Fraternity Founders

Elder Watson Diggs

He was born on December 23, 1883, in Madisonville, Kentucky. Founder Diggs enrolled at Howard University in 1909 and transferred to Indiana University in the fall of 1910. In 1916, he became the first Black to earn an A.B. degree from Indiana University’s School of Education. Founder Diggs subsequently earned his Master’s degree of Education from Howard University in 1944.

He helped establish the first nine undergraduate chapters as well as Indianapolis (IN) Alumni Chapter. He served as Grand Polemarch for the first six years of the fraternity’s existence, as a Grand Board Member and as Grand Historian. He wrote the lyrics to the Kappa Hymn, and established the Kappa Alpha Nu Journal. Founder Diggs assisted in designing the Coat of Arms, prepared the initiation ceremonial forms and completed the fraternity’s constitution. He was one of two Founders who pawned his watch to pay for the Fraternity’s incorporation fee.

Founder Diggs was an educator, who held positions at public schools throughout Indiana. He resigned as principal and entered the armed forces where he was commissioned a lieutenant during WWI. He subsequently rose to the rank of Captain in the Reserve Officers Training Corps.

Founder Diggs was the first Laurel Wreath Laureate. Founder Diggs entered the Chapter Invisible on November 8, 1947. Following his death, School #42, where he served as principal for 26 years, was named in his honor. The Elder Watson Diggs Award, the second highest award available to celebrate a member’s achievements or service to the fraternity is dedicated in his name.

Byron Kenneth Armstrong

He was born on April 8, 1892 in Westfield, Indiana and was the cousin of 2nd Grand Polemarch, Irven Armstrong. Founder Armstrong attended Howard University in 1909 and transferred to Indiana University in the fall of 1910. He earned an A.B. degree from the University in 1913. Founder Armstrong subsequently earned an M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1914 and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1940.

Founder Armstrong held teaching positions as a professor at universities in several states as well as Dean in Maryland and Oklahoma. 

Founder Armstrong helped establish the Beta, Theta, Xi, Alpha Pi, Gamma Xi Chapters as well as the Chicago (IL), Langston (OK) and Tulsa (OK) Alumni Chapters. He served as the first Grand Strategus, fifth Grand Historian, member of the Grand Board and as Editor of the Journal. He created the Fraternity motto, assisted in preparing the Coat of Arms and the final version of the Fraternity badge.

Founder Armstrong was the 6th Laurel Wreath Laureate. Founder Armstrong entered the Chapter Invisible on June 28, 1980. The Byron K. Armstrong Scholars Award, available to Fraternity undergraduate members for outstanding achievement is named in his honor.

Guy Levis Grant

He was born on April 9, 1891 in New Albany, Indiana. Founder Grant entered Indiana University in 1909 and earned AB and DDS degrees in 1915 and 1920 respectively. He practiced dentistry in Indianapolis for over 50 years.

Founder Grant helped to establish the Beta and Indianapolis (IN) Alumni Chapters. He served as Indianapolis Alumni’s first Polemarch, several terms as a non-voting member of the Grand Board of Directors and was the Grand Historian for 12 years. Upon his retirement in 1963, the Fraternity conferred upon him the title Grand Historian Emeritus.

Founder Grant entered the Chapter Invisible on November 11, 1973. The Guy Levis Grant Award is named in his honor to undergraduate members of the Fraternity who exhibit extra meritorious contributions to the Fraternity’s advancement.

Marcus Peter Blakemore

He was born on January 3, 1889 in Franklin, Indiana. Founder Blakemore enrolled at Indiana University in 1910 but left after the spring semester of 1912. After leaving school, he organized the Electric Engineering Company, which he operated until he enlisted with the U.S. Army in WWI. He later attended the University of Pittsburgh, from which he earned a DDS degree in 1923. In 1949, Founder Blakemore became the first Black to receive the MS degree in Prosthetic Dentistry from the University of Pittsburgh Dental School. Founder Blakemore practiced dentistry in Pittsburgh for 35 years.

He was one of two Founders who pawned his watch to pay for the Fraternity’s incorporation fee. Founder Blakemore was a charter member of the Pittsburgh (PA) Alumni Chapter and was instrumental in the establishment of the Beta Epsilon Chapter. He entered the Chapter Invisible on October 9, 1959.

