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Phi Beta Sigma fraternity shield Delta Chapter, 1917-1933


Chapter House
Phi Beta Sigma fraternity shield

House at 1020 Colorado, 1923

The Phi Beta Sigma Chapter House at 1020 Colorado was near and dear to the hearts of those young men who lived there. Though it was not the first house they shared as a group, it was the one that they made their home. It was a two story house with a basement and attic, approximately one and a half miles from campus. The main floor contained the kitchen and main living areas with bedrooms upstairs.

It was assumed that all black males would live at the fraternity house and be pledged. The residents slept in bunkbeds, two to four to a room. They were responsible for maintaining the cleanliness and order in the house. They maintained a rigid set of rules and a demerit system of penalties. Much of the house cleaning and tending the furnace fell on the shoulders of the freshman pledges. They also participated in Hell Week and initiation, gaining membership their second semester depending upon their grades and conduct. While Frank M. Davis describes his experience in some detail, Louis Fry simply notes "I won't tell you any more of the hazing stories because they sound a little bizarre to me now, a little cruel, and I suppose they were."

The housemother visted a couple of times during the year to check on the residents, leaving them to their own devices the remainder of the year.

Many of them worked in service jobs which provided meals, leaving groceries a separate expense purchased by those eating at the house. Likewise, each resident was responsible for their own laundry. The residents divided all other monthly expenses evenly, usually between $8 and $15, including expenses for social events.

Although college rules required a permit from the Dean of Women to have a social function, as well as the presence of the housemother to serve as chaperone, the members of Delta Chapter held impromptu dances about twice a month. As there was a phonograph and an upright piano, they alternated between records and live music for their dances.

"Joy was king last Friday night when the members of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity staged their spring party here. ... Many out-of town visitors were present at this, the best of the festivities of the year. They were Topeka: Arthur Edwards, Glen Mallory, C. Tyler, C. Odell, Misses Madge Daylor, Bertha Porter, Marguerite Mallory; Emporia: Misses Viola Webb, Faye Steele, Ruby Lucas, Ethel Woodward, Goldie Richardson; Lawrence: Misses Edna Over, Gaynelle Morrison, Inez Anderson, Viola Crawford. Kansas City: Misses Iva Richardson, Norine Brown and Mr. Eli Logan."
    The Topeka Plaindealer, 25 May 1923

They invested the most in their spring party, hiring some of the best musicians available. In 1923, they brought Duke's Orchestra to Manhattan. Overstreet's seven piece orchestra from Topeka played for about seventy-five couples in 1925.

"Since we were on our own, we leaned over backward and behaved as decorously as if the parents of each girl were there looking on. As a group we were serious about being there to study instead of swing."
    Livin' the Blues, pg. 77-78




Who Lived There

The student directories produced this list of individuals living at 1020 Colorado.


1920-1921 1921-1922 1922-1923 1923-1924 1924-1925
Arnold, US
Boydston, HC
Bronson, Geo T
Carter, AB
Ford, Gordon E
Frey, RG
Fry, Frances Glenn
Jarmon, JD
Jones, NL
May, RW
Newton, JH
Pryor, James
Scott, Walter S
Walton, WD
Williams, Raymond
Wilson, John Leod
Arnold, US
Boydston, HC
Bronson, GT
Ford, GE
Fry, FG
May, RW
Miller, TH
Pryor, JW
Walton, WD
Williams, Raymond
Wilson, CL
Wilson, JL
Arnold, US
Bronson, GT
Bruce, LR
Davis, JF
Fry, LE
May, RW
Miller, TH
Mobiley, CH
Robinson, GB
Scott, WS
Settler, Sheridan
Walton, WD
Williams, LM
Williams, RM
Williams, TW
Wilson, JL
Arnold, US
Bronsom, GT
Brooks, PO
Davis, JF
Howell, NH
May, RW
Miller, TH
Mobiley, CH
Reef, VE
Settler
Walton, WD
Williams, RM
Williams, CL
Boone, EE
Brooks, OP
Davis, FM
Davis, JF
Fry, LE
Greene, FT
Howell, NH
Miller, TH
Mobiley, CH
Reef, VE
Scott, WS
Settler, S
Wilson, CL
1925-1926 1926-1927 1927-1928 1928-1929 1929-1930
Brooks, PO
Caldwell, AB
Davis, FM
Greene, FT
Howell, NH
Long, TW
Miller, TH
Mobiley, CH
Ramsey, EM
Reef, VE
Scott, WS
Settler, Sheridan
Washington, LO
Brooks, PO
Carroll, DH
Davis, FM
Greene, FT
Howell, NH
Owens, CC
Robinson, DH
Scott, WS
Watson, AS
Young, RP
Greene, FT
Johnson, WL
Scott, WS
Young, RP
Clem, LV
Hebert, AC
Johnson, WL
Washington, LO
Young, RP
Clem, LV
Davis, FM
Elliott, WM
Hebert, AC
Swancy, SD
Watson, AS
White, Harry



