FarmHouse Fraternity is what it is by reason of the faithful, loyal, and enthusiastic efforts of members of the fraternity. Whatever greatness it may boast, whatever influence it wields, whatever reputation it may have, all of these and each of these are to be credited to the members of the organization.
In order to understand the development and history of FarmHouse Fraternity, we must keep clearly in mind what kind of social order existed on the University of Missouri campus during the time of its birth and infancy. FarmHouse like most campus social organizations had a humble beginning. There were few students to draw on for members. Its purpose or objective was not clearly defined or understood, and therefore, it attracted little attention. It was not the result of a crisis among agricultural students, but was rather the result of a need for recognition of a small and subordinate, specialized group in the area of higher education.
The Missouri College of Agriculture was established in 1870, as part of the Land Grant System. It was a small Division of the University with less than 100 students, and was not held in the same esteem as Law and Medicine - by far the largest class to this time. Nearly all were farm-reared boys. This was, to a degree, the beginning of a new era in the College - not only because of the larger enrollments, but also because of an enlarged curriculum, and the adoption of higher standards for admission - on a par with other divisions of the University.
A rather close fellowship developed in this group of 35. Most of them attended the same classes. Everyone knew everyone else. There developed a departmental consciousness among the agricultural students that has persisted to the present day.
As an outgrowth of this fellowship in the College, and the friendships that were formed, three men - D. Howard Doane, H.P. Rush and Earl Rusk - conceived the idea of forming an Agricultural Club, in order to perpetuate this congenial association (apparently this was discussed at Sunday afternoon Y.M.C.A. Bible meetings.) Other members of the class who seemed desirable were invited to join this group. It was proposed to rent a house and live together. This was in the spring of 1905.
From the diary of D. Howard Doane comes the following record: "At the close of my freshman year, (May 1905) there was organized a club of farmers, principally from the freshman class, to run a club house to be known as The Farm House. I thought out and worked up the plan and then took it to the Rusk brothers, Earl and Henry, and we asked to join us Claude Hutchison (Si), Robert Howard (Bob), Melvin Sherwin (Melvin), Henry Krusekopf (Kruse), C.B. Smith (C.B.), Lee Hewett (a graduate), Palmer and McDaniels (Doc). Each of the above named was to get a roommate and this number, 22, would fill our house, which we rented from Judge Stewart for $65.00 per month for twelve months.
"When school opened in September only seven of the group returned. They took the house on their hands and turned it into a regular rooming and boarding house.
"Those seven fellows were the best bunch that ever got together. During the whole year they managed the house without one single disagreeable incident. Henry Rush was president; Melvin, vice president; Bob, secretary and treasurer, and myself commissary. My duties were to attend to all the buying, hiring of all the help - we had three servants - and plan the meals and see that things ran smoothly. As pay for my work I received my room and board. My duties were numerous and I spent between $350 and $400 a month, every penny of which had to be accounted for bimonthly.
"Many a night this dear old bunch assembled with gravest doubts assailing them and they wondered if it was all worth while."
The second year a "matron" was hired, in the hope that it would reduce the problem of managing the house. It was a trying and testing year and it was debated if the club should continue. But by this time the friendship of the seven members was so strongly entrenched, that the decision was to continue. "We will overcome" might appropriately have been our slogan. The first two years were difficult but enjoyed and characterized by determination, friendship, and a high standard of conduct.
In the fall of 1907 the club moved to a house at the corner of Missouri and Rollins streets, near the present site of the University Commons. Mrs. Austin, a kindly widow was matron and owner. Meals were not served, but all members ate at the boarding house across the street. This was a significant period, for all men living in the house were agricultural students and were now considered members of the Farm House Club. The original club of seven lost its identity, and was part of the larger group. Founder, C.B. Hutchison, in his fiftieth anniversary address to members attending the Conclave said, "It should be noted that no one among the little group of founders had any thought that he and his fellows were founding a fraternity nor had they any intention of doing so. Indeed, had any one seriously suggested at the time that this would or might be the ultimate outcome, the little acorn from which this mighty oak has grown would doubtless not have been planted, or if planted would not have survived the seedling stage. Such was the reputation of fraternities in general in the youthful minds of the "founding fathers," some of whom, I know not whether all, had already had invitations to join well-established Greek letter fraternities in their university community. This was not to be a fraternity but a club and it was make so again in those earnest but youthful minds by definition... "The basic point in our minds was to find a place where we could live and work together, to promote our mutual interests in stimulating companionship and fellowship. Top make sure no one would think of our club as a fraternity, we gave it what we thought was a non-fraternity name. It was to exemplify agriculture and rural living despite the fact that of necessity it had to have an urban locale."
FarmHouse had its first picture in the Savitar in 1907 and was listed as a club.. It continued to be so classified until 1916, when it was classified as a professional fraternity. In 1924 FarmHouse was recognized as a fraternity on the University of Missouri campus and became a member of the Pan Hellenic Council. All this indicates the changing concept and attitude of the members, and of the University, to Farmhouse as a fraternity.
