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 

Patterson, Frederick D. (“Pat”) (D.V.M., 1923; M.S., Agriculture, 1927)

Headshot of Frederick D Patterson

By Brad Kuennen, Iowa State University Vet Med and Animal Science Librarian

Born October 10, 1901, in Washington, D.C., Patterson was the youngest of six children born to William Ross and Mamie Brooks Patterson. Tragically, both of his parents would die from illness before Patterson turned two years old.

When his oldest sister, Wilhelmina, graduated from the Washington Conservatory of Music sometime around 1908, she moved to Texas to start her career in music education taking young Frederick Patterson with her. She worked at several different schools in Texas and Oklahoma, and used any extra money she had to pay for her brother’s education. Eventually she landed a job teaching music at Prairie View State Normal School and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University) and Patterson, who had been staying with relatives up to this point, moved in with her and enrolled at the school.

It was at Prairie View that Patterson first became interested in veterinary medicine. During his junior and senior years, Patterson spent many hours with the young school veterinarian, Edward B. Evans, who had just earned his DVM from Iowa State College (now University). He encouraged Patterson to pursue a career in veterinary medicine and recommended Iowa State to him. 

Patterson arrived in Ames, Iowa, during the late summer of 1919 and enrolled at Iowa State. Four years later, in the spring of 1923, he had earned his DVM. He accepted a position teaching agriculture at Virginia State College and worked there for nearly five years. While at Virginia State, Patterson received a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation General Education Board to pursue an advanced degree. He was granted leave from his teaching position and returned to Iowa State where he completed his M.S. in veterinary pathology in 1927. He returned to Virginia to take up his teaching role again, but was soon contacted by Tuskegee Institute (now University) about a teaching position there.

Patterson accepted the position to teach agriculture and animal science courses and also to act as the school’s veterinarian. He was again offered a fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation General Education Board to pursue an advanced degree and this time chose Cornell University, where he completed his Ph.D. in bacteriology in 1932. Shortly after returning to Tuskegee, the Director of the Agriculture Division was murdered, and Patterson was put in charge of the agriculture program. When President Robert Moton announced his retirement, the Tuskegee Board of Trustees tapped Patterson to serve as the third president of the school. At his inauguration ceremony that fall, Patterson had just turned 34.

During Patterson’s tenure as president, Tuskegee would face severe budget problems due to the Depression and then a World War. However, he managed to grow the academic programs at the school, oversaw the transition of Tuskegee from a technical institute to an academically diverse university, and established a different approach to fundraising which positively impacted nearly all historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country. 

With the assistance of his mentor, Edward B. Evans, and a team of dedicated instructors, Patterson established Tuskegee’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 1945. It remains the only school of veterinary medicine at an HBCU and is estimated to have trained 70 percent of African American veterinarians in the United States. In addition, Patterson established a commercial aviation program in 1939, giving students the opportunity to earn a commercial pilots license. The school would also be home to a military aviation training program during the war whose pilots, the famed Tuskegee Airmen, would earn a stellar record and reputation. During his tenure, Patterson also oversaw the creation of the school of engineering and the program in commercial dietetics.


Biography available at  HBCU Connections at Iowa State University  Frederick D. Patterson ( http://hbcuconnections.iastatedigital.org/Frederick_D._Patterson

Fraser, James Wilbur (“Jimmy”)  (B.S., Electrical Engineering, 1924)

Headshot of James Wilbur Fraser

James Wilbur (“Jimmy”) Fraser was born 6 March 1901 in South Carolina to James W. Fraser, Sr., a house contractor,  and Catherine Gourdine Fraser. A class of 1924 electrical engineering major, Fraser was an avid boxer at Iowa State College and, by October 1923, he was President of the Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha (Tutt, 1923). Additionally, according to J. R. Otis, in Chronicles of Faith, he was an original member of the Interstate Club at 226 ½ Main Street, where he lived for three years (1991). 

Jimmy Fraser married Gertrude Heins in 1934. After the birth of their first son, also named James, Fraser became known as James W. Fraser, Sr., as his son took on the Jr. title. In 1935, Jimmy attended the banquet held for Iowa State Alumni at the inauguration of Frederick D. Patterson as President of Tuskegee. At that time, Fraser was reported to be the owner of Fraser Auto Repair Shop in Charleston, South Carolina.

Fraser died on 16 July 1991 in Hurt, Virginia, and is buried in the Gretna Burial Park in Gretna, Virginia.


Photo Credit: Iowa State University. (1924). 1924 Bomb, p. 89. Retrieved from https://digitalcollections.lib.iastate.edu/islandora/object/isu%3ATheBomb_42683#page/94/mode/2up

Otis, J. R. “Little-known facts about F.D. Patterson.” (1991). In Frederick D. Patterson, Chronicles of faith: The autobiography of Frederick D. Patterson. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, pp. 187-89.

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