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Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)/Beta Theta Pi

< Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)

This fraternity was founded at Miami University in 1839 by John R. Knox, S. T. Marshall, David Linton, J. G. Smith, Chas. H. Hardin, John H. Duncan, M. C. Ryan, and Thos. B. Gordon. Alpha Delta Phi was then the only fraternity in the university, and no doubt much of the similarity which exists between the two fraternities is due to the fact that some of its founders were connected with the older society. The first branch of Beta Theta Pi was, like that of Alpha Delta Phi, established at Cincinnati, and, like it, was transferred to another college. The one fraternity spread East, however, and the other West. The chapter roll is as follows:

  1. Alpha, Miami University, 1839 (died 1876).
  2. Beta, Cincinnati Law School, 1840 (died 1841).
  3. Beta, Western Reserve College, 1842 (died 1866).
  4. Gamma, Washington-Jefferson College, 1842.
  5. Delta, Indiana Asbury University, 1845.
  6. Epsilon, Transylvania College, 1842 (died 1847).
  7. Epsilon, Centre College, 1848.
  8. Zeta, Hampden-Sidney College, 1850.
  9. Zeta, Harvard University, 1843 (died 1843).
  10. Eta, North Carolina University, 1852 (died 1861).
  11. Theta, Princeton College, 1843 (died 1845).
  12. Theta, Ohio Wesleyan University, 1853.
  13. Iota, Williams College, 1847 (died 1847).
  14. Iota, Hanover College, 1853.
  15. Kappa, Brown University, 1841 (died 1848).
  16. Kappa, Ohio University, 1848.
  17. Lambda, Michigan University, 1845.
  18. Mu, Cumberland University, 1854 (died 1861).
  19. Nu, Washington College (consolidated with Gamma).
  20. Xi, Knox College, 1855 (died 1873).
  21. Omicron, Virginia University, 1855.
  22. Pi, Indiana University, 1845.
  23. Rho, Washington-Lee University, 1856.
  24. Sigma, Illinois College, 1856 (died 1863).
  25. Tau, Wabash College, 1845.
  26. Upsilon, South Carolina University, 1858 (died 1861).
  27. Phi, Davidson College, 1858 (died 1861).
  28. Chi, Beloit College, 1860.
  29. Psi, Bethany College, 1861.
  30. Omega, United States Naval Academy, 1863 (died 1865).
  31. Alpha Alpha, Monmouth College, 1865 (died 1878).
  32. Alpha Beta, Iowa University, 1866 (died 1874).
  33. Alpha Gamma, Wittenberg University, 1867.
  34. Alpha Delta, Westminster College (Mo.), 1868.
  35. Alpha Epsilon, Iowa Wesleyan University, 1868.
  36. Alpha Zeta, Chicago University, 1869 (died 1872).
  37. Alpha Eta, Denison University, 1868.
  38. Alpha Theta, Virginia Military Institute, 1868.
  39. Alpha Iota, Washington University, 1869.
  40. Alpha Kappa, Richmond College, 1871.
  41. Alpha Lambda, Wooster University, 1872.
  42. Alpha Mu, Howard College, 1872.
  43. Alpha Nu, Kansas University, 1872.
  44. Alpha Xi, Randolph Macon College, 1873.
  45. Alpha Omicron, Trinity University, 1873.
  46. Alpha Pi, Wisconsin University, 1873.
  47. Alpha Rho, Northwestern University, 1873.
  48. Alpha Sigma, Dickinson College, 1874.
  49. Alpha Tau, William and Mary College, 1874 (died 1878).
  50. Alpha Upsilon, Boston University, 1876.
  51. Alpha Phi, Virginia Agricultural College, 1877.
  52. Alpha Chi, Johns Hopkins University, 1878.
  53. Alpha Psi, Butler University, 1878.
  54. Alpha Omega, California University, 1879.
  55. Beta Alpha, Kenyon College, 1879.
  56. Beta Beta, Mississippi University, 1879.

