Mar 24, 2021

Who Was John Wolfe Lindley?

Who Was John Wolfe Lindley?

John Wolfe Lindley, Miami ’50

Fourth of the Immortal Six and junior John Wolfe Lindley might have shared this about himself if he were speaking to us today.

“I was born in Fredericktown, Ohio, in August 1826. Even though my humble place of birth lay between what was to become Ohio Beta at Ohio Wesleyan University and Ohio Delta at The College of Wooster, I decided to attend Miami University in the fall of 1846. I was a third cousin to Robert Morrison, so perhaps Robert had no choice but to include me in this great brotherhood experiment. When the six of us gathered that day after Christmas in 1848, I was the youngest of the lot.

I completed my studies in 1850 and began teaching Latin and mathematics at an academy in Tennessee. Later, I moved on to Charlestown, Indiana, where I graciously accepted an invitation to become a member of the Masons. However, Phi Delta Theta was always closest to my heart. Founding Father Morrison and I were known to have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning at the 1898 Convention banquet and 1899 Semi-Centennial debating our Fraternity’s direction and the news of the day. Robert could probably be credited with my fluctuation in political views as he was a Democrat. I was a Whig, a Republican, and even a “know-nothing” for a time. I wrote copies of The Bond of Phi Delta Theta until the year of my death in 1907, some still in use today. As it turned out, I outlasted the rest of my Immortal Brothers.”

Seen as a gentleman, tender, professorial, teacher, and eventual college president, John Wolfe Lindley had an open, responsive, and wide-ranging mind. A man of mild manner and balanced judgment, he always thought before he spoke. He seems to belong to the fireside on a winter night, and we can picture him now, making his points in deliberate, well-chosen words while the firelight plays on the faces of his friends. Lindley had a fruitful life.

For more than fifty years, he held offices in colleges and churches in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. The longest-lived of the founders, he laid the cornerstone of the Memorial Chapter House at Miami on the day before Thanksgiving in 1907.

Phi Delt Fact

Have you ever wondered why we call Phi Delta Theta a General Fraternity? See this 1971 post from The Scroll.

Support the Heritage Fund!

Take the opportunity to honor the Phi Delta Theta heritage this month by making a contribution in support of our General Headquarters building in Oxford, Ohio. Donate at one of our five levels to receive your Founders Day gift!

Support the Heritage Fund

Help Us Share Phi Delt News and Stories

Our team works hard to bring you the best news and stories from the Phi Delt community, but we also need your input. Whether you’re looking to share news, nominate a fellow Phi for our Pursuit of Greatness series, or contribute content, we’re all ears.

Become a Contributor

Share news and stories you think your fellow Phi Delts would find interesting and useful, or collaborate with us as a guest writer to share your insights and perspective about a certain topic.

Nominate a Phi Delt

Know a Phi Delt who is doing extraordinary things? Nominate him for for a chance to be featured in our Pursuit of Greatness campaign.