Secret Society: Tau Eta Phi




Throughout the research for this blog, a mystery has remained. In Parham’s military records, he is recorded as being a student, but where? There was no direct confirmation he attended the University of Mississippi, now known as Ole Miss. This summer, a family road trip came across the photoed treasure. A relative produced a fraternity pin with the name P.M.Buford engraved upon the back. Through research, it was discovered this secret society, Tau Eta Phi, existed only during the year 1861 at the University of Mississippi as all the members went off to war.

The family was unable to locate any images online or references to this fraternity except an obscure historical document entitled The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History. “Greek” societies were not allowed on campus at that time and could, therefore, only meet off campus in secret. There were seven secret fraternities, Tau Eta Phi being one of them.  Only two literary societies were permitted on campus.

The University of Mississippi 1861 Senior Class Book states:

During the spring of 1861, political events interrupted campus activities, and many students withdrew before the end of the school term to enlist in the Confederate Army. Most joined a company called the “University Greys” led by William B. Lowry, a nineteen year old student. Others joined the Lamar Rifles (another Lafayette County unit) or returned home to enlist in local units.

With only four students registered for fall classes, the university closed, and would not resume classes until 1865.

Ole Miss has the patriotic heritage of a student body in 1861 which put aside education to defend their homes, lands, and country.


5 comments on “Secret Society: Tau Eta Phi

  1. Betty Ellen says:

    Excellent research!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Starke Miller says:

    There IS an 1859 catalog of students at Lagrange Synodical College and Parham M. Buford and Henry C. Buford are listes as Sophomores! It is on The Internet Archive. I have a copy saved on my computer.Type, “Lagrange synodical College” into Google and it should show up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. wayneandjen says:

    Thank you for your research. We will enjoy following this lead and in the future update our post about the correct college he was in. It’s wonderful to find other folks that enjoy studying this history as well.


  4. The name “Ole Miss” was not yet used to refer to the University of Mississippi at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. wayneandjen says:

    Thank you for your comment which is absolutely correct. I’ve updated the post to clarify that.


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