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Ohio Gamma: A Brief History

In the year 1839, a young man by the name of Robert  Morrison enrolled at Ohio University, thus beginning the rich history surrounding the Phi  Delta Theta fraternity at OU. Although it wasn't until twenty-nine years later that  the original charter for Ohio Gamma was issued, it was a sign of the prosperous times to  come over the next 130 years.

That charter came on March 28, 1868,  and was granted to three men: Thomas L. Hughes, Edison B. Miesse, and J.W. Shinn, who have  now become known as our second founding fathers. Although we are now Ohio Gamma, the  original charter was issued to us as Ohio Beta. Ohio Wesleyan was originally Ohio Beta,  but with the onset of the Civil War came a drop in numbers, which forced the existing  Phi's at Ohio Wesleyan to close, opening the door for Hughes, Miesse, and Shinn to  accept their charter. In 1875, the convention went over the list of charters in Ohio, at  which time they rearranged some of them and Ohio U. was given Ohio Epsilon. This all  happened again at the convention of 1880 when the Phi's at Ohio U. were given their  existing name, Ohio Gamma, and Ohio Wesleyan was reissued Ohio Beta.

1869 saw three new members initiated  into Phi Delta Theta. William Edwin Williams, Vernon Culver Stiers, and William Alexander  Brown became Phi's, sending the chapters numbers past the numbers of Beta Theta Pi  and Delta Tau Delta, both of which had been established on the O.U. campus prior to Phi  Delta Theta. Within two years the fraternity to 20 members. Within 15 years since the  original charter, the fraternity's numbers had grown to 73.

Numerous places around campus have  been called home by Phi Delta Theta, including South Court Street, North College, East  Union Street, University Terrace, and South Congress. But perhaps the most well known  building to be owned by Phi's at O.U. is the infamous "Castle on the  Hocking" located on West Mulberry Street. This historic building was the first on  campus to be built specifically for a fraternity. The house was completed in September of  1916.

No sooner had the Phi Delts moved in  than World War I began, and numbers began to diminish. Military training programs at the  university are credited for having kept the chapter alive, as well as a lot of well  thought out planning by Phi's of that time. When the war finally ended in 1918, the  house at Mulberry Street boasted a list of Phi's that served in the war, all of which  could be seen over the fireplace in the main atrium.
The Second World War damaged the Phi  Delts at O.U. even more severely than did the first, but again it was the Army training  program and more thorough planning by members that kept the chapter intact. When the war  let out, however, numbers soared. At some points the chapter was up over 120 men, and in  March of 1953 Richard Lee Miller, '56, was initiated as the 1,000th member  of the Ohio Gamma chapter of Phi Delta Theta.

Information collected by D. Merrill  Wheeler Jr. with help from "Ohio Gamma's First 100 Years," by Charles W.  Reamer '33.


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