Lt. Col. Benjamin Piatt  Runkle

Lt. Col. Benjamin Piatt Runkle

Male 1837 - 1916  (78 years)

Personal Information    |    Sources    |    Event Map    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Benjamin Piatt Runkle  [1
    Title Lt. Col. 
    Born 3 Sep 1837  West Liberty, Logan County, Ohio, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Gender Male 
    Event-Misc 1855  501 E. High Street, Oxford, Butler County, Ohio, USA 45056 Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Founded Sigma Chi Fraternity at Miami University 
    • In two small rooms above the former location of Bill's Art Store on High Street, an integral part of Miami history and Greek history lives on due to the work of Sigma Chi fraternity.  Rob Hornback, a Miami alumnus and member of the Sigma Chi class of 1992, is proud of the museum his fraternity has maintained.  "This is an amazing rendition of life in 1855 when Sigma Chi was founded in Oxford and a great reminder of the significance Miami has played in the creation of numerous Greek organizations," Hornback said.  Oxford, Ohio is home to numerous Alpha chapters of Greek organizations, mainly fraternities.  An Alpha chapter refers to the founding fraternity or sorority chapter of a Greek organization.  This strong Greek tradition has led Miami to earn the moniker, "Mother of Fraternities," especially in reference to the so-called "Miami Triad:" Sigma Chi, Beta Theta Pi and Phi Delta Theta.  These Greek organizations, along with Phi Kappa Tau and sorority Delta Zeta, were founded here and later spread throughout North America.  The small museum holds numerous artifacts and forgotten stories that define Miami's and Sigma Chi's place in collegiate and Greek history.  The charter for the fraternity, a document that celebrated its 160th anniversary this summer, sits beneath protective glass.  Nearby is a weathered commencement program from 1856.  Bits of Oxford's past are all around as well: an old map of Uptown and yellowed photographs of High Street over 100 years old.  One display case houses a letter from the university to Sigma Chi founder Benjamin Piatt Runkle, expelling him for two months for engaging in a "personal contest" with a rival fraternity member.  Runkle lived in that very apartment with fellow founder James Parks Caldwell during his time at Miami.  Their bedroom has since been restored to its previous appearance.  Although the museum is not open regularly to the public, the fraternity is working to make it more available.  An opening will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 19.  As of now, it primarily serves as a destination for other Sigma Chi chapter members to visit and learn about the fraternity?s history.  A sign-in book shows the names of brothers from universities across the nation.  "We get a lot of visits from other Sigma Chi chapters," Hornback said.  "Kentucky, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh.  They all come here."  The fraternity also has a larger museum at their national headquarters in Evanston, Illinois.  That museum is more focused on the fraternity itself, rather than its founding and association with Oxford.  Sigma Chi is currently listed as an unrecognized organization by the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.  The chapter was removed in 2012 for undisclosed reasons, although news reports at the time cited hazing, alcohol abuse and prior misconduct to be the cause of their demise.  The Alpha chapter of Sigma Chi will return to campus in spring 2016, according to Sigma Chi nationals and Interfraternity Council President Zach Scheid.  "Sigma Chi will be back on campus and recruiting next semester," Scheid said.  "The four-year removal ensured that there were no actives remaining on campus.  It's the best way to rebuild a culture."  Michael Church, executive director of Sigma Chi fraternity, is enthusiastic about the future of the Alpha chapter.  "We've been working closely with the Greek life office, and the university has been great," Church said.  "We're excited to create a new standard for the Greek community."  While Sigma Chi works to return to their place in the Miami Greek population, its role in Miami's history remains enshrined in a museum on High Street.
      [3]
    Military Service 22 Apr 1861-21 Jul 1864  [2
    Commissioned Captain, 13th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Later promoted to Major and then Colonel. Served in the Civil War. 
    Died 28 Jun 1916  Hillsboro, Highland County, Ohio, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Buried Aft. 28 Jun 1916  Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Siblings 2 siblings 
    Notes 
    • Biography of Benjamin Piatt Runkle

