First Initiate, Morton George Williams


On January 1, 1849, the six founders welcomed the first man chosen for membership into the Fraternity. Morton George Williams, of LaPorte, Indiana, was initiated and quickly elected to the role of secretary for the Alpha chapter. Although his time with the parent chapter of Phi Delta Theta was short, he served in his capacity eagerly until he departed from Miami University in April of 1849.

Shortly after he left Miami University, M. G. Williams enrolled as an undergraduate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. While getting settled at his new institution, Williams wrote back to the founders in Oxford to express his longing for the brotherhood he once had. Upon a membership vote, he was granted the ability to establish a chapter of Phi Delta Theta at Centre College on July 26, 1849. Upon receiving notice of this great news, Williams began to seek out potential members for the new chapter.

After months of hard work, M. G. Williams and the three other members he had initiated into the new chapter at Centre College received great news. On May 6, 1850, the men were granted the approval for a charter to establish the Kentucky Alpha Chapter of Phi Delta Theta.

In the winter of that year, M. G. Williams fell ill and took a leave from his academics while resting in Danville. After months of declining health, he was transported to Louisville, Kentucky, for further treatment. On September 11, 1851, Williams succumbed to consumption and became the first loss of an initiated member of Phi Delta Theta. After the founders learned of his passing, Williams was referred to in a letter from John McMillian Wilson to Robert Morrison on November 27, 1852, as the “first chosen, the first taken, and the best beloved.”