Facts on Founders

Mayme Johnson

Mayme Johnson was born in Albany, New York. When she was 5, her family moved to Muncie, IN, but continued to spend summers at Round Lake near Albany. It was one of her summer visits that a friend there told Mayme about her high school sorority. Mayme returned home and shared the “new” idea with her friends at Muncie High School: Sue Derexa Smith, Huda Smith (Kimbrough), Mary Louise Carmichael and Ethelyn Dowell (Hinkley). The girls invited their favorite teachers to join them: Mrs. Martha Ivins, Miss Emma Cammack and Miss Eve Kessler. Mayme was elected the first President of Psi Iota Xi.

In a newspaper interview not long before her death, Mayme is quoted, “It was a very serious society. We were allowed to meet in the high school. We read books and discussed art and music, but he had no idea of founding anything as huge as Psi Iota Xi is today!”

Mayme completed her last two tears of schooling at Mrs. Hazen’s Finishing School in New York and in 1907 married Mr. Karl Oesterle.

They resided in Muncie, raising their three children: Jane, John and Lydia. Both her daughters, her daughter-in-law, a granddaughter and a granddaughter-in-law were initiated into Alpha Chapter.

Mr. and Mrs. Oesterle were actively involved in the Muncie community for many years, belonging to many civic organizations.

Mayme Johnson Oesterle died at the age of 88 in 1968.

Mrs. Martha Ellis Ivins

Mrs. Martha Ellis Ivins was born in Muncie, Indiana on November 12, 1856.  After graduating high school at the age of 16, she began teaching mathematics at Central High School.  She married Mr. George Ivins in June 1876.  Martha was 41 years old when she was approached to help with the founding of Psi Iota Xi. 

Miss Eve Kessler

Miss Eve Kessler was born in New Paris, Ohio on November 17, 1860.  In 1876, she came to live with her brother John and his wife in Muncie.  Eve graduated high school in 1879 and began teaching primary grades.  She later returned to Muncie High School and taught mathematics.  Eve was 36 years old when Psi Iota Xi was founded.  She adored teaching and was only too   happy to help with the founding of Psi Iota Xi.  Eve considered herself a  devoted Christian and tried to lead by example.  Returning to New Paris in 1904, she passed away at the age of 44.

Miss Emma Cammack

Miss Emma Cammack was born in Milton, Indiana.  She began teaching the same year as she graduated from Cambridge High School.    Emma taught English and Latin at Muncie High School and continued teaching there for 51 years.  She was primarily responsible for the writing of the ritual of Psi Iota Psi.  Her love for English and Latin greatly influenced the rituals. 

Psi Iota Xi was a large part of Emma’s life.  Through the years she watched the sorority grow, including the founding and developing of the first day nursery in Eastern Indiana.  Emma was proud to be present when the scholarships were given to the Ball State Teacher’s College in honor of herself and Mrs. Martha Ivins.  Emma lived to be 105 years old, and lived alone until she reached the age of 100.

The best way that Emma expressed her thoughts of Psi Iota Xi was when she wrote an article in the Helicon in 1947.  She wrote then that Psi Iota Xi has faith, hope, and charity, but the greatest quality attributed to her is charity, and that, St. Paul Avers is the greatest thing in the world. 

Ethelyn Dowell Hinckley

After graduation from Muncie High School, Ethelyn married Dwight Hinckley.  They moved to Mt. Washington, Cincinnati, OH where Ethelyn became active in many clubs and associations.  She attended Wittenberg College.  Ethelyn’s husband was president of Hinckley Lumber Corporation, and she served as president of the National American Lumber Association for two terms.  Ethelyn had two children: a daughter Ann Hinckley Closterman, who was married in 1936; and a son, Timothy Dwight who married in 1946.  Ethelyn lived until August 2, 1952, in Cincinnati, 55 years after Psi Iota Xi was founded. 

Mary Louise Carmichael

The first editor of the Helicon, Mary Louise had many editorials, one of which explained our new   publication.  She entitled it “Sour Grapes.” and included the following:

“The young ladies of Psi Iota Xi sorority have labored earnestly to make this their first attempt a success. They have done all the work themselves without any help from the sterner sex, and if any young man dares criticize the paper he will immediately be reminded of “Sour Grapes.”

Once the state legislature abolished sororities from high schools, Psi Iota Xi took on a new purpose.  The Day Nursery was particularly dear to Mary Louise.  She became very active in political work and later became president of the Garden Club of Indiana.  Mary Louise passed away in her home on May 12, 1935.  38 years after Psi Iota Xi was founded.  The Indianapolis News wrote after her death “Her death closes a career of good works and leaves a compelling inspiration for the guidance of other women seeking ways in which the qualities of fine womanhood can be applied to the improvements of general social conditions.” 

Huda Smith Kimbrough

Huda was born in Indiana and attended school at Muncie High School.  She was most active in the social functions of Psi Iota Xi.  Our first social function was given in her home.  The invitations were in the style of George    Washington’s time.  The invitation read:  “Ye maidens of the Psi Iota Xi Sorority do entreat ye militaire host to meet with them at candle light at ye manor house of Miss Huda Smith in ye Main Street, February 22, 1898.”  All the girls wore colonial style dresses with each wearing the wedding gown of their mothers or some other member of the family tree.  Huda wore her grandmothers dress. 

Huda later attended Miss Hazen’s Finishing School in Pelham Manor, New York.  She married Lloyd           Kimbrough and had a daughter and a son.  Travel and archeology became a passion of hers.  She often gave talks with the aid of motion pictures to friends and members of the community. 

Sue Derexa Smith

Sue Derexa Smith was born in Dayton, Ohio on December 26th, 1880.  Her family moved to Muncie in 1896 where she attended Muncie High School and the Indianapolis Conservatory of Music.  Sue’s passion was music, and it was a joy to help found an organization that included music.  She went to Prague, to continue my studies with the violin.  Sue passed away while in Austria when her appendix burst in February 1907.  Sue’s sisters, Mrs. Marie Smith Gray and Miss Elenor Smith, who were also members of Psi Iota Xi, honored Sue with a lovely concert in her memory.   They provided funds for the Sue Derexa Smith Memorial Concerts at Ball State from 1936 until 1970.  This enabled many well-known American and European string ensembles to perform at the university.