The History of Phi Sigma Kappa
"That group of young men who founded the Phi Sigma Epsilon Fraternity were pioneers, living in advance of their college age." - Fred M. Thompson, Founder
In the beginning of the twentieth century, as colleges increased in number and enrollment, new fraternities were founded in the United States and Canada. It was the desire to be a member of such an organization that led Fred M. Thompson and Orin M. Rhine, then students at Kansas State Normal College in Emporia, Kansas, to begin the process which finally resulted in the birth of Phi Sigma Epsilon. In recalling those trying days, Brother Thompson said, "I do know it was a resolute band of young men who made history at the old school who were clamoring for social distinction of a sort that could come only through a secret society. We held many meetings, always with the same purpose in mind, that of organizing a fraternity. "In January of 1910, two members of the group, Fred Thompson and Victor Bottomly, presented their case for a fraternity to College President Joseph H. Hill. After giving respectful attention to the two men, President Hill thumbed his nose glasses and looked off into space. The substance of his response was: "You have my permission to organize a fraternity. I have supreme confidence in all of you and believe that the time has come for such societies to have a place (on our campus)."
According to some of the records maintained by Co-Founder Robert Marley, several unsuccessful attempts were made prior to this final realization of the organization, but when in the fall of 1909, the founders of Phi Sigma Epsilon were first called together, there was little doubt that a real fraternity with wholesome ideals and lofty purposes was assured. In one of those early meetings before receiving President Hill's permission, the real work of forming a temporary organization had already begun. Fred Thompson was chairman and Orin Rhine, secretary; and committees were developed on rituals and the constitution. Victor Bottomly and Robert Marley served on the committee writing the oath. At the time of President Hill's decision, a constitution was already in the making and Fred Thompson, as a committee of one, had submitted the Greek letters.
Then came the real birth of Phi Sigma Epsilon, for it was during a cold Kansas evening, on February 20, 1910, that the Constitution and Bylaws were adopted. This eventful meeting took place after dinner at the Ed Leisch home at 810 Constitution Street in Fred Thompson's room. In the words of Orin M. Rhine, "This was the first of the Fraternity. We had completed the Ritual that afternoon and the first Phi Sigma Epsilon man was Fred M. Thompson." He was followed by Raymond Victor Bottomly, Robert C. Marley, W. Roy "Drommie" Campbell, Orin M. Rhine, W. Ingram Forde, and Humphrey Jones. Phi Sigma Epsilon elected Fred Thompson its first President; Raymond Victor Bottomly, Vice President and Treasurer; Robert C. Marley, Secretary and Scribe; and W. Roy Campbell, Sergeant-At-Arms. Professor Buelich, head of the Music Department, was chosen as sponsor. That spring, Phi Sigma Epsilon sponsored its first fraternity dance in an upstairs hall at the northeast corner of Merchant and Sixth in Emporia. During that infant year, membership grew to a total of 13.