About Us

shield In the fall of 1854, a disagreement arose within the Kappa Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔΚΕ) at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. This chapter consisted of 12 men. Six of them, led by Whitelaw Reid, supported one of the members for Poet in the Erodelphian Literary Society. Four of the other six members, James Parks Caldwell, Isaac M. Jordan, Benjamin Piatt Runkle, and Franklin Howard Scobey, refused to vote for the brother because they knew him to lack poetic abilities. The man they did favor for that office was not a Deke. Thomas Cowan Bell and Daniel William Cooper were not members of Erodelphian, but their relation to the disagreement was unqualified endorsement of the four. Thus, they became six.

The chapter of 12 was evenly divided in a difference of opinion that ordinarily would have been decided one way or the other and immediately forgotten. But both sides considered it a matter of principle and could not reach a compromise. During the ensuing months, the groups disagreed so much that their friendship grew distant.

A Schism at Dinner

Chapter meetings, or attempted chapter meetings, occurred for months with the breach constantly widening. In February 1855, at an Oxford restaurant, a dramatic dinner meeting between the dissenting groups set the stage for Sigma Chi’s founding. Bell, Caldwell, Cooper, Jordan, Runkle, and Scobey hosted the event, hoping to mend ways with the other six. They were on hand early, awaiting developments with anticipation. Of the meeting, Founder Benjamin Piatt Runkle said, “With the kindest of intentions, we determined to give a dinner in their honor. I remember that the feast was prepared at the village restaurant, the guests invited, and on the appointed night, we gathered and waited for the guests. They did not come for a long time, and then only Mr. Reid and with a stranger. He took into his confidence Minor Millikin (an alumnus of the fraternity from nearby Hamilton, Ohio), and the two decided on strenuous proceedings.” Minor Millikin Steps Up

Millikin lost no time. “My name is Minor Millikin,” he said. “I live in Hamilton. I am a man of few words.” He then passed judgment on all of the matters in dispute. Since he had heard only one side of the story, his verdict was against Runkle, Scobey, and the others who had originally opposed election of the ΔΚΕ as the poet in the literary society. Millikin found them guilty.

Next, Millikin unfolded a plan he and Reid had concocted by which “justice” could be satisfied with the formal expulsion of the leaders in the rebellion (undoubtedly Runkle and Scobey), after which, the others, having been properly chastised, could remain in the chapter.

At this dramatic moment, Runkle stepped forward, pulled off his ΔΚΕ pin, tossed it upon the table, and said to Millikin, “I didn't join this fraternity to be anyone’s tool. And that, sir, is my answer!” Runkle stalked out of the room, and his five colleagues followed.

Six Against Six

The final meeting of the 12 active members of Delta Kappa Epsilon was held in Reid’s room in the “Old Southeast” building several days later. After a strenuous effort, led by Reid, for the expulsion of the six, with six against six on all vital issues, the meeting broke up in considerable disorder.

A rather prolonged correspondence ensued with the Delta Kappa Epsilon parent chapter at Yale, resulting in the April 1855 expulsion of Bell, Caldwell, Cooper, Jordan, Runkle, and Scobey. It was at this time they began making plans to found their own fraternity.

William Lewis Lockwood was the only one of the seven founders who was not a member of ΔΚΕ. However, his involvement was largely responsible for the survival of the young fraternity.

Things You Might Not Know About Xi Chapter

The William “Pop” Henning Life Loyal Sig Award recognizes the undergraduate chapter that adds the highest percentage of undergraduate Life Loyal Sigs throughout the school year. The award is named for 18th Grand Consul William C. “Pop” Henning (DePauw 1890), who is Life Loyal Sig No. 1. John S. McMillin (DePauw 1876) was the first Grand Consul of Sigma Chi, serving from 1882 to 1884. As you will recall from your Norman Shield pledge manual, McMillin, a lawyer, proposed a centralized form of government for the fraternity, which was adopted at the 1882 Grand Chapter in Chicago. He was elected Grand Consul because of his leadership in formally organizing the fraternity’s governance and helping to set up the first official headquarters in Chicago. The offices didn’t move to Evanston until 1951. So, not only did the first Grand Consul of Sigma Chi come from Xi Chapter, but so did the very first Life Loyal Sig! DePauw also hosted the Sigma Chi Leadership Training Workshop in August 1956, 1957, 1958, and 1959. Dr. Robert L. Fuson (DePauw 1954) and Thomas L. Turk (DePauw 1958) were the only Greencastle brothers at Xi Chapter during the summer of 1956, so they served as local hosts, set up Bowman Gym for the ritual exemplification, and were asked to serve on the workshop faculty. Robert continued until he went off to IU Medical School; Thomas continued to serve on the Magisters faculty and as Co-Director of the Ritual through the 1997 Workshop.

Fast Facts about Sigma Chi

The fundamental purpose of this fraternity is to promote the concepts of friendship, justice, and learning within its membership.

  • Founded 1855 Oxford, Ohio
  • 217 active chapters
  • 213,535 living brothers