      Commissioned Captain, 13th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, April 22, 1861, he fought at Carnifex Ferry and was promoted to Major November 8, 1861.  He was wounded at Shiloh and then was named Colonel, 45th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, August 19, 1862, serving in Kentucky.  In June 1863 he served on the Ohio governor's staff, and later commanded a brigade in Kentucky and Tennessee.  He was mustered out July 21, 1864 and commissioned Lieutenant Colonel, Veteran Reserve Corps, August 22, 1864.  He was on duty with the Memphis Freedman's Bureau for the remainder of the war, and he continued in regular army as Major, 45th United States Infantry and Brevet Brigadier General, United States Volunteers, and Major General, United States Army July 28, 1866.  Mustered out October 5, 1866.  Breveted Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army, March 2, 1867 for "gallant and meritorious services at Shiloh" (wounded and left for dead on field), and Colonel, United States Army, March 2, 1867 for same during the war.  He retired in 1870, was cashiered 3 years later, reinstated in 1877, and restored in 1877 "to be borne as never having been legally separated from the army (decision of the Supreme Court, May 27, 1887)."

      He was born at West Liberty, Ohio, September 3, 1837.  He received an AB degree, Miami University of Ohio, 1857 (LHD, 1899).  He married: Lalla, the daughter of Andrew McMicken of Cincinnati, February 10, 1894.  He was admitted to the bar, 1859, and practiced at Cincinnati, 1859-61.  He was editor of the Urbana, Ohio, Union, 1873-75 and was ordained a deacon, PE Church, October 1882.  Church work, 1879-1884.  Resigned diaconate, 1884.  Professor of military science, Kenyon College, 1879-81, Miami University, 1899-1901, Peekskill Military Academy, 1902-04, New Jersey Military Academy, 1904-05, Germantown, Ohio, Military Institute, 1905-09.  Assigned to duty with the Ohio National Guard, 1909.  He was a founder (grand consul, 1895-97) of Sigma Chi Fraternity, and delegate to 1st and 22nd and orator before 22nd Grand Chapters.  He made his home at Hillsboro, Ohio.  He died on June 28, 1916 and was buried in Section 1 (Grave 240) of Arlington National Cemetery.  His wife, Lalla McMicken Runkle, who died on January 18, 1923, is buried with him.
      [2]
    Person ID I36681  runkle | Descendants of Adam Runkle of New Jersey, Karen Brubaker
    Last Modified 6 Apr 2018 

    Father Ralph Edwin Runkle,   b. 31 Mar 1806, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Feb 1874, West Liberty, Logan County, Ohio, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Mother Hannah Isabella Piatt,   b. circa 1804,   d. 3 May 1839  (Age ~ 35 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Married 16 Oct 1829  West Liberty, Logan County, Ohio, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Family ID F14421  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Venitia Reynolds,   b. 9 Aug 1837,   d. 12 Oct 1920  (Age 83 years) 
    Married 04 Jun 1857  [1
    Children 
    +1. Maud Elizabeth Runkle,   b. 15 Jan 1859
    Family ID F14940  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Lalla McMicken,   b. 6 Aug 1848, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Jan 1923  (Age 74 years) 
    Married 10 Feb 1894  [5
    Last Modified 5 Apr 2018 
    Family ID F14941  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsEvent-Misc - Founded Sigma Chi Fraternity at Miami University - 1855 - 501 E. High Street, Oxford, Butler County, Ohio, USA 45056 Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 28 Jun 1916 - Hillsboro, Highland County, Ohio, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - Aft. 28 Jun 1916 - Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Sources 
    1. [S52] adamrunkle.ged, Shanan M. Anderson, Compiler: Shanan M. Anderson, (P.O. Box 207, Salamander Bay NSW 2317, Australia, 22 Jan 2010).

    2. [S538] Unknown, Biography of Benjamin Piatt Runkle.

    3. [S249] Miami Student, Sigma Chi Museum Preserves History; http://miamistudent.net/?p=17011203, viewed 27 Aug 2015, 25 Aug 2015.
      See 1855 Notes

    4. [S249] Miami Student, Sigma Chi museum preserves history, http://miamistudent.net/?p=17011203, viewed 27 Aug 2015, 25 Aug 2015.
      See Notes

    5. [S538] Unknown, Biography of Benjamin Piatt Runkle.
      Section 1, Grave 240