked with Chinese Nationalists since 1951 to build their defensive strength.  Previously, Brother Chase served on the Mexican border in 1916 after the raid of Pancho Villa into Columbus, New Mexico.  Brother Chase had also served in the Fourth Division in France and Germany during and after World War I. From 1940 to 1942, Brother Chase was on the General Staff.  Brother Chase commanded the first units of the First Cavalry Division that entered Manila in February 1945 and Tokyo in September 1945.

May 25, 1970

The Executive Committee of the Fraternity voted unanimously to grant full Colony status to the Sigma Phi Omega Local Fraternity at Villanova University.

May 25, 1988

The Trustees of Bowdoin College voted that any fraternity not accepting women as full members would not be recognized by the College after September 1, 1991.  At their annual meeting on June 1, 1991, the trustees and directors of the Theta Chapter House Association voted to “reluctantly disaffiliate from Delta Kappa Epsilon International pending the outcome of certain litigation or until either Delta Kappa Epsilon or Bowdoin College alters its unreasonable intrusion on the freedom of choice and association of its affiliated organizations”. The former Deke House is now used as the office for the Registrar of the College but the House still retains a number of Deke features, including a circular stained glass crest above the entranceway, the original 1844 Charter from Phi Chapter and a number of pieces of Deke furniture.  The Library for the College houses the records of the Theta Chapter going back to its founding in 1844.

May 26, 1855

The Minutes of Phi Chapter dealt with what was Rho Chapter at the University of Indiana.  The Minutes reflect the following:  “News being rec’d of the demise of The University of Indiana, it was voted that the Charter and books be returned.”  Later that year, Lafayette College, which was originally to have been designated as Omega Chapter, was granted the Rho designation.  The early records of the Fraternity are lost so it is not known when the original Chapter was founded. However, it is obvious that it was founded among the first 20 Chapters of the Fraternity. In 1862, 1904, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1912, 1913, and 1921 applications were received to re-establish a chapter at Indiana University but all of the applications were denied.

May 26, 1864

Edward B. Neally (Theta-Bowdoin College) was commissioned as the first United States District Attorney in the Territory later called Montana which, at the time, was still within the limits of Idaho.  Congress passed an act providing for a temporary government for the new territory and a number of officials were appointed.

May 27, 1912

Matthew Chaloner Durfee Borden (commonly referred to as M.C.D. Borden) (Phi-Yale University) died this day at age 69.  Brother Borden began his business career in 1864 when he entered one of New York’s leading dry goods house as a stock boy.  By 1867, Brother Borden had become a partner in a New York commission house where he represented the American Print Cloth Works as a selling agent.  With the help of his older brother, Brother Borden organized The American Printing Company in 1880 and built three large cloth mills in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1889.  By 1892, the business was churning out around 70,000 pieces of print cloth per week with half of that cloth being supplied by the mills of Brother Borden.  Brother Borden became a Director of the Manhattan Company Bank, the Lincoln National Bank, the Astor Place Bank, the Lincoln Safe Deposit Co., and the New York Security & Trust Co.  Brother Borden served as a New York City Commissioner of Parks for a number of years, and was Governor of the New York Women’s Hospital.

May 27, 1933

The 1933 World’s Fair A Century of Progress International Exposition opens in Chicago.  Howard L. Cheney (Delta Pi-University of Illinois) was the Chief Architect of the Fair.  Brother Cheney was the Chief Architect for the State of Illinois and later became the National Architect who designed the Washington National Airport and many post office buildings.  The Student Union Building at the University of Illinois was designed by him.  Brother Cheney was also the Chief Architect for the New York World’s Fair.  Brother Cheney also designed the Fourth Church of Christ Scientist in Washington D.C., the Miami Beach Post office, the Federal Buildings in Peoria and New Orleans, the Federal Building and the Court of Peace for the 1939 World’s Fair, the Chicago Tribune Tower in Chicago, the Palladium at St. Petersburg College, and the F. Edward Hebert Federal Building on Camp Street, New Orleans.

