Published: March 26, 2020

Boiler Up!

Alpha Delta Chapter at Purdue University was installed on March 26, 1920. The installation brought Theta Chi’s first chapter to the state of Indiana. Purdue, located in West Lafayette, just northwest of Indianapolis, was founded in 1869 after Lafayette businessman John Purdue donated land and money to establish a college of science, technology, and agriculture in his name.

In the Winter of 1917, Carl F. Sander (1920), Chester H. Werkman (1919), and James E. Maxwell (1920) began to formulate plans for the organization of a local fraternity at Purdue University. A number of prominent men at Purdue were approached and later joined the core group who worked together to create Sigma Tau Alpha. The letters stood for the departments of the University: Science, Technology, and Agriculture and the stated purpose of the organization was to aid its members to better fit themselves for their duties as citizens as well as to afford more congenial surroundings while in the College. However, World War One halted their initial progress and it was not until spring 1919 that further organization was attempted. During the spring of 1919, a petition signed by 13 members was presented to the faculty, but since the fraternity would not be able to occupy a house until fall 1919, no immediate action was taken.

In September 1919, nine members and eight pledges leased the house formerly belonging to John T. McCutcheon, a well-known cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune. The house was ideally located one block from campus on the extreme west side of the town of West Lafayette, on the main road leading to Lafayette. All the furniture and other equipment for the house was purchased by the individual members. 

Photo credit: 1920 Debris - Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

The Purdue faculty, finally convinced of the sincerity and permanency of the petitioning group, granted Sigma Tau Alpha a charter in October 1919.

The immense number of former students returning from WWI who came back to their fraternities limited their organization’s ability to take on new pledges. Coupled with the extraordinary increase in enrollment, Sigma Tau Alpha recruited an exceptional group of freshmen. By taking advantage of this favorable opportunity and selecting men from all departments of the university, Sigma Tau Alpha grew rapidly and became one of the strong fraternities at Purdue.

On November 13, 1919, a petition was sent from Sigma Tau Alpha to the Grand Chapter of Theta Chi for consideration. Shortly afterwards, Robert N. Green (Delta/RPI 1911) came down from Chicago to inspect the group. Later, an invitation was sent to Rho/Illinois to attend an informal dance on February 6, 1920. Rho sent four members who made a further investigation of Sigma Tau Alpha.

The inspections proving favorable, on February 27, 1920, the men of Sigma Tau Alpha received word from the Grand Chapter that their petition had been accepted and that installation would be held on March 26-27, 1920.

On Thursday, March 25th, the Installation Committee began to arrive consisting of: Epsilon/WPI Charter Member and past Grand Chapter officer Frederick V. Hugo (1912); Iota/Colgate’s C. A. Kallgren (1917), Walter W. Ludwig (1919), and future Grand Chapter officer Maxwell E. McDowell (1916); Raymond J. Fiske (Theta/Massachusetts 1910); Rho/Illinois’ Arthur W. Schmoeller (1921), H. M. Dodge (1922), A. D. Wiles (1921), and Charter Member Hilton C. Nichols (1919); Upsilon/NYU Charter Member Leonard L. Lyons (1918); Psi/Wisconsin Charter Members Willard V. Erdmann (1920) and William G. Dormeyer (1920); Alpha Beta/Pittsburgh Charter Member Elmer A. Kuhn (1920) and Percy M. Coxon (1922); and Future National President and Rattle Editor George Starr Lasher (Alpha Gamma/Michigan 1911).

