The Founding of Sigma Chi
Sigma Chi was founded on June 28, 1855 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Sigma Chi has seven founding members: Benjamin Piatt Runkle, Thomas Cowan Bell, William Lewis Lockwood, Isaac M. Jordan, Daniel William Cooper, Franklin Howard Scobey, and James Parks Caldwell.
The fraternity's official colors are blue and old gold, and its badge is a white cross with emblems on each of its arms: crossed keys on the upper arm, an eagle's head on the right arm, seven gold stars and a pair of clasped hands on the lower arm, and a scroll on the left arm. In the center of the cross, on a black background, are the gold symbols for the Greek letters Sigma (Σ) and Chi (Χ). The left and right arms are connected to the upper arm by gold chains.
Sigma Chi's purpose is to promote the concepts of Friendship, Justice, and Learning; its mission statement is to develop values-based leaders committed to the betterment of character, campus and community.
On April 12, 1958 the members of Chi Sigma, a local Richmond fraternity, were initiated as members of Epsilon Rho Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Sigma Chi first came to Richmond College in 1880, when on January 17th the Alpha Beta Chapter was installed. The chapter returned the charter two years later because of the decline in fraternities, which occurred at Richmond at the turn of the century.
After World War II the Richmond Alumni Chapter showed interest in re-establishing a chapter at the University. The rapid growth of the University, as well as the presence of several large national fraternities such as Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Delta Theta, Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma and many others demonstrated the potential for a Sigma Chi chapter.
In 1953 Grand Praetor Malcolm M. Christian, with the assistance of several Alumni Sigs, set out to colonize a group to petition at the University. In September of 1955, Chi Sigma local Fraternity was organized in hopes of petitioning Sigma Chi. Praetor Christian used five Sigma Chis enrolled at the University as a nucleus for the fraternity. Brock Mathews, Alpha Tau ’56; Lawrence T. Berry, Sigma Sigma ’56; Kendall P. Parker, Sigma Sigma ’57; Edmund M. Moore, Sigma Sigma ’56; and Thomas A. Underhill, Sigma Sigma ’57, made up the original five. The group quickly expanded to twenty active brothers and nine pledges.
With the beliefs of Sigma Chi in mind, Chi Sigma set out to attract men of great potential and diversity. Chi Sigma’s actives and pledges left their mark on all facets of the University. IN the 1957-58 political elections Chi Sigma held five of the sixteen offices. Chi Sigma also became a major force in the University’s intramurals.
On February 3, 1958 Chi Sigma received a favorable vote for their petition and on April twelfth of that same year the members of Chi Sigma became the Epsilon Rho Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and has prospered at the University of Richmond ever since.
The pledge class of 2009 at Benjamin Piatt Runkle's grave in Arlington, Virginia
Benjamin Piatt Runkle (September 3, 1836 – June 28, 1916)
Born in West Liberty, Ohio. Runkle helped design the badge of Sigma Chi based on the story of Constantine and the vision of the cross. Runkle was known for having a fierce pride and was suspended from Miami University when he fought a member of Beta Theta Pi for sneering at his badge
This event is planned around an all-week track and field competition between the different classes of the sororities on Campus. Derby days is an event that promotes spirit and raises
money for the childrens hospital.
He was the only founder to serve as Grand Consul. He died on Sigma Chi's 61st birthday in Ohio. He is now buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Thomas Cowan Bell (May 14, 1832 - February 3, 1919)
Born near Dayton, Ohio. He was twenty-three years old when Sigma Chi was founded, second oldest of the founders. He graduated from Miami University in 1857 and began teaching.
Bell died the day after attending the initiation of alpha beta chapter at University of California Berkeley on February 3, 1919. He is buried at the Presidio of San Francisco in San Francisco National Cemetery in California. Section OS, Row 43A, Grave 3.
William Lewis Lockwood (October 31, 1836 - August 17, 1867)
Born in New York City. He was the only founder who had not been a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. He was considered the "businessman" of the founders and managed the first chapter's funds and general operations, becoming the first Quaestor of Sigma Chi. After graduating from Miami University in 1858 he moved back to New York and began work as a lawyer. He named his son after Franklin Howard Scobey.
Isaac M. Jordan (May 5, 1835 - December 3, 1890)
Born in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania as Isaac Alfred Jordan. His family later moved to Ohio where Jordan met Benjamin Piatt Runkle and became close friends. After graduating from Miami University in 1857 he went onto graduate school, where he graduated in 1862. He then began work as an attorney and was elected to the United States Congress in 1882. He died in 1890. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Daniel William Cooper (September 2, 1830 - December 11, 1920)
Born near Fredericktown, Ohio. Cooper was the oldest founder and was elected the first consul of Sigma Chi. After graduating from Miami University in 1857 he became a Presbyterian minister. Cooper's original Sigma Phi badge came into the possession of the Fraternity at the time of his death. It is pinned on every new Grand Consul at their installation.
Franklin Howard Scobey (May 27, 1837 - July 22, 1888)
Born in Hamilton, Ohio. Scobey was considered The Spirit of Sigma Chi for being friendly with everybody and not just a select group of people. After graduating from Miami University in 1858 he went on to graduate again in 1861 with a law degree. He worked as a journalist in his hometown until 1879 but went on to become a cattleman in Kansas until 1882. Scobey then moved back to Ohio where he took up farming until his death. Never physically robust, Scobey was afflicted with hearing loss in his final years.
James Parks Caldwell (March 27, 1841 - April 5, 1912)
Born in Monroe, Ohio. By the age of thirteen Caldwell had completed all academics which could be offered at his local academy. He was then sent to Miami University with advanced credits. Caldwell was just fourteen at the time of the founding making him the youngest of the founders. After Caldwell graduated from Miami University in 1857 he practiced some law in Ohio but moved to Mississippi to begin a career as an educator. He died in Biloxi, Mississippi where the latest issues of The Sigma Chi Quarterly were found in his room.