1876-78: The Founders Graduate
In June of 1876, Helen Dodge became the first of the Founders to receive her undergraduate degree. She was one of 10 students from her class selected to read their senior thesis on Commencement Day and her sisters honored her with a bundle of flowers in a white and gold basket, in which she kept the pressed blossoms for many years. After graduation, Helen considered becoming a teacher, but instead remained at home to care for her ill mother. Frances Haven’s only sister, Mira was initiated during Frances’ senior year. After three years in college, Mira married Reverend G. F. Draper and years later moved to Japan where they spent nearly 40 years in missionary work. Worthy of mention is the fact that Mira is responsible for the celebration of Mother’s Day in that country. Three of Mira’s four daughters – Winifred Frances Draper (Syracuse, 1908), Marion Romer Draper (Syracuse, 1910) and Charlotte Draper Smith (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1934) – also became members of Gamma Phi Beta.
Frances graduated in 1877 with a degree in fine arts. She became a teacher until her marriage to Charles Moss in 1878, and her father, Erastus O. Haven, became a Methodist Episcopal Bishop in California. Mary Bingham received her fine arts degree in 1878. After her graduation, she accompanied her father and mother to Europe. Adeline also graduated with a fine arts degree in 1878. An accomplished vocal and instrumental musician, after graduation she went to Boston to study under J. C. D. Parker, organist of Trinity Church.
Clara Worden, Gamma Phi Beta’s first initiate, was the first to marry, the first to become a mother and grandmother. Of her wedding gift she wrote, “The girls presented me with a silver card basket with the monogram ΓΦΒ in the center; also a china match safe, too funny for anything!”
Adeline Curtis married Frank Lionel Curtis, a man with the same last name, on July 3, 1878, following her graduation. Though Mary Bingham wrote excitedly to her friend Charles Cobb of Adeline’s wedding plans, she was unable to serve as a bridesmaid as they’d planned since she was off on her European trip with her parents. Addie’s father presided over the wedding, followed by a reception at their home where Reverend Curtis presented his daughter with the gift of a concert grand piano.
Ida Noble fell victim to smallpox not long after her initiation in 1875. She recovered, but then died of typhoid fever in 1879. Elizabeth Haywood, who became engaged to Frances Haven’s brother, contracted a bad cold in the spring of 1879 that developed into tuberculosis. Hoping that a change of climate might restore her health, the young couple married in October and left immediately for Indian Territory. On Christmas Day, she passed away. Ida and Elizabeth were the first two ladies to slip the bonds of Gamma Phi Beta sisterhood.
Pictured above: Frances E. Haven’s diploma of Fine Arts from Syracuse University, signed by her father, Chancellor Erastus O. Haven.