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THE HISTORY OF TEXAS BETA
The Texas Beta chapter of Phi Delta Theta was chartered on October 15, 1883, as the 67th chapter of Phi Delta Theta and the third chapter in Texas. The Tennessee Alpha chapter (Vanderbilt) was instrumental in the establishment of Texas Beta. In 1883, Sterling P. Gilbert and Walter B. Palmer of Tennessee Alpha solicited two of their alumni, Drew Pruit of Fort Worth and Isaac Hill Bryant of Austin, to establish a chapter of Phi Delta Theta at the new University of Texas at Austin. Seven men were initiated by Pruit and Bryant on 8 October 1883: Owens Pickett Hale, Constance Pessels, Quitman Finlay, Dewitt Habsein Hotchkiss, Franklin Huff Raymond, Robert Waverly Smith, and Hugh N. Swain. These men, in addition to John Isaac Hedrick, were granted a charter for the Texas Beta chapter of Phi Delta Theta on 15 October 1883, the first fraternity organized on campus at Texas. By the end of 1883, 15 men had been initiated into the Texas Beta chapter. Quitman Finlay was the first man to sign the Bond and received bond number 1.
In 1885, 6 former members of the W.W.W. (Rainbow Fraternity) were initiated into the Texas Beta of Phi Delta Theta. These men had refused to join Delta Tau Delta as the remainder of their chapters nationally did. Texas Beta also was involved in the initiation of the former members of the Southwestern chapter of the W.W.W. into Phi Delta Theta, as the Texas Gamma chapter, in 1886.
In 1900, the chapter rented its first chapter house, at 2006 University Avenue (now the location of the University Catholic Center), and was the second fraternity on campus to have a chapter house. In September 1902, the fraternity completed a frame house at West 23rd and San Antonio Streets, the first purpose-built fraternity house on campus, and was the first fraternity at Texas to own its own chapter house. The lot is now home to University Presbyterian Church. In 1953, the chapter moved to a brand new house at 2300 Nueces, which is now home to The Quarters apartments. The chapter has more recently resided at 2614 Rio Grande (the current Acacia house) and 2806 Nueces (currently the Zeta Psi house).
In 1997, General Headquarters pulled the charter of Texas Beta after 113 years of continuous presence on the UT campus. However, the fraternity would not be gone for long. Recolonization soon began, with Texas Beta Kappa, a local business fraternity, forming the base of the new colony. On April 28, 2000, a charter was granted to 38 re-founding fathers of the Texas Beta chapter, beginning a new era in the chapter’s history. The chapter celebrated its 125th anniversary on October 15, 2008, and has initiated a total of 1,787 men since its foundation in 1883.
Prominent alumni of Texas Beta include: U.S. Senator Thomas Connally, U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Texas Lieutenant Governor Edgar E. Witt, Texas Chief Justice Joe Greenhill, Dallas Mayor Jean Baptiste Adoue, federal judges Francis Eugene Worley, Randolph Bryant and Barefoot Sanders, Congressmen Francis Eugene Worley and Chris Bell, Ambassadors Tom Schieffer and Peter Coneway, actors Zachary Scott and Dabney Coleman,
Dallas Morning News
Editor Ted Dealey, and former New York Jets star Pete Lammons, as well as many leaders in fields such as business, entertainment, and politics, and the sons of some of Texas’ most prominent families.
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