Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saving A School And A Town

The founding of Theta Xi on April 29th 1864 may have held the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute together.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [known as RPI] in Troy, New York the Theta Xi Fraternity was founded on April 29th 1864. It was started as an engineering fraternity. Founded by eight men, Peter Henry Fox who was from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Christopher Waite the son of a future United States Supreme Court Chief Justice from Toledo, Ohio, Nathaniel Starbuck from Troy, New York whose family was the local support of Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Packard from Niagara Falls, New York, Thomas Raymond from Westborough, Massachusetts, George Brainerd from Brooklyn, New York, Henry Farnum from Port Jervis, New York and Samuel Buel Jr from Poughkeepsie, New York.

The Civil War had threatened RPI’s future and in 1864 they were trying to rebuild. The factories in Troy had all but closed down in 1861 for lack of men. Then in 1862 a fire in the city burnt some 75 acres destroying most of Troy’s business section including the original campus of RPI. The founders of Theta Xi were all members of Sigma Delta, but dissension in October 1863 caused Brainerd to resign from the society. It was decided to try to bring another fraternity to the school and Sigma Phi was looked at by the men. Feeling that Sigma Delta didn't hold with their ideals the eight young men decided to form a new national society.

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