Bessie Grooms was born in Greencastle and lived there until her marriage to Luther Courtland Keenan in 1895.
She began the study of pianoforte music when she was very young.
By the time she graduated from high school, she had become an accomplished pianist.
Imagine Bessie’s excitement, at age 19, when DePauw established its School of Music right in her own hometown, just in time for her to enroll and continue her study.
Adding to the excitement, her Greencastle girlfriends, Anna Allen and Olive Burnett, were enrolling as well.
The three girls attended the same grade school, high school and studied with the same piano teacher in Greencastle.
The idea of being part of a new fraternity held great appeal for Bessie. She lived at home,
and this would give her good reason to participate in college life beyond the classrooms, practice rooms and rehearsal halls.
Here’s what Bessie wrote in Alpha Chi Omega’s 1911 recording of its history: As I look back to the activities of those first days,
I find many of the ‘little things’ brightly remembered, such as our first party, when we invited everybody out to the tables and nothing was in sight but a cracker and a hickory nut,
which for some time we allowed our guests to think was all that was forthcoming!
Anna Allen remembered: When our Fraternity was new, the Grooms home was one of our places to have meetings, initiations and parties.
We were always welcomed by the whole family in the big old-fashioned home with its spacious lawn and great, fine trees.
Here we had our first big formal party—an affair so successful that
Alpha Chi Omega was launched as high in the social world of DePauw as in the fraternity world.’
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