Elder Watson Diggs
We Remember Elder Watson Diggs…
Founder Elder Watson Diggs, was a polished, prolific and scholarly writer.
The eldest son of Henry and Cornelia Diggs, Elder was born in Madisonville, (Hopkins County), Kentucky, on December 23, 1883. Watson's siblings were a brother and sister.
Watson-Diggs received a one-room school education in Louisville, Kentucky, where he helped teach the younger children.
Following graduation from Indiana State Normal School in the spring of 1908, Diggs enrolled in Howard University(HU) in 1909. While a student there, he developed a friendship with fellow Hoosier, Byron Kenneth Armstrong. During the summer of that year, Armstrong visited his cousin, Irven Armstrong at Indiana University(IU). Bryon was so impressed with IU that he persuaded Diggs to leave HU and enroll with him in the fall. Diggs enrolled in Indiana University in Fall 1910 and became the first African-American to graduate with an A.B. degree from Indiana University’s School of Education
He subsequently earned his Master’s degree of Education from Howard University.
While in college and based on the hostile attitude and circumstances facing Blacks at Indiana University, Diggs decided to establish a fraternity on campus to give African-Americans support and sanctuary based on high Christian ideals and the purpose of achievement. Diggs assisted Byron & Irven Armstrong in designing the Coat of Arms, assumed responsibility for preparing the initiation ceremonial forms, completed the fraternity’s constitution and took a course in Greek heraldry and mythology to ensure the fraternity was rooted in authenticity. He was one of two founders who pawned his watch to pay for the Fraternity’s incorporation fee.
Founder Diggs wrote the lyrics to the Kappa Hymn. Additionally, he established the Kappa Alpha Nu Journal, the first periodical of any national Black college fraternity. He served as Grand Polemarch for the first six years of the fraternity’s existence. He also served as a Grand Board Member and as Grand Historian. He also established the first nine undergraduate chapters in addition to the Indianapolis Alumni Chapter. Diggs was awarded the first Past Grand Polemarch’s medal and the first Laurel Wreath. He also assisted in writing The 1928 Handbook of Kappa Alpha Psi.
Founder Diggs was an educator who held positions at public schools throughout Indiana.
When the U.S. made its declaration in World War I against Germany, Diggs resigned as principal and entered the nation’s first officer’s training camp at Fort Des Moines, Iowa and was commissioned a lieutenant. After serving in Europe with the 368th Infantry, he became a captain in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Diggs also was a past commander of the American Legion. Subsequent to the war, Diggs was instrumental in having the Indiana Constitution amended to permit Negro enlistment in the Indiana National Guard.
The Elder Watson Diggs Award, the second highest award available to celebrate a member’s achievements or service to the fraternity is dedicated in his name.
Founder Diggs died November 8, 1947.
Following his death, School #42 was named in his honor where he served as principal for 26 years.
Dr. Byron Kenneth Armstrong:
We Remember Dr. Byron Kenneth Armstrong...
Founder Byron Kenneth Armstrong, affectionately known as “Boomski”, was a scholar, imaginative and outspoken.
Born in Westfield, Hamilton County, Indiana, on April 8, 1892, Armstrong was one of five children and was the cousin of 2nd Grand Polemarch, Irven Armstrong.
Armstrong enrolled at Howard University in 1909, met Elder W. Diggs and together, they transferred to Indiana University in the fall of 1910. Armstrong studied philosophy, mathematics and sociology.
Byron graduated from Indiana University with an A.B. degree in the fall of 1913 and subsequently earned a M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1914;and was decreed a Doctor of Philosophy degree by the University of Michigan in 1940.
He held teaching positions as a professor at universities in Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland and Michigan and served as Dean in Maryland and Oklahoma.
During World War I, Armstrong was an investigator for the Department of Labor. He subsequently worked as Personnel Director for the Chrysler Corporation for over 20 years.
Bro. Armstrong was one of the primary potent forces behind the founding of Kappa Alpha Nu. He created the motto, assisted Diggs in preparing the Coat of Arms and produced the fraternity badge. He suggested the fraternity should reward members'’ outstanding achievements with a Laurel Wreath Award (which is the highest honor bestowed upon any member). He served the fraternity as the 1st Grand Strategus, 5th Grand Historian and as a Grand Board Member.
