Bell. Caldwell. Cooper. Jordan. Lockwood. Runkle. Scobey.
Their names are known by all Sigma Chis. We began reading about them when we first pledged ourselves to Sigma Chi, knowing very little about them, but realizing that they began a fraternity which has become one of the most recognized in the world and one which has given each of us a multitude of friends and associates whom we treasure. The founders were like us when we started our college experiences: youthful, invulnerable, idealistic, competitive, strong, friendly, and possessed those characteristics we see in the brothers that surround us as we continue our Sigma Chi journeys.
The purpose of this book is to provide a definitive resource of our Founding Brothers by bringing together various accounts of their lives so that they become as real to us as our chapters brothers. This project has been a challenging and rewarding experience for me. It started with the idea of compiling Brother Joseph C. Nate's biographies of the founders into one volume so we could finally have these collected together. As the collection of materials progressed, there were other views of the founders, primarily from each other, that show the personal side of each for the other. The portraits painted of his fellow founders by Founder Runkle in "We Seven," which begins the biographical section of this book, give us an intimate look at the other six, and when you read between the lines, show us much of Runkle's personality and how he, as well as the others, interacted both individually and as a group.
Sigma Chis have always had a deep interest in the history of our fraternity. The early years of Sigma Chi have been captured in great detail and depth by Dr. Nate, a stalwart Brother who gave his many talents to our fraternity in so many ways--as Grand Consul, Grand Historian, and participant on a multitude of committees. In the first four volumes of Dr. Nate's unparalleled History of Sigma Chi: 1855 to 1925 he vividly recalls the very moments of the birth of Sigma Chi and continues to discuss, in detail, the establishment of chapters throughout the years as well as the changes in the fraternity throughout five decades. His ultimate goal was to produce seven volumes, each one dedicated to one of our founders, encompassing the first seventy years of our fraternity's existence. He almost accomplished this feat!
There has been keen interest in the reprinting of Dr. Nate's histories. One of the charges of our 65th Grand Consul Bob Jones to your current Grand Historian is to investigate the completion of the Nate histories. Working with Brothers who are part of the History Commission and the archives committee, we have determined that the publishing of all seven volumes will be an undertaking that will take much more time than earlier expected. One primary difficulty in completing Dr. Nate's histories is extremely challenging: to maintain the same perspective which he presents, for he lived much of the history he recorded. He also knew many of the individuals about whom he wrote, including four of the founders. Therefore, his histories contain an intimacy that no other Brother can exude with quite the same exuberance as he. When Dr. Nate discusses the changes in the ritual in the 1908-1910 period, he knows about them because he was on the committee which developed them. His reputation with the fraternity was unfathomable. His love for Sigma Chi was unquestionable. Therefore, completing his histories is an arduous but not impossible task; it will just take longer than anticipated.
The first four volumes were published in 1922 (Volume I: Lockwood), 1927 (Volume II: Scobey), and 1929 (Volumes III: Jordan and IV: Caldwell in one binding). The three remaining unpublished volumes are in various stages of manuscript. Volume V (Runkle) is for all intents and purposes finished except for final documentation and selection of appropriate photographs. Volume VI (Bell) is not as complete; it still needs clarification of some details and additional research in a few of the activities Dr. Nate wanted to include as well as documentation and photographs. Volume VII (Cooper) is only in the sketchiest of forms and needs much research. However, Dr. Nate had finished the biographies of the founders before his death in 1933.
Since he had completed the biographies of the founders, and only four of them have been previously published in Volumes I-IV of his Histories, it was decided to publish, in one volume, the biographies of our seven founders along with Dr. Nate's discussion of the founding of Sigma Chi found in Volume I since many Sigma Chis have not had the opportunity to read his rendition and the version on which many other paraphrased accounts are based. Therefore, this volume will be the initial step in republishing some of the historical manuscripts of Dr. Nate.
Rather than presenting the biographies in the order in which the founders passed into the Chapter Eternal, as was Nate's plan, they are presented in alphabetical order. As part of the biographies, the stories relating to five founders' participation in the Civil War are included; these accounts are in separate chapters in Volume II of The History of Sigma Chi entitled "Sigma Chi in the War," which not only follow the exploits of the founders, but also many other brothers who fought on both sides of this historical event. Following the founders' biographies are pages entitled "In His Words," containing sometimes brief, sometimes longer expressions of the founders and their feelings about Sigma Chi.
The second part of this book focuses on the founding of Sigma Chi from several perspectives and genres: personal recollections from founders Jordan and Runkle; historical accounts from Grand Historians Nate and Robert M. Collett; the "outsider" perspectives from Samuel Hunt, a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and from Alfred H. Upham, former president of Miami University. Also included are two plays, one parody by Founder Lockwood and another by Pulitzer Prize winner Martin Flavin, written for the Centennial Celebration. Included are illustrations by Significant Sig and award-wining cartoonist Milton Caniff depicting in another medium the founding of Sigma Chi. Although we are all familiar with the story, I believe you will enjoy the various outlooks on the establishment of our wonderful fraternity.
I hope you enjoy this volume, which brings our founders together again. We can certainly see the diversity they possessed, the hopes and dreams they formulated as young men, the courage they possessed in defending their beliefs, the rich lives they led as leaders of men, the influences they obviously had on thousands upon thousands of college men, and the powerful legacy they left us in our never-ending quest for the White Cross. Perhaps when you finish you will find yourself more likely to refer to these seven Brothers as Tom, Jimmy, Dan, Ike, Will, Ben, and Frank, for that's who they really were. In the words of Dan Cooper, they were truly "seven men--one in heart and purpose."
William P. Fleming, Jr.