Anna Elizabeth Willits

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KAPPA’S FIRST BADGE, Anna (Elizabeth) Willits (Pattee)

Anna Elizabeth Willits, photographed as a student

Family: Born May 22, 1853, in Monmouth, Ill. Daughter of Judge Elias Willits and Elizabeth Fish. Willits home is said to have been at the corner of South D St. and West 3rd Ave. Pattee home was at 316 E. Broadway.

Education: Attended Monmouth Academy; entered Monmouth College in 1870; received AB-AM degree 1874; member of A.B.L. Literary Society.

Kappa Record: Founder as a sub-freshman, one of the original four organizers and listed as Alpha 4; signed the charter in 1870. Many early meetings were held in her home, where the design of the badge was determined: golden key with the Greek letters Kappa Kappa Gamma and Alpha Omega Omicron; legend is that her mother helped the Founders select a proper sort of pin and suggested a key “for a key usually stands for something secret.” Anna later confirmed the fact that her mother had suggested the use of a key for the badge, but that the Founders actually designed it, including the placement of the two sets of Greek letters. Was an adviser to the local sorority Kappa Alpha Sigma formed at Monmouth College in 1900 (Kappa Alpha Sigma became Alpha Deuteron Chapter in 1934). Her badge is the only known original key in existence.

Personal Data: Known for sociability, hospitality, and community service; member Monmouth Board of Education and P.E.O. Lifelong resident of Monmouth. Married in 1881 Henry Howard Pattee, prominent businessman. Son: Allan. Granddaughter Frances Pattee was initiated with her badge when Alpha was reestablished 1934. Died August 11, 1908, in Chicago, Ill., following surgery; buried in Pattee family plot, Monmouth Cemetery.

Note: It is a Fraternity oddity that only Anna’s badge out of an order of 12 (Spring 1870) has been found. It seems to have been a practice among the first Alphas to pass their badges to new members. Jennie Boyd and Lou Stevenson were given new badges by alumnae associations. Minnie Stewart went to three Conventions and must have worn a key; it is possible that her younger sister Crissie (Lucretia) was initiated with her badge (December 1877). The Alpha badges of Margaret Pogue (March 1871) and Anna Armsby (Fall 1874) were used at the 1934 installation and described in The Key as being part of the original order of 12 keys; also used was the key that belonged to Carolyn (Carrie) Smith (Fall 1872) and it could easily be an original. The badges worn by the presidents of the Monmouth, Ill., and Peoria, Ill., Kappa Alumnae Associations seem to be original; the Monmouth one has the name “Alice” on the back and must have belonged to Alice Pillsbury (September 1871). The Peoria badge has no name on the back. It is not known when it became a practice to have a name engraved on the back.

The “Ivories,” reproductions of the Founders taken from small oil portraits and hand-painted on ivory, are on loan from Alpha Deuteron Chapter to The Stewart House and contain what is supposedly Georgie Pillsbury’s key. It is said to be an original, but there is no name on the back. Georgie was initiated Fall 1877 when the chapter was sub-rosa and it is unlikely that the group ordered pins at that time, making it more than possible that she was initiated with an original badge. In 1877, several Alpha alumnae were living in Monmouth. Alpha Deuteron also claims to have Mabel Pillsbury’s badge (Fall 1872) and it too may be an original. (Mabel was the first Kappa legacy to be initiated).

Lou Bennett and Anna Willits maintained that there were four original founders/organizers and that this group added three more at the first initiation. The first badges cost $5.00 each.

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