Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)/Sigma Chi
The fraternity of Sigma Chi was founded at Miami University, June 28, 1855. Although there were already four strong fraternities in that institution, there seemed to be plenty of room for more, and Sigma Phi was the third fraternity to start from Oxford and spread through the South and West. The founders were Thomas C. Bell, James P. Caldwell, Daniel W. Cooper, Wm. L. Lockwood, Benjamin P. Runkle, Frank H. Scobey, and Isaac M. Jordan. Scobey and Lockwood were freshmen at the time, and the rest were sophomores. On the day before Christmas, 1855, a charter was granted to ten young men at the university at Delaware, Ohio, and the second chapter was termed the “Gamma,” the one at Miami being called “Alpha.” This was the first effort at extension, and has resulted in the following chapter list:
- Alpha, Miami University, 1855 (died 1861).
- Beta, Wooster University, 1873.
- Gamma (now Alpha), Ohio Wesleyan University, 1855.
- Delta, Georgia University, 1872 (died 1874).
- Epsilon, Columbian College, 1864.
- Zeta, Washington-Lee University, 1866.
- Eta, Mississippi University, 1857.
- Theta, Pennsylvania College, 1863.
- Iota, Jefferson College, 1858 (died 1871).
- Kappa, Lewisburg University, 1864.
- Lambda, Indiana University, 1858.
- Mu, Denison University, 1868 (died 1878).
- Nu, Cumberland University, 1872 (died 1878).
- Xi, Indiana Asbury University, 1858.
- Omicron, Dickinson College, 1859.
- Pi, Howard College, 1872.
- Rho, Butler University, 1866.
- Sigma, College of New Jersey, 1875 (died 1878).
- Tau, Roanoke College, 1872.
- Upsilon, Philadelphia Polytechnic College, 1865 (died 1877).
- Phi, Lafayette College, 1867.
- Chi, Hanover College, 1871.
- Psi, Virginia University, 1860.
- Omega, Northwestern University, 1869.
- Beta Beta, Mississippi College, 1874 (died 1877).
- Gamma Gamma, Randolph Macon College, 1874 (died 1877).
- Delta Delta, Purdue University, 1874.
- Epsilon Epsilon, Monmouth College, 1874 (died ?).
- Zeta Zeta, Centre College, 1876.
- Theta Theta, Michigan University, 1877.
- Iota Iota, Alabama University, 1876.
- Sigma Sigma, Hampden Sidney College, 1872.
- Phi Phi, Pennsylvania University, 1875 (died 1878).
The Alpha died a natural death in the class of ’61. The war had weakened both the college and the chapter. At the time of its decease it had initiated but sixteen members. The Beta is the last fraternity chapter established at Wooster, and is now flourishing. The Gamma, now called the Alpha, is the governing chapter of the fraternity at large. For some years past its standard has lowered, but it has now regained its former position. The Delta beeame extinct when the faculty abolished the fraternities at the university, and it has not been revived. The Zeta, established at Lexington, Va., at the close of the war, has been very prosperous. Professors Grans and Taylor are members of the chapter. The Eta was killed by the war, but was revived in 1867. The Iota became defunct during a period of general depression at Canonsburg. The Theta was formerly a chapter of Upsilon Beta. The Kappa is existing, unknown to the college faculty. The Mu became defunct in 1878, owing to anti-fraternity laws, and as the Nu had but ten members in the spring of 1878, it may be considered defunct also. The Xi is the best chapter, presumably, in the whole fraternity. Little is known of the Pi by the fraternity officers, and it is supposed to have succumbed to tho faculty’s opposition. The Rho was moved to Irvington, Ind. with the university, and did not suffer from the change. The Sigma, for three years sub rosa, is now defunct, as is also the Upsilon. The Psi was suspended during the Rebellion, but was reorganized in November, 1866. Beta Beta was last heard from in 1877, and is considered dead. The president of the college was unaware of its existence. The Gamma Gamma remained in organization but a year, and then disbanded. Epsilon Epsilon and Iota Iota are sub rosa, and the former is not now supposed to be alive. The Phi Phi died in 1878, being in a weak condition. Sigma Chi’s chief strength is in the South, but it is best known in Ohio and Indiana. In addition to the chapters above given, there are two alumni chapters, the “A,” at Springfield, Ohio, and the “B,” at Chicago. Ex-Presidents Lathrop, of Iowa University, and E. B. Fairchild, of Hillsdale College, President L. Moss, of Indiana University, together with Hon. Wm. Allen, of Ohio, Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, and Geo. W. Childs, of Philadelphia, as honorary members, may be mentioned as among Sigma Chi’s prominent sons.
The organization of the fraternity is very simple, being a government by the Alpha Chapter. Each chapter reports its condition once a month to the general secretary, and he in turn sends out a report compiled from those of the several chapters.
The last catalogue of the fraternity was edited by a committee from the Phi Chapter, and is beautifully printed and bound in the fraternity’s colors, blue and gold. It is handsomely illustrated, and contains 1760 names. The total membership of the fraternity is now not far from 2200.
The “Sigma Chi” waltz is published in Boston, and that, together with the catalogue and an occasional collection of songs, comprise the publications of the society. The badge of Sigma Chi is a St. George’s cross of gold, about an inch in length. In the centre is an elliptical plate, bearing the letters “ΣΧ.” In the upper vertical bar are two crossed keys, to the right a scroll, to the left an eagle’s head, while in the lower bar is a pair of clasped hands, beneath which is a group of seven stars, obviously referring to the seven founders. All the figures are in gold, on a background of white enamel. Sometimes two small chains depend from the vertical to the horizontal bars.