Alpha Kappa Chapter History

        The Phi Kappa Sigma International Fraternity is one of the countries oldest extant social fraternities and was founded in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. Samuel Brown Wylie Mitchell, a student on campus, set out to establish his own secret order during the Fall of 1850. At the time, only two fraternities had been installed at UPenn. Mitchell intended to organize a unique brotherhood composed of men that shared his values. Mitchell discovered six other men who were willing to form the Fraternity with him. Charles Hare Hutchinson, Alfred Victor du Pont, John Thorne Stone, Andrew Adams Ripka, James Bayard Hodge, and Duane Williams would become the first members of Phi Kappa Sigma under the leadership of Mitchell. On October 19th, 1850, these seven men officially founded the Alpha chapter of the Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

       Over the next few decades, the leadership of Phi Kappa Sigma worked diligently to expand and establish chapters across the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada at the some of the most prestigious and renowned academic institutions of the time. From the University of Pennsylvania, the Phi Kappa Sigma colonized and chartered at many institutions with enrolled students deemed worthy of being Men of Honor.

       However, turmoil and turbulence came at the outbreak of the American Civil War, which raged across the United States as the country’s most bloody conflict. As a result, even the chapters and brothers of Phi Kappa Sigma were not exempt from the wrath of the war. Brothers from both Northern and Southern chapters served on both sides of the conflict but despite this, would show special treatment and mercy to those who professed to be fellow brothers of Phi Kappa Sigma.

       Regardless, by the end of the war and as a result of the extremely punitive campaigns waged by Union forces, the Southern chapters found themselves decimated and subsequently many chapters were forced to close their doors until the fraternity began to expand back into the Southern United States. Chapter after chapter was either recolonized or chartered eventually reaching Vanderbilt University with the establishment of the Alpha Iota chapter.

       Following the chartering at Vanderbilt, the leadership of Phi Kappa Sigma received a considerable amount of interest and attention during 1902 by a group of students enrolled at the University of Alabama who sought to found a new fraternity at the Capstone.

The First National Bank of Tuscaloosa Circa 1920. This was where the five founding fathers of the Alpha Kappa Chapter were initiated

The First National Bank of Tuscaloosa Circa 1920. This was where the five founding fathers of the Alpha Kappa Chapter were initiated

        Over 52 years later on December 31st, 1902, five men from the University of Alabama attended a Phi Kappa Sigma convention in Pittsburgh with intentions to charter a new chapter of the Fraternity. This chapter was formally chartered as the Alpha Kappa chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma. James Oscar Prude, George Coleman Nixon, Richard Andrews Dickson, Willis Marone Etheridge, and Rowan Emmett Hill were the five founding fathers, all hailing from the state of Alabama. On the 24th of January, 1903, the founding fathers of the Alpha Kappa chapter were formally inducted into Phi Kappa Sigma International Fraternity and made privy to secrets of the Fraternity. The induction ceremony was presided over by M. Clay LeJeune and John Riess, two brothers of the Mu Chapter (Tulane University) who were acting as representatives of the Executive Board of Phi Kappa Sigma. The five fathers were inducted in the second-story front room of the  First National Bank Building of Tuscaloosa. In that moment, Phi Kappa Sigma became the eleventh fraternity to be installed at the University of Alabama.

        For the first year of its existence, the chapter put their joint efforts solely into planning for the upcoming Fall rush. Unfortunately, of the five founding fathers, only James Oscar Prude and George Coleman Nixon returned for the 1903-1904 year. These two brothers were quickly joined by the first initiated pledge class of the Alpha Kappa Chapter which was composed of six men. For the next two decades, the Chapter began to excel in academics at the University with about fifty percent of the active members being on the honor roll. During this time, the fraternity was able to live in and maintain a Chapter House leased to them by the University of Alabama. In 1923, the Chapter began the process of saving money to one day fund the construction of a new house of its own. This would move the Chapter away from living on a property owned by the University into one under its aegis.

Know some history that we don't? We'd love to hear!

We are constantly working to know the in's and out's of our long history at The University of Alabama. If you have any information or historical knowledge please let us know. Our chapter historian is ready and waiting!

Sam Blackington
+1 (518) 496 0031

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