Creation of Ohio Alpha


According to Morrison, in a letter to W.B. Palmer, he was “anxious to have the organization date in 1848, and then we could, as we did with our first initiate, have our first banquet on New Year’s Day, 1849.” So it was at that fourth meeting of the founders in that historic week that resulted in the initiation of the first new Phi, Morton George Williams, on January 1, 1849. While Fraternity records list the parent Ohio Alpha Chapter as being founded in the initial meeting of December 26, for practical purposes, the Alpha chapter had its beginning as such with that fourth meeting.

A banquet at an Oxford restaurant celebrated the initiation of Williams. The members were divided into two divisions at that meeting to prepare essays and read them at alternate meetings.

The April 25 meeting saw the adoption of the bylaws. It is important to note the bylaws were not part of The Bond because they dealt with the preparation of the essays which were read in class as part of the academic studies of the founders.

The founders felt it was necessary to keep Fraternity activities and goals to themselves as the two earlier Miami fraternities. Alpha Delta Phi and Beta Theta Pi were under suspension due to the Snow Rebellion. Hence, the Fraternity remained sub rosa (secret) for the first three years of its existence, meaning Brothers Morrison and Wilson spent less than a year as part of Phi Delt campus activities since both graduated in 1849.

Early meetings were not regularly held and were on call and held in the members’ rooms, in the recitation halls, or, in good weather, outdoors. When conducted outside, a sentinel was always posted to keep outsiders from getting close enough to hear what was going on.

In the fall of 1850, a transfer student from Farmers College in Cincinnati, Benjamin Harrison, described as a “slight, fair-haired youth of 17,” came to Miami and was initiated. The future President of the United States was to serve his Fraternity well all his life, beginning with his time as chapter president in the stormy 1851 year.

By 1855, Ohio Alpha had initiated seventy members and was established as the Fraternity’s Alpha chapter.