Armstrong also established the Beta, Theta, Xi, Alpha Pi, Gamma Xi, Chicago (IL), Langston (OK) and Tulsa (OK) Alumni Chapters. Armstrong assisted in the writing of the “1928 Handbook of Kappa Alpha Psi”. He also authored “Crossing the Jordan and Beyond” and served as Editor of the Journal.
Armstrong was awarded the 6th Laurel Wreath. The Byron K. Armstrong Scholars Award, the only Grand Chapter award available to fraternity undergraduate members for outstanding achievement, is named in his honor.
Armstrong died June 28, 1980 and is buried at Inglewood Cemetery in Inglewood, California.
Dr. Ezra Dee Alexander
We Remember Ezra Dee Alexander…
Dr. Ezra Dee Alexander, an outgoing and dedicated worker, fondly known as “Dee”, was born in Monroe County, Bloomington, Indiana on July 18, 1891 and was one of seven children.
Alexander graduated from Bloomington High School in 1910. He matriculated to Indiana University in the fall of 1910 and graduated from Indiana University in 1917 with an A.B. degree. Prior to graduation, he held positions as a teacher and principal at Indiana public schools. He received his M.D. degree from the Medical School of Indiana University in 1919. Alexander served an internship at Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1920. He practiced medicine in Indianapolis for nearly 50 years.
In 1920, he married Mary Hunter, a teacher in the Indianapolis Public School system. He later married Leota Snorden in 1961.
Founder Alexander served 22 years as a non-voting member of the Grand Board of Directors to fulfill a requirement of the Constitution and Statutes that at least one of the directors was an Indiana resident.
Alexander presented and dedicated the new KAΨ flag at the 47th Grand Chapter Meeting (1957). He was also one of two Founders who helped establish the Chicago Alumni Chapter and one of three Founders who helped establish the Indianapolis Alumni Chapter.
His affiliation with the Indianapolis Alumni Chapter lasted until his death, September 29, 1971.
Atty Henry T. Asher
We Remember Henry Tourner Asher…
Founder Henry Tourner Asher, an unassuming, dependable supporter of Negro youth, equal rights, higher education and religious affairs and son of a Baptist Minister, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 30, 1890 and was the eldest of seven children.
He moved to Bloomington, Indiana, attended public schools and graduated from the Bloomington High School in 1910. He enrolled at Indiana University in 1910, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1914. He became an instructor at Lincoln Institute at Jefferson City, Missouri from 1914-1915.
In 1915, he enrolled in a graduate program at Wisconsin and subsequently at the University of Illinois, but transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he earned his MA degree in 1917. He received the degree of LL.B. at the Detroit College of Law in 1928.
After serving more than a year overseas in France during World War I, he chose to give up a possible teaching career at Wilberforce University for one in real estate. He ended up in Detroit, where he decided to enter the postal service.
Founder Asher, along with Founders Edmonds and Blakemore were the first three freshman initiates of the Alpha Chapter of Kappa Alpha Nu. Although not a charter member of the Detroit Alumni Chapter, Asher was among the first to affiliate with the chapter in 1920.
Founder Asher was an active member of several organizations including the NAACP, the Elks and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He spent the remainder of his life in Detroit, Michigan, where he died March 5, 1963.
Dr. Marcus P. Blakemore
We Remember Marcus Peter Blakemore…
Founder Marcus Peter Blakemore, affectionately known as “Blakie”, a man of deep religious convictions and quiet confidence, contributed greatly to education, his community, his church, hospitals and his Fraternity, was born in Franklin, Indiana on January 3, 1889 and was the eldest of four children.
Blakemore moved with his family to Anderson, Indiana where he attended public schools and graduated from high school in 1909.
He entered Indiana University the following year. After leaving Indiana University, he organized the Electric Engineering Company, which he operated until he enlisted with the U.S. Army in World War I. He later entered the Dental School of the University of Pittsburgh, from which he graduated with the DDS degree in 1923.
In 1949, Blakemore became the first Black to receive the MS degree in Prosthetic Dentistry from the University of Pittsburgh Dental School.
Blakemore was a member of national and local Dental Societies and a staunch member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, having served as a trustee and a clarinet soloist.
He was one of the two Founders who pawned his watch to help raise the Fraternity’s incorporation fee.