May 27, 1937

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco opened at a cost of $27,125,000.  The bridge was designed by engineer Charles A. Ellis (Gamma Phi-Wesleyan University).  In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Golden Gate Bridge as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World”.  Brother Ellis also designed the Montréal Harbour Bridge.

May 28, 1885

We acknowledge and salute the considerable contributions to industry and to the University of Chicago made by Edward F. Swift (Phi-Yale University) who died this day at age 81. Brother Swift was the Chair of Swift & Company founded by his father Gustavus Swift.  His brother, Harold H. Swift (Delta Delta-Chicago), was a most generous donor to his alma mater, The University of Chicago.  He was Chair of the Board of Trustees (1922-1949), and the donations that he made and that were made by the Swift Family subsidized the Library at the school as well as numerous departments, research projects, student prize funds, lectureships, and endowed professorships.  Brother Harold Swift became a Director of the Company in 1918, Vice Chairman of the Board in 1937, Chairman of the Board in 1948 and Honorary Chairman of the Board after 1955.  In 1914, Brother Harold Swift became the first graduate of the University of Chicago to be elected a Trustee of the University.  Brother Harold Swift was also a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1931 to 1950 and served on the President’s Commission on Higher Education (1946-1948).  Honorary degrees were conferred on him by Brown University (1933) and the University of Chicago (1949).  Brother Harold Swift died on June 8, 1962.  Swift Hall at the University of Chicago is named in his Honor.  It houses the Divinity School of the University.

May 28, 1885

The Deke Club of New York was officially opened at 36 West 34th Street in the presence of two of the founders of the Fraternity, Dr. Shapleigh and Dr. Bartlett. The Club was described as being between the great marble dwelling of A.T. Stewart on the north and the mansion of William Astor on the south. The Club had its inception at a banquet held at Delmonico’s on February 6, 1885 when 200 Dekes gathered.  After three years of subscriptions for the proposed club, the 200 subscriptions allowed the Club to be rented and furnished.  The photograph shows the Club building now. In his  speech at the opening, Dr. Shapleigh said to much applause:

“Gentlemen and Brothers:  My words are unequal to express the pleasure and pride I feel tonight.  As a father who loved his children – talented children – I feel pride in you all.  Little did I think when I acted as one of the obstetricians at the birth of the DKE that it would grow so large and be so magnificent. I therefore take pride in seeing how it has spread and how great it will be in the future.  In the first chapter which was formed, we had many obstacles to contend with.  The Faculties of all the colleges were opposed to secret societies.  At Yale, there were two societies who carried everything their own way.  We got together a band of genial, jovial men, fond of good fellowship, and we formed this institution.  We had some faith then that it would spread, for that very year Dr. Bartlett, of your city, and I were sent as missionaries to Bowden, to institute a chapter there, which, I believe, was next in birth to our own.  You see how it has spread, but I had no idea that I should see so many here tonight; no idea that I should find you so magnificent; and I know that it will benefit you all, for here you will form new friendships and cultivate old friendships.  The friendship of youth is akin to love; there is an intensity about it that the friendship of after years can never equal.  Therefore I would advise you to meet here often and keep up the memories and the friendships of youth, and as you go along through life, you will find how much you are indebted to us for founding the DKE.  I will not detain you, but, as your patriarch (I think I am the only one here now, though Brother Bartlett will be here presently) – as your patriarch I greet you and wish you God speed, and may you all be happy and joyous.”

May 28, 1986

The United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp honoring Robert E. Peary (Theta-Bowdoin College) and Matthew Henson for their accomplishment of being the first to reach the North Pole.  With Mr. Henson, four Eskimos, five sleds and 40 dogs, Brother Peary reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909.

