Founder Elder Watson Diggs was a quiet, polished, scholarly, and prolific writer. Initially referred to as ‘the Father of Kappa,’ he became affectionately known as ‘the Dreamer’ due to his profound vision to create the fraternity. He was born in Christian County, Kentucky, on December 23, 1883, and was the eldest son of three children.
He received a one-room school education in Louisville, Kentucky, where he helped teach the younger children. Following graduation from Indiana State Normal School in the spring of 1908, Diggs enrolled at Howard University in 1909. While a student there, he developed a friendship with Byron K. Armstrong.
Founder Byron Kenneth Armstrong, affectionately known as “Boomski”, was a scholar, imaginative and outspoken. He was born in Westfield, Hamilton County, Indiana, on April 8, 1892, was one of five children and was the cousin of 2nd Grand Polemarch, Irven Armstrong.
Armstrong enrolled at Howard University in 1909, met Elder W. Diggs and together, they transferred to Indiana University in the fall of 1910 where he studied philosophy, mathematics and sociology. He graduated from Indiana University with an A.B. degree in the fall of 1913. Armstrong subsequently earned a M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1914 and was decreed a Doctor of Philosophy degree by the University of Michigan in 1940. He held teaching positions as a professor at universities in Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland and Michigan and served as Dean in Maryland and Oklahoma.
Founder Guy Levis Grant, small in stature, but a giant in charitable endeavors and preserver of history, was born in New Albany, Indiana on April 9, 1891 and was the third of thirteen children, five of which became members of the Fraternity. When his father died, he became head of household and assumed responsibility for educating himself and his siblings.
Grant attended public schools in his home town, and graduated from Scribner High School in 1909, and later entered Indiana University. While there, he majored in chemistry, graduating with the A.B. degree in 1915. In 1920, he received the D.D.S. degree from Indiana Dental School, then a part of Indiana University; he practiced dentistry in Indianapolis for over 50 years.
Founder Marcus Peter Blakemore, affectionately known as “Blakie”, a man of deep religious convictions and quiet confidence, contributed greatly to education, his community, his church, hospitals and his Fraternity, was born in Franklin, Indiana on January 3, 1889 and was the eldest of four children.
Blakemore moved with his family to Anderson, Indiana where he attended public schools and graduated from high school in 1909. He entered Indiana University the following year. After leaving Indiana University in the spring term of 1912, he organized the Electric Engineering Company, which he operated until he enlisted with the U.S. Army in World War I. Blakemore served in the U.S. Army as the rank of Private with the 30th Company, 154th Depot Brigade. He was honorably discharged in August of 1918 and married Azalea Hall the following month. They had one daughter, Elizabeth.
Founder Ezra Dee Alexander, an outgoing and dedicated worker, fondly known as “Dee”, was born in Monroe County, Bloomington, Indiana on July 18, 1891 and was the second eldest of seven children.
Alexander graduated from Bloomington High School in 1910. He matriculated to Indiana University in the fall of 1910 and graduated from Indiana University in 1917 with an A.B. degree. Prior to graduation, he held positions as a teacher and principal at Indiana public schools. He received his M.D. degree from the Medical School of Indiana University in 1919. Alexander served an internship at Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1920. Alexander served in the Army Medical Corps during WWI and as a medical examiner during WWII. He practiced medicine in Indianapolis for nearly 50 years.
Founder John Milton Lee, a scholar, loyal and tireless worker for the growth of the Fraternity and because of his idealist character was commonly referred to as ‘a dreamer’, was born in Danville, Indiana on September 7, 1890 and was the third of four children.
He attended public schools in Danville and enrolled at Indiana University in 1910. He completed three years of pre-medical work before leaving the university. In 1914, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania but withdrew for health reasons. In 1915, he became a student at Temple University but was compelled to leave due to a death in the family.
Founder Henry Tourner Asher, an unassuming, dependable supporter of Negro youth, equal rights, higher education and religious affairs and son of a Baptist Minister, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 30, 1890 and was the eldest of seven children.
He moved to Bloomington, Indiana, attended public schools and graduated from the Bloomington High School in 1910. He enrolled at Indiana University in 1910, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1914. He became an instructor at Lincoln Institute at Jefferson City, Missouri from 1914-1915. In 1915, he enrolled in a graduate program at Wisconsin and subsequently at the University of Illinois, but transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he earned his MA degree in 1917. He received the degree of LL.B. at the Detroit College of Law in 1928. Asher subsequently married Celia Craig in 1936 and later met and married his second wife Bessie.
Irvin and the other Founders endured and persevered acts of racial hatred and hostility as students, then organized this fraternity dedicated to the principles of achievement and to alleviate the isolation and raise the sights of Black undergraduates. Irvin left the University following the spring term of 1911.
After leaving the University, Irvin pursued a career in journalism until World War I. While serving the U.S. Army during the War, he was a Combat Medic and was cited for bravery for his actions with the Expeditionary Forces in France. He served on the Selective Service Board during WWII and the Korean War. He received the 2nd highest medal that is given by this country for valor. He also received two Distinguished Service Awards, from President Truman and Eisenhower respectively.
Founder George Wesley Edmonds, witty in nature and an enigma to most in the Fraternity was born in Knight Township, Vanderburgh County, Indiana on August 13, 1890, as the eldest of two sons.
He attended the Carver Elementary School and Clark High School in nearby Evansville, Indiana and enrolled at Indiana University in the fall of 1910. He joined nine other students in founding Kappa Alpha Nu Fraternity. Founder Edmonds was listed as the Corresponding Secretary in the articles of incorporation of the Grand Chapter of Kappa Alpha Nu. He was one of the three freshmen, along with Asher and Blakemore, who were the first initiates of the Alpha of Kappa Alpha Nu.
Founder Paul Waymond Caine, the consummate entrepreneur, chef before his time, always friendly and displaying a pleasant disposition, was born in Greencastle, Indiana on May 17, 1890. He was long thought to be an only-child, but now known to have a half-brother.
Caine attended Greencastle public schools and enrolled at Indiana University sometime between 1909 and 1910 as a business major. He was adept at cooking and he honed those skills while working at DePauw University, where he worked as a cook in the sorority houses prior to enrolling at Indiana University. He was a fine caterer and was in demand by the White fraternities on campus and kept many of the Founding Brothers from hunger.