The history of Alpha Delta Chapter began with the formal opening of ceremonies at 9:00 a.m. on Friday morning, March 26, 1920. During the course of that day 39 members of Sigma Tau Alpha became charter members of Alpha Delta Chapter: H. W. Brizius (1919), Timothy C. E. Hamke (1919), R. T. Merkle (1919), C. F. Sander (1919), R. V. Allison (1920), W. W. Baker (1920), Thomas K. Hartley (1920), Lewis E. Husted (1920), Cecil L. Pigg (1920), James E. Maxwell (1920), John R. Smyth (1920), John R. Stubbs (1920), George C. Wickwire (1920), Clyde S. Brandenburg (1921), P. T. Brown (1921), Glessie G. Cunningham (1921), Joseph M. Lilly (1921), John R. McCoy (1921), M. P. Mitchell (1921), Christian A. Schwier (1921), Francis C. Stevenson (1921), John L. Wann (1921), K. H. Holloway (1922), George F. Isley (1922), Henry S. Jones (1922), C. G. Kopplin (1922), Clarence A. Leuck (1922), Walter G. Modlin (1922), M. L. Ogden, Jr. (1922), L. P. Parsons (1922), Oren Reed (1922), Carl H. Sander (1922), Dr. George Horace Roberts (1888), Prof. C. S. Doan (1911), Dr. George C. Brandenburg (1910), Prof. Louis H. Schwartz (1912), Robert M. Schoen (1923), and W. A. Parsons (1923).

Fifth Row—Modlin, Schwier, Maxwell
Fourth Row—Reed, Parsons, Isley, McCoy, Warm, Pigg
Third Row—Holloway, Lilly, Brandenburg, Ogden, Kopplin, Jones, Allison
Second Row—Schoen, Husted, Cunningham, Stevenson, Leock, Brown, C. H. Sander, Wickwire
Bottom Row—K. G. Baker, Fox, Stubbs, Smyth, Dr. Roberts, Ludwig, C. F. Sander, W. W. Baker, Hartley
Photo credit: 1920 Debris - Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

The following day was devoted to instruction in the Ritual, chapter operations, and other matters of importance. The installation ceremonies were officially ended with a formal dance at Fowler Hotel College Inn, on Saturday evening, March 27, 1920. (Additional information about these events can be found below.)

Seven years later, Alpha Delta built a new home (606 Waldron) at a cost of $85,000 and moved in during the fall of 1927. Unfortunately, the house was lost during the Depression Era. However, the Depression also created a new opportunity. In 1937, Delta Sigma Lambda Nati0nal Fraternity was also struggling due to the depression and had closed a significant number of their chapters. Theta Chi Fraternity agreed to absorb their chapters at Purdue and the University of Montana. The Zeta Chapter of Delta Sigma Lambda at Purdue merged with Alpha Delta Chapter. Theta Chi took over the former Delta Sigma Lambda chapter house and increased its collegiate membership.

World War II had a large impact on the fraternity system. Membership was so depleted that operation nearly ceased. In 1943, Alpha Delta’s house was leased to the Navy for the duration of the war, and Alpha Delta's six remaining actives relocated to the Pi Kappa Alpha house along with the men of six other fraternities. In 1944, a fire at this house destroyed the third floor, along with most of the chapter's valuable records and coveted trophies.

In October 1944, the brothers moved back in the house at 359 Vine, and in 1945, the chapter consisted of 22 brothers and nine pledges. Following the war, more than 100 Alpha Delta brothers returned to Purdue to place the chapter back at the top in scholarship, activities, sports, and prestige.

Despite challenges in the 1950s, loyal Alpha Delta alumni worked with collegiate members and the International Fraternity and ultimately constructed a new chapter house. Over the years, Alpha Delta Chapter had lived at 1018 State Street, 27 Russell Street, 606 Waldron Street, 359 Vine Street, and, in 1966 at a cost of $450,000, a new luxurious home was built at 800 David Ross Road near the football stadium. Renovated in 1999, the chapter house served as the site for 2013’s Zeta Class of Theta Chi Fraternity’s Initiative Academy.

1018 State Street, West Lafayette, IN - Photo credit: 1920 Debris - Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

To date Alpha Delta Chapter has initiated more than 2,800 brothers – more than any other in the Fraternity!

Among the 2,800 are some of Alpha Delta’s most notable alumni, including: Dr. Clifford C. Furnas (1922), who served as president of the University at Buffalo; William A. Koch (1937), the former CEO of Santa Claus Land and the developer of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, IN; Michael Berghoff (1985) the founder and president of Lenex Steel Corp. current chairman of the Purdue University Board of Trustees; and Frank T. Pulice (1993), the Vice President and General Counsel for the Indiana Pacers. Alpha Delta also produced a number of professional athletes including: NFL players Ed Risk (1932), Forrest Burmeister (1937), Paul Humphrey (1939), Tony Ippolito (1939), and Lou Karras (1950); NBA players Carl E. McNulty (1952) and Brian Cardinal (1999); and MLB’s Rico Rossy (1985).