Ezra D. Alexander

He was born on July 18, 1891 in Bloomington, Indiana. Founder Alexander enrolled at Indiana University in the fall of 1910. He earned AB and MD degrees in 1917 and 1919 respectively. Founder Alexander practiced medicine in Indianapolis for nearly 50 years.

Founder Alexander served 22-years as a non-voting member of the Grand Board of Directors. He helped establish the Chicago (IL) and Indianapolis (IN) Alumni Chapters. He affiliated with the Indianapolis Alumni Chapter until he entered the Chapter Invisible on September 29, 1971.

John Milton Lee

He was born on September 7, 1890 in Danville, Indiana. He entered Indiana University in 1910 and completed three years of pre-medical work before leaving the university. He subsequently enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania but withdrew for health reasons. He then became a student at Temple University, but was compelled to leave due to a death in the family.

Founder Lee served as the Fraternity’s first Grand Keeper of the Exchequer. He helped establish the Epsilon and Lambda Chapters and the Philadelphia (PA) Alumni Chapter. He served as Interim Polemarch until the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter elected its first Polemarch.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and was a non-commissioned officer assigned to a Field Artillery Unit. Founder Lee served overseas as a Sergeant First Class and Gunner with an artillery battery that was the first Negro artillery battery to open fire upon an enemy. He subsequently became an associate editor of Modern Artillerymen, the official record of Battery F. After the War, Founder Lee returned to Philadelphia, where he was involved in several business enterprises. He entered the Chapter Invisible on January 3, 1958.

Henry Tourner Asher

He was born on June 30, 1890 in Owensboro, Kentucky. He enrolled at Indiana University in 1910 and received an A.B. degree in 1914. He also earned an MA degree from the University of Minnesota in 1917 and an LLB degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1928.

Founder Asher was an instructor at Lincoln Institute at Jefferson City, Missouri. Following service overseas in France during WWI, he gave up a possible teaching career at Wilberforce University for a position in real estate. He subsequently took up residence in Detroit, where he entered the Postal Service. Although not a charter member of the Detroit (MI) Alumni Chapter, he was among the first to affiliate with the chapter in 1920. He entered the Chapter Invisible on March 5, 1963.

Edward Giles Irvin

He was born on August 13, 1893, in Spencer County Indiana. He enrolled at Indiana University in 1910. Founder Irvin did not return to the University following the spring term of 1911. He served in the U.S. Army during WWI and WWII, where he was cited for bravery and valor respectively.

He later pursued a career in journalism and owned a newspaper in Anderson, Indiana. He was editor of a Gary (IN) newspaper before becoming the sports editor of a Chicago (IL) newspaper.

Founder Irvin was the 24th Laurel Wreath Laureate. Our last living Founder entered the Chapter Invisible on November 4, 1982. The Edward G. Irvin Award, bestowed upon the most outstanding Undergraduate Chapter is named in his honor.

George Wesley Edmonds

He was born on August 13, 1890 in Knight Township, Indiana. He entered Indiana University in the fall of 1910. After he returned home for the summer of 1911, he never returned to school.  Instead, he worked in the coal mines and railroads of Vanderburgh County for many years.  He entered the Chapter Invisible on June 13, 1962.

Paul Waymond Caine

He was born on May 17, 1890 in Greencastle, Indiana. He enrolled at Indiana University in 1909 and helped the other Founders in organizing Kappa Alpha Nu. Because of a disastrous fire in the Fraternity house in which he was employed, he never finished his sophomore year.

Founder Caine went into the catering business in his hometown; he later attended Columbia and Purdue Universities; set up catering businesses in Gary, Indiana, Peoria, Chicago and Evanston, Illinois and published a book on catering. He was instrumental in setting up the Beta, Gamma, Delta, Zeta and Theta chapters of the fraternity.

He later went into business in Rockford, Illinois, where he was burned during an explosion of gaseous materials in his dry-cleaning business. Nearly two weeks later, Founder Caine expired from injuries sustained from the accident and entered the Chapter Invisible on April 15, 1931. The Paul W. Caine Award is presented to outstanding Alumni Chapters in his honor.