History of Lambda Chapter

by Wallace W. Baumann June 1, 2005

The entrance of Kappa Sigma into the University of Tennessee took place under the direct supervision of Worthy Grand Master Stephen Alonzo Jackson. Nothing that happened between 1878 and 1880 did so much to strengthen the Fraternity as the addition of Lambda Chapter. When Jackson learned in 1879 that Charles F. Humes, from his own town of Abingdon, Virginia was about to enter the University of Tennessee, he secured his promise to aid in the establishment of a chapter and proceeded to initiate him. At the same time Price Thomas of Knoxville, the seat of the University of Tennessee, was asking Jackson how he might become a Kappa Sigma. He had been pledged of Emory and Henry, but on account of the difficulties under which Omicron Chapter worked, there had been no opportunity for his initiation.


“In reply to my letter”, Thomas says in his account of the founding of Lambda, “Brother Jackson wrote me that Brother Charles F. Humes of Abingdon, VA, but then a student in the University of Tennessee, was a Kappa Sigma and that he was authorized to initiate me, which he did on December 20, 1879, in the second floor room over the jewelry store on the southeast corner of Church and Gay Streets in Knoxville – in which rooms we met regularly during 1880. Hughes and I were then duly authorized by Brother Jackson to organize Lambda chapter, and I was designated as first Grand Master. We initiated E. W. Kennedy, R. F. O’Neal, W. B. Young, W. L. Bullock and J. R. Flowers, and organized Lambda Chapter May 11, 1880. It was after the founding of the Chapter that we learned that Richard McKinney was a member.” According to a sketch of Lambda’s history written in 1886, James P. McMillan of Omicron, now at Tennessee, was in 1877 empowered to establish a chapter at Tennessee and initiated McKinney only; however a chapter was not established until 1880.


The formation of Lambda seems to have been an influence leading to the repeal of anti-fraternity regulations at the University of Tennessee. Thomas says further: “The society during 1880 and 1881 initiated students, post graduates of the university and perhaps some post-graduates of Vanderbilt. Our action was a protest against the existing rule, which opposed Greek-letter fraternities at the university. Faculty sentiment on the subject was weakening, and the rule was repealed shortly afterwards about 1881.”


Lambda chapter, eight strong at the start, took 12 more men in the following year, 15 in the next, 19 in the next, 17 in the next, and until 1889 never numbered fewer than eight.


During its early years Lambda exercised control over Chi Delta literary society and through it over the student affairs of the university. The literary societies were the social organizations of the time, and the fraternity chapters were the inner circles from which political control came. Lambda is the oldest chapter of Kappa Sigma, next to Zeta, which has had continuous existence from the day of its founding.


In its early years Lambda had many prominent members; William Gibbs McAdoo, prominent attorney and later Worthy Grand Master; Samuel Gordon Heiskell, Knoxville Mayor, and John Bell Turner, Chapter-Mate of these Brothers, who became Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Lambda has furnished Kappa Sigma with more Brothers to serve as Worthy Grand Master than any other chapter-4 in all:


  • William Gibbs McAdoo, 1883-1884
  • Beverly Winslow Howe, 1923-1925
  • James Leonard Raulston, 1963-1965
  • Wallace Woodruff Baumann, 1993-1995


Also Brother John Randolph Neal served for 8 years on the Supreme Executive Committee as Worthy Grand Master of Ceremonies 1900-1906 and Worthy Grand Procurator 1906-1908.


So important was Lambda chapter in the fraternity’s early days that Worthy Grand Master Jackson and the Supreme Executive Committee decided to hold Kappa Sigma’s 4th Grand Conclave in Knoxville Friday and Saturday, December 21st and 22nd, 1883. The Conclave met in the rooms of Lambda Chapter in the building at the southeast corner of Gay and Church Streets where the chapter had met since its founding 3 years before. The evening session of December 21 was held in nearby Mozart Hall. H. K. Heiskell for Lambda Chapter gave the address of welcome, and W. I. Thomas and S. G. Heiskell officially represented the chapter. Worthy Grand Master Stephen Alonzo Jackson presided over the meetings.


Heretofore the Supreme Executive Committee had been comprised of only 4 members: Worthy Grand Master, Worthy Grand Procurator, Worthy Grand Scribe and Worthy Grand Treasurer. The Grand Master of Ceremonies had previously only been a chapter officer. An amendment proposed by Worthy Grand Master McAdoo was made to add to the Supreme Executive Committee the office of Worthy Grand Master of Ceremonies completing the number of the Five Big Brothers who have ever since composed that body. William Gibbs McAdoo was elected Worthy Grand Master, and W. I. Thomas Worthy Grand Master of Ceremonies. Thus Lambda now gave Kappa Sigma a Worthy Grand Master and also the first Worthy Grand Master of Ceremonies to hold that position.