A number of Alpha Delta alumni have served Theta Chi Fraternity at the International level: Father Phil Bowers (the campus priest who accepted an invitation to dinner and later became chapter adviser and joined Alpha Delta as an alumnus initiate in 1976) attended many International Conventions and was elected to the Grand Chapter and coincidentally became International Chaplain, serving 1988-1993. Father Phil also served on the Board of Directors for The Foundation Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity, Inc. joining Don L. Snoke (1925). Three Alpha Deltas served on the International Headquarters staff including Jeff Aaron (1994), Jimmy Cox (2009), and our current Chief Development Officer John Berghoff (1988). Four Alpha Deltas volunteered as Regional Counselors: Jimmy Cox, Don Snoke, Robert W. Sullivan (1981), and Daniel C. Uhrig (1989).

Over the years, Alpha Delta Chapter and its members have been recognized by the International Fraternity with several awards. Fr. Phil Bowers received the Distinguished Service Award, Theta Chi Fraternity’s highest award. Dr. Clifford Furnas posthumously received the Distinguished Achievement Award. Three brothers received the Earl. D. Rhodes Theta Chi for Life Award including H.O.D. Boone (1923), Dennis E. Winings (1969), and Fr. Phil Bowers. Two brothers were named the top collegiate member in the Fraternity and received the Reginald E.F. Colley Award: Dennis C. Cooke (1986) and Joseph T. Gilbert (1993). Brian Cardinal, team captain for the Boilermaker’s basketball team, received the James Ralph “Shug” Jordan Award as the Fraternity’s top scholar-athlete. Alpha Delta was recognized as a top chapter with the Howard R. Alter, Jr. Award on two occasions: 1986/1987 and 1991/1992. The chapter received the James M. Holland Award as the chapter that initiated the most members on four occasions: 1993/1994; 1994/1995; 1996/1997; and 2004/2005. The chapter is also a 15-time recipient of the Phil S. Randall Award which recognizes chapters that initiate 25 or more men in an academic year. Alpha Delta was recognized for their commitment to extending the Helping Hand through community service and philanthropy projects with 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 Sidney Ann Gilpin Lewis Awards. Finally, Alpha Delta won the Man-Mile Award in 1984 at the 128th Anniversary Convention by sending a large delegation from West Lafayette, IN to Scottsdale, AZ.

800 David Ross Road

Congratulations to the alumni and collegiate brothers of Alpha Delta Chapter on 100 years at Purdue – Boiler Up!

You can send personal notes of congratulations to Alpha Delta Chapter President Drew Metzger by clicking here. Alpha Delta’s planned Centennial Celebration has been postponed due to COVID-19 and will be rescheduled.

In honor of their Centennial Celebration, we are re-printing early articles about Alpha Delta and their chapter's Installation from the April 1920 and July 1920 issues of The Rattle.

From The Rattle, April 1920:
Editorial Comment

On March 26 and 27, 1920, the Sigma Tau Alpha Local Fraternity at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., will become the Alpha Delta Chapter of ΘX Fraternity, making the twenty-seventh chapter. Both ΘX and Alpha Delta Chapter are to be congratulated, as both are gaining by the addition of this, our newest chapter. Full details of this installation will be given in the June number of The Rattle. 'We take this occasion, however, to present our congratulations to Alpha Delta and to ΘX.

From The Rattle, July 1920:
And of Theta Chi the Twenty-Seventh
By M. E. McDowell (Iota/Colgate 1916)

BORN :–At West LaFayette, Ind., on Mar. 26th, 1920, to Brother ΘX and his new spouse, Western Conference, a son–Alpha Delta of Purdue. Both mother and child are doing well.

Alpha D. is the fourth son of ΘX by his present wife and the 27th grandson of Elder Chase, the famous New Hampshire warrior.

Dear Thetas :– Notices of the above type are becoming so pleasingly common as a result of old Dad ΘX's showing such pronounced morganatic propensities, that it's difficult to vary or make each new

report novel in any particular. But surprising to note, none of the parental brothers' various other wives in other sections show the slightest jealousy, but on the contrary, the most ardent desire to help the young mother. The continued fitness of the old man is convincingly evidenced by the increasing virility of the youngsters. And mark you, the total absence of mortality in the whole family.