Founder Blakemore was one of the first three freshmen initiates of Kappa Alpha Nu. He wired the first Fraternity house for electricity, the first Negro home ever wired for electricity in Bloomington. He was a charter member of the Pittsburgh Alumni Chapter and was instrumental in the establishment of the Beta Epsilon Chapter.
Founder Blakemore maintained his practice of dentistry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for 35 years until his death, October 9, 1959.
Paul W. Caine
We Remember Paul Waymond Caine…
Founder Paul Waymond Caine, the consummate entrepreneur, chef before his time, was always friendly and displayed a pleasant disposition, was born in Greencastle, Indiana on May 17, 1890. Caine was long thought to be an only-child, but now known to have a half-brother.
Caine attended Greencastle public schools and enrolled at Indiana University sometime between 1909 and 1910 as a business major. He was adept at cooking and he honed those skills while working at DePauw University, where he attended prior to attending Indiana University. Caine was a fine caterer and was in demand by the white fraternities on campus. He also kept many of the founding brothers from hunger.
Because of a disastrous fire in the fraternity house in which he was employed, he never finished his sophomore year. Founder Caine subsequently set up the Caine Catering Company in his hometown.
Later, he attended Columbia & Purdue Universities and continued his catering business in various cities including: Gary, Indiana, Peoria, Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.
Caine opened a restaurant and bakery while residing in Peoria, Illinois and published a catering book, copyrighted in 1919 by the Hurst Publishing Company. He became well known in the culinary circles and was well sought after to teach and conduct lectures.
While residing in Gary, Indiana, Caine worked at the Gary Steel Mill as a laborer. He later married Jeanette E. Wilson in 1921. While residing in Chicago in the early to mid ‘20’s, Caine assisted to organize and furnish the new Kappa Kastle, which is the chapter's fraternity house.
Caine helped the other founders with organizing Kappa Alpha Nu and was among the first to be initiated into the fraternity. He was also instrumental in setting up the Beta, Gamma, Delta and Zeta Chapters. He later acquired a second-hand goods and clothing store and a dry cleaners' business in Rockford, Illinois.
Tragically, he was burned during an explosion of gaseous materials as he worked in his dry cleaning business and subsequently died of pneumonia on April 15, 1931 . .
During Conclave, outstanding Alumni Chapters are presented the Paul W. Caine Award, named in his honor.
George W. Edmonds
We Remember George Wesley Edmonds…
Founder George Wesley Edmonds, witty in nature and an enigma to most in the Fraternity was born in Knight Township, Vandenburgh County, Indiana on August 13, 1890.
He attended the Carver Elementary School and Clark High School in nearby Evansville, Indiana and enrolled at Indiana University in the fall of 1910. He joined nine other students in founding Kappa Alpha Nu Fraternity.
Founder Edmonds was listed as the Corresponding Secretary in the articles of incorporation of the Grand Chapter of Kappa Alpha Nu. He was one of the three freshmen, along with Asher and Blakemore, who were the first initiates of the Alpha of Kappa Alpha Nu.
After Edmonds returned home for the summer of 1911, his father became ill with pneumonia and died. His father worked in the coal mines of Vandenbugh County for many years. George, being the eldest son, became the head of the family, thus preventing his return to school. With the new responsibility of supporting the family, George took a job with the area coal mines and worked with the coal mines and the railroad.
Edmonds married Willa Mae Forte and settled in Stevenson, Indiana. They became the parents of one son, Noel. Founder Edmonds died on June 13, 1962.
Dr. Guy Levis Grant
We Remember Guy Levis Grant…
Founder Guy Levis Grant, small in stature, but a giant in charitable endeavors and preserver of history, was born in New Albany, Indiana on April 9, 1891 and was the third of thirteen children, five of which became members of the Fraternity. When his father died, he became head of household and assumed responsibility for educating himself and his siblings.
Grant attended public schools in his home town, and graduated from Scribner High School in 1909, and later entered Indiana University. While there, he majored in chemistry, graduating with the A.B. degree in 1915. In 1920, he received the D.D.S. degree from Indiana Dental School, then a part of Indiana University; he practiced dentistry in Indianapolis for over 50 years.
In 1929, he married Laura Hammons. He was a veteran of World War I, was the Founder and President of Recorder Charities, and active in several civic, professional and business organizations. He was also a member of the Second Baptist Church in Indianapolis.ounder Grant helped to establish the Beta and Indianapolis Alumni Chapters and was the first Chapter Indianapolis Alumni Polemarch.
