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National Educational Fraternity
Established 1892


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Phi Lambda Epsilon
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This history is due to the dedicated work of Brother Ricky O'Brien. 

Phi Lambda Epsilon was founded February 12, 1892 at Clinton Academy, Missouri.

The circumstances that led up to its organization were similar to those that caused the formation of other Greek letter societies. Already feeling provoked by a factional fight for control of the Bryant Literary Society, (which was connected with the school) the conflict was intensified by an after school hazing incident that took place on the Academy grounds. Because of this incident, most of the officers of the Academy Cadet Corps were reduced in rank and suffered other consequences. Among these officers were three of the founders of the Fraternity, Nichols being second lieutenant, Lamkin first sergeant, and McKee a corporal. This rift led to the formation of Phi Lambda Epsilon.

The idea of a fraternity first occurred to C.F. Lamkin, who had graduated the year before and was doing special work at the Academy prior to college. He enlisted the help of R.H. McKee.  The two then secured the support of F.Y. Nichols, and the three recruited F.B. Owen as the fourth member.  Although it may be debated whether McKee or Nichols was the first interested, these four men were united together by the middle of December, 1891.

On February 12, 1892, the first formal meeting of the society was held in an upper room of Nichol's home. At this meeting, Owen was unable to be present. Lamkin already prepared a charter so officers were elected, a constitution was adopted, rituals approved, and colors chosen. Some peculiar things about this meeting may be of interest.  First was the selection of colors. All of the founders present knew that a local college fraternity had three colors. They knew nothing of the colors of other fraternities, so they concluded that all fraternities had three colors.  They adopted that number and each of the three suggested a color. Also, the original constitution and rituals were spoken completely in Latin, as was the secret motto. Finally, Greek names were adopted to enable the membership to remain secret in case the minutes or papers of the organization were discovered.  The fraternity at that time was sub-rosa.

The first new brother to be initiated was E.M. Violett. Shortly after, U.W. Lamkin was taken in, and the first school year of the fraternity's closed with these six members.

 Hardly had the fraternity been founded before it took a room over Brother Violette's store which it furnished, papered and stocked with the paraphernalia needed for initiations. The furniture excepting the chairs was made by the members and the decorations including the painting and paper hanging was executed by them. This was a room used exclusively by the Alpha Kappa Chapter and was a source of pride to the members. None but Phi Lambda Epsilon men were allowed in it. A fire broke out immediately behind the store over which the Chapter hall was located and the store itself caught fire. Though the burning store was Violette's father's. Viloette first rescued books and papers of Phi Lambda Epsilon. The Alpha Chapter kept this or a similar room, during its existence.

 The first chapter began the practice of designating each member by some famous Greek's name, the minutes showing those names only; this practice had been retained by a few chapters who have found and added charm in the atmosphere it creates.

 At the outset there was no idea of the fraternity going outside of the Academy at Clinton. When it was about a year old, however, it had an opportunity to enter the State Normal School at Warrsburg. Robt. L. Zoll was pledged, but nothing came of it until the summer of 1893 when Zoll sent S.S. Stark to Clinton and he was initiated. Stark then initiated Zoll and together with E.M. Violette (who was sent to Warrensburg for that purpose) initiated A.P. Hunt, B.S. Lemmon and W. L. Lamkin on January 26, 1894, thus establishing the Beta Kappa Chapter (now Missouri Beta). At this time an organization of the fraternity as a whole was made, C.F. Lamkin being elected Gr. M.N.A.; E.M. Violette, Gr. FH.S. and R.L. Zoll, Gr. H.G.T.

 In February of the same year F.B. Owen entered the State Normal School at Kirksville and assisted by C.F. Lamkin shortly afterwards initiated six students of that school, the first one being Samuel H. Ellison - one of the most popular men that Phi Lambda has ever enrolled. The initiation of these men established the Gamma Kappa Chapter (now Missouri Gamma).

This Chapter has had the honor of saving the life of the fraternity- for a space of some three months it was the only active Chapter.

It has had the longest continuous existence, Missouri Beta having been inactive the early fall of 1896.

 During the summer of 1894 the first Grand Conclave was held at Clinton with Missouri Alpha Chapter the entertaining Chapter. Besides the local men there were five delegates, R.L. Zoll, A.P. Hunt and C.W. Bliss of Beta, and F.B. Owen and  S.H. Ellison of Gamma. At this Conclave the future policy of the order was outlined and has been consistently followed ever since.

