Joseph Lorenzo Settles was born November 2, 1871, in the little town of Lexington, seventeen miles northeast of Bloomington, Illinois. He entered Illinois Wesleyan Academy in the fall of 1896, and was known as “Dad” Settles; he was nearly 25 years old at the time. He completed the Academy coursework and enrolled in college, graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1902. After graduation, he served as a minister for the Methodist Episcopal Church for over 18 years. He then served as Assistant Treasurer of the Methodist Centenary Fund and later moved to Los Angeles as the Executive Secretary for the Los Angeles Rotary Club. Founder Settles remained in Los Angeles until his death on February 15, 1943.
James Carson McNutt was born on June 13, 1878, in Herrick, Illinois. McNutt was the first person whom Frater Settles approached with his plan for a new fraternal organization. After graduating in 1901, Frater McNutt taught school in Southern Illinois for a while before entering Washington University School of Medicine. He received the medical degree in 1905. Dr. McNutt was a general practitioner for many years and, in 1955, received the Illinois Medical Society’s gold pin for fifty years of active practice. He was a well-respected physician who helped found two nursing schools. McNutt kept an avid interest in the fraternity, as evidenced by his attendance at Conclaves, his frequent speeches at Founders’ Day and other Teke banquets, and by his joining with the other Founders in addressing the Fraternity at large. On May 19, 1962, this last of the Founders joined those who had gone before, dying at the age of 83.
Clarence Arthur Mayer, Frater McNutt’s roommate, was born on May 18, 1879 at Mt. Pulaski, Logan County, Illinois. Frater Mayer graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in 1902. Mayer was the most colorful of the Founders. He was a musician of great natural ability and exceptional training. His field was the piano and pipe organ. In 1916, he and his wife and Wallace Grieves founded the Springfield College of Music and Allied Arts, of which he continued to be the director until 1926. Frater Mayer never ceased to be an active Teke and, along with Founder McNutt, laid down the eight criteria by which a real Teke will always be recognized, codifying the creed of the Founders. When Clarence A. Mayer died on August 8, 1960, Tau Kappa Epsilon lost not only a Founder but an inspiring leader.
Owen Ison Truitt was born at Spring Bay, Woodford County, Illinois, a tiny village a few miles north of Peoria, on the east side of the Illinois River, on November 20, 1868. He was therefore thirty years old at the time of the founding. His secondary education was also gained at the Wesleyan Academy. As he and Settles graduated in the same class on June 19, 1902, they must have become well acquainted both in the Academy and as fellow freshman in college. Both were in training for, and after graduation entered, the ministry of the Methodist Church, and both held student pastorates. Frater Truitt subsequently served four pastorates all in the Central Illinois Conference. On July 13, 1929, both he and his wife were killed in an automobile accident. He was the first of the Founders of “the Miracle Fraternity” to pass into the Chapter Eternal.
C. Roy Atkinson, who was always called by his middle name, was born in Bloomington, October 17, 1877, and lived there all his life. He entered Illinois Wesleyan in 1896, and graduated in 1900. He was therefore a junior at the time of the founding and scholastically two years ahead of his fellow Founders. He was a quiet young man but a fine singer, music being the great passion of his whole life. He had a leading place in many church choirs of Bloomington, and at the time of his death, was director of music in the Sunday school of the First Christian Church. He was official organist for the Order of the Eastern Star and he played for various functions of the Masonic Lodge. He was also chairman of the music committee of the Kiwanis Club, of which he was a Past President and Charter Member. Frater Atkinson died in an automobile accident on September 14, 1930. A peculiarity of his funeral was the absence of vocal music since none of the many persons with whom he had sung could trust themselves not to break down during the service.