Henry T. Thomas

Henry T. Thomas, Omega, 1864 (historic University of Chicago), Phi Alpha 1867-1868

Henry T. Thomas, Omega, 1864 (historic University of Chicago), was a successful attorney and publisher in New York. He was a charter member of the Omega chapter and had a life-long wish for its re-activation.

He graduated from Chicago Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1865.
Brother Thomas was president of the Henry T. Thomas Company of New York,
publishers of The Thomas Book, The Works of Alfred Lord Tennison, Venice To-day,
and other works.

Although his chapter was dormant, Thomas was a major influence as an Elder within
Zeta Psi. He was elected Phi Alpha three years after graduating college and was a
member of the committee which published the Fraternity’s second Catalogue in 1867
with 1,314 brothers’ names and addresses and an addendum published in 1874 with
575 additional member listings.

Beginning in 1882, he led the effort to establish and occupy the Zeta Psi Club of New
York on April 1, 1888. Years later, he was the prime mover in the revival of Zeta Psi
Club in 1919, when he signed up 100 resident members and opened a brownstone at
25 East 39 th Street. In addition to the Club, the house was the home of the Fraternity’s
Central Office.

Brother Thomas also had a passion “that every chapter which had not done so adopt as
its patron saint one of the greatest historical characters of America.” Since then, many
of the Zeta Psi chapters have adopted and honored a patron saint. In 1909, with the
chartering of the Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Illinois, Brother Thomas
presented a mask of Abraham Lincoln designed and signed by Leonard V. Volk in 1860
and the chapter has since that time annually displayed the mask at annual banquet on
Lincoln’s birthday.

Brother Thomas also authored three poems and hymns that were widely heard within
the Fraternity: I Cannot Tell You Why,  The Flag of Zeta Psi and Song of the Old Guard.
They appear in The Story of Zeta Psi, pages 685-687, 1932.

Brother Thomas had three cousins follow him into the Fraternity: Henry C. Jennings,
John T.W. Jennings and Frederick Stansberry.

Although he was not able to see it during his lifetime, one believes Brother Thomas
would be proud to see the chartering of the Omega Alpha chapter at the current
University of Chicago in 2013.