According to a 1920 Herald Star article, the Garibaldi Lodge of Follansbee was one of the liveliest organizations in the Ohio Valley and its members were among the most respected Italians in Follansbee. As early as 1913, the Garibaldi Society was active in Follansbee. Even earlier, Italians held annual celebrations called the “Italian Festival” and later “Garibaldi Days.” For decades, Lower Enders will recall that activities began at 9:00 a.m. when folks were woken by a loud bang caused by fire works as St. Margaret’s Italian band from New Castle (PA) began marching through town. For three days, the city enjoyed parades with local high school bands, games, bandstand music, sporting contests, bingo and other jubilee entertainment. Thousands attended. When the band played the “Garibaldi March” tears came to many who loved the old traditions.
Traditional Italian contests featured morra games and bocce ball competition attracting players from local towns. While the annual three-day celebration was discontinued in 2004, the club continues to be a spark for community activities.
Early Lodge meeting occurred in private homes and later at the Penn Street Hall. The Lodge’s first building was purchased in 1940 at the corner of Main and State streets. In 1955 a new club was constructed at 650 Main Street. The Lodge takes its name from the Italian Revolutionary leader, Giuseppe Garibaldi. In Follansbee, the Garibaldi lodge was incorporated under the State Statutes in 1926. The following individuals were the charter members: Sebastian DeSantis, Pasquale Cipriani, Antonio Cocco, Liberatore Ciccolella, and Giovanmi Bitonti.
Garibaldi Lodge members. Photo courtesy of the Garibaldi Lodge.
- Mill Towns Review, “Order of Sons of Italy to be Organized,” September 24, 1915, front page.
- Steubenville Herald Star, (Follansbee Section), “Big Fun Festival,” September 2, 1920, p. 8.
- Steubenville Herald Star, (Follansbee Section), “Sons of Italy Stage Big