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Kappa's Founders

Mary Louise "Lou" Bennett

Mary Louise “Lou” Bennett is listed first on Kappa’s permanent Fraternity roll of membership, as Alpha 1. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she grew up in Monmouth with her uncle, Dr. Alexander Young, a professor of Greek and Hebrew at Monmouth College. Lou had a reputation for being helpful and was an active debater in the Amateur des Belles Lettres (ABL) Literary Society.

 

She became a teacher after graduating from Monmouth in 1872. She is credited with the phrase, “the Fraternity was the mighty oak that sprang from the little acorn of Alpha.” The longest surviving Founder, Lou attended the reinstallation of Alpha Chapter in 1934 and lived until the age of 95. She is buried with her husband, Rev. Joseph Boyd, and her co-Founder and sister-in-law, Jennie Boyd, in Hickory Grove Cemetery in Green Cove Springs, Florida.

Hannah Jeannette "Jennie" Boyd

Hannah Jeannette “Jennie” Boyd entered Monmouth College in 1868 and was also a member of the ABL Literary Society. She graduated in 1872 and was known as the first Kappa career woman, embarking on a long career as an educator. She taught in Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas,

and in South Carolina at the Brainerd Institute (a school for freed slaves). She was described as “the balance wheel” among the Founders and was appreciated for her “keen and analytical mind.”

 

Jennie is credited with selecting the Fraternity colors, blue and blue, and was Kappa’s first scribe. When speaking to undergraduate chapter members, she exclaimed, “How rich we are in daughters!”

Susan "Sue" Burley Walker

Susan “Sue” Burley Walker moved to Monmouth with her family in 1862 and was Kappa’s first alumna, leaving school in 1872. Sue was asked to join in March 1870. At the time, she was only 15, which made her the youngest Founder.

 

 

Considered the beauty of the first Alphas, Sue was also known for playing the “Kappa Kappa Gamma Waltz,” which was published in 1873 by S.H. Price, a member of the Monmouth College music department. Sue married the Rev. Alvan Stuart Vincent, a former Civil War captain, in 1876. Together with their children, they moved all over the Midwest so he could lead various churches. Wanting her children to be educated in Monmouth as she had been, the family returned to the town in 1896. Sue died from cancer the following year.

Mary "Minnie" Moore Stewart

Mary “Minnie” Moore Stewart was the first President of Kappa Kappa Gamma and presided over the first Initiation. Her parents were Isabella C. and James H. Stewart, a prominent lawyer, judge, and early acquaintance and supporter of Abraham Lincoln. The family moved to Monmouth in 1861 and built their home across from Monmouth College in 1865. She was inspired to create a women’s fraternity after attending a lecture by prominent suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

 

 

Minnie was known for her “sunny, warm-hearted disposition” and loved to sing and paint. After graduating from Monmouth College in 1872, she taught at Monmouth public schools and later became a high school principal in Eustis, Florida. Here, she earned a salary higher than most men in her day.

 

 

She had two children with her first husband, each of whom died before reaching age 10. She is buried next to them in the Stewart family plot in Monmouth. Her home is now the public Stewart House Museum, which is owned and operated by the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation.

Martha Louisa "Lou" Stevenson

Martha Louisa “Lou” Stevenson was the daughter of a wealthy family originally from Tarkio, Missouri. Her family home in Monmouth is the only other home of a Founder that still stands today, and it is where Kappa’s first “real party” (the Alpha social) took place on Halloween in 1872.

 

 

Lou was the sixth member added to the original group and Kappa’s first Event Chairman. She remained actively involved in Kappa throughout her life, attending three Kappa conventions and vigorously participating in Fraternity research about Alpha. She passed her final days in

Kansas City, Missouri, and was a member of the Kansas City Alumnae Association. Her autograph book is the only document that remains from the early Alpha Chapter years.

Anna Elizabeth Willits

Anna Elizabeth Willits was the fourth official member of Kappa and the designer of our first badge. Known for her sociability, hospitality and community service, Anna lived in Monmouth all her life. Many early meetings were held in her childhood home and her mother is said to have been the first to suggest that the Founders select a key for the badge, “for a key usually stands for something secret.” Anna and the other Founders agreed that a key would do nicely; not for its ability to guard secrets, but rather because it could “unlock the hidden mysteries in Science, Literature and Art.” Fittingly, Anna’s key is the only known original to still exist. She died in 1908 and is buried in a family plot in Monmouth.

© 2019 #KappaTurns150 for Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity
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