Brother McAdoo had a very illustrious career. Though not yet 21 at the time of the Knoxville Conclave, he had been appointed deputy clerk of the U. S. Circuit Court for the district. He was admitted to the bar of Tennessee in 1885. He moved to New York in 1892 and in 1903 established the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company, which financed and operated four tunnels under the Hudson River between 1904 and 1909. He served as Secretary of the Treasury under Woodrow Wilson, was twice the leading presidential candidate at two Democratic National Conventions and later became an U. S. Senator from California.


Lambda later had another prominent member of Congress, U. S. Senator Estes Kefauver, who was nominated to be Vice Presidential candidate at the 1956 Democratic National convention. Brother Kefauver frequently visited the Lambda Chapter House at 900 Temple Avenue and attended at least two important banquets held by the chapter: one at Deane Hill Country Club in the late 1940’s and a Founders Day banquet at the Farragut Hotel, December 5, 1956, with Past District Grand Master “Ram” Raulston.


Of the several locations Lambda has had since its first on Gay Street, three houses have served the chapter for a memorable length of time. The first was at 10 Maplehurst Park from 1914 to 1932 when the house burned in late 1932. The Second was at 900 Temple Avenue from 1935 to January 1959. The third house at 1730 Melrose Place was the first house ever built at the University of Tennessee specifically as a fraternity house. It was designed by Baumann and Baumann, Architects and built by Brownlee-Kesterson Construction Co., Brother Joe Brownlee being a Lambda initiate. The property at the corner of Melrose and Lake Avenue was purchased from Mrs. Edward Vestal for $22,500.00, and construction was begun in June of 1958. The big move from 900 Temple Avenue, Lambda’s home for over 24 years took place on Friday, January 23, 1959. The house had new furniture throughout, and the kitchen was equipped with new appliances. The dormitory had 20 rooms on two levels housing 40 Brothers. The housemother’s room was located just to the right of the entrance hall with its own private bath. The chapter room was named The William B. Stokely, Jr. Chapter Room, after a prominent Brother and contributor to the project.


Dedication of Lambda’s new house was held on Saturday, March 21, 1959 at 6:00 PM. Many Alumni and wives were present as well as Worthy Grand Master Allen Whitfield, District Grand Master J. Leonard “Ram” Raulston, William B. Stokely, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Stokely Van Camp and UT President, Dr. C. E. Brehm. An open house was held the following Sunday, March 22nd from 3:00 to 5:00 PM.


What made a new house for Lambda possible? The chapter was at one of its greatest times of success with the return of many veterans after World War II. The chapter numbered over 140 actives and pledges by 1947 and won Carnicus four years in a row when skits performed by fraternities and sororities were not co-ed. The Brothers played all parts, female and male, and the sorority skits did the same. There was little support from alumni at this time, and then an important thing happened. Brother Howard Lumsden returned to Knoxville to serve as UT Placement Director. He was promptly approached by the chapter to serve as Alumnus Advisor and by Supreme Executive Committee appointment took over this position from Brother Arthur G. Seymour, Sr. He and Brother Wallace Baumann reorganized the Knoxville Alumni Chapter in 1951 with Brother Baumann being elected Alumni Grand Master. So successful was Brother Lumsden as Alumnus Advisor that in 1953 he was appointed District Grand Master for the State of Tennessee. He in turn appointed Brother Baumann as Alumnus Advisor. A reinvigorated Alumni chapter under their direction resulted in a successful Founders Day Banquet held at the Farragut Hotel in early December with over 80 alumni Brothers joining active members to celebrate.


Thus the seeds were planted to begin planning for a new Lambda Chapter House. Brother Baumann had said when appointed Alumnus Advisor that his number one goal for Lambda was a new house. The house at 900 Temple Avenue had suffered a serious fire in December 1938 and was housed briefly in 1939 at 926 17th Street while major repairs and renovations were made on the house on Temple Avenue. It was obvious to the active members and the newly reactivated Housing Corporation that a new chapter house was needed by 1953.


Reorganization of the Knoxville Housing Corporation of Kappa Sigma took place on February 6, 1953 with a special session called in the office of W. E. McClamroch, Jr., in the Bank of Knoxville Building, corner of Market Street and Church Avenue. This group had overseen the rebuilding of the Chapter house at 900 Temple Avenue following a fire in late 1938 but had not met since that project was completed. The only 2 board members present were Brothers McClamroch and B. Y. Wallace. Two other Brothers who had requested the meeting in order to reactivate the Housing Corporation were present: Charles E. Rutherford and Wallace W. Baumann, Lambda’s newly appointed Alumnus Advisor. As a result of the meeting Brothers Rutherford and Baumann were elected to replace Brothers McClamroch and Wallace. An election of Officers was held:


  • Charles E. Rutherford, President
  • Howard H Lumsden, Vice President
  • Wallace W. Baumann, Secretary-Treasurer


Brother McClamroch turned the Corporation assets over to Brother Baumann consisting of $1,500.00 in U.S. Defense Bonds and $44.11 on deposit in the Hamilton National Bank. Additional Brothers were elected to the Board on June 1, 1954: Brothers Charles F Thompson, J. Kennedy Craig, Frank McSpadden, Jr., and Lambda’s Grand Master Jerry Crook and Grand Treasurer Carl Langschmidt. Changes were also made to the corporation’s bylaws. Thus plans were set in motion to build a new chapter house for Lambda.


