MISSISSIPPI ALPHA BEGINS
Walter Benjamin Palmer (Georgia Beta, Emory College 1877) is the Brother Phi who set his eye on the University of Mississippi and a number of other Southern Universities as suitable locations for Phi Delta Theta chapters. The first Southern chapter was at Centre College in Kentucky, which was established April 5, 1850. The next move South was to come to Roanoke College at Roanoke, Virginia on May 31, 1869. It was from Roanoke that the most extensive move to the deeper South began – to Georgia Alpha Prime at Oglethorpe College where members were initiated in April 1871. Georgia Prime was of short life but it established other chapters, one of them being Georgia Beta at Emory College in June 1871. Walter B. Palmer signed the bond there May 25, 1873 being the thirty-second number of that group. Subsequently, Palmer was to become associate with Tennessee Alpha at Vanderbilt University and it was from there that he made his great contribution to the Phi Delts of the South. At approximately the same time and in addition to Mississippi, Brother Palmer helped to establish Alabama Alpha at the University of Alabama on June 6, 1877, North Carolina at Trinity College (now Duke University) on May 23, 1878 and South Carolina Alpha at Wofford College, Spartenberg, S.C. on January 31, 1879.
While searching through college catalogues, Palmer discovered a bulletin from Mary Sharp College in Winchester, Tennessee. He found the name of Miss Kate Carothers in Oxford, Mississippi, who in 1877 was the organist for the Oxford Baptist Church. He wrote to Miss Carothers in February 1877 asking for her help in locating suitable young men to establish a fraternity chapter at Ole Miss. Miss Carothers in turn consulted her cousin W. E. Martin, a Sigma Chi and together they suggested Enoch A. Enochs, a student from Copiah County, Mississippi. Enochs was a fine choice and immediately set about establishing Mississippi Alpha solidly among the other Greek societies of the university campus. He pledged William J. Smith (1879), a fellow classmate, Charles D. Butler (1882), and they were initiated together March 17, 1877.