Well, Alph D. is no exception, but still a further augmented example of the rule and his natal party was not only a repetition of smooth running and impressive installation ceremonies engineered by a competent and experienced committee, but it offered some novelties which gives the writer joy and pride to record.

As to the installation committee itself, ample, peppy and representative are the words. There was not only an appointed nucleus of veterans at the game from the older chapters, but all the neighbors were there too. Look 'em over.

  • Appointed by the Grand Chapter: M. E. McDowell, Iota, chairman; F. V. Hugo, Epsilon; E. B. Fiske, Theta; L. L. Lyons, Upsilon; W. W. Ludwig, Iota; R. N. Greene, Delta.
  • Representing Alpha Beta Chapter from Pittsburgh: P. M. Coxon, E. A. Kuhn.
  • Representing Alpha Gamma from Ann Arbor: G. S. Lasher.
  • Representing Rho Chapter from Urbana: A. W. Schmoeller, M. Dodge, D. Wiehe, H. Nichols, R. Nichols.
  • Representing Psi Chapter from Madison: W. V. Erdman.
  • Representing Iota Chapter from Colgate: C. A. Kallgren.
  • Representing the Chicago Alumni Chapter: W. G. Durmeyer of Psi.

The installation ceremonies occupied the entire day of Friday, March 26th. Four faculty members, four alumni, and thirty-one actives of Sigma Tau Alpha were installed as the Charter Members of Alpha Delta Chapter of ΘX and the charter was received for the chapter by Brother C. F. Sander at 3:00 p.m.

At 7:30, Friday evening, in the rambling grill room of the Fowler Hotel in LaFayette, the new chapter staged an installation banquet, huge in proportions and unique in character. Exactly 180 covers were laid. At the speakers table were the chief guests, President Stone of Purdue and Mrs. Stone, the deans of the five departmental schools and their wives, and the visiting installation committee. Then there was a representative from every other fraternity and every sorority on the campus–34 in all. Much to the discomfiture of the Purdue sophomores, who were endeavoring to run a panhellenic soiree on the same evening, the new Thetas had bought out the main taxi line and had gotten an early corner on the choice co-eds so that each visiting brother was supplied with a fair partner. A jazz band from Indianapolis came to LaFayette to the enjoyment of the brothers and caused a fuss with the faculty wives.

At the close of five filling courses, Brother Ludwig of the Purdue faculty pulled the toastmaster wires for a string of exceptional speeches. In welcoming the new chapter, President Stone made a statement which may be a crumb of comfort to some of our pessimists who have recently warned us through The Rattle of the anti-fraternity menace. He said, "Ever since the Supreme Court of Indiana put a decision on the books abolishing fraternities, they have continued to come in ever increasing numbers and to be ever increasingly welcome."

Brother McDowell had an easy time with ΘX history and growth as his subject. Dr. Moran's talk on Idealism was an inspiration. “Poor indeed,” he said, “is the man who must in his age shrink from the dreams of his youth.” Dean Coulter, the man directly in charge of Purdue campus organizations, gave an important significance to the affair by making it the occasion of announcing a new faculty policy of cooperation with fraternities as such. His words were received by the assembled fraternity representatives with prolonged applause. Mr. Sims, of Sigma Pi, speaking as the representative of the other fraternal organizations, welcomed ΘX to the circle and promised support in return for the cooperation he asked. Brother J. E. Maxwell closed the speeches by taking up the gauntlet for the new chapter and pledging her loyalty toward Purdue and ΘX.

A few moments later in the halls of the Allen Dancing Academy, under the colorful banners sent by the various chapters, the brunette orchestra broke into the first fox-trot and until 4 A. M. mirth and the dance ran riot. The only gloom around the place was Brother Hugo who couldn't help wishing his wife was there. (She is the only living person who can figure his dancing!)

However, he entertained the worthy but bored faculty members during the early morning hours with his exhaustless line of salesman's yarns.

