This post is courtesy of Historian Fran Becque as part of her continuing series on Pi Phi heritage.
Sincere Friendship is one of Pi Beta Phi’s core values. It is a value that was present in the very room where our organization was born. And today is the birthday of one of the two women who lived in that room.
Ada Bruen Grier was born on February 12, 1848, in Bloomfield in Orange County, New Jersey. When she was 15, she moved to Monmouth, Illinois. A year later, prior to attending Monmouth College, she taught school. When she entered Monmouth College in 1866, there were no residence halls at the school and nowhere on campus for the students to live. She and Libbie Brook rented the second floor southwest bedroom in Major Holt’s home. In that room at 402 East First Avenue, she and 11 friends founded I.C. Sorosis on April 28, 1867.
Ada later said, “None can tell in full the joys of those years we spent at Monmouth. As the days have come and gone since, the memories of the friends there have never been lost. Even many new friendships formed in other places and at other time have never replaced these of the old I.C.s”
Ada and Libbie would remain dear friends for their entire lives. Ada wrote of Libbie: “The brightest spots in my memory and the warmth of it has remained through all the years. Those Monmouth days were among the happiest of my life. My, but we had good times! Not that it was all play by any means; for college meant work, too, in these early times. The literary societies, with their open meetings, exhibitions, and contests filled a larger place in college life then than now.”
After Ada’s death on March 25, 1924, Libbie Brook Gaddis wrote, “The last letter I received from her has in it a message I will not forget: ‘Libbie – You are the best friend I ever had.’ This best expressed our deep friendship.”