Housemother

Mrs Scott, 1925

Mrs. Bertha Scott served as housemother to the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity according the 1925 and 1927 Royal Purple. The 1925 Kansas census, indicates that she was 29 years old and born in Kansas. She was married to Kansas native, Edward J. Scott, age 30.

Sheridan Settler remembered them: "She was a large woman. She and her husband lived close by. Mr. Scott considered himself a friend of the members."

There is no record of who the official housemother was before 1925, nor after 1927.




Losing the House

"We made payments to a business lady. She owned a lot of property and a big house with lots of rooms - like a hotel."
    Sheridan Settler interview, 09 Mar 2004

"We were buying our frat house by paying off a mortgage of so much monthly. A black woman named Dishman handled the payments. She was also our official housemother and provided rooms for girls who came to visit us from out of town. Around 1928 we learned that instead of paying off the mortgage, Mrs. Dishman had kept the money."
    Letter from Frank Marshall Davis to Carol Oukrup, 1984 Oct 12

Alice Dishman is a bit of a mystery. During the 1920 census, Alice Dishman is listed as being a 38 year old widow, working as a cook in a hotel. She was born in Mississippi, though her parents were from Missouri.

The 1925 Kansas census lists Alice Dishman, a 39 year old widow, born in Missouri, working as a cook. There is also an M. E. Dishman, 38 year old male born in Kansas, who was driving a taxi.

The 1930 census finds Alice C. Dishman, a 46 year old widow, born in Missouri, working as a head cook in a hotel. Living with her were three nieces: Dorothy Potter, age 22; Allene E. Miller, age 14; and Gladys M. Miller, age 12.

Rosa Hickman, long-time resident of Manhattan, recalls information she heard as a child: Alice Dishman was known to be an excellent cook and worked at the Gillette Hotel. Rosa recalls that Alice's nieces were attractive women, and that Alice's niece Helen, married George Franklin Giles. It is very possible that Allene and Helen are the same person. Alice had a "good time house" with deep porches, though of course, Rosa wasn't allowed to go near the place.

"Afterward Jimmy [James Frank Davis] and I took our dates to the private residence where most soul sisters stayed when in Manhattan, then settled on opposite ends of the long porch, covered and dark, to neck."
    Livin' the Blues, pg 83.




Home Once More

House at 1020 Colorado, 2004

On August 18-19, 2006, members of the fraternity gathered in Manhattan, Kansas, for the "Charles I. Brown Historical Symposium: A Pilgrimage to Delta Chapter." It was while giving tours of the house that the most recent owner met the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma and decided to give them first right of refusal to buy the house before placing it on the market.

Brother Jonathan Mason purchased the original chapter house in September 2007. After more than 70 years, 1020 Colorado once more became home to the Delta Chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.



