It was a typical morning at the National Headquarters. Staff member Jane Landstedt, now Alumnae Engagement Specialist, had settled in her office chair with a cup of herbal tea in hand (a morning must for Jane). Her concentration was high as she responded to emails that always seemed to hold the most fascinating questions about Phi Mu’s history. It was without surprise that Jane’s phone rang. In her typical Phi Mu fashion she answered, “Good Morning, this is Jane, how may I be of assistance to you?” Within seconds, her grin grew large and her eyes lit up in hopes that what she was hearing was true. There was no doubt that this call had piqued her interest. After hanging up the phone, Jane described the conversation in detail.
The lady on the other end of the telephone was named Sammie Culbert. Sammie had been busy cleaning out items that belonged to her late aunt, Marilyn Cepeda, when she stumbled across a jewelry box full of gold pieces. Neither Sammie nor her aunt Marilyn was a member of Phi Mu Fraternity, however Sammie once initiated as a member of a Greek organization and therefore knew this badge held significance. After a quick Google search using the term “Les Soeurs Fideles” (which was located on the front on the badge), Sammie found that this item once belonged to a Phi Mu. Sammie explained to Jane that her aunt Marilyn’s favorite hobby included visiting estate sales pretty consistently, her main motivation – to find antique gold jewelry. Because she shared the love for fraternity/sorority life, Sammie knew the badge needed to be returned home, once and for all.
A few days later on July 20, 2012, a package arrived at the National Headquarters postmarked days earlier from Sammie Culbert. It wasn’t until after the back of the badge was examined that it was discovered this piece of jewelry once belonged to Sallie B. Persons, an original member of the Philomathean society at the Alpha Chapter at Wesleyan College. Sallie was born in Columbus, Ga. in 1837, the daughter of Sarah Berry & Dr. James T. Persons. She graduated from Wesleyan in 1854, and soon after, married John H. Bass, an Alabama planter. She was the mother of eight and adopted two other children. She lived near Hurtsboro, Ala. Sallie’s badge now resides in the Phi Mu museum and it is without a doubt one of Jane’s favorite stories to share. Phi Mu is thankful to both Sammie and Marilyn for reaching out to the Fraternity and allowing the national organization the opportunity to preserve such an amazing piece of history. If you or anyone you know are looking to find a forever home for our cherished Phi Mu items, please consider donating them to the Phi Mu museum. Items can be sent to: Phi Mu Fraternity; 400 Westpark Drive; Peachtree City, Ga 30269.