Saturday came the exemplification work with two fine Frosh as material and Brother Lyons right in his glory in charge of "showin' 'em how it's done down east at Upsilon." Saturday came the stag banquet and smoker at the house without which no chapter christening is complete. Brother McDowell engineered an excellent list of impromptu toasts. Each chapter represented was heard from in what amounted to an amazing aggregate of good advice and pep for one evening.

Especial mention must in justice be given to the responses of Brother Kallgren of Iota, who has twice been a National Convention speaker, and to Brother Lasher of Alpha Gamma, on his recitation of a Brotherhood song of his own composing.

Take it from the visiting brothers who were there, our newest chapter has raised ΘX's standards still higher by its addition. And as we told her well-wishers there that ΘX would be good for Purdue, so we're glad to tell our brotherhood that Purdue will be good for ΘX.

Alpha Delta Chapter’s first submission for Chapter News:
Alas, Brothers Allison, Baker, Hartley, Maxwell, Pigg, Sander, Smyth, Stubbs, and Wickwire are now educated and it is only with the deepest regret that we say good-bye to these, our Seniors, Alpha Delta 0wes to these Seniors a great part of its first year’s success, for it was only through their continuous hard work that we have attained our present position. The '20 class has set a goal which will serve as an inspiration for all other classes to come. Alpha Delta wishes the best of luck to all the graduating brothers.

Since the big party in March the boys have been taking time out from most all social functions. But it seemed that on the night of May 20, when a farewell dance was given for the Seniors, all the stored up energy or the brothers broke loose to make this last dance one to be remembered, not only by the Seniors but also by all others who were there. There is no doubt that memories of the last dance at Purdue will always be welcomed by the brothers of the class of '20.

But this was not all for the Seniors. At a farewell banquet and smoker held at the chapter house on the evening of May 21, the Seniors were given the opportunity to expound before the whole house and pledges, about all the fortunes and misfortunes which had befallen them during their four years of college life. Many good points were brought out by the speakers, as most all topics were touched by the various speakers. The smoker was thoroughly enjoyed by all. This little week-end party was by no means a one-sided affair for the Seniors presented the house with a beautiful floor lamp.

The house baseball team under the captaincy of “Joe” Lilly proved itself a worthy contender for the championship of the interfraternity league. Out of the five games scheduled we won three, losing the first after a bad first inning and two innings overtime. In the last game, “Joe” was in no physical condition to pitch and hence was beaten in a loosely played game. The house will have practically the same team to represent it next year and should come near winning the cup. Considerable credit should be given our pitching captain, who hung up an enviable record for his season's performances. In a total of five games, fifty-two strike-outs were credited him while only twenty-four hits were gathered from his offerings.

Alpha Delta is well represented in the literary realms of Purdue. As the result or the last election of officers for the Purdue Agriculturist, three of the brothers were elected to prominent positions. Seven brothers held positions on the last year’s staff. Brother “P. T.” Brown was elected to the position of editor-in-chief. Brother Wann will manage the dairy publicity part of it as dairy editor, while Brother Mitchell will see to it that all the little bugs will become widely known, his position is entomology editor.

Besides these men on the Agricultural Monthly, two of our brothers are holding down responsible positions on the University Annual. Brothers Brandenburg and Mitchell were elected by popular vote of the university as organization and sporting editors respectively. With the passing or a few more years, Alpha Delta hopes to increase its representation in the journalistic world or the university.

Not being satisfied with grabbing off first honors on the diamond, “Joe” made an exploit into the financial circles with the result that he is now guiding the destinies of the money belonging to the Purdue Agricultural Society, as treasurer of that organization.

Five brothers have officially or otherwise announced their engagements. So now the sofa pillows should be coming in fast.

Brothers Pigg and Smyth were members of a group of Ag. Society entertainers who gave an exchange program at Illinois U. a few weeks ago. While in Urbana they paid the Rho Chapter a short visit.

Alpha Delta’s candid photos from 1919/1920 - Photo credit: 1920 Debris - Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Founded in 1856, Theta Chi Fraternity is a men’s collegiate fraternity with more than 191,000 initiated members and has established 241 chapters. Leadership development, personal development, and service to alma mater are fundamental to Theta Chi Fraternity’s mission.