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Iowa Beta

Simpson College

Founding date: 10/13/1874

Notable fact: Original I.C. chapter (Lambda)

Installing Officer: 
Estella Walters Ball, Iowa Alpha

Installation of Iowa Beta

In a letter Ida Cheshire Barker wrote to the Iowa Beta Chapter in 1940, she recalled the beginnings of the chapter, "I was fifteen when I received the letter from Anna Porter of Monmouth asking me to get together other young ladies and organize a chapter of the fraternity. It was S. L. Lindsay who had gone from Indianola to Monmouth, who gave my name to Anna Porter."

Anna Porter wrote to Ida, in part, “You will no doubt be surprised at receiving a letter from a person you never heard of before, but I trust we will be very well acquainted before long. Your name has been handed to me with several other ladies, as among the first class of Indianola, and as we are desirous of starting a chapter of the fraternity in your college, to me was given the privilege of writing ... [The fraternity] is an old fraternity and we always try and have the No. 1 ladies of the college ... We only take in the girls we can love, not only as friends, but as sisters. "

Ida talked to "her best friend," who later became her sister-in-law, Kate Barker (McCune) and the two along with eight other girls — Nell Todhunter (Richey), Estella Walters (Ball), Emma Patton (Noble), Louise Noble (Curtis), Bessie Guyer (Linn), Marie Morrison (Samson), Fannie Andrew (Noble) and Elizabeth Cooke (Martin) — met and organized in the Cheshire house the first woman's national fraternity on Simpson's campus. The Minute Book of Iowa Beta, containing the minutes of the first meeting of the chapter, is the earliest minute book known to be in existence in the fraternity. The members borrowed $20.00 from the bank to buy their pins, large golden arrows, for $3.00 each and a bolt of cloth to make long gingham aprons which they wore to chapel, attending as a group, wearing their arrows for the first time. The installation ceremony took place in the bedroom of Ida Cheshire (Barker).

Iowa Gamma Carrie Chapman Catt, an American women's suffrage leader, came to Indianola to speak at a lecture promoted by Iowa Beta. 

Living at Iowa Beta

In 1927, the Schee home was bought for a Pi Phi house through the efforts of Sarah Eikenberry Sigler. The house has undergone many transformations in the last eight decades. 

Notable Alumnae

  • Juli Holmes Willeman, current Executive Director of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity
  • Phylliss Hickman Howlett, Former Assistant Commissioner of the Big 10 Intercollegiate Conference
  • Rosemary Lane, Actress from the 1930s
  • Eugenia Moore Anderson, the first Woman Ambassador to Denmark and the First Woman Minister to Bulgaria   
  • Ruth Buxton Sayre, Iowa Women's Hall of Fame