Tutt, Harold Lindsay (enrolled 1923-25)

Headshot of Harold Lindsay Tutt

Harold Lindsay Tutt was born on 10 December 1903 to Ryle Tutt and Minnie Wynn, in Higbee, Missouri. A member of Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha while at ISC, Tutt was a fraternity brother of John “Jack” Trice. At the start of October 1923, Tutt was the newly appointed Alpha Nu Chapter Correspondent to The Sphinx, looking forward to a banner year, unsuspecting of the tragedy to come: the death of Brother Trice on 8 October of that year (Tutt, 1923). Within the coming weeks, Harold had alerted Cora to the dire health of her injured husband (Greene, 1988); joined the funeral party that accompanied Jack’s remains to Hiram, Ohio, for burial; helped to organize the program for the African American community’s memorial service at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Gater in Ames on 21 October; and reported to those assembled on the campus memorial service and the Ohio burial service (“Tribute Is Paid,” 1923).

The Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha expressed condolences when Tutt’s father passed away in January of 1925 (“Alpha Nu Chapter, Des Moines, Iowa,” 1925), and by the time of the Iowa Census that year, Harold was rooming at 2522 Chamberlain Street, the Ames home of his grandmother, Louise Wynn, mother-in-law of the home’s owner, Arthur Marshall. Living with them in 1925 were Tutt’s fellow ISC students Holloway Smith, the second African American football player at ISC; Benjamin Crutcher; and Thomas Whibby.

Tutt left ISC before graduating and completed his college career at Michigan State College (MSC; now Michigan State University) in 1927. There he sought a degree in physical education, not completing it due to the death of his fiancee (“The Onlooker,” 1951). He went on to work in Lansing, MI, as a porter in Al and Paul’s shop and, before that, The Looking Glass barber shop. According to the MSC alumni magazine, he was well-known in the community for his tutoring of African American youths at the college and coaching of Lincoln Community Center sports teams in basketball, softball, and baseball, among others. (“Necrology,” 1951).

As the Lansing State Journal reported upon his death, “[Harold Lindsay] Tutt became known as a gentleman’s gentleman and earned the affection of all races and creeds” (“The Onlooker,” 1951, p. 46). When he passed away on 15 April 1951, at St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, his death was mourned by many members of the Lansing community, Black and White alike, because Tutt was such a likable man. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Lansing (Find a Grave, 2012).


Photo credit: Alpha Nu chapter State College of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. (1923, June). The Sphinx, 9(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300903

Alpha-Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. (1925, Feb.). The Sphinx, 11(1), p. 40. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192501101

Find a grave [database and images]. (2012, Mar. 14). Memorial page for Harold Lindsay Tutt (1903–1951), Find a Grave memorial ID 86762358. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/86762358/harold-lindsay-tutt. Maintained by JLL (contributor 47314524).

Necrology. (1951, June 1). The Record. p. 13. Michigan State College. Retrieved from https://projects.kora.matrix.msu.edu/files/162-565-904/19510601sm.pdf

The onlooker. (1951, Apr. 19). Lansing State Journal, p. 46. Newspapers Online. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14055947/lansing-state-journal/#

Tribute is paid to late football star: Negroes honor dead in fitting memorial service. (1923, Oct. 22). The Ames Daily Tribune and Ames Evening Times, p. 1. Newspaper Archive. Retrieved from https://newspaperarchive.com/ames-daily-tribune-and-ames-evening-times-oct-22-1923-p-1/

Tutt, Harold L. (1923, Oct.). Alpha Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 9(4), p. 3. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300904

Wells, William Tecumseh “Billie” (B.S., Agricultural Education, 1925)

Headshot of William Tecumseh Wells

William Tecumseh “Billie” Wells was born 9 September 1891 in Solgohachia, Arkansas, to Isaac Lee Wells and Jane Gorman Wells. After graduating from Solgohachia High School, William became a self-employed farmer, according to this World War I Draft Registration Card. Enlistment in the Army for service in World War I on 27 October 1917 meant two more years away from post-secondary education. Wells was discharged on 2 May 1919. Later that year, on 24 December, he married Aubra McKindra and returned to the farm.

Wells attended Prairie View Normal & Industrial College (now Prairie View A & M University) in 1921-22, where he was in the junior Division of Vocational Agriculture. Following that, from 1923 to 1925, he attended Iowa State College, where he was a member of the Agriculture Club (Iowa State University, 1925) as well as the Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alph Phi Alpha by 1924 (Tutt, 1924). During his time in Ames, Wells lived at 200½ Main Street. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agricultural Education from Iowa State College in 1925. At the end of January that year, Wells filed for divorce from his first wife on the grounds of desertion during his time at ISC, an undoubtedly difficult situation for him as he completed his studies. When the divorce was granted, Wells married Doris Aline Hutchison on 23 March 1925.

By the 1930 census, William and Doris had moved to Taft, Oklahoma, where he took a job as a teacher and Superintendent for the Farms of the State Hospital, Deaf, Blind, Orphans, and Girls Reformatory. Known as the DB&O, the orphanage housed more than 300 African American children in the mid-1930s (“Preserving a Bit of Oklahoma’s History,” 2007). In 1935, Wells attended the banquet held for Iowa State Alumni at the inauguration of Frederick D. Patterson as President of Tuskegee. By 1946, Wells is listed in the Muskogee, Oklahoma, City Directory as a “rehabilitation officer,” and by 1957, he was a teacher at the Manual [High] School in Muskogee, where he taught until at least 1959.

