As the fall term of 1865 began, three Georgia Pi men
entered the University of Georgia. Their
former chapter could not have continued
since the Georgia Military Institute had
been burned to the ground by General
Sherman during his march through
Georgia in 1864. Sherman called the place a
'hatchery for young rebels.' Their school
destroyed, the three young Confederate veterans,
Samuel Spencer, George Goetchius,
and James McCleskey, determined to bring
Sigma Alpha Epsilon to the University at
Athens. All of them believed that every
chapter in SAE was dead. For that reason
they called the new chapter they organized
on December 31, 1865, Georgia Alpha; the
'Alpha' to signify 'first.' Soon, however,
they discovered that the Virginia chapter
had revived a few months earlier, so they
changed the name of their chapter to Beta,
by which name this outstanding chapter
has been known to this day. Georgia Beta
further recognized Virginia Omicron as
'acting Grand Chapter' until a general convention
could be held.
”Adapted from The Phoenix, Ninth Edition, edited by Joseph W. Walt.
The Georgia Beta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is one
of the University of Georgia’s most prestigious institutions.
SAE was the first Greek letter society founded on campus
in 1865. It is the oldest SAE chapter in continual existence
anywhere; Georgia Beta has initiated more SAE’s than any
other chapter in the nation.
Georgia Beta produced Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s first Eminent
Supreme Archon, Thomas S. Mell of Athens, three Georgia
Governors, a Georgia Chief Justice, and United States
Senator Richard B. Russell. All were Georgia Beta alumni as
is current United States Senator and Honorary Campaign
Co-Chairman, Johnny Isakson.
Countless State Senators and Representatives have also
graced the halls of the Ross Crane House as have numerous
varsity athletes and campus leaders. The legacy of the Georgia Beta chapter is strong and its history important to the history of Sigma Alpha Epsilon as a whole. I invite you to read more about our chapter history and national history by using the links to your left.