Xi Chapter was founded at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan on May 17, 1882. The Chapter closed in 1944.
Charter members: Carrie Belle DeGraff, Lulu Elizabeth Mann, Cora Miller, Myrta Susannah Myers, May Varney, Martha Jane Walker
Xi Chapter (often pronounced “zigh,” whereas Beta Xi is pronounced “k-zee”)* has the distinction of being the only listing under “X” in the 1870-1930 History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity. And since it bore the name that would be Chi’s, it may be said to reflect a bit of the glory. The mix-up occurred because the “i” in “Xi” must have been very small or very light, so the “X” remained and the Minnesota chapter was never known by any other name (although archives pages from the Rho record book list the Minnesota chapter as “Xi”). The troublesome, hard to pronounce, easy to confuse “Xi” was held in abeyance while eight other chapters with a mish-mash of names were installed. Finally, it was used again at Adrian, Michigan.
Adrian College, having evolved from a theological institute that had united itself with a seminary, was founded in 1859, with Dr. Asa Mahan (who had been Oberlin’s first president), as its enterprising first president. That same year it was chartered as a degree-giving institution. In 1868, the trustees transferred sole ownership to the Methodist Protestant denomination.
Xi chapter was established through Kappa Chapter (Hillsdale College) on May 17, 1882. At that time, there were 48 male students, 26 female students and eight on the faculty. Four initiates joined the six charter members during the first year. When the chapter was closed 62 years later, a total of 372 members had been initiated.
The chapter was small and intimate. Meetings were held in the girls’ rooms at first, but in 1884 the faculty offered a room, and by 1930, there were four adjoining rooms that had been redecorate often “to conform to the fashions of the times.” The July 1903 issue of The Key shows a picture of one of the “two pleasant rooms in the southeast corner of the third floor,” with the couch where “our headaches have been soothed away and our misunderstandings straightened out” covered with cushions in its corner. Overhead, on the diagonal, jammed against the window frame and the entrance to the other rooms, appears an enormous key, probably eight feet long... The fleur-de-lis covered globe on the table lamp looks very much like the one at Kappa Headquarters. The tasseled portieres between the two rooms, “the dear old place,” hang in careless asymmetry.
Xi members included the daughter of an early vice president of the college, Frances May McElroy, as well as the daughter of a former president, V. Ruth Anthony Gray. It was she (Mrs. Gray) who designed the cover used by The Key between 1913 and 1928. Lucy Bell Webster Caldwell was once president of the Woman’s Club of Barcelona (Spain), and assistant director-general of the Pan-American Round Table in Mexico City. Mildred Moore Anderson was once parliamentarian for the Daughters of the American Revolution, and wrote a handbook of parliamentary law. Florence Crum Evemeyer was a writer and world traveler.
Ryll Spaur Clark, initiated in 1928, now a retired teacher, was the only “lone pledge” that Xi ever had, and she was the only pledge on the Adrian campus for nearly a year.
She wrote, “I had been graduated from Glenville State Teachers College in West Virginia, I was only 18, and I had been earning my living for two years! It had never occurred to me that I would receive a bid from a fraternity … I did not know that upperclassmen could be asked … but that freshmen had to wait until the next year … I accepted the Kappa’s bid simply because it rated so high in my own home town … . Being a lone pledge was not all beer and skittles … it would have been so much fun if there had been a gang of us. … I did not mind learning a Kappa song every week and singing it at the meeting … .
“Adrian in my day was nothing like the present college. The president called me by my first name … I had a few good teachers, several who were mediocre. I still hear from my French teacher … The Kappas and Tri Delts each had a suite of rooms … The Sigma Alpha Epsilons and the ATOs had a small, meager place. There were few well-off students.
“The chapter went to Hillsdale (to see the Kappas) a few times and to the University of Michigan … During my two years … we had lots of good social life. Dinner dances were especially nice. The fraternities would have them and invite us and we would do the same …
“Everyone knew everyone at Adrian. It was religiously oriented, much more than it is now. Presidents of colleges nowadays are not like the ones of my day. Then they were literary men. Now they are promoters. They have to be … to keep their institution going.
“I was not in on the surrendering of the charter. But even in my day, 1927–1929, the Kappa officers who visited us were not happy with the chapter. We were much too small (but) we usually held the Scholarship Cup. There were few campus buildings and they were old.”
Ryll Clark was asked to be historian for Xi’s history in The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma 1970-1975, but she had promised herself to “do no more writing for anyone”—so letters were exchanged, and she was writing, not for anyone, but for Xi, just as she did when she was correspondent for The Key nearly half a century ago.
In order to put together Xi’s history before and after Mrs. Clark, it has been necessary to follow the chapter letters in The Key. There was need for a lot of reading between the lines. There was an 1885 Convention with Hillsdale; it’s theme: “Our relation to each other, our relation to other fraternities, our relation to Kappa,” and ending with “we met a number of fraternity gentlemen and passed a pleasant hour or two before train time,” … the forget-me-not was adopted as chapter flower … the arrival of The Key was cause for excitement … “as long as the members are ‘just what we want’ we are contented to have only a moderately large chapter.”
In February 1927, the only rush party was almost an unqualified success: "Nothing happened to mar our fun unless one might call burnt bouillon disagreeable." That year the chapter president, Rachel Swift, "broke down under the strain of rushing" and went to the hospital. "Rae has never been real well," the correspondent to The Key confided. In April, Rae was still confined to her home, but her friends were allowed to visit. "...our sympathies are with anyone who has to stay in bed when spring becomes a reality." In October, The Key letter reported, "Xi chapter will greatly feel the loss of our loved sister and formed president...whose untimely death deprived us of an influence which has mean much to us."
The chapter's death must also be recorded. In 1944, The Key reported four pledges and a “traditional pledge party for Tri Delt.” On June 3, the chapter graduates were guests of the alumnae and were presented, in the name of Xi, with $100 and two war bonds. A donation to the Rose McGill Fund was to be made in the name of Xi and the association. There was no talk of the chapter’s closing, but a search of the Proceedings of the Fraternity for that period reveals the recommendation “ … that Xi Chapter be put on three months’ probation from the date of the President’s visit May 4, 1944, and inasmuch as Xi Chapter has voluntarily voted to surrender its charter at the close of the college year June 1944, it is further recommended that Council follow the procedure for disbanding the chapter as set out in the bylaws, Article XIII, Section 8B.”
“The history of every chapter depends upon its college, and the college depends upon the community in which it is located … We feel we have added to the roll of Kappa Kappa Gamma many fine women, some of the brilliant, all of noble purpose.” (The 1870-1930 History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity)
*Both are acceptable pronunciations. In classical Greek, the sound is probably an aspirated “k-s” somewhat like the “ks” in “quacks.”