ZTA's 125th Founders' Day celebration

Zeta Tau Alpha's 125th Founders' Day brought almost 300 members to Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, for a celebration to remember. The two-day event began with a day of tours Saturday, Oct. 14, and culminated with the Founders' Day Service and an inspiring luncheon Sunday, Oct. 15.

Saturday: Foundation fun and campus tours

On Saturday, generous ZTA Foundation donors, designated as 125th Trustees, were treated to a special tour of churches where two of our Founders and their families worshipped. They first visited New Store Presbyterian Church to learn more about Maud Jones Horner; her brother, Plummer Flippen Jones, who helped his sister write our Constitution and Ritual; and Grace Elcan, Alpha Chapter's first new member. Both Maud and Grace were married in that church. The second stop was the Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House where Founder Frances Yancey Smith; her brother Giles Mebane Smith, who suggested our name and designed our badge; and their family are buried. The Trustees placed white roses on the Smith family graves.

Next up were campus tours of Longwood University, with nine stops around campus. Zetas used their cell phones to view videos about these historic locations. The stops included the Historic Marker in honor of the Farmville Four, the four-sided clock from the Centennial events and French Hall, where Zetas could find their chapter's link in the Chain of Chapters.

Watch videos about each tour stop on the 125th site.

In honor of our 125th anniversary, ZTA had a brand-new plaque installed to commemorate the location where our Founders studied to become teachers. This beautiful slate plaque has a prominent place at the front of Grainger Hall. ZTA has celebrated every significant anniversary milestone with a gift to the University.

On Saturday evening, the ZTA Foundation invited everyone attending to a reception at the Farmville Train Station.

Sunday: Founders' Day service and 125th luncheon

On Sunday morning, National President Dinah Jackson Laughery and alumnae and collegiate members from Alpha Chapter conducted the Founders' Day Service. All guests were invited to attend, and the service was streamed live online. The recording was posted for chapters across the country to use in their own celebrations. Visit ZTA's Facebook to see the service.

At the closing luncheon on campus, Mrs. Laughery shared her personal reflections on this ZTA milestone. "Walking across campus gave me an incredible sense of gratitude for the nine women who founded our Fraternity," she said. "Being here and taking it all in makes me pause and ask, 'what do our Founders and this place mean to me?' I am so thankful to have been a part of our 125th anniversary celebration. I will cherish this memory for a very long time."

She then presented the 125th chapter anniversary gift, an acrylic plaque with a replication of the first link in the Chain, to Alpha Chapter President Emma Weber.

Longwood University President Taylor Reveley IV was a special guest at the luncheon. ZTA Foundation President Carolyn Hof Carpenter presented him a check for $9,000 to the university's scholarship fund in memory of our Founders.

The Foundation also donated $1,000 to both churches on the Trustee tour and $1,000 each to the Longwood Archives Fund and the Prince Edward County Historical Society. Both those organizations provided wonderful support for ZTA's intense research efforts around Farmville during the past year of preparation for the 125th Anniversary Celebration.

The most significant and surprising result of that research was finding Maud Jones Horner's original ZTA Founders badge. You can experience that amazing story in the video below. The historical society was so impressed with ZTA's interest in preserving our history that they gave the badge to the Fraternity to become a permanent part of our archives. This treasured artifact will find a new home in the Historical and Educational Center at International Office.

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