Chapter History

  • Omega’s Eighth District has its beginnings as the Third District. The Fraternity originally divided in five districts in 1922, but rapid growth occurred and by 1928, nine districts were in place.  Annual district conferences began in 1926.

    Upsilon Omega Chapter was founded in 1921 as the Upsilon Graduate Chapter in St. Louis. It was the first chapter chartered in what is now the Eighth District. The name was later changed to Upsilon Omega to reflect the fact that it was a graduate and not an undergraduate chapter. John H. Purnell, James E. White and Robert N. Owens, all Howard University alumni, founded the chapter.

    A constitutional provision in 1922 gave Grand Basileus Julius McCain the authority to appoint representatives of the Grand Chapter, called District Representatives, to assist in the supervision of the chapters.  Five such representatives were appointed at the time.  The representatives were Charles W. White, (New England States), Carter L. Marshall (Mid Atlantic States), L.R. Hill (Central States), William J. Faulkner (Southern States) and George L. Vaughn (Western States).  The provision also enabled District Representatives to be elected by the districts and made them Constitutional officers of the Fraternity.  Also in 1922, Beta Omega in Kansas City became the second chapter in the Eighth District to receive its charter.  Delta Phi in Topeka and Chi Phi in Denver soon followed, both were chartered in 1925 and 1927, respectively.  

    The Eighth District hosted its first in numerous Grand Conclaves in 1923. Upsilon Omega in St. Louis hosted the 12th Grand Conclave. John H. Purnell, a charter member of Upsilon Omega, served as Grand Marshal George D. Brandley of Upsilon Omega was elected the first District Representative in 1928.  The Fraternity continued to see rapid growth and westward expansion and more districts were put into place.  The Eighth District emerged as comprising the states of Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Minnesota in 1933.

    Herman Dreer was a Washington, D.C. native, who graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Bowdin College, was elected District Representative in 1933.  Dreer had earlier moved to St Louis and became an educator.  Prior to that, he taught at Virginia Theological Seminary in Lynchburg and while there, received an M.A. in Latin Theology.  Dreer's contributions to the Eighth DIstrict and the Fraternity were indelible and countless.  While teaching at Suner High School, Dreer began the ardous task of researching and composing the Fraternity's first history book. 


    Eta Alpha was chartered in 1934 as a graduate chapter in Jefferson City, Mo.  The 22nd Grand Conclave was held in St Louis in 1934.

    By 1935, Illinois was added to the Eighth District. Eta Sigma was chartered in 1936 on the campus of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, thus making it the first undergraduate chapter in the Eighth District.  That same year, Ulysses S. Donaldson, a member of Upsilon Omega in St. Louis, took over the reins of District Representative.

    In April 1937, the first Missouri State Omega Conference was held on the campus of Lincoln University in Jefferson City.  The first annual conference was held a month later at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.  By 1939, the Eighth District had evolved once more and consisted of chapters located in Missouri, Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado and Minnesota.

    The District continued to grow even during the war years (World War II). Several chapters were chartered during this period (Pi Sigma - Little Rock, AR - 1941; Omicron Sigma - St. Louis - 1942; Tau Sigma - Arkansas AM&N- 1943) that would eventually become part of the Eighth District.

    Lucius Jones, Tulsa engineer and newspaper publisher was approved for membership during the 31st Grand Conclave held in Washington D.C., in 1945. Jones, a native of Birmingham, would later serve as Keeper of Records and Seal for Eta Alpha chapter for more than 40 years.

    The Fraternity redistricted again in 1947 and Arkansas was added to the Eighth District. The configuration would exist for another decade when the Eleventh District was eliminated, adding the states of Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa to the Eighth District. Arkansas was moved to the Ninth District. Mu Omicron, located in Des Moines, IA, was given its chartered in August 1947.

    In 1949, the first National Headquarters building in Washington D.C. was purchased. H. Carl Moultrie was selected to serve as the first National Executive Secretary.  That same year, Beta Upsilon and Gamma Upsilon were awarded charters on successive days.  On Nov. 30 of that year, Leon Ashford, a former student of Herman Dreer, was initiated into the Fraternity through Omicron Sigma.

    The Grand Conclave returned to the EIght District in 1957 when it was held in St Louis.  New Mexico, was added to the Eighth District in 1964 and thus the present configuration: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, and North Dakota.  Members of Nu RHo in Albuquerque, New Mexico were awarded a charter in April of that year.  Chi Phi in Denver served as host of the 49th Grand Conclave.

    Edgar Burnett, an educator who had joined the Fraternity in 1951 through Omicron Sigma in St. Louis, was elected District Representative in 1967.  Burnett would serve in that position for the next seven years. A year prior to Burnett leaving office, St. Louis hosted the 55th Grand Conclave.

    William Bowers of Chi Phi replaced Burnett as District Representative.  In 1974, Xi Phi, located in Colorado Springs, Co, was chartered.  Lynn Beckwith, who was initiated into the Fraternity on Halloween in 1958, was elected District Representative in 1975.  During his three-year tenure as District Representative, Omicron Xi, organized in Kansas City, Kansas, received its charter as an intermediate chapter.  Phi Xi aslo received its charter.  The Eighth District would serve host to the Grand Conclave in 1979 - Chi Phi and in 1983, Kansas City.  The Eighth District presently is comprised of 26 graduate and undergraduate chapters. These chapters are active and participating in all phases of Omega.