History of Kappa Sigma in North America

Kappa Sigma in America was founded on a chilly evening in the Fall of 1869. Five students attending the University of Virginia in Charlottesville gathered in William Grigsby McCormick’s room, located at 46 East Lawn, and planted the seed of Brotherhood. For many weeks prior to this, the bonds of friendship had drawn these five together; now the need became clear for a formal structure to contain their mutual feeling of oneness. Thus, not only did the Founders formalize their friendship, but they also created a fraternity steeped in the traditions of the past and dedicated to the Pursuit of Learning. McCormick, along with George Miles Arnold, John Covert Boyd, Edmund Law Rogers Jr. and Frank Courtney Nicodemus would establish the Order based on the traditions of Bologna and become collectively known as the “Five Friends and Brothers.”

Left: The plaque that, to this day, hangs above 46 East Lawn at The University of Virginia. The Latin inscription translates to: “It remains, and it shall remain referring to the undying fellowship and pride that is shared by many men across the country and even the world.

In 1872 Kappa Sigma initiated Stephen Alonzo, who would lay the foundation for what would become one of the most successful fraternities in the United States. Through his efforts, a struggling local fraternity became a strong national organization. He was the architect of our Ritual, writer of our Constitution, and was our first Worthy Grand Master. The following is an excerpt from the Bononia Docet, our pledge manual:

Stephen Alonzo Jackson was born September 22, 1851. He was left motherless in his infancy and was raised by his grandmother. A close associate and brother, Francis Nelson Barksdale, recalled him with these words:

{A} perfect bundle of nervous energy. His love of the Fraternity knew no bounds, and his enthusiasm was so contagious that it influenced everybody who came within his reach. His one ambition was to make Kappa Sigma the leading college fraternity of the world, and to that end he thought and worked by day and night, until the end of his busy life.

During the Fraternity’s second Grand Conclave in 1878 in Richmond, Virginia, Jackson was re-elected as Worthy Grand Master. In his speech, he expressed his ideal and goal of an enduring and expanding brotherhood as he addressed the Order:

Why not, my Brothers, since we of today live and cherish the principles of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, throw such a halo around those principles that they may be handed down as a precious heirloom to ages yet unborn? Why not put our apples of gold in pictures of silver? May we not rest contentedly until the Star and Crescent is the pride of every college and university in the land!

Jackson died on March 4, 1892. His legacy to the Fraternity included its Ritual, a revised Constitution, a precedent-setting Grand Conclave, the first southern fraternity to extend a chapter to the north, and above all else, a spirit for expansion.