In the spring of 1844, due to undergraduate politics and a division in the Sophomore class, a number of men of high character and scholastic attainment did not receive bids from the two societies–Alpha Delta Phi and Psi Upsilon. So unfair, in fact, were the selections that some men who did receive bids promptly rejected them. There arose a feeling of such injustice that fifteen men resolved to form their own society, one which would be more fraternal in nature and less restricted to the limited (and, as they saw it, unfair) membership criteria of their rivals.
This new society was founded June 22, 1844, in room number 12 Old South Hall, Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut. At this meeting, the Fraternity’s secret and open Greek mottos were devised. The open motto is “Kerothen Philoi Aei” (“Friends from the Heart, Forever”). The pin and secret handshake were also devised. The DKE pin shows the Greek letters ΔΚΕ on a white scroll upon a black diamond with gold rope trim and a star in each corner. DKE’s heraldic colours are azure (blue), or (gold), and gules (crimson) and its flag is a triband of those colours with a left-facing rampant lion in the middle.
The fifteen founders were: William Woodruff Atwater, Edward Griffen Bartlett, Frederic Peter Bellinger, Jr., Henry Case, George Foote Chester, John Butler Coyngham, Thomas Isaac Franklin, William Walter Horton, William Boyd Jacobs, Edward Van Schoonhoven Kingsley, Chester Newell Righter, Elisha Bacon Shapleigh, Thomas Du Bois Sherwood, Orson William Snow, and Albert Everett Stetson.