The fraternity had its roots in the hands of the Lutheran faith. The Reverend Frederick William Stiegemeyer, while serving at St. John’s Lutheran in Champaign, organized the Lutheran Illini League in the fall of 1919. The group met once or twice a week for religious discussion. In the fall of 1920, the League rented a house and a year later, decided to reorganize as the Concordia Club. By 1923, the house regularly participated in campus events and became nicknamed the “Concordia Fraternity.” Such talked spawned the idea of reorganizing again into a member of the University’s Greek system. This idea was met with serious debate among the members, as some feared that this would deprive the organization of its Lutheran character. Others, however, argued that joining the University’s fraternity system would allow the group to partake in the numerous opportunities for Greek organizations. Eventually the group elected to go Greek and the rewards throughout the past 80+ years have been boundless.
Founding Fathers and the Early Years
The men who worked on these plans became the founding fathers of Beta Sigma Psi: Harold Ahlbrand, Wilbur Augustine, Norbert Behrens, Herman Gilster, Arden Henry, Russell Henry, Julius Seidel, Rev. Stiegemeyer, William Welge.
The Reverend Paul Schmidt had formed another Concordia chapter at Purdue University, and working with Reverend Stiegemeyer and members of Alpha Chapter, founded Beta Chapter at Purdue just a few months after Alpha Chapter gained its charter. With late 20’s came years of prosperity, and Beta Sigma Psi prospered as well; two more chapters opened at the University of Michigan and University of Nebraska-Lincoln and national membership soared. Unfortunately the lack of college students in the Great Depression brought about the end of Gamma Chapter (Michigan) in 1933 and the shortage of men on campus during WWII forced Alpha Chapter to close its doors in 1940 and at one point in the early 40’s the national membership of Beta Sigma Psi dropped to just thirteen.
The end of the war brought peace and prosperity to the United States and led primarily by Del Lienemann of Delta Chapter, Beta Sigma Psi managed to recover, opening chapters at Iowa State in 1949, Kansas State in 1951, and Missouri-Rolla in 1952. In 1951 at the University of Illinois, a number of Lutheran men founded the Kumonami House, with the intention of founding a residence for Lutheran males. Unfortunately not enough were found so the house served as a non-denominational Christian residence for a few years until it finally had become an exclusively Lutheran house. Shortly thereafter, in the Fall of 1956, Kumonami reorganized as the re-chartered Alpha Chapter. The new house of Alpha Chapter was at 1004 West Nevada Street, where it resided until 1969 when the chapter moved to 706 West Ohio Street and remains there to this day.