Organized in Follansbee in 1931, the Theta Chi Alpha Fraternity has become one of the more active organizations in the city’s history. Its goal is to create harmony and brotherhood among the youth of American Italian descent and encourage the highest standards of the social and moral character of its members.
Over the years the Fraternity has supported nearly every enterprise that has to do with the improvement of Follansbee. Among its founding members were the D’Aurora brothers – Mino, Domenic and John, Phillip Weeda and others mentioned in this article.
The following are some of the Theta Chi Alpha events that occurred during the fraternity’s first decades. On May 7, 1936, the Fraternity held its annual Parents-Son banquet. The affair was held at Penn Street Hall then located next to the City Building. Toastmasters for the event were John Ciccolella and Frank Vagnozzi, “the former speaking in English, and the latter using the Italian tongue.” The Beta chapter colors of gold and blue were predominating throughout the hall.
The speakers and their subjects were as follows: “Hugo Broccolini, “Fraternalism,” Mino D‘Aurora, “Mother,” Pete Cilone, “Origin & History of Beta Chapter,” and Domenic D‘Aurora, “Relationship of Parents-Sons.” The pledges also presented a program of entertainment including Nick Fuscardo, Master of Ceremonies; Tony Bellanca, banjo and vocal solos; Fred Bellanca, poem on “Mother”; Pete Ferrelli, “History of Pledges”; and finally the Pledges sang a group song.
During fall 1936, Theta Chi Alpha held their 6thannual dinner-dance. Following the September business session, president Hugo Broccolini announced that a dance was scheduled to occur in the city park community house on Saturday, Oct. 3rd. August DiMarzio was chairman of the planning committee, with Louis Basil and Angelo Ciccolella assisting. Other activities scheduled were dances for the fall and winter seasons and rehearsals for the fraternity’s annual minstrel.
A large number of delegates were also planning to attend the Theta Chi Alpha convention at Steubenville. In addition, the fraternity expected to be involved in numerous social and civic projects as part of a busy season. At the time, the fraternity had 32 active members and eight inactive ones. John Ciccolella was recently elected as the new vice president. Other officers consisted of Pete Cilone, secretary: Donald D’Aurora, treasure: and Mino D’Aurora, historian and grand chapter chairman.
In December 1936, the Theta Chi Alpha Fraternity and the Men’s Civic Club planned a joint Jubilee and Minstrel venture. Promoted as the fourth annual “Dixieland Minstrels & Monster Amateur Jubilee,” the performances occurred during January 15-16 at the high school auditorium. The Civic Club arranged to present amateurs and was looking for local talent. The joint profits were used for community improvements.
During the weekend of July 3-4 1937, the annual S.M.S. Garibaldi Days festival was planned with the Theta Chi Alpha Fraternity as the co-host. A joint planning meeting met at Hugo Broccolini’s home on Main street with Angelo Iannucci, Frank Gaudio, Nickolas Cosenza, Frank DeSantis, Joseph Basil and (chairman) Joseph Tost.
During World War II, the Theta Chi Alpha answered the call to serve our country. The Follansbee chapter honors its members who served, especially Eddo Ciccolella, who was killed in the War. His memorial picture at the lodge reads: “He gave his life so that others could live In Freedom.”
During the 1946 welcome home celebrations for Follansbee servicemen, brother Louis Basil was singled out by keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Robert W. Grow of Fort Knox, as typical of the soldiers sent into the world battlefields. General Crow credited Louis, who from an armored car, was first to communicate by radio with the French Army of Gen. Devers that landed near Marseille, and came up from the south, and the Army of Gen. Eisenhower that fought to achieve a landing on the Normandy beach. The Theta Chi Alpha continues to serve the city of Follansbee.
- Follansbee Review, “Local Fraternity To Honor Mothers,” May 7, 1936.
- Follansbee Review, “Theta Chi Alpha To Hold Dinner-Dance,” Sep. 17, 1936.
- Follansbee Review, “Jubilee, Minstrel Committees Active,” Dec. 3, 1936.
- Follansbee Review, “To Hold Annual Garibaldi Festivities,” Ap. 1, 1937.
- Steubenville Herald-Star, “Record Parade Staged..” Aug. 19, 1946. p.1. (Louis Basil recognized by General Crow.)
- Louis Headman provided historical information regarding the Theta Chi Alpha Fraternity, July 2017.