May 29, 1856

A Charter is granted to the New York Free Academy, later known as the College of the City of New York (C.C.N.Y.). Although the charter date is often shown as August 1, 1856, it appears that the Charter was granted on May 29th and it was the initiation of the Charter members which took place on August 1, 1856. Nine Charter members had applied to “Mother Phi” for a Charter. In the 1910 Catalogue of the Fraternity, the following was set out:

At the Nu dinner of February, 1906, Brother Babcock – 57, one of the first patriarchal nine, told us that the charter was granted in May, 1856, and that the initiatory grip was given to the nine component atoms of the original nucleus by a Sigma Deke, who happened to be in the city with the Amherst debating team.  The chapter found its first quarters in a large loft on the Bowery near Houston Street (which Bro. Babcock said was a very respectable neighborhood at the time), which the boys partitioned to suit the chapter’s requirements, and wither, Bro. Blake tells us, every stick of their furniture was carried on the backs of the new illustrious Pilgrim Fathers. Nu Chapter was the first Chapter of the Fraternity in New York City.

May 29, 1889

Charles Avery Doremus (Nu-CCNY) files a patent in Germany relating to a “process for purification and softening of water”.  His method aimed at removing calcium and magnesium from water by precipitation by using insoluble fluorides.  Brother Doremus was a Professor of Chemistry and Toxicology in the metal department at the University of Buffalo, became assistant to the Chair of the Chemistry and Physics Department at CCNY in 1882 and was later Professor of Chemistry at the American Veterinary College.  In addition to being holder of patents for a process for softening water, Brother Doremus held patents for a gas furnace, for producing hydrofluoric acid, and for extracting alumina from clay and for the extraction of potash from feldspar.

May 29, 1953

Whitney Shepardson (Mu-Colgate University) was appointed as the President of the National Committee for a Free Europe which operated “Radio Free Europe”, which was founded in 1949 to work for spreading American influence in Europe and opposing Soviet occupation and dictatorship.

May 29, 2014

Former President George H.W. Bush (Phi-Yale University) joined the Harvard University Class of 2014 to receive an honorary degree.  Harvard Provost Alan Garber commented:  “It is seldom on this stage that we take the occasion to honor a former member of the cheerleading squad at Yale”.  The honorary doctorate of laws from Harvard was added to the multiple other honorary degrees our great Brother has been awarded, including from Yale, Hofstra University and Dartmouth College.

May 30, 1847

The First Constitution of the Fraternity prepared by Cyprian George Webster, Phi (Yale College)’1848 is adopted. Initially, the naming of Chapter Officers was left to each Chapter.  In 1848, the advice given by the Theta-Bowdoin College Chapter was that the President would be Omega, the Vice President Omicron, the Secretary Iota, the Pledge Master Pi, and the Corresponding Secretary Delta. In the early years, an Orator was chosen at each meeting to serve at the next meeting and this resulted in multiple Greek letters being assigned to those who had had served in that capacity while at college. In the Constitution, it was stated that the duty of the “scriptor” was to keep a record book and record regularly official correspondence with the other chapters.

May 30, 1916

The Hayes Memorial Library and Museum to honor President Rutherford B. Hayes (Delta Chi-Cornell University) (Honorary) was dedicated at Spiegel Grove State Park, Fremont, Ohio.  The majority of the funds for the Center was funded through the Rutherford B. Hayes – Lucy Webb Hayes Foundation.  The Foundation was endowed by his son, Webb C. Hayes (Delta Chi-Cornell) in 1922 when he deeded the President’s Estate to the State of Ohio and the personal papers and possessions of the President to the Ohio Historical Society.  The dream of Brother Webb Hayes to establish a center to honor his father came to fruition in 1916 with the opening of what was then called the Hayes Memorial.  In 1922, Brother Hayes personally funded the addition to the structure and also endowed the Foundation to fund the operation of the facility.  The facility was further expanded in 1968 and, in 1981, the name was changed to The Hayes Presidential Center.  The entrance to the property is through the original gates from the White House.  The 31room mansion and former home of the President is also located on the grounds.

May 30, 1922

Robert Todd Lincoln (Alpha-Harvard College) was one of 50,000 people attending the dedication exercises at the Lincoln Memorial.  Brother Lincoln was the only surviving son of President Abraham Lincoln.  He was 79 when he attended for the Memorial’s dedication.  President Warren G. Harding accepted the Memorial on behalf of the American people.