With UT President C. E. Brehm’s permission the Corporation purchased Mrs. Edward Vestal’s property at 1730 Melrose Place for $22,500.00. The property had to be rezoned by City Council for use by a fraternity. At the time the fraternity was told that a fraternity row was planned for Lake and Terrace Avenues. The University agreed to purchase the Chapter property at 900 Temple Avenue for $32,500.00. It also agreed to purchase the Vestal property back from the Housing Corporation for $22,500.00 with a reasonable 50-year lease and the priviso that the fraternity corporation could repurchase the property at the end of the lease if it so desired for the original purchase price. This gave Kappa Sigma additional funds for building a new house and by being located on University property was not liable for any property taxes. A loan from the Kappa Sigma Endowment Fund plus generous alumni contributions made funding a new chapter house possible. Brothers C. F. “Chuck” Thompson, J. Leonard “Ram” Raulston, Howard Lumsden and Wallace Baumann spent two separate weekends in Memphis soliciting the many Brothers there with great success. Receiving the University’s permission to build a chapter house at its new location was helped considerably by the influence of three Brothers serving on the University’s Board of Trustees: J. Leonard Raulston, Ben Douglas and Charles Volz.


Brother Joe Brownlee’s Construction Company added a new patio to the chapter house in August 1961 at the cost of $2,340.00. In 1964 the Housing Corporation purchased the S. V. Minsky property at 1716 Lake Avenue adjoining the fraternity’s property. The Housing Corporation rented the Minsky house for a time. In 1967 after being rezoned for parking lot, the house was torn down, and the lot was prepared for parking. For a brief time the lot was leased to the Campus Inn across Lake Avenue from the chapter house but later was taken over by the chapter for parking.


In 1991 a major renovation of Lambda’s Chapter House and patio area was completed. Over $650,000.00 was contributed by Lambda Alumni to make this possible. On Saturday, November 2, 1991 a House Completion Celebration was held at Lambda’s enhanced facility beginning at 10:00 AM. Alumni from all over the state convened to tour the house and grounds. A fine buffet lunch was served before everyone departed for the UT-Memphis State football game.


A history of Lambda Chapter would not be complete without mentioning some of the important events, which took place in the past. On May 21, 1955 Lambda celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a banquet at Holston Hills Country Club attended by active members and their dates as well as a large group of alumni and wives. Worthy Grand Treasurer Christian Natvig represented the Supreme Executive Committee, and J. Leonard “Ram” Raulston was the speaker giving an excellent account of the chapter’s history. Also present were Past District Grand Master Dr. Earl Campbell, District Grand Master Howard Lumsden, Alumnus Advisor Wallace Baumann and four past alumnus advisors. Alumni Grand Master J. Kennedy Craig and Lambda Grand Master Phil Burt also took part in the proceedings.


To celebrate Lambda’s 100th Anniversary alumni joined with the active chapter to make the occasion outstanding. Alumni Centennial Chairman Wallace Baumann and Lambda Past Grand Master Mark Dessauer had many advance meetings with Chuck Thompson, Howard Lumsden and others to make sure that this very important time was properly planned. On Saturday, May 10, 1980 Worthy Grand Master Joe Waggoner and Past Worthy Grand Treasurer Christian Natvig arrived in Knoxville to join the active chapter and alumni from near and far to commemorate this special time. Following a brunch at the chapter house at 12:00 noon, Brothers Waggoner and Natvig attended a model initiation ceremony held at 1:30 PM at the chapter house. Preceeding the big day on Saturday a golf tournament was held on Friday at Deane Hill Country Club from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM planned by Brother Rock Saraceni. At 7:00 PM Brothers, wives and dates gathered at the chapter house for cocktails and a buffet dinner.


On Saturday at 6:30 PM over 400 Brothers, wives and dates assembled in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom for Lambda’s biggest celebration in its history. In attendance were two past Worthy Grand Masters, J. Leonard “Ram” Raulston and Horton Early and their wives. Serving as Master of Ceremonies was John Ward. One highlight of the banquet occurred when Housing Corporation President Wallace Baumann asked all board members and Chapter Grand Master Lee Harper to come to the rostrum while the mortgage – the last endowment fund loan – was burned. Lambda Chapter was now debt-free! Following his remarks Brother Waggoner presented Grand Master Lee Harper with a Centennial Plaque from the Supreme Executive Committee. This concluded the program and a most festive weekend.