 During the summer of 1894 students from Kemper Military School at Boonville were initiated and a charter was granted in October that year, established the Delta Chapter. In April of the following year (1895) five students from the Marmaduke Military Academy at Sweet Springs were initiated at Boonsville by the Delta Chapter assisted by the men from Alpha and Beta. This established the Epsilon Chapter, which was destined to flourish until the decline of the school. At this initiation the first man taken in was A.W. Nelson of Kansas City., and he afterwards established Mo. Zeta without any outside help. To him the fraternity will always be grateful.

 The second Grand Conclave was held at Warrensburg in June, 1895. No delegates were present from the Epsilon Chapter.

 The year 1895-6 was the evil year of the fraternity. The Alpha Chapter died; the Beta Chapter kept but a semblance of life; the Delta Chapter was outlawed; the Epsilon Chapter died. So at the third grand conclave at Kirksville it looked like the days of the fraternity were numbered. The fall of 1896 saw only the Gamma Chapter alive. Some active work revived Beta, restored Epsilon for a time and then anew life came with the announcement that Arthur Nelson had entered the Central High School of Kansas City.

 Prospects were brighter then, and the Mo. Eta at Sedalia High School followed in the spring of 1897, delegates from the Alpha Alumni, Beta, Gamma, Zeta and Eta Chapter were present.

 Further detail is unnecessary. The Missouri Theta Chapter was planted by Missouri Zeta in the Kansas City Manual Training School, Missouri Iota at Springfield High School by Missouri Eta, Missouri Lambda at Cape Girardeau by Missouri Gamma.

 Missouri Eta also put in Montana Alpha at Helena, (Mont) High School.  Missouri Zeta has the credit for Colorado A (Pueblo High School). To Missouri Theta belongs the credit of Kansas Alpha at Topeka. Missouri Alpha Alumni put in Kansas Beta at Wichita High School and Kansas Beta established Kansas Gamma at Lewis Academy.

 The Grand Council of 1902-03 established Nebraska Alpha at Lincoln and Missouri Lambda at St. Joe.

 During the year 1903-04 Kentucky Alpha was established at Louisville, KY., and Missouri Mu at St. Louis, Mo.; the ; latter being established by the efforts of Father, F.B. Owen, who was spending his senior year in the St. Louis Law School.

 It would draw this account out to too great length to attempt to follow the rapid spread of the fraternity during the next two years.

 Special mention should be made of the leap across the Rockies to the Pacific Coast. Brother Horace Ivie, of Missouri Gamma, in pursuit of his chosen profession located at San Francisco about 1900. Dr. Ivie had been one of the Grand Officers of the fraternity just prior to his going to the Coast and was one of Phi Lambda Epsilon’s most enthusiastic supporters and advocates. He had not been in San Francisco long before he saw the fine possibilities there. He soon had his petitioners together and the Grand Council followed Dr. Ive’s advice, thus planting the fraternity’s widened and given us so many splendid chapters and men, of whom the whole fraternity will always be proud.

 In 1910 founder Owen, having located at Oklahoma City in the practice of the law, found a band of young  fellows in the High School who were organized as a “local”; they desired to nationalize and eagerly embraced the opportunity to petition Phi Lambda Epsilon. The chapter has since proven to be one of the best in the fraternity.

 At Dallas, Texas in 1913, the Grand Conclave there assembled passed one of the most drastic resolutions in the history of the fraternity, since known as the “Dallas Resolution.” This resolution recorded the decision of the fraternity to abide by the seemingly popular opinion of all school boards and cease to exist in all public secondary schools. Truly this may be recorded as a “dark period” in the history of our organization. Within a short while the number of chapters fell off from forty-eight active ones to but three, which were maintained in private military academies and normal schools.

 In spite of this serious setback, the fraternity gathered together the remnants a short while later and started once again an almost impossible up-hill battle. Many were the differences in opinion as to procedure, but a few loyal workers managed to finally restore order from the chaos created at Dallas.

 Following almost as a reward for the few brothers who did lend a hand when things were at their ebb came the Twenty-third Annual Grand Conclave at San Francisco in 1915, during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Much good was accomplished at this meeting in addition to the fun had.  The idea was conceived that chapters might and would be chartered on a non-scholastic basis as well as a scholastic one.  This idea has since been responsible for the installation of some very strong chapters in the fraternity.

 Things in general looked much brighter during the following year and at the next Grand Conclave held at Peoria, Illinois, in 1916., the reports showed considerable progress, particularly in the West and Middle West. Brothers Ed Seagrave, Grady Standeffer and Max Miller stand out in heavy type on the books of the fraternity during this period as the heavy work-horses whose efforts so helped to advance the growth of the organization.