The Alpha ceased to exist with the college. The Beta, in Cincinnati, had but thirteen members, of whom the Hon. Stanley Matthews is the most prominent. In 1843 proposals were made by Psi U. to unite the two fraternities. The project arose at Yale, and was favored by the Harvard Chapter; it fell through with, however, from Psi U.'s want of liberality as to terms. The idea was revived by the Lambda of Beta Theta Pi in 1863, but was defeated in convention, only the Lambda and Beta Chapters voting in its favor. The two chapters were expelled from the fraternity, the Lambda splitting, some of the members assisted in establishing Phi of Psi U., while the Beta went over to D. K. E. The Epsilon was transferred from its past to its present position at the request of its graduates. The Gamma and Nu were consolidated, under the name of the former, when the colleges were united. The Harvard Chapter was mainly composed of graduates, and soon became defunct. The Eta, Mu, Upsilon, and Phi Chapters were killed by the war. The Princeton Chapter was killed by anti-fraternity laws. The Theta is one of the very best chapters in the fraternity, and is where the fraternity journal is edited. The chapters at Williams and Brown were in reality the only strong chapters the society had in the East. Fraternities being suddenly put under a ban at Brown, Alpha Delta Phi and Beta Theta Pi made common cause, and moved to Williams. There being but one Beta Theta Pi Chapter then left east of Pennsylvania, the members reluctantly sought a release from their obligations, and united in establishing the Williams Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi. The Lambda has recently been established, and will no doubt regain its old position. The Xi ceased to initiate members for lack of suitable material, and the same was the case with the Sigma and Alpha Zeta. Omicron, Pi, Rho, and Tau are among the best of the fraternity’s chapters, and are all prosperous. The Chi is sub rosa. The Omega was killed by the Navy regulation prohibiting secret societies in government institutions. The Alpha Alpha and Alpha Beta were in anti-fraternity colleges, and were consequently withdrawn. Alpha Tau was inadvisedly established, and soon died for want of energy. The remaining chapters are in an excellent condition, and doing credit to the fraternity. The Beta Theta Pi, being the oldest of the Western fraternities, has had a great advantage over its rivals, and is undoubtedly the best in those sections of the country in which its chapters are situated. In addition to the collegiate chapters there are alumni chapters at Chicago, Nashville, Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Richmond, Evansville, Wheeling, etc., which are organized like the active chapters, and act with them. For convenience in government and correspondence, the fraternity is divided into territorial districts, with headquarters at various cities in the several districts. The supreme authority in all matters rests with the conventions when in session, but a chapter, called the presiding chapter, is chosen to act as an executive during the recess of the convention. The conventions are usually held annually in cities in which alumni chapters are situated.

Catalogues have been published at intervals of about ten years, and one is now in press. It will contain the names of about 5000 members. Among prominent alumni of Beta Theta Pi are Presidents Wallace, of Monmouth College; Beatty, of Centre College; Sinex, of Pacific University; Martin, of Pekin University (China); Profs. Newberry, geology, of Columbia College; Young, astronomy, of Princeton; Watson, astronomy, of Ann Arbor; Wood, mathematics, of the Stevens Institute; the late Oliver P. Morton, of Indiana; Senators Macdonald, Voorhees, Booth, and Harlan; Hon. Schuyler Colfax; Hon. George Hoadley; Wm. M. Springer, of Illinois; Humphrey Marshall, of Kentucky; Charles Beckwith, of Buffalo; and many others distinguished in various walks of life. In addition to the catalogue, the fraternity publishes song-books, several pieces of instrumental music, and fugitive pieces.

The organ of the society is a monthly journal called the "Βήτα Θήτα Πῖ," issued at the Theta, and ably managed. There are two badges, the first an oblong, eight-sided shield, displaying a diamond between two palm-branches, below which are the letters "ΒΘΠ;" above are three stars, and below the letters "αωλθ" the other is a wreath encircling a diamond, and displaying the letters "ΒΘΠ." In the knot of the wreath are shown the other symbols and the chapter-letter. The colors are pink and blue.