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Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)/Kappa Alpha (Northern Order)

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

Kappa Alpha is the oldest undergraduate fraternity, which has had it continuous existence since its foundation. Chi Phi, though founded one year earlier, was dormant for nearly twenty years, while Kappa Alpha was flourishing. The society was founded at Union College, in 1825, by the Rev. John Hunter, D.D., I. W. Jackson, late Professor in Union College, Thomas Hun, Ph.D., and Orlando Meads, LL.D. The new organization met with much opposition at the outset, and before it had lived two years two powerful rivals started up to dispute the field with it. Its chapters have been established as follows:

  1. Union College, 1825.
  2. Williams College, 1833.
  3. Hobart College, 1844 (re-established l879).
  4. Princeton College, 1852 (died 1855).
  5. Virginia University, 1857 (died 186l).
  6. Cornell University, 1868.

It will be seen from the above list that, until this year, Kappa Alpha has never possessed more than three chapters at one time.

The Union Chapter has always been a good one, and many of its alumni have made famous names for themselves. The Williams Chapter was the pioneer at that college, and has a fine chapter house. The Hobart Chapter lived but six years. Its charter was withdrawn, and the field left to younger rivals. It was, however, re-established in June, 1879. The Princeton Chapter fell a victim to anti-fraternity laws, and the Virginia Chapter was killed by the war. The Cornell Chapter was placed at Ithaca soon after the university opened, and is at present flourishing; the sad death of Mr. Mortimer Leggett,* which took place previous to an intended initiation into the society, no doubt injured its reputation for a time, although the members of the chapter were exonerated from all blame by the public and by Mr.Leggett's family.

Among Kappa Alpha's eminent members are Hon. Ward Hunt, of the U. S. Supreme Court; Gen. Albert J. Myers (“Old Probabilities”), Rev. E. N. Potter, President of Union College; President Chadbourne, of Williams, and Prof. C. F. Chandler, of Columbia; Hon. John K. Porter, Rev. Henry L. Storrs, Hon. Francis H. Dewey, and Gen. Ed. S. Bragg, of Wisconsin.

The Kappa Alpha badge is a watch-key of gold, on one side of which are displayed the signs of the zodiac, encircling the letters “K A.” On the reverse is a rising sun, with other symbols and hieroglyphics. The society’s color is scarlet. The total membership is about 870.

* Mr. Leggett, previous to an initiation, was led blindfolded outside the town. He fell over the banks of a ravine, was picked up stunned, and died soon afterwards. The event happened in October, 1873.