 In 1917 and 1918 no Grand Conclaves were held. Things again looked gloomy from the standpoint of fraternity growth due to he Great World War into which the United States entered in April of 1917.  Standing  for the principles of the fraternity, our brothers could not help but do exactly that which they did-step out to a man, into a uniform and do their bit. And let it be recorded right here that theirs was some “bit”, a record of which larger and older organizations might well be proud. Throughout these two years, the fraternity owes its existence mainly to two or three brothers, Max Miller, Clarence Parsons, and Ed Freyschalag. How much work and how little reward for doing it was accorded these men only they themselves know.

 In 1919, at Kansas City Mo., the Twenty-fifth Grand Conclave was held. During this three-day session much was accomplished. The constitution and rituals were revised, and the whole organization for the government of the fraternity thoroughly gone over, with a view to absolutely preventing anything holding back that growth which the assembled brothers knew about to take place.

 In 1920 Oklahoma City entertained at the Twenty-sixth Annual Grand Conclave. Here more progressive legislation took place, some quite radical in nature.  The resulting healthy growth has however, justified the move made. As we go to press, which means in November of 1921, we find ourselves with twenty-five active, health chapters, with excellent immediate prospects for six other chapters.  With a continuance of the present rate of health expansion, Bother Ed Freyschlag’s efforts should be rewarded by an active chapter roll at the end of 1922 of fifty active chapters. Let’s all lend a hand that our objective may be reached. The 1923 Conclave at St. Louis, convened and all living Founders were present, as well as thirty-two delegates from 35 active Chapters, and five of the Founder\s sons.

 Building For the Future

 By the 1925 Conclave in San Antonio, the Chapter roll was increased to 39 active Chapters, Brother Pottter had suggested the principal of an Endowment Fund at the Colorado Springs Officers’ meeting in 1924 which was put into effect by the work of Brothers Mathis, McManus and Hamilton at San Antonio, with Brother Buford Breeding as Chairman. He guarded and nurtured this fund until it became certainly on of the most important assets in Fraternity history. The scholarship award was also created at the Colorado Springs Officers Meeting in 1928. This was important as it furthered our arguments against school opposition, giving boys a real incentive for scholastic improvement. Our Chapter roll was still at 35, some lost, others added. By the time of the Conclave in Oklahoman City in 1935, the Fraternity had reached a total of 41 active Chapters, the largest in its history. This Conclave, which had climaxed four years of leadership under Grand M.N.A. Cres H. Wells, also saw the permanent establishment of the Endowment Fund. This Conclave was the last time that our three remaining Founders were present. Fredrick B. Owens passed away on November 27th, 1935.

 The Second Great War

 Phi Lambda Epsilon continued to move in the late thirties. Large Conclaves were held in Los Angeles in 1937 and in New Orleans in 1939. Regional meetings were held too, the most popular being the Zeta Province Conclave in California, and the Delta-Gamma “East of the Rockies” joint Province Conclaves.

 Then came the War

 With the entry of our country into World War II in 1941, many of our Chapters were wiped out because their members were called into the service. The non-scholastic Chapters were completely eliminated because of this drain, leaving only the high school groups to hold the Fraternity together. The entire Grand Council, elected in 1939, entered the service. During these years, four Grand M.N.A.’s served temporarily, until called to the colors: John Watts, Paul Gravey, Udo Hinck, and Jack Hart, Truly, it was a desperate hour for the Fraternity.

 In 1941, Grand M.N.A. Udo Hinck called upon Joe Terresi, who was in an essential industry, to add to his busy schedule the burden of a Grand Council position. Because of this appointment and the fact that Joe was needed at home, Brother Terresi provided the leadership through the long years of the War that kept Phi Lambda Epsilon together. At one time, he was the only Grand Officer and was, in fact, the Fraternity.

 By the time of the 1946 Grand Conclave in St. Louis, most of the fellows were back from the War and Phi Lambda Epsilon was again on the move. This meeting saw the re-election of Terresi as Grand M.N.A. which Udo Hinck and Jack Hart, both past Grand M.N.A.’s returning as Officers. Grand F.S. William Hulsey had succeeded in reviving several Chapters, new groups had been formed, and the Fraternity was in excellent financial position.

 In 1948, at the New Orleans Conclave, the Chapter roll was at twenty. Dr. Hulsey was elected Grand M.N.A. This was the last Grand Conclave attended by Father Lamkin whose farewell speech was truly immortal.

