The History of Alpha Sigma Chi


Alpha Sigma Chi was founded sub rosa at Rutgers in 1871-72. It had begun as a schoolboy organization called "S.A.C." when several friends attended a preparatory school at Blairstown, NJ. Among these were Louis la Tourette, who died while attending Lafayette College, Elbridge Van Syckel, who went to Rutgers, and Ellis D. Thompson, who went to Cornell.

Syckel and some other started the Alpha chapter of Alpha Sigma CHi. Thompson started Beta chapter at Cornell in February 1874. Gamma at Stevens was begun in February 1875. A sub rosa chapter was started at Princeton in June 1875, but it never did well and soon became inactive. Though it was revived in 1876, it was but nominally existent by 1879. The epsilon chapter was begun at St. Lawrence in the autumn of 1875, absorbing a local society originally called the "Five Liars," then the "P.D. Club" which had started in 1872. A well-attended national convention was held in 1876 in Hoboken, site of the Stevens chapter. Zeta chapter was started in May 1877 at Columbia, but dissention arose in the fall of 1878, and the chapter was expelled. A local society called the "E.C. Society" at Maine petitioned, and was established in May of 1878 as the Eta chapter. Nevertheless, in 1878-1879, the fraternity was not prosperous, and the stage was set for a dramatic scene...

The time: 1879. Not even Beta Theta Pi, the pioneering fraternity, had not not yet published her constitution (though she was about to do so), nor did fraternities trust each other much. There were a few magazines, but the occassional mention of other greeks was rarely complimentary.

Therefore, someone trying to get information about a secret greek organization would have been deemed impossible.

The place: The stevens chapter of Alpha Sigma Chi. This fraternity, then actively existing in five chapters - Rutgers, Cornell, Stevens, St. Lawrence, and Maine - was not yet dying, but she was not in good health.

Engter a unique individual, a member of Alpha Sigma Chi, an engineer with a legal slant to his mind. Recently elected to the leadership of Alpha Sigma Chi, he evaluated the state of his fraternity and found little hope if matters would be allowed to continue as they were. He determined that the only real expectatio for survival would be to ally with another large fraternity, perhaps losing some external insignia, but preserving the friendships and the inner and mystical bonds already existing. Nevertheless, how to find one? He set out to study the question, and his research resulted in a book now in its 20th edition. His conclusion: one fraternity was unquestionably better, using any applicable measurement.

The man was William Raymond Baird, and he decided, in a matter of speaking, to rush his entire fraternity into Beta Theta Pi. He knew about our magazine, he knew of the various difficulties we had faced and overcome. From outside, he felt the strength of the fraternal bonds. He had to be a Beta, and have every one of his brothers become Beta brothers. Could Beta resist someone who was persistent enough to research the shy greeks of yesteryear? No, she welcomed the entire fraternity - active and alumnus - thereby advancing into the East, where Beta chapters were sparse, and forming a new district, of which Baird was made district chief.