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Encyclopedia of Baldwin Wallace University History: Greek Life - G

An Index of Historical Content and Their Sources

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Gamma Sigma

Citation: A. Wesley Roehm, ed., Grindstone (Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 1928), p. 160.

In the few short years since 1921 when Gamma Sigma first saw the light of day on this campus, it has developed from a struggling infant group, to a strong and splendid group of happy girls who have spread out into all the fields of college activities. You will find us in literary circles, upon the dramatic platform, on the athletic field, in honorary groups, and in musical circles.

As all work and no play would make Jill a very dull girl, we get together quite frequently and forget work long enough to have a glorious time, sometimes sedately, sometimes more frolicsomely, but always with the same old splendid Gamma Sigma spirit. Thus it is that we all work up new ambitions for higher fields to conquer.

We're a happy and contented bunch, for we are Gamma Sigma!

Citation: Dean Webb, ed., Grindstone (Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 1935), pp. 86-87.

Some fourteen years ago, in 1921, there was a decided need for a third sorority on the B.-W. campus. With this in mind Mrs. Morion Condit (Deon of Women), and Professor Horry L. Ridenour ( President of the Inter-fraternity Board), brought about complete organization of a branch of the Philmotheon Society, into a sorority under the Greek symbols of Gamma Sigma. It has struggled to prominence on the campus and at the present time is a closely knit and effective organization which hos as its chief purpose "Mutual improvement in the powers of self-expression."

Germania Verein

Citation: "College Items," College Gazette, November 1859, p. 6.

Members of the Germania Verein at an unknown location circa 1884. Source:Greek Honor Society, Box 2, File BW.02.31 Germania Literary Society.

Click on the image to enlarge.

A German Literary Society has been formed called Germania Verein. They will occupy a room in Wallace Hall adjoining the present location of the German Department. They are already making some· improvements, prepare it for a society and reading room. A number of German papers have already found a place in the reading room. A small beginning of a Library has been secured, Rev. C. Gahn and H. Rhem have made donations as a beginning- and a valuable selection from Dr. Nast's Library is expected in a few days. Let our German and English friends remember the library and reading room of the German Department.​

The members of the Germania Society by unanimous vote decided to change the name of the society. The decision is in line with the program of making B.-W. stand for Americanism and was made in order that no misinterpretation be placed upon the spirit of the society. A new name has not as yet been selected.

Goethe Literary Society

Citation: "History of the Goethe Literary Society," 1920-21 Grindstone, pages 142-143.

The name Goethe has resounded thru the campus of Baldwin-Wallace College since the year 1883. On November 22, two German Wallace College men conceived the idea that a third literary society was necessary to relieve the congested condition of the societies already existing, and on this day they called an unofficial meeting. Ten students met in the old brick building, then known as the Administration Hall of German Wallace College in room No. 1, or negro heaven as they termed it. This room was denuded of all beauty; the plaster having been torn from the laths and doors from their hinges, it presented a very uninviting home for a new literary society. Determined however as their intention they did not permit their environment to discourage them. The prospects of the future were debatable, but they were temporarily organized by appointing Messrs. H. L. Lange of Gordon, Minn., and Wm. A. Huneke of Clarington, Ohio, as president and secretary pro-term.

A committee was then appointed who would present their new idea to the faculty of German Wallace College and during the course of the evening a name, motto and constitution were the matters of discussion.

On Nov. 27, 1883, a report was submitted by the appointed committee, stating that their intentions were approved. An election was then held, which resulted in the official installment of Messrs. Lange and Huneke to the office of president and secretary. The men were now eager to title their society and to place a motto that would be impressive to their future welfare. After a brief discussion no better name could be found than that of the great German author "Goethe" to which was then added a motto under which in practice one is prone to succeed, "Age quod agis," Do what you do.

The first critic appointed to Goethe Society was the esteemed and loved Professor Victor Wilker, who was then professor of languages of German Wallace College. The deep interest, the sympathetic attitude of the critic, the unfaltering ambition of the charter members and the confidence of a prosperous future held these men harnessed to their task. Their old room was refinished and equipped with the needs of a literary hall and in the succeeding year 1884-1885, nine new members were added to their ten. 

The old worn-out brick building soon became insufficient to accommodate the rapid growth of the school and in the year 1895 the new Administration Building was completed. The Goethes moved into their new society hall which has been their permanent home for 25 years, where many Goethe men have coped with the literary problems of their day. From time to time innovations were accomplished both in aesthetic task and in the character of manhood. In 1915 the Greek letters were adopted in significance of the fraternal spirit of the day and these stand today as Gamma Lambda Sigma.

The past is the foundation upon which Goethe men of the present are building and it is to those men who laid the cornerstone that we pay high tribute in respect. We do not wish to count our gain in terms of material, but we do cherish the standards of character which these men of Goethe history have carried with them from their Alma Mater and Goethe Hall into the world of men. They have "left pootprints on the sands of time" which are worthy to follow and they have held their ideal beyond the sordid things of life.

We shall endeavor to unite the best qualities of Goethe history to the present ideals of her man and remain ever ready to obey the dictates of conscience born to memory by her motto, "Age quod agis."

Gordian Literary Society

Citation: Everette Fyler, ed., “Gordians Change To Zeta Kappa,” The Exponent, October 27, 1922, p. 1.

After much agitation among the members of the Gordian Literary Society among the alumni and friends and because of a lung fell need for a Grecian symbol, the Society after careful deliberation has decided upon the name Zeta Kappa.

With this announcement, the Society with its ideals, traditions and spirit of service becomes embodied in Zeta Kappa. Only the name Gordian has become history.

Each and every individual man has pledged his energy and resources to the task of giving to Zeta Kappa the significance of the name "Gordian".

Citation: Victor Wilker, "History of the Gordian Literary Society," 1920-21 Grindstone, pages 120-121

Due to the efforts of Rev. Jacob Rothweiler, a German Department was opened in Baldwin University in August, 1858, with one instructor, Mr. O. Henning, and twelve German Students. An endowment of $10,000 for the department had been contributed by the German Methodists. The students resided with their instructor in Baldwin Hall, which had been donated to the Germans by Mr. John Baldwin, Sr. At the close of the year, Prof. Henning resigned and Rev. Jacob Rothweiler succeeded him. 

At the beginning of the following school year, in August, 1859, the German Verein was founded. It began with seven members, and Prof. Rothweiler acted as critic. The main object of the society, as stated by the constitution, was to give its members the opportunity to perfect themselves in the art of public speaking. Both languages - English and German - were allowed, although the use of the German predominated at that early date. The meetings were held weekly in the chapel of Baldwin Hall. On Oct. 27th, 1859, the following program was arranged for the first literary meeting, to be held a week later: - One essay, two declamations, four men on debate. Thus each member had a part on the program.

The subject selected for discussion was: "Resolved that the modern world is more wicked than the ancient." At the next meeting the question was debated whether the escape of a slave from his master could be justified. This subject does not surprise us when we bear in mind that those were pre-war days, when slavery still existed in the Southern States. Three other questions that were discussed the following weeks were: "To whom is greater honor due, to Columbus or to Washington?", "Who has been wronged most by our government, the Negro or the Indian?", "Is collegiate co-education a hindrance to high intellectual attainments?" During the early years, while the membership of the society was small, every member participated in the literary program at every meeting.

In 1864 German Wallace College was founded and took the place of the German Department. Three years later in 1867, the number of students had increased to such an extent that it was considered necessary to found a second society, and the Schiller Verein was called into existence. The professors encouraged the members of both of the societies to perfect themselves in the use of English as well as German. 

From the beginning, professors serves as critics of the literary work. This is also true of the other societies. For some time the same professor acted continuously as critic in the same society. Dr. Riemenschneider officiated for many years as critic of the Germania Verein. Later it was decided that the critics rotate annually, thus giving the societies the opportunity of coming in closer contact with all of the professors in turn. In 1870 the Bettina Society - for ladies - later the Philomathean Society, was organized, and in 1883 the Goethe Verein was founded.

In those early days it was customary for each society to give a public exhibition once each year, sometimes at commencement time. Oratory of a high grade was often displayed on those occasions. The meetings were held in the old Hulet Hall and were attended largely by the town's people, the speaking being both in English and German. Besides the annual exhibition, the society celebrated its Jahresfest, to which the members invited their friends. The meetings were held in their Hall. The Literary Exercises were followed by sociability, and in the later years by refreshments. For many years the exercises consisted almost exclusively of essays, declamations, orations, and debates. Later, the newspaper, book-reviews, extemporary speaking, and other exercises were added.

[afterword not written by Dr. Wilker]

Failing health and finally a severe fall about two years ago made it necessary for Dr. Wilker to drop out of the active life of the society and of school, greatly to the loss of these organizations. While he was not a charter member of the society, still he joined in the early days. As an addition to his historical sketch it should be said that in 1909 the Germania Verein celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in a fitting manner.

When the two colleges united to form Baldwin-Wallace the German language was entirely dropped from the program and the minutes of the Germania Society. Conditions growing out of the recent war brought about a change of name for the Society. The original name involved suggestions and implications distasteful to loyal, red-blooded Americans. The service record of the members of the Society and more especially the two gold stars, for Charles Keil and William Jans, are proof that all imputations were false. But to avoid misunderstanding on the part of persons reading the name, it was deemed best in January, 1918, to change it to the Gordian Society.

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