There were significant developments in the college of Agriculture in the period from 1904 to 1908, in which FarmHouse had a significant part, not as an organization, but by the leadership of individual members of the group. The Missouri Chapter of Alpha Zeta was established in 1907. Seven of the ten charter members were members of FarmHouse. A FarmHouse man first suggested the Farmers Fair, established in 1906. The agriculture club and the College Farmer were established in 1904. FarmHouse was the nucleus where many of the activities in the College were first planned and discussed, and thus it exerted a strong influence on the entire college.
When the third organization bearing the name of FarmHouse was established, then nationalization was first discussed seriously. The Missouri House was organized in 1905. In Nebraska the organization was well underway without name when the organizers learned of the Missouri House and because of the similarity of purposes, aims and constituency the name fitted and was adopted. Thus the two original Houses were, we might say, independently organized. However, the Illinois FarmHouse was deliberately and designedly organized as such, accompanied by a lurking notion of nationalization.
The real work of nationalization began in the spring of 1915. Committees on nationalization were appointed by each of the three Houses and these committees did the first work on the drafting of the constitution. Many drafts were made and much correspondence ensured before an acceptable instrument was molded. A few changes were making in the Constitution and By-Laws in the First and Third Biennial Conclaves. FarmHouse as a national organization became a reality early in 1921 when the Constitution and By-Laws were approved by each of the Active Houses and they then gave up some of their individuality and became "Chapters" or the "greater" FarmHouse. FarmHouse had taken on a new meaning.
But even with the Constitution and By-Laws adopted there were many details of the organization to be worked out The Ritual for initiation was written, The badge designed by H.W. Richey, Nebraska, in 1914, and used by the Nebraska House was adopted at the First Biennial Conclave in 1917 as the official pledge pin.
The Coat of Arms and the Seal were given a vast amount of diligent study and thought before they were brought to final completion in 1920. Upon the latter depended the form for the Charter, finally adopted at the Third Biennial Conclave and ordered engraved. The idea of a "shingle" (membership certificate) for members and the plan for it were also developed at the Third Biennial Conclave.
A well bound House register was printed for each Chapter, so designed that a complete and up-to-date record could be kept of each member. It was designed to last the Chapter for thirty years or more. Many other forms were developed, such as order blanks for badges, forms for semester reports from the Chapters to the National Secretary-Treasurer and record cards for keeping a record by the National Secretary of all the individual members. More than a casual reading of the constitution will disclose the fact that the official name of our organization is "FarmHouse." At the First Conclave in 1917, a suggestion was advanced of amending the Constitution to make the name "FarmHouse Fraternity." The feeling was predominate at that time that even though the organization was a fraternity in the fullest meaning of the word it had not become sufficiently well established to counteract the odium that is sometimes attached to the name "fraternity" as known in the Colleges and Universities. It was considered best to await that time when by its distinction "FarmHouse" might inject a new meaning into the word "Fraternity".
Nationalization had a stimulating effect upon the various Chapters and the addition of new Chapters with their excellent scholarship and activity reports caused the old Chapters to look to their laurels. Also nationalization helped in gaining a greater recognition in the institutions where Chapters were maintained, although the respect in which FarmHouse is held is most largely due to the creditable manner with which the chapters have deported themselves through the years.
The War Years
FarmHouse was inactive as an organized group during the two World Wars. During 1943 and 1944 Chapter houses became dormitories for service men or for girls, under the supervision of the University. Many Chapters resumed activity in the fall of 1945 on a limited basis, but it was 1947 before all Chapters were operating on a full scale.
Relationship with the National Interfraternity Conference
FarmHouse joined the NIC as a junior member in 1944. Because of its size at the time, eight chapters, it was not considered eligible for full membership. With twelve chapters and three colonies, FarmHouse became a full-fledged member on March 25, 1953.
FarmHouse dropped out of the NIC during 1971 to 1981, as did many other national/international fraternities. Since rejoining, FarmHouse has been an active, supportive member of the NIC and its programs, and encourages its local colonies, chapters, and associations to be the same in their campus IFC's.
Exploration of a Merger
Following two years of discussion concerning a possible merger, Delta Theta Sigma Fraternity, having 150 members, and FarmHouse Fraternity, having 2,700 members, agreed at the 1948 Conclave to a period of "trial merger," for the mutual benefit of the two fraternities.
President J. Kenneth Stern of Delta Theta Sigma and President Joseph Ackerman of FarmHouse worked together as did other officers in attempting to reconcile the policies of both fraternities, The publications of the two organizations, The Shield of Delta Theta Sigma, and the Pearls and Rubies of FarmHouse, were published together under the efforts of Milton E. Bliss of DTS and Preston McDanniel of FarmHouse.
During the 1950 Conclave, both fraternities in separate business meetings agreed to discontinue efforts to bring about a merger of the two groups. Because of disagreement on a new name, groups felt that best interest would be served for each to go its separate way. J. Kenneth Stern expressed the attitude of both groups when he spoke at the final session of the Conclave, saying, "It's been a grand experience. There's a deep appreciation of the generosity, friendliness, and hospitality we have enjoyed." It was a genuine expression of mutual feeling that prevailed after two years of joint effort to find a common ground on which the two fraternities might meet as one.
On April 20, 1974, the FarmHouse Club at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was installed as the University of Alberta Farmhouse Chapter, thereby making FarmHouse an International Fraternity.