William T. Wells died on 6 January 1977 in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and was buried in Booker T. Washington Cemetery, Muskogee, Oklahoma.


Photo credit: Iowa State University. (1925). 1925 Bomb, v. 32 Special Edition, p. 85. Retrieved from https://digitalcollections.lib.iastate.edu/islandora/object/isu%3ATheBomb_41631#page/100/mode/2up

“Preserving a bit of Oklahoma’s history.” (2007, Feb. 20). News on 6. retrieved from https://www.newson6.com/story/5e36891a2f69d76f6209f7b5/preserving-a-bit-of-oklahomas-history

Tutt, Harold L. (1924, June). Alpha-Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 10(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192401003

Otis (sometimes Oatis), Jesse Rodgers Delbert  (B.S. , Animal Husbandry, 1925)

Headshot of Jesse R.D. Otis

Jesse Rodgers Delbert Otis was born in Carson, Mississippi, on 9 July 1899 to Delbert Otis and his wife, Anna Sims Otis, farmers. Jesse attended school in Piney Woods, Mississippi, and, then, in Three Oaks, Michigan, where he was the lone Black student in a class of 37. Otis’s farming background served him well in Michigan, where he lived with a local farmer and dairy owner, working as a farmhand, dairyman, and milk delivery boy to earn his keep (Johnson, 2021).

At ISC Jesse Otis studied Animal Husbandry, graduating with a B.S. in 1925. He was active in the Agriculture Club on campus and also as a member of the Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity in 1923, belonging alongside Iowa State brothers A.C. Aldridge, J. G. Trice, FD. Patterson, L. A. Potts, J. L. Lockett, J. W. Fraser, and R. B. Atwood (Aldridge, 1923). In 1935, Otis reunited with many of his fraternity brothers at a ISC Alumni Banquet at Tuskegee to celebrate the inauguration of brother Frederick D. Patterson as President of Tuskegee Institute. Otis had been teaching at Tuskgee since around 1928, when he left his teaching job at Piney Woods School after three years. He stayed at Tuskegee for the next seven years (Johnson, 2021). In 1933, Otis earned an M.S. in Agriculture and Life Sciences from Cornell University. He eventually received his Ph.D. in the same field in 1944 from the same institution.

The years between arriving at Tuskegee and taking the position of President of Mississippi’s Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University) in 1946 saw Dr. Otis firmly establish himself in the field of agriculture as an expert and a teacher. According to the Alabama 4-H Center’s “In Remembrance” page, “From 1932 to 1934, he served as Specialist in Extension farm work. The next ten years found him in the nation’s capital working at the Department of Interior. Desiring to be back closer to the people he hoped to help, Dr. Otis held the position of Alabama State Leader for Negro Work from 1944 to 1946. In 1946 Dr. Otis was selected to be president of Alcorn College for Negroes at Alcorn, Mississippi” (n.d.).

Dr. Otis served as president at Alcorn A&M until 1957, when Mississippi Governor Coleman removed him from his post following a multi-week student boycott sparked by an Alcorn history professor who “wrote a series of articles for the Jackson State Times linking the NAACP to communism and criticizing Congressman Adam Clayton Powell” (Johnson, 2021).

J. R. D. Otis returned to Tuskegee Institute to finish his career as the Director of the School of Education. He married Frankie Althalyn Williams on 25 July 1959 and remained married to her until is death 3 January 1970. He is buried at Oaklawn Memorial Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.


Photo Credit: Iowa State University. (1925). 1925 Bomb v.32 special edition, p.72. Retrieved from    https://n2t.net/ark:/87292/w9rp82 

Aldridge, A. C. (1923, June). “Alpha Nu Chapter State College of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa.” The Sphinx, 9.3, p. 17.

In remembrance…Jesse R. Otis (1899-1970). (n.d.) Alabama 4-H Center. Retrieved from  https://alabama4hcenter.org/jesse-r-otis/ 

Johnson, David. (2021, February 17). 1940s Three Oaks class project reveals the story of Jesse Otis. Harbor country news. Retrieved from  https://www.harborcountry-news.com/features/1940s-three-oaks-class-project-reveals-the-story-of-jesse-otis/article_24f6c234-eca6-5d66-9d33-486bd86eeeef.html 

Potts, Lawrence Alexander  (B.S., Agricultural Education, 1925)

Headshot of Alexander Lawrence Potts

Lawrence Alexander Potts earned his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from ISC in 1925. While attending ISC, he was a member of the Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha in 1923, belonging alongside Iowa State brothers J. G. Trice, J. R. Otis, FD. Patterson, A.C. Aldridge, J. L. Lockett, J. W. Fraser, and R. B. Atwood (Aldridge, 1923). After graduation, he worked as an itinerant teacher trainer for the Agricultural Department at Prairie View Normal & Industrial College (now Prairie View A & M University) before later becoming the Director of Agriculture there.


Aldridge, A. C. (1923, June). “Alpha Nu Chapter State College of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa.” The Sphinx, 9.3, p. 17.