 On to the Fifties

 The 1950 Grand Conclave, in Sacramento, was a healthy one. Convened at the Senator Hotel, a large group of Phi Lambs enthusiastically faced the future. But already lurking in the background, was the Korean Conflict which was to again take its toll. Grand M.N.A. Farrington, elected in 1950 was in the armed forces, and the Chapter roll had again dwindled.

 1952 saw a former Grand Council member, Walter L. Dorris come out of retirement and assume leadership. He carefully selected his other officers, who energetically worked for the Fraternity for two years.

 Despite the work done by Brownie and his Council, and the Councils to follow, the tide was running against most organized groups, whether they be social, fraternal, or civic. The recent conflicts and the resultant attitudes of a more liberal nature, had caused some groups to increase their outcry against anything that everyone couldn’t join. Phi Lambda Epsilon felt the effect.

 And so it was too that Phi Lambda Epsilon has become a small, but exclusive society, through choice. Eliminating the deadwood improving the internal organization, the Fraternity is no longer interested in how big it is-only how good it can be.

 And so it was too that Phi Lambda Epsilon has grown-from a toddling infant in 1892 to a mature adult of almost three-quarters of a century. Great men have given much to the Order through the years but all would surely agree that the Fraternity of today, with its firm and basic principles, is a far better organization than in the past.  

 to be continued . . .


PLE Starts Other Fraternity

This was taken from the site of a fraternity whose founders were members of Phi Lambda Epsilon BETA Chapter.  http://www.afn.org/~phisigpi/history.html  (text below)
The Beta Chapter of Phi Lambda Epsilon was organized in 1894 as the first fraternity at the State Teacher's College in Warrensburg, Missouri. In the spring of 1914, the fraternity was disbanded because, after investigation, the faculty found that it only emphasized the social side of college life. During the next school year, some of the former members of Phi Lambda Epsilon, as well as some other male students who had high ideals regarding education, presented their intentions of forming a new fraternity to the faculty. Initially, this idea was disapproved, but through the encouragement and support of President Eldo L. Hendricks, Dean Claude A. Phillips, and Professor C. H. McClure, the faculty approved the establishment of the new fraternity. Upon reviewing the academic records of each student, the three felt that the group should affiliate with a nationally recognized fraternal organization stressing scholarship. Several established fraternities were contacted, but the requests to start a new chapter was declined because the State Teacher's College was not a qualified liberal arts college. The three professors then decided that if no national fraternal organization would recognize these students simply because they were enrolled in a teachers college, then they would create a fraternal organization unique unto itself. This fraternity would not stress only scholarship, leadership, or fellowship, but would be built on a tripod of all three qualities.

On February 14, 1916, Phi Sigma Pi Honorary Professional Fraternity was founded. Dr. Hendricks was the first person to sign a Phi Sigma Pi roll book and is therefore known as Alpha 1. Together, Hendricks, Phillips, and McClure are known as the founding fathers of the fraternity. From the moment that Phi Sigma Pi was born, chapter members at Warrensburg intended to make the organization a national fraternity. Finally, on May 2, 1921, the fraternity became national when the Gamma Chapter was founded at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. From this point on, things began developing very rapidly. The Coat of Arms was redesigned and the Grand Seal was created in 1930, and the first copy of the Phi Sigma Pi newsletter was also published. The national song, "Brothers Are We" was copyrighted in 1933. In 1940, the Coat of Arms was redesigned and the Purple and Gold newsletter was created.

and blah blah blah . . .---Editor

PLE on the WEB 2/6/03

this was found recently... (at )

Phi Lambda Epsilon (FLE)

Bury the Dog Deeper Pin

1903 badge. Jeweled badge.

Plain badge. Pledge pin.

The academic Fraternity of Phi Lambda Epsilon was founded at the Clinton Academy, Clinton, Missouri on February 12, 1892 by C. F. Lamkin, R. H. McKee, F. Y. Nicols and F. B. Owen. Chapters were maintained mostly west of the Mississippi. Some of the chapters owning their own houses.

The fratenity provided for the admission of school faculty. Literary exercises were encouraged and the official organ, "The Carnation" had been published quarterly since 1907. In 1910 a catalogue of members was issued. The Fraternity had song books together with music dedicated to the Fraternity.

A general convention was held annually and the central form of government was based upon the Grand Council, of five members selected at large, who comprised the executive officers of the Fraternity, a body of four Archons and a Supervising Committee consisting of three members likewise elected.


[The above information was copied from the American Secondary School Fraternities, published in 1913 by J. Ward Brown. The photo comes from a private collection. Further information is unknown at this time. It is currently defunct.]

[ Defunct?  Speak for yourself, we're alive and well, thank you.---Editor]

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