The Theta Nu Epsilon Society.


National Officers in Theta Nu Epsilon History.



Olin L. Livesey - 1928

Livesey has always been credited as the leading spirit behind the founding of Theta Nu Epsilon. The idea of organizing was likely his, and he also appears to have been the one both the intelligence and dedication to make the Society grow in its first years.

As an undergraduate, he was a Psi Upsilon, and had both a Bachelor’s and Master’s from Wesleyan.

He initially settled close to Middletown in New London. His career was initially wide-ranging. He wrote for the New York Tribune, taught school, and then turned to business, after a few years establishing the Livesey Manufacturing Company.

In 1887, he sold out and went to California, where he managed farming operations and the Manzana Colony. He then, in 1902, became the City Assessor and Tax Collector of Pasadena, California. From 1905 until just before his death, he was Clerk of the Superior Court, Los Angeles.

Starting in 1912, he, Costons, and Gerst were named Honorary National Presidents of the Society.

The original photo reproduced here is inscribed “Yours in Theta Nu Epsilon, Olin L. Livesey, Alpha ’73“”, and is in the archives of the Alpha Chapter.

Lyman H. Weeks - 1928

Lyman Weeks was another of the founders of Theta Nu Epsilon. Although his exact role at the beginning of the Society was unclear, he became a regular at National Conventions in New York in the Teens and Twenties, always willing to show support for Theta Nu Epsilon.

At Wesleyan, he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi. Later in life he authored several books and was also a journalist. He wrote on historical and cultural topics, and his most substantial work is probably The Legal and Judicial History of New York, (1911).

This photo seems to have been taken at the fiftieth reunion of the Class of 1873, or in 1928, when Brother Weeks deposited his Theta Nu Epsilon - related items in the Society’s archives.

Charles B. Templeton - 1885

The first national conventions of Theta Nu Epsilon were held in upstate New York in the 1880’s & 1890’s. These Original Conventions recommended policy to the Alpha Chapter, which was still the source of charters.

At the first convention in May, 1885, Charles Templeton was elected the first presiding officer.

Later when those conventions were surpassed, he played no rôle in national afairs, but did continue as a loyal and active alumnus.

Photo not available Joseph Hartigan - 1907

Joseph Hartigan was the individual who, more than any other, deserves credit for the national organization of 1907. A student at New York University, he saw the need for closer coöperation among chapters. Working with J.W.S. Moss and later Gordon Case, he was able to organize the society anew.

He later also worked to establish the Alumni Club of Theta Nu Epsilon in New York.

Thomas J. Smull - 1907

Smull, of the Omicron Omicron chapter at Ohio Northern University, was recently graduated from college when he took a leadership role in the national organization. He had begun his studies at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta.

He was a Civil Engineer, and became the Dean of the Engineering Department at Ohio Northern in 1905.

He first became President of the Society on April 12, 1912, and had an ongoing active rôle in National affairs, (see below).

James W. S. Moss - 1916

Probably the most ambitious and successful officer of this era of Theta Nu Epsilon. He was President from 1909 to 1912, and again in 1915 & 1916. Moss was also especially active in organizing New York City area chapters. He played the crucial rôle from in the creation of the United National.

He was a 1909 gratuate of Stevens Institute of Technology and a mechanical engineer. He developed a system of uniform heating in railroad passenger cars and worked under Edison in New Jersey.

The steps he took with the officers of the National made his era the most prosperous of the society’s history.

He later also worked to establish the Alumni Club of Theta Nu Epsilon in New York.

Photo not available Gordon Case - 1907

Gordon Case was very important to the early years of the national. As Editor of the Society’s publications, he was central to fostering communication and the presentation of the Society to the rest of the world.

He had a B. A. and M. A. from Yale University, Class of 1908, where he became a member of the Lambda Sigma Chapter.

He was a statistician and an actuary, and an examiner of the New York State Insurance Department.

As editor of the Theta Nu Epsilon Quarterly, his training and rhetorical skills were invaluable.

Photo not available George R. Sturges - 1912

Sturges was a Yale graduate (1905), and a Yale Law graduate (1908). While there he was connected with the Yale Law School Forum. He was also a member of the Yale Theta Nu Epsilon chapter, Book and Gavel, and Phi Alpha Delta.

He served three year-long terms as President of Theta Nu Epsilon.


Clarence J. Hand - 1916

Hand was an important organizer of the United National.

He was an undergraduate at Cornell until 1909, but he appears to have only joined Theta Nu Epsilon as a law student at New York University at the Upsilon Upsilon Chapter on April 10, 1912, and became the National Historian in 1915. He served in that capacity until WW I.

His careful management of the archives is reflected in the records of the society today, as is his legal training. He later practiced law downtown.

I. Thurman Mann - 1916

Ira Thurman Mann was a Doctor and the Vice-president for the Southeastern region of the society from 1915 to WW I. His real strength in the Society was holding together the Society in the Southeastern part of the country.

