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Smithson College Photo-1870s.png
FoundedJanuary 1, 1873 (1873-01-01) (147 years ago)
CollegeSmithson College
LocationLogansport, IN
Media related to Gamma Chapter

Actual founding date in 1873 unknown, January 1st used as placeholder

Gamma Chapter, Smithson College

Founded 1873; Closed 1875

Smithson College established in 1872 in Logansport, Indiana

Initiates: 4 (as of 1875)

Charter members: Kate Beckwith, Ella C. Rittenhouse

The 1898 Catalogue mentions 1872 as the founding year for Gamma, but the chapter records say 1873. This discrepancy is explained by Marian “Minnie” Kendall, Monmouth, daughter of the president and principal of Smithson College. She said that although she left her Alpha friends and went to Logansport in January of 1872, she did not get Gamma underway until the winter of 1873-74. Her sisters, Flora and Gertrude, were initiated by Indiana in 1875; and her half-sister, Abbie Kendall, became an honorary St. Lawrence member in 1882. The fact that Gamma was named “Gamma” implies that it was planned for and became a short-lived chapter before Delta, Indiana.

Smithson, the first college in Logansport Ind., was a Universalist college on the Wabash River 67 miles northwest of Indianapolis and 117 miles southeast of Chicago. It was built in 1872 and destroyed by fire in 1896. It had perhaps a dozen graduates in all.

Minnie Kendall could remember the names of only two of the four or five members of Gamma: Kate Beckwith (Lee) and Ella Rittenhouse (Kilgour). Mrs. Kilgour agreed many years later that the approximate founding date was 1873, adding, “ … the chapter never grew very much.” She was, she said, “ … very proud to say I am a Kappa as it had become an influential college society. … Mary A. Livermore introduced herself to me years ago, going down the Hudson River, when she saw my little key.” Alice Pillsbury (Shelley, Reesor), Monmouth, whose letters have such documentary importance, wrote to Ida Woodburn (McMillan), Indiana, on July 13, 1875, “We did get somewhat out of patience with the Smithson girls for not taking in more members, but on hearing their reasons, we don’t blame them. If they took the girls they wanted and left out the ones they did not want, it would be sure to raise a ‘fuss.’ Think it will be better next year.” It was not; opposition to secret societies became strong and no new members were added after the spring of 1874.

The name Gamma was also given to the present Beta Gamma, University of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio, at a time when new chapters were given the names of dead chapters. Later, that policy was changed.