History of Gamma Delta

History of Sigma Beta Chi Fraternity (Local 1909 – 1922) at the Oklahoma A&M College


PART I
Organization, Location and Activities of the Local Sigma Beta Chi Social Fraternity.

It was in the fall of 1909 that an Engineering Junior class student, Miles Reginer, from the University of Wisconsin, entered the Oklahoma A & M College. Miles was quite an active leader and soon got the idea of starting an active local fraternity. Miles contacted two of his friends, William H. Austin and Carl Hopps, and presented them with his idea of a fraternity. These two men agreed with him and invited the fourth founder of Sigma Beta Chi, William J. Burke, to join. At this meeting these four men stated that they wished to petition a national fraternity at some future date and that fraternity was to be Sigma Chi. These four voted upon and accepted a number of their classmates into their local fraternity, which they called Sigma Beta Chi. Miles Reginer was the president and they held irregular meetings in a room of one of the members. No meetings known to the public were held until 1910.

In the fall of 1910 Sigma Beta Chi was publicly established on the campus of the Oklahoma A & M College. At this time eight of the leading men of the College met and organized Sigma Beta Chi. Each felt that more could be accomplished by means of a fraternal organization. As a result of that meeting Sigma Beta Chi was officially established. Sigma Beta Chi adopted as its motto: “Never to pledge a man who could not stand alone and take the lead as a man without the aid of any fraternal organization.”

Sigma_Beta_Chi_-_Badge

Shortly after it was founded, Paul J. Davis, a Sigma Chi from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., was chosen as faculty advisor and from that time on Sigma Beta Chi strove to meet the standards and requirements to become a part of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. In the fall of 1910 the men of Sigma Beta Chi rented a house from William J. Burke’s cousin, Mrs. George Clark. Having their own house the men of Sigma Beta Chi rented a piano and formed a very good orchestra. They decorated a downtown hall in Stillwater and the first annual George Washington Birthday ball was held; thus Sigma Beta Chi was founded and its activities started on the Oklahoma A & M College campus. One of the founders still living at this date, 1972, informed the writer that the ball was a huge success, as all annual balls since have been.

The above mentioned founder was Wm. J. Burke. The same house continued to be the home of the Sigma Beta Chi Fraternity until June 1913. This house was located at 126 S. Lowry Street. Mrs. S. A. Jester was the House Mother. This information was given to us by a prominent Sigma Beta Chi Member, L. D. Harrison, who was in school in the fall of 1910 to June 1913 and is now living in Deland, Florida. In the fall of 1913 the house of the fraternity was located across the street from Dr. Gray’s home, which was located on Duck Street. The house number is not known. Dr. Gray at one time was an honorary member of the fraternity. He also had a son, Willis Gray, who was a member of the local Sigma Beta Chi Fraternity. Neither of them for reasons unknown to the writer was never initiated into Sigma Chi. Calvin McKee, also a very prominent member and prob­ably the most loyal A & M alumnus the school has ever had, furnished this information. He is now living in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The college year book shows the group pictures had no name or house pictures or street addresses. It listed our group as “Smokers Club”. It is thought by reason from several sources that Greek letter fraternities had been prohibited at the college at the time and the fraternity was operating on a sub-rosa basis.

The fraternity had no house during the school term of 1914-15.

Meetings were held occasionally at Mrs. Jester’s home. She was a good friend of some of the members so she permitted them to hold their meetings there. We do not have the street and number of her place. McKee gave us this information also.

In 1915-16 the fraternity obtained a house at West 4th Avenue and Knoblock, where it was located for one year only. The follow­ing school year 1916-17 the fraternity was without a house due to World War 1. However, meals were served to the members by Mrs. Williams, who had a boarding house. The members roomed at vari­ous places on the campus. Willard Sollers, now of Oklahoma City, a member of Sigma Beta Chi, kept the books, collected the money for the meals, dues, expenses for dances and other school functions they might have held.

In 1917-18 a house was obtained at the corner of West 6th Avenue and Hester Street. They were here only one year. This house has since been torn down and a filling station stands in its place. In 1918-19 the fraternity was at 223 Washington. No meals were served there as most of the members were enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps. The following year, the war being ended, we were a little more settled. A house was obtained at 524 Hester Street. In the spring of 1920 the fraternity took a three year lease on that same house, after much improvement had been made on the house. This is where the local Sigma Beta Chi fraternity was located at time of installation on December 15, 1922.

During these past years the fraternity had many social functions and activities. Members always had the annual George Washington’s Birthday ball on February 22nd. Their activities then and now were about the same, except they are larger and more elaborate today. The men were always very active in all sports, well represented in musical events; debating teams and publications. Phil Lowery was the editor of the 1916 Redskin. In fact, where things were happening Sigma Beta Chi members were there. The fraternity had many men in the band, glee club and all musical organizations. It was the cus­tom in earlier days to serenade the sorority houses in the evening without fear of having water poured upon them. Sigma Beta Chi was always a welcome guest at all sorority houses as they were well bles­sed with musical talent.


History of Gamma Delta – Part II   |   History of Gamma Delta – Part III

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