Kappa Sigma’s 54th Biennial Grand Conclave was held in Knoxville with Lambda as host chapter August 9-12, 1983 at the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Site. This celebrated the 100th anniversary of the historic meeting held here in 1883 by Brother Jackson himself. Brothers from all over the United States and Canada assembled with the Supreme Executive Committee, District Grand Masters, Alumnus Advisors and Commissioners plus many past members of the Supreme Executive Committee and the Staff from Memorial Headquarters in Charlottesville in attendance. The 1982 World’s Fair site provided a perfect setting for all meetings and evening entertainment. Brother Luke J. Schissel succeeded Jerry E. Donovan as Worthy Grand Master and was passed the gavel at the concluding banquet on Friday evening, August 12th. Many prominent Knoxville alumni and wives attended with John Ward again presiding over the evening as emcee in his most professional manner.


On November 4 and 5, 1994, Worthy Grand Master Wallace Baumann held the fall Supreme Executive Committee Meeting in the William B. Stokely, Jr. Chapter Room at Lambda Chapter. Brother J. Leonard Raulston when Worthy Grand Master had also held a Supreme Executive Committee meeting in Knoxville in April 1964 thus Lambda actives and alumni had two opportunities to view Supreme Executive Committee meetings as host. At conclusion of the November 5th meeting in 1994 Brother Baumann hosted a dinner at Club LeConte for the Supreme Executive Committee and key Lambda Alumni.


In recent years one important Brother has been a Lambda mainstay during its 1991 house renovation and recent Chapter concerns: William B. Stokely, III, 1960 initiate. Brother Stokely was the first to be pledged in the new house’s chapter room named for his father in March 1959. His father was present for the pledge ceremony. His two sons were initiated by Lambda: Bill Stokely IV in 1985 and Clay Stokely in 1995, making a total of nine Stokely Brothers initiated by Lambda.


Brother Stokely has held four very successful Lambda alumni reunions at his Edgewater Hotel in Gatlinburg in 1992, 1995, 1998 and 2001. In 1995 he was named Chairman of UT’s 250 million 21st Century Campaign and now serves as a member of the University of Tennessee’s Board of Trustees. As an undergraduate in 1962, Brother Bill served Lambda as Pledge Trainer.


On September 7, 1990, Brother Stokely hosted an alumni-active gathering at his home to introduce renovation plans for Lambda’s chapter house with over 125 Brothers and wives present.


On November 28, 1990 Brother Stokely sponsored a gala reception at the Knoxville Museum of Art to kick-off a fund raising effort for the chapter house renovation planned. The largest group of alumni, wives, and undergraduate Brothers gathered since Lambda’s Centennial Celebration in 1980.


Brother Stokely presided over the occasion introducing the housing corporation board members headed by President Leonard McKeehan. Brother McKeehan has also hosted several important alumni gatherings at his home during his time as housing corporation president.


Two other important events in Lambda’s history should be recalled: Roy Tarwater was the chapter’s 1000th initiate in 1955, and Alex White was the 2000th initiate in 1990.


A history of Lambda Chapter would not be complete without remembering four lovely ladies who served Lambda for over 38 years as housemother. The first was much beloved Mrs. Charles H. “Sephie” Smith, who looked after the Brothers at 900 Temple Avenue from 1936 to 1951. She was known to all as “Sephie” Mrs. Margaret “Mom” Hayes succeeded Sephie from 1951 to 1961. She was the mother of John Hayes, a Lambda initiate, and helped the chapter make the big move from 900 Temple to 1730 Melrose Place on January 23, 1959. Mrs. Virginia “Mom” Hester came to Lambda in the fall of 1961 retiring in June 1968. Our last housemother was Mrs. Allen M. “Mom” Moon, who took over in the fall of 1968. She was Lambda’s “Mom” until the mid 1970’s when the University no longer required housemothers. Chapter decorum was never quite the same after this.


In looking back over Lambda’s history since I became a member in August 1943, four great Brothers come to mind without whose hard work and dedication our present chapter house would never have become a reality. They are J. Leonard “Ram” Raulston, Charles F. “Chuck” Thompson, Charles E. Rutherford, and Howard H. Lumsden. For over 25 years Brothers Thompson, Lumsden and I had lunch together every Saturday to discuss Lambda Chapter. Of the many offices I have been fortunate to hold in Kappa Sigma certainly the most rewarding was the period 1953 to 1965 when I served Lambda as Alumnus Advisor. These were twelve great years filled with wonderful Kappa Sigma fellowship and memories.


We have had an illustrious history at Lambda now in its 125th year, and we can hope that the best years are yet to come.

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