Beset by the war’s legacy of poverty, only 50 students were enrolled at the time of Lee’s inauguration. As word of his presence spread, others arrived, until finally, 146 young men had registered for the college’s first post-war session. Among those first students were three of KA’s four founders, James Ward Wood, William Nelson Scott, and William Archibald Walsh. Founder Stanhope McClelland Scott, brother of William Nelson Scott, entered the college’s second post-war session, the spring semester of 1866.
James Ward Wood was born December 26, 1845 in rural Hardy County, Va., (which is now in West Virginia). It was in part Lee’s acceptance of the presidency of Washington College, and a new job as head master of the Ann Smith Academy for girls, that caused the Reverend John A. Scott to move his family from Hardy County to Lexington. The Scott and Wood families were friendly acquaintances, so Wood’s father sent his son to Washington College, not only to study under Lee, but also to have him profit under the conservative influence of Reverend Scott. The Reverend’s influence must have been strong as Wood soon became known as the ‘College Bard’ on campus by reason of his poems and essays that appeared in the campus paper and by the fact that he was known to enrich his conversation with biblical quotations. An 1866 essay that he wrote gives insight into his thoughts on the young K.A. fraternity. âLet us be just, charitable and good; let us be great by the prayers of widows and orphans rather than by their tears and lamentations,â he wrote. âLet us be of one mind and faith, let us banish all that is evil and cling to all that is good. Let us pull together and pull hard; but above all things let there be no doubt that we are pulling right.â In January, 1867, Wood was sent home by President Lee for failing to keep up with his studies. After a brief stint of traveling in the West, he returned to Hardy County to farm, where he eventually became a notary, magistrate, judge and representative in the West Virginia State Assembly. He died January 7, 1926 and is buried in the Ivanhoe Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Lost City, W. Va.
William Nelson Scott was born in Houston, Va., on September 25, 1848 and entered Washington College in the fall of 1865 at the age of seventeen. Since he had known Wood in Hardy County, it was natural for him to pal around with him and become involved in Wood’s venture of forming a new fraternity on campus. At the founding, Scott was elected president of the group and saw the fledgling fraternity through its first trying year. It was Scott who asked Samuel Zenas Ammen, who would later transform the K.A. fraternity into Kappa Alpha Order, to join. Ammen said of Scott, âI have never seen any in equal to him in charm of voice, in solemnity of manner, in dignity of demeanor, or in general impressiveness in the initiatory customs.â After graduation, Scott entered Union Theological Seminary and completed his course of study there, and in 1872, became a Presbyterian minister. After presiding over a parish in Richmond, Va., for a few short years, he moved to Galveston, Texas where he was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church for 19 years. After surviving the Great Hurricane of 1900, that decimated the island and killed thousands, he returned to Staunton, Va., where he remained pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church until his death, June 3, 1919. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Va.
William Archibald Walsh, of Richmond, Va. was born Sept. 11, 1849. He was the third man to join Wood’s enterprise of founding a fraternity and it was in his dorm room that Wood and Scott passed time between classes. The friendship that sprung from these meetings led Scott and Wood to ask Walsh to help them found their organization. After just one year at Washington College, Walsh left in June 1866 to take up his family’s business as a merchant. In 1874 he spent time traveling in Africa on safari. Returning home to Richmond in impaired health, he died two years later in 1876 and is also buried in Hollywood Cemetery. Wood later wrote, âThe principal work the first year (December 1865 – June 1866) was done in Walsh’s room. Walsh was bright and capable, and he helped me a great deal, especially in connection (designing) with the badge.â It is likely that Walsh financed the first seven badges from a Lexington jeweler named D.M. Riley.
Stanhope McClelland Scott, the younger brother of William, was 15 years old at the time of Kappa Alpha’s founding, making him the youngest founder. Even though he did not enter Washington College until January 1866, as the brother of Will Scott, he was involved in the early meetings and is considered a founder. Graduating in 1871 from Washington College, Scott went on to study medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. After receiving his medical license, he returned to the land he knew as a boy and established a medical practice. Dr. Scott practiced medicine in Western Maryland and Northern West Virginia for over 50 years. The last surviving founder, he died September 4, 1933, and is buried in the Terra Alta, W. Va. Cemetery