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Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)/Delta Kappa Epsilon

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

This fraternity, whose name is universally shortened to D. K. E., is the largest of the Eastern fraternities, both with regard to the number of chapters and members. The first chapter was organized in the class of 1846 at Yale as a society there confined to the junior class, but it rapidly spread to other colleges, where it is always a "general" fraternity.

Until of late its extension has been very rapid, and not always characterized by wisdom in a choice of localities. Some ten years ago current rumor at Yale had it that the parent chapter used to grant charters in consideration of fifty dollars each, but it was probably a calumny. The chapter roll is as follows:

  1. Phi, Yale College, 1844.
  2. Zeta, Princeton College, 1845 (died 1857).
  3. Theta, Bowdoin College, 1845.
  4. Xi, Colby University, 1845.
  5. Sigma, Amherst College, 1846.
  6. Gamma, Nashville University, 1847 (died 1861).
  7. Psi, Alabama University, 1847 (died 1857).
  8. Upsilon, Brown University, 1850.
  9. Beta, North Carolina University, 1850 (died 1861).
  10. Chi, Mississippi University, 1850.
  11. Delta, South Carolina College, 1852 (died 1861).
  12. Kappa, Miami University, 1852 (died 1876).
  13. Eta, Virginia University, 1852.
  14. Alpha, Harvard College, 1852.
  15. Omega, Oakland College, 1852 (died 1861).
  16. Lambda, Kenyon College, 1852.
  17. Pi, Dartmouth College, 1853.
  18. Iota, Kentucky Military Institute, 1854 (died 1860).
  19. Alpha, Middlebury College, 1855.
  20. Omicron, Michigan University, 1855.
  21. Epsilon, Williams College, 1855.
  22. Nu, New York City College, 1856.
  23. Tau, Hamilton College, 1856.
  24. Mu, Madison University, 1856.
  25. Rho, Lafayette College, 1856.
  26. Beta Phi, Rochester University, 1856.
  27. Theta Chi, Union College, 1857 (died 1869).
  28. Kappa-Psi, Cumberland University, 1857 (died 1870).
  29. Zeta’, Louisiana Centenary College, 1857 (died 1862).
  30. Alpha Delta, Jefferson College, 1858 (died 1865).
  31. Tau Delta, Union University (Tennessee), 1861 (died 1862).
  32. Kappa Phi, Troy University, 1861 (died 1862).
  33. Phi Chi, Rutgers College, 1861.
  34. Psi Phi, Asbury University, 1866.
  35. Gamma Phi, Wesleyan University, 1867.
  36. Psi Omega, Rensselaer Institute, 1868.
  37. Beta Chi, Western Reserve College, 1868.
  38. Eta Alpha, Washington-Lee University, 1868.
  39. Delta Chi, Cornell University, 1869.
  40. Delta’, Chicago University, 1870.
  41. Beta, Columbia College, 1874.
  42. Phi Gamma, Syracuse University, 1875.
  43. Theta Zeta, California University, 1876.
  44. Alpha Chi, Trinity College, 1879.

The Phi Chapter is by far the best one in the fraternity. It is large and prosperous. For a long time after its foundation it held the third place among the junior societies at Yale. However, after building a chapter hall it prospered, and since the withdrawal of Alpha Delta Phi has been a formidable rival of Psi U. It elects about 45 members annnally. The Zeta Chapter was killed by the decree of the faculty at the time mentioned. Theta and Xi hold prominent positions at their respective colIeges and in the State. Gamma, Beta, Delta, Omega, Eta, Iota, Kappa-Psi, Zeta’, and Tau Delta were killed by the Rebellion, and only Eta was re-established at its close. The Psi became defunct by the voluntary resignation of its charter. The Kappa ceased to exist when the university suspended. The Alpha was nominally killed by the faculty in 1857; for more than ten years it flourished in secret, but since that time it has been a mere sophomore club, its popular name, D. K. E., having been transformed into "Dickey." Since the recent re-establishment of Alpha Delta Phi, it seems probable that D. K. E. will re-enter Harvard as a full chapter. Omicron is building a chapter house, now nearly completed, and the chapter is one of the best at Ann Arbor. The Epsilon has a chapter lodge, as has also the Lambda.

The Theta Chi Chapter withdrew when the college became debilitated. Kappa Psi ceased to exist for the same reason. Alpha Delta was withdrawn by order of the convention. The Beta of Beta Theta Pi, having become disaffected, was expelled, and its former members obtained a charter as Beta Chi of D. K. E. The current rumor that the Beta Chapter was "lifted" is untrue. The Delta was formed from members of the Phi Delta Theta and Phi Kappi Psi fraternities. The Beta was formerly a local society known as the Psi Phi.

As a general fraternity, D. K. E. does not hold the place it would seem to be entitled to from the colleges in which it has chapters and from the number of its members. The laxity of its administration for a long time is largely to blame for its lack of reputation. The prevalent practice of delegating electioneering powers to committees also operates against securing chapters harmonious and united in their sentiments. A conservative spirit that has lately shown itself in refusals to look favorably upon applications for charters argues well for its future prosperity.

The fraternity has issued a number of catalogues, but none of them have been remarkable for special excellence in any way. In the last editions the chapter rolls of the defunct chapters have been omitted, although the names have been retained in the alphabetical index. The fraternity has published a song-book with music, and also an instrumental piece, the "Delta Kappa Epsilon March," which is widely known and appreciated. The whole number of members is now about 6300, eminent among whom are Stewart L. Woodford,of New York; Brig.-Gen. John T. Croxton; Cyrus Northrup; Bishop Robertson, of Missouri; Dr. D. G. Brinton; Lafayette Grover, United States Senator; Hon. Josiah H. Drummond; Gen. Francis A. Walker, of the United States Census; John Quincy Adams, Jr.; Whitelaw Reid, of the "New York Tribune;" Ed. A. Rand, Jr.; and Howard M. Ticknor. D. K. E.'s best-known members, such as the late Bayard Taylor, Admiral Foote, Gen. Burnside, etc., are merely honorary members; many of them never were initiated.

The members of Delta Kappa Epsilon have acquired and adopted the name of "Dekes." The government of the fraternity is vested in the annual conventions, over which a Yale man always presides; the Phi exercises parental authority over the other chapters.

The badge is a diamond, displaying a white scroll on a groundwork of black enamel, and bearing the letters "ΔΚΕ." A star appears in each corner of the diamond. The colors are blue, gold, and crimson.

Alumni chapters have been established at New York, Troy, and Rochester, and the New England Alumni Association with headquarters at Boston.