The history of Beta Tau began on May 25, 1893 with a petition from eight students asking Delta Tau Delta Fraternity to establish a colony chapter at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Through the efforts of these students and local alumni, Chapter Beta Tau of Delta Tau Delta was installed on April 7, 1894. On this date, the first initiation ceremony was conducted and took place at the first chapter house, located across the street from what was then the state capitol.
The first eight initiates were J. Cecil Graham, W.M. Johnston, Arthur J. Weaver, J.H. Johnston, Horace Whitmore, E.C. Strode, J.C. Martin, and Carl B. Burnhane. The first pledge of Beta Tau was pledged soon after this initiation ceremony. His name was Robert Manley and his badge can still be found in the trophy case on the first floor of the Shelter. Today, an award in his name is given annually to the pledge that best lives up to the ideals of a Delt as he did back in 1894.
The chapter had grown to 15 members by February 15, 1898 and had an annual income of $578.00, expenses of $500.00, owned property worth $550.00, and had no debts. In the fall of 1909, the Delta Tau Delta Alumni Association purchased a new chapter house. This Shelter cost $12,500 and was located where the present day Lambda Chi Alpha house is. This house was the finest fraternity on campus at the time and that year the Delts pledged twelve men. During this period Memorial Stadium was also being constructed and would be ready for next year’s football games. Beta Tau alumnus Bron J. Arnold helped lay the cornerstone for the stadium.
The chapter house proved to be very small in the early 1920’s as UNL had a record 1,200 freshmen enroll for classes. In January of 1923, there were not enough members to support the Shelter, and it was sold to the members of Zeta Beta Tau. The Delts lived in a rented house at 1504 “S” Street until March of 1924 when a new house committee was formed to start the construction of a new building.
The Dirt Pits were formerly large crawlspaces filled with dirt, and the members themselves used buckets and conveyors to excavated them. Dirt Pit I was converted into a large recreation room which we now affectionately call ‘The Pit’ , and Dirt Pit II was made into a large four-man room (006). Delts took great pride in their work on these rooms, finishing them almost entirely themselves. Recent projects have increased the capacity of the Shelter to 82 men and in the past few years more renovations have taken place, including the formal living room, bathrooms, weight room, a new roof, landscaping, new windows, renovation of the academic center, and ‘The Pit’ entertainment center.
You can find Delts involved in just about every organization on campus, many of which are officers in those groups. And we are leading the way in new and innovative chapter programming and opportunities for our members. And to keep our position as one of the leaders of the Greek community, UNL, Nebraska, the United States, and the world, and to make our future history better and more prosperous for generations of Delts yet to be, we and the over 2,000 initiated brothers of Chapter Beta Tau of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity ask that you leave Delt an even better place than when you first arrived.
And our historic tradition of excellence will live on…
The Eight Founding Men
In 1868, William Rnadolph Cunningham, Alexander Campbell Earle, Richard Havener Alfred, Henry King Bell, John Calhoun Johnson, Jacob Snedeker Lowe, Eugene Tarr, and John Lucius Newton Hunt founded Delta Tau Delta.
To read more about Delt’s history visit www.delts.org/history.