He was born in Silver City, North Carolina, but his family settled in High Point. He was an undergraduate at Duke where he was a Alpha Beta Kappa. He began his medical studies at the University of North Carolina, and there also joined Phi Chi. He transferred to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and there became a member of Theta Nu Epsilon.

During his internship in Brooklyn, he was active in national affairs in the Society. He later returned to High Point, North Carolina, and, given his wide academic experience, helped to support chapters in the region.

J. P. O’Brien - 1916

O’Brien was elected a Trustee of the society in 1915.

He was an attorney from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was originally from a farm at Randolph, Wisconsin, and attended Valley City Normal College. In 1912, he was admitted to the study of law at Marquette University, and became a member of the Nu Nu chapter of Theta Nu Epsilon there, completing his studies in 1915.

He later began practice in Milwaukee.

Photo not available Walter Erlenkotter

Walter Erlenkotter, or ‘Early,’ was the secretary of the society for many years and was generally regarded one of the sage voices of the society. Without his efforts, there would have been little institutional integrity in Theta Nu Epsilon through the 1920’s.

He graduated from Stevens in the Class of 1908, and there joined the Mu chapter of Theta Nu Epsilon. He there became a chemist, and was also a member of the professional engineering society, Tau Beta Pi.

It has not been possible to locate a photograph of Erlenkotter. He was described as modest, and that “he persistently refuses to release ... either a photograph or the record of his still youthful past. Be it said, however, that he is tall, blonde, handsome, and of sweet and loving disposition.”

Thomas Arkle Clarke - 1921

Clarke was never an officer of Theta Nu Epsilon, and he prided himself on the dissolution of the University of Illinois Chapter, something he achieved as Dean of that institution. However, after 1921, he was a reliable friend of the society, and a valuable defender of it before the N.I.C.

Benjamin H. Frayser - 1932

Benjamin Frayser was a strong supporter of the society, and for years was a crucial organizer of the society in the Kentucky and Tennessee areas. He spent many years as a Trustee, and as a District deputy of the society in the northern Rocky Mountain states during his military service.

Frayser was originally a member of the University of the South Psi Omega Chapter.

He was also active in other societies, and was the founder of the Kappa Phi society, a medical society for physicians training in pharmaceuticals. His continuing interest in Theta Nu Epsilon can be seen in Kappa Phi’s emblem, which included the skull & bones.

Kappa Phi was founded in 1909 at Sewanee, and the Tennessee Alpha chapter continued there for three years under his leadership. In that short time, however, it established three other chapters; at Lincoln Memorial University, the University College of Medicine in Virginia, and at the University of Alabama. The organization did not long survive.

Francis L. Mathews - 1932

Frank Mathwes was the Historian of the Society in 1932.

He was a member of the University of Illinois Pi Pi Chapter.

John T. Madden - 1932

John Madden was the Dean of the School of Commerce, N.Y.U.

He was a major stabilizing influence, serving as a Vice-president for three years, and then in 1926 becoming President of the Society for six years. Through most of this period, Perry O. Powell, as Executive Secretary directed most of the affairs of the society.

Phillip F. Ray - 1932

Phillip Ray was the Historian of the society in 1928 and 1929, and then served a number of years as a Trustee.

Ray was an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeley, Delta Pi Chapter. He represented the interests of the Western chapters for many years.

Perry O. Powell - 1932

As an undergraduate, Perry O. Powell was initiated at Marquette University’s Nu Nu Chapter.

Powell was the prime re-organizer of the society after WW I. He had a very strong effect on the society, and by the late 1920’s, the National had been reconstituted, had a quarter as many chapters, and had become a four-year society. He was the Executive Secretary through this period, only becoming President in 1931. The dramatic changes in the Society in the Twenties can largely be traced to him. His efforts were short-lived.

T. J. Smull - 1932

Thomas Smull was President of the Society in 1912 and 1913. Years later, in 1926, he returned to office as Vice-president under John Madden and Perry O. Powell, holding that office for almost a decade.

Henry R. Kelly - 1932

Henry Kelly was Perry O. Powell’s successor as president in 1935. He was originally a member of Phi Nu Theta at Union College.

Kelly was particularly selected by National Council members for the sole purpose of reversing the deleterious trends of his predecessor and bringing responsible leadership to the society. He inherited a society with just a handful of chapters, and heading into the dislocations of WW II.

His records were eventually transferred to the Alpha Chapter, where they remain in the Chapter archives.

He was recognized by the Alpha Chapter for holding the society together through difficult times, and named a Honorary National President in the late 1980’s. His efforts have reunited branches of the society once far apart, and is still alive today.

W. F. Pilgrim - 1932

Wilbur Pilgrim was the Treasurer of the Society in 1930 and 1932.




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