Our 10 illustrious founder of Kappa Alpha Psi.
Born in Madisonville, Kentucky, Elder Watson Diggs graduated from the Indiana State Normal School (now the Indiana State Teachers College) at Terre Haute, Indiana, in the spring of 1908, and entered Howard University in 1909. In June 1916, he was granted a degree by Indiana University. His leadership ability, sincerity of purpose, enthusiasm and dedication earned for him the respect of his fellows and the office of Grand Polemarch of the newly established Fraternity. He held that office for six consecutive years (to December 1917) and was awarded the first Laurel Wreath, the Fraternity’s highest recognition for achievement, in 1924. Diggs died November 8, 1947, and a public school in Indianapolis was named in his memory.
Byron Kenneth Armstrong of Westfield, Indiana, entered Howard University in 1909, met Elder Watson Diggs, and with Diggs transferred to Indiana University in the fall of 1910. By 1914, he had earned his master’s degree from Columbia University. His early and continuing efforts in the Fraternity interest earned him the Laurel Wreath in 1935. In 1940, he was granted the Doctor of Philosophy degree by the University of Michigan.
Guy Levis Grant was born in New Albany, Indiana, the third of Robert and Lucy Grant’s thirteen children, five of whom became members of Kappa Alpha Psi. After the death of his father, Guy became head of the household and assumed responsibility for the education of himself and his younger brothers. After finishing high school, Guy entered Indiana University and graduated with the bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1915. In 1920, he received the D.D.S. degree from the school of dentistry. He collected and guarded the precious source material which eventually became the factual, supportive base for the history. He was named Grand Historian Emeritus.
Ezra D. Alexander was a native of Bloomington. Having been born and reared in that southern Indiana town, Ezra had first hand acquaintance with the bias that led to the establishment of Kappa Alpha Nu. Being a student at the University, from which he received his bachelor’s and M.D. degrees in 1917 and 1919, he knew and learned to live with the existing social conditions. He was the non-voting member of the Grand Board of Directors until his death on September 29, 1971.
Edward G. Irvin was born in Spencer, Indiana, and graduated from Kokomo High School in 1910. In the fall of that year, he entered the University, became a Founder of Kappa Alpha Nu, and served on the Fraternity’s Incorporation Committee. After leaving Indiana, Irvin pursued a journalistic career. After World War I, he served on the staff of the Indianapolis Freeman. In March of 1922, he established The Shining Star, a weekly newspaper in Anderson, Indiana. Irvin became the most beloved Kappa man of the seventies and eighties. He wore the Laurel Wreath.
Paul W. Caine entered the University from Greencastle, Indiana. His pleasant disposition soon won many friends in the Greek letter houses where he worked as a cook or housekeeper. These friendships enabled him to gain information that contributed to the organization of Kappa Alpha Nu. In later years, Caine operated his own catering service in Evanston, Illinois. He died in 1922.
Marcus Peter Blakemore was born in Franklin, Indiana, and attended the public schools of Anderson. He was graduated in 1909 and entered the University in the fall of 1910. A rugged individual, Blakemore was determined to make a place in life for himself. As a roommate of Byron Armstrong, he became enthusiastic about the new Fraternity and contributed significantly to Kappa Alpha Nu. After leaving the University in 1911, Blakemore organized the Electric Engineering Company which he operated until he enlisted in World War I. He received his D.D.S. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1923 and practiced until his death on October 9.
Henry T. Asher was born in Woodburn, Kentucky, June 29, 1890, and moved to Bloomington where he graduated from high school in the spring of 1910. In June of 1914, he was granted the Bachelor of Arts degree by Indiana University. After one year of teaching at Lincoln Institute, Jefferson City, Missouri, Asher entered the graduate school at the University of Illinois for the 1915-1916 school year, but received the Master of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1917. In 1928, he was awarded the LL.B. degree by the Detroit College of Law. Asher died March 5, 1963.
John Milton Lee, a personable, confident graduate from the Danville, Indiana high school entered the University in 1910 where he competed three years of pre-medical study. As told elsewhere in this Story, Lee was from the beginning an active and interested participant in the founding of Kappa Alpha Nu. In 1915, he attended Temple University. In 1918, he enlisted in the 349th Field Artillery and served overseas as a sergeant first class and gunner. His was the first all black battery to open fire on an enemy. John Milton Lee was associate editor of Modern Artillerymen, the official record of Battery F. 349th Artillery. He died January 8, 1958.
Little was known of the Fraternity’s tenth Founder, George Edmonds, other than he was from Vanderburg County near Evansville, Indiana, and entered Indiana University in the fall of 1910, until his family and grave were discovered in Evansville, Indiana in 1978.