Chapter History

Posted by admin | | Saturday 5 February 2011 11:52 am

The Gamma Theta Chapter of Delta Tau Delta was founded on the Baker University campus in 1903. The seed for the chapter was planted in 1889 with the formation of the first fraternity at Baker — a “local” fraternity named Alpha Omega.

The men of Alpha Omega soon sought affiliation with a “reputable, national fraternity.” With a pledge to build its own fraternity house, Alpha Omega’s petition to become aligned with Delta Tau Delta was granted. In August of 1903, two Alpha Omega men — William C. “Dad” Markham and Claire H. Harpster — were initiated into Delta Tau Delta at the fraternity’s international convention (Karnea) in Cleveland, Ohio. On November 24, 1903, Dad Markham and Claire Harpster led the ceremony in Baldwin City to initiate into Delta Tau Delta 13 Alpha Omega men & 22 alumnus members. They are the 13 “Charter” members of Gamma Theta Chapter of Delta Tau Delta. During the next several years, nearly all of the remaining Alpha Omega fraternity members were initiated into Delta Tau Delta.

The first “Delt House” (or “Shelter”) was built by the alumni and undergraduate men of Delta Tau Delta (Alpha Omega) in 1903. The building, located on the southeast corner of Ninth and Indiana streets (directly west of the Zeta Chi house, still stands today and the Greek letters DTD can still be found in the sidewalk.

Soon having outgrown its first Shelter, the Delts, again with the financial support of its alumni, purchased a house on the northwest corner of Ninth and Grove in 1911. The “new” house was formerly home to the Delta Delta Delta sorority which had moved to its new home directly east of the current Zeta Tau Alpha house. The second Delt Shelter with its famous turret served Gamma Theta for the next 49 years. The building remains today and is still thought of with fond memories as “home” by many Gamma Theta alumni.

In November 1960, 57 years after being founded, Gamma Theta chapter moved to its current Shelter. Built with funds contributed by alumni, the structure was, and still is, the finest men’s fraternity house on the Baker campus.

Gamma Theta’s history is filled with accomplishments as well as times preferably forgotten. Throughout the years the men of Gamma Theta have left their legacy at Baker and around the world. A quick tour around Baker’s campus will enable you to cross paths with the memories of many great Delt brothers — the Hartley Plaza, Fleming Pavilion, Case Hall, Parmenter Hall, Rice Auditorium, the Quayle Bible Collection, Hill String Quartet, the Irick Tennis Courts, Metzger Track and so on. Four Gamma Theta Delts have served as president of Baker University and many others have been and are today on Baker’s faculty. Nine Delts are honored in Baker’s Athletic Hall Of Fame.

One of the most significant events in Gamma Theta’s history occurred during World War II in the 1940s. All but one Delt at Baker went off to war. Brother Jay Ellis, with assistance from several alumni, kept the fraternity alive and the Delt Shelter open by pledging 13 men in 1943. Brother Ellis and his pledges were there when the men returned following the war.