History of the property

L. W. Nutter, ca 1915 Ward 5, Lot 406 (the lot upon which 1020 Colorado stands), record of land transfers:
1857 May 27, Book A, Pg 54 : Referees to Manhattan Town Association
1861 Feb 07, Book B, Pg 546 : Cincinnati & Kansas Land Company to Manhattan Town Association
1863 Aug 31, Book C, Pg 421 : Manhattan Town Association to Mary B Blood
1867 Oct 03, Book E, Pg 769 : Mary B Blood to Isaac T Goodnow
1882 Feb 14, Book Q, Pg 124 : Isaac T Goodnow and wife Ellen D Goodnow to Harriet A Parkerson
1887 Mar 21, Book 55, Pg 236 : Harriet A Parkerson to H W Hungerford
1887 Apr 23, Book 55, Pg 342 : Manhattan Town Association to H W Hungerford *
1887 May 10, Book 55, Pg 342 : H W Hungerford to Carl A Bachman
1895 Feb 25, Book 68, Pg 392 : Carl A Bachman and wife Augusta Bachman to W K Hulse
1896 Jan 06, Book 81, Pg 123 : Wm K Hulse and wife Alice C Hulse to Susan A Spence
1900 Jul 05, Book 85, Pg 532 : Riley County to Charles T Killen [sold for back taxes]
1904 Jun 01, Book 102, Pg 123 : Charles T Killen and wife Mary J Killen to Andrew Anderson
1908 Nov 05, Book 116, Pg 14 : Susan A Spence and spouse Sherman Spence to Andrew Anderson **
1909 Feb 27, Book 116, Pg 371 : Andrew Anderson and wife Christina M Anderson to John J Ekart
1911 Jan 07, Book 122, Pg 435 : John J Ekart and wife Theresa Ekart to L W Nutter
1912 Dec 16, Book 126, Pg 371 : L W Nutter to Alvin F Vilander [House was built between Jan 1911 and Dec 1912]
1913 Mar 14, Book 126, Pg 622 : Alvin F Vilander and wife Lillie E Vilander to W G Clark
1914 Jun 26, Book 130, Pg 69 : W G Clark and wife Mary B Clark to Minnie M Willhite
1914 Jul 25, Book 132, Pg 18 : Minnie M Willhite and spouse E L Willhite to F B Kimball
1914 Oct 08, Book 132, Pg 140 : Minnie M Willhite and spouse E L Willhite to F B Kimble [correction Book 132, Pg 18]
1920 Dec 04, Book 146, Pg 200 : Venus K Wilson and spouse Bruce S Wilson to Mary Ann Kimble ***
1930 Mar 14, Book 184, Pg 333 : Mary Ann Kimble to H C Rogers
1932 Feb 17, Book 189, Pg 41 : H C Rogers and wife Rhoda Rogers to James C Jackson ****
1942 Jul 16, Book 208, Pg 77 : James C Jackson and wife Dolly Lee Jackson to Milous Ponder and Caldonia Ponder
1952 May 19, Book 236, Pg 153 : Milous Ponder and wife Caldonia Ponder to J W Wiley and Mona L Wiley
1979 Mar 28, Book 413, Pg 740 : GECON, Inc to George E Strecker and Julianne T Strecker *****
1991 Sep 19, Book 591, Pg 306 : George E Strecker and Julianne T Strecker to the Julianne T Strecker Trust
2000 Jul 28, Book 782, Pg 841 : Julianne T Strecker Trust to George E Strecker and Julianne T Strecker
2000 Aug 28, Book 784, Pg 565 : George E Strecker and Julianne T Strecker to The Nature Conservancy as trustee for the George E Strecker and Julianne T Strecker Charitable Remainder Unitrust No 2
2001 May 10, Book 797, Pg 6704 : The Nature Conservancy as trustee to D Elaine Mohr and Robert L Mohr
2001 May 17, Book 797, Pg 6720 : D Elaine Mohr and Robert L Mohr to Mohr Family Revocable Trust
2006 Summer : Mohr to Aaron Otto
2007 Fall : Aaron Otto to Jonathan Mason


* It is unclear why Hungerford paid the Manhattan Town Association for property he had already purchased from Harriet Parkerson
** It is unclear why Anderson paid Susan Spence for property (seized from her for back taxes) that he had already purchased
*** Francis B Kimble died in 1920, his only heirs his widow Mary Ann Kimble and daughter Venus (Kimble) Wilson
**** The Church of God in Christ was started by Rev James Jackson in 1933 and held meetings at 1020 Colorado on fifth Sundays
***** Sometime between 1952 and 1979, GECON, Inc, a company owned by E J Frick and Claude W Shenkel, Jr, took over the property.



Sources of Information:


Letter to Carol Oukrup from Frank M. Davis, 12 Oct 1984
Davis, Frank Marsahll. Livin' the Blues (1992)
Louis Edwin Fry, Sr: His Life and His Architecture (1981) self published autobiography
Phone interview with Sheridan Settler conducted by Pat Patton, 09 Mar 2004
The Topeka Plaindealer (Topeka, KS) 03 Nov 1922: "Our week end trip to Manhattan"
The Topeka Plaindealer (Topeka, KS) 25 May 1923: "Phi Beta Sigmas entertain in Manhattan"
Kansas State Collegian (Manhattan, KS) 12 May 1925: "Society Happenings"
Daily Mercury (Manhattan, KS) 13 Jan 1913
The Other Side of Manhattan, Kansas: Oral History of the Black Community (VF: Manhattan. African-American Community)
Riley County Registrar of Deeds






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