Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)/Sigma Phi

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The fraternity of Sigma Phi was founded at Union College, in 1827, by the Hon. T. F. Bowie, George N, Porter, Hon. Charles N. Rowley, Governor S. W. Beall, of Wisconsin, Rev. R. H. Chapman, and Hon. Charles T. Cromwell. The last-named gentleman is the only one of the founders now living. Four years after its foundation a chapter was chartered at Hamilton College, and its chapter roll is now as follows:

  1. Alpha, of New York, Union College, 1827.
  2. Beta, of New York, Hamilton College, 1831.
  3. Alpha, of Massachusetts, Williams College, 1834.
  4. Gamma, of New York, New York University (died 1848).
  5. Delta, of New York, Hobart College, 1840.
  6. Alpha, of Vermont, Vermont University, 1845.
  7. A1pha, of New Jersey, Princeton College, 1853 (died 1855).
  8. Alpha, of Michigan, Michigan University, 1858.

The Alpha Chapter since its foundation has held a prominent position, both in the college and the college town. Annual conventions of the fraternity are always held with the A1pha on the 4th of March of each year, and usually are attended by all the members within reach. The average active membership has been thirteen, three or four from each class. It is a custom for all members to write their lives and a history of the society during their connection with it, and its history is thus constantly renewed. The Beta Chapter was the first fraternity at Hamilton, and numbers many prominent professional men among its members. Visits are frequently made among the New York Chapters, and also those which are farther away in Vermont and Massachusetts. The distance of the remainder from Ann Arbor prevents frequently recurring visits from these, however.

The Gamma of New York being in a city college, the members could not meet as they wished, and the charter was withdrawn at the wish of its graduates. The Vermont Chapter has always been large and prosperous. The New Jersey Chapter was killed by the anti-fraternity laws passed by the faculty. The chapter at Michigan University is prosperous. For a long while it was the only chapter not possessing a house of its own. It is now building one at a cost of $8000. The members of the fraternity are closely united, and their small number makes them well acquainted; but two men have ever resigned from the fraternity, and nine only have been expelled. There are no honorary members, and no graduate chapters, but dinners are given annually in New York and Chicago.

President White, of Cornell, ex-Governors Hoffman, of New York, Hartranft, of Pennsylvania, and Beall, of Wisconsin; Hon. John Cochrane, Gilbert M. Spicer, Daniel Pratt, George F. Comstock, John Bigelow, and Oakey Hall; Whitney, of Yale; Tracy Walworth, Professor Kendricks, Anson J. Upson, David A. Holbrook, Thomas S. Hastings, and General Daniel A. Butterfield are some of the prominent names on Sigma Phi’s roll.

The total membership of the fraternity is now about 1800, of whom 330 are deceased.

The badge is a monogram made by placing the “Σ” directly over the “Φ.” The first letter is generally jewelled, and the second is either plain or chased. Its color is royal purple.