The SCROLL of Phi Delta a for May,
of such a structure was discussed at
length. A week later a committee was
appointed to investigate the possibility
of building, and further discussions and
plans were continued until the house was
built, fifteen years later.
In 1902 the mortgages on two lots in
West Lafayette were bought up by the
chapter house corporation, with the late
John F. G. Miller, '03, as one of the
main supporters of the plan. The price
agreed upon was $2,200.00, and this sum
was paid in full by March, 1906. At a
meeting of the board of directors of the
house corporation held in June, 1906, it
was deemed best to trade the lots owned
by the chapter for two other lots at the
corner of State and Sheetz streets in West
Lafayette, directly opposite the campus
and a spot which remains today the
most desirable location at Purdue.
Lawrence Wilder, '10, and the late
H. J. Wocher, '09, were active in getting
actual construction of the house underway in the late spring of 1909. Brother
Wilder dug the first spadeful of dirt.
Nearly a year later, in March, 1910, the
chapter moved into the finished house
which it occupies today.
On January 1, 1911, the Indiana Theta
Alumni Association, organized to finance
building of the house, had liabilities of
more than $21,000.00. Five years later,
in 1916, the debt had shrunk to little
more than $13,000.00. This amount was
paid off as scheduled and a fund was
started for the eventual rebuilding or
replacement of the house. In 1938 the
property adjacent to the chapter house
was purchased, giving Indiana Theta a
frontage of 180 feet along the campus.
The entrance of the United States into
the World War found Indiana Theta one
of the strongest fraternities at Purdue.
The chapter had initiated more than
250 men. Approximately 35 per cent of
the living members of the chapter enlisted. Captain Elijah W. Worsham, 08,
Field Artillery, holder of the Distinguished Service Cross, was killed in action. Reginald W. Hughes, '06, and
Howard W. Irwin, '02, died in Germany
with the Army of Occupation. Douglas
Viele, '11, died at Fort Benjamin Harrison.
The chapter kept going during the
war, with most of its student membership
joining the S.A.T.C. or the Navy training
group. The house was retained and meals
were served throughout the war.
During the period 1920 to 1940 the
chapter reached a peak of strength. Scholarship, activity, and athletic honors were
won by members of the chapter. More
Phis were elected to Iron Key, an honorary which annually chooses only six or
seven of the outstanding men of the
senior class (about one-half of one per
cent) than any other fraternity.
By 1940 alumni of the chapter were
being called into military service, most
of them as officers who had held reserve
commissions. The new war, however, was
not to affect the undergraduate chapter
for two and a half more years. By December 7, 1941, more than 10 per cent
of the chapter's total initiated membership was in uniform.
The first casualty was the death of
Second Lieutenant Claude S. Van Zant,
'41, killed in a pursuit plane crash before
the United States entered the war. On
March 14, 1942, Lieutenant John M.
Robertson, '36, U.S.N., was reported
missing in action over Java. He was a
pilot with the Navy Air Corps.
Today the list of Indiana Theta men
in service is nearing 150 names. This is
approximately 25 per cent of the chapter's living membership. More are going
Members of Indiana Theta fought on
Guadalcanal, in the battle of El Alamein, in Tunis and New Guinea and
Algiers and Casablanca. Two have won
the Distinguished Flying Cross in this
The chapter is now depleted to onethird its normal membership, and it has
offered its chapter house to Purdue University for the housing of Army or