He served several terms as a non-voting member of the Grand Board of Directors and as Grand Historian.
For years, Founder Grant gathered bits and pieces of Kappa history to accumulate a recorded history for posterity. The 2nd Edition of the Story of Kappa Alpha Psi was dedicated to him. The Fraternity conferred upon him the title of Grand Historian Emeritus. The Guy Levis Grant Award is named in his honor to undergraduate members of the fraternity who exhibit extra meritorious contributions to the Fraternity’s advancement.
Founder Grant died on November 11, 1973.
Edward Giles Irvin
We Remember Edward Giles Irvin…
Founder Edward Giles Irvin, a civic and religious leader, a journalist and an entrepreneur, was born in Spencer, Indiana on August 13, 1893. He was the seventh of nine children and son to an AME Minister.
Irvin graduated from Kokomo Indiana High School in 1910 and entered Indiana University the same year.
After leaving school, he pursued a journalistic career in various cities throughout the country until World War I. After the war, he moved to Indianapolis where he was on the staff of the Indianapolis Freeman.
Founder Irvin worked for a short time as an editor at The Gary Sun Newspaper before becoming the sports editor at The Chicago Daily Bulletin Newspaper. He also established The Indiana Shining Star weekly newspaper.
Aside from his success as a journalist, Brother Irvin was a pioneer in promoting athletics which included: basketball and track. He was an active member of the Methodist Church of Chicago and a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges. He met his wife, May Willa in Anderson, Indiana and moved to Chicago, where he later was employed with the U.S. Post Office. Irvin also organized and operated the Afro-American Manufacturing Company in Chicago, which produced novelties, candies, and specialties.
Founder Irvin served in World War I and was cited for bravery while performing his duties as a combat medic with the Expeditionary Forces in France. He also served on the Selective Service Board during World War II as well as The Korean War. He received the 2nd highest medal that is given by this country for valor. He also received two Distinguished Service Awards, from Presidents Truman and Eisenhower respectively.
Founder Irvin, a long-time member of the Chicago Alumni Chapter, was awarded the Laurel Wreath Award for his meritorious achievements.
The Edward G. Irvin Undergraduate Chapter of the Year Award is named in his honor.
Brother Irvin died on November 4, 1982.
Sgt. John Milton Lee
We remember Sgt. John Milton Lee
Founder John Milton Lee, an idealist, a scholar, and a tireless worker for the growth of the fraternity, was born in Danville, Indiana on September 7, 1890. He was the third of four children.
Lee attended public schools in Danville and enrolled at Indiana University in 1910. He completed three years of pre-medical work before leaving the university. In 1914, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, but withdrew due to health reasons. In 1915, he became a student at Temple University, however was compelled to leave due to a death in the family.
Founder Lee enlisted in the Army in 1917. He was a non-commissioned officer assigned to Battery F, 349th Field Artillery Regiment, 167th Field Artillery Brigade of the 92nd Division. The Division organized at Fort Dix (New Jersey) in November 1917. The Field Artillery component was the first Negro Artillery Regiment in the history of the military. He subsequently served overseas as a First Class Sergeant and Gunner. His battery enjoys the unique distinction of having been the first Battery of Negro Artillerymen ever to open fire upon an enemy. Lee fired the first shot. He was an associate editor of Modern Artillerymen, which was the official record of Battery F.
Lee helped organize, and for several years was president of the Fairview Golf Club, the first Negro Golf Club in Pennsylvania. For two years, he was the editor of The Golfer, the monthly publication of the Fairview Golf Club.
In 1931, he was married to Mary Walker Robinson.
Vocationally, he was engaged in several enterprises.
For eight years, he conducted a successful catering business in Philadelphia; he organized and served as Vice-President and Secretary of the Mutual Emergency Union, a mutual aid company in Philadelphia. He was also a member of the Board of Managers of the Columbia Community Branch of the YMCA.
The articles of incorporation listed Lee as the Secretary of Kappa Alpha Nu. He assisted in the development of the emblems of Kappa Alpha Nu. Founder Lee helped to establish the Epsilon, the Lambda and the Philadelphia Alumni Chapters. He served as interim Polemarch, until the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter members elected its first Polemarch.
At the time of his death, January 3, 1958, he was employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
He is the only Founder to be cremated and his urn is located at International Headquarters.
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