Theta Delta Chi

The following story was printed in The Shield, Volume 19, p. 188. It was written by Porteus C. Gilbert. It describes the formation of the charter fraternity ‘Theta Delta Chi’ at Hobart Free College in 1857.

Theta Delta Chi Letterhead 1859

The Birth of ‘the Xi’ at Hobart College

Philip Oliver Yawger was born at Union Springs, N. Y., sixty-nine years ago, and was a descendant of one of the pioneer families which in 1790 migrated from New Jersey to the shores of Cayuga Lake. His early life was passed in preparing for a professional career, at Cooperstown Academy and at Hobart College, from which he was graduated in 1859.

Brother Yawger was one of the charter members of the Xi, his part in the foundation of that Charge being described as follows in the Memorial Volume (p. 127) in which it is a reprint from the historic Shield of 1869.

“On the afternoon of June 29, 1857, Brothers Barclay and Moss took a carriage and driving to Waterloo, there met Brothers Norton and Logie of the Alpha. The four at once returned to the Mansion House, which they reached at four o’clock. Here were collected George W. Smith, Ralph L. Goodrich, Chester Roy, Philip O. Yawger, T. James Rundle, and the writer (Porteus C. Gilbert.) Of course, all the movements were conducted with the utmost secrecy. Brother Yawger was lame and unable to move without crutches. It was therefore a matter of considerable delicacy to get him down to the rendezvous without arousing the suspicions of his neighbors. The weather was warm, the evening fair, and the steps of both Trinity and Geneva halls [at Hobart College] were consequently thronged with students. Brother Yawger occupied the north front room on the first floor of Trinity Hall, and on the evening in question his apartment was filled with students.

John Barclay (wearing his fraternity pin), 1858

Brothers [John] Barclay and Norton drove boldly up in front of Trinity Hall, the former jumped out of the carriage and, proceeding to Yawger’s room said in an ordinary tone, ‘Phil, there is a friend of yours in the carriage who wishes to see you.’ Yawger at once put on his hat and hobbled to the door of the carriage, where he was warmly greeted by his ‘old friend,’ who had certainly never laid eyes on him before.

” ‘Hulloa! Phil, my dear fellow, how are you?’ said Norton in a loud tone. ‘Jump in here with me and take a little ride; I want to talk to you.’ Yawger entered the carriage, which immediately drove off in the face of many anxious but entirely unsuspicious spectators. In fact, the man was so bold as to lull all suspicion, and Yawger reached the rendezvous in safety. The initiation took place on the second floor of the Mansion House, and upon their completion the party adjourned to [Hiram Lloyd] Suydam’s restaurant [the “Gem”], where a hearty supper was discussed and many a bumper drank to the success of the new-born Xi. About 2 A. M., Norton, Logie, Barclay and Moss again drove to Waterloo, where the former two took the cars to Schenectady, and the latter returned to Geneva in time for their morning recitations.”

The death of Brother Yawger’s father shortly after the graduation of the former, resulted in a change in his plans, making it incumbent upon him to continue his father’s business, which he did for thirty years. Retiring from business in 1886, he removed with his family to Rochester where he lived until the time of his death.


While merrily through college days, my brothers, we are wending,
While into life we strain our eyes with eagerness unending,
While much is fair and much is bright and much is worth the aiming,
One chain is forged to keep us all, one bond us all is claiming.

Then hold to our Fraternity and we shall waver never,
ForTheta Delta Chi’s the link that nothing can dissever.
And when in life we learn that all is won by bitter striving,
And when the lance rings on the shield, the axe the helm is riving

And in the fight we look for aid to one and to another,
His is the hand that’s quick and true,—a Theta Delta brother.
Then here’s to our Fraternity, and we shall waver never,
And Theta Delta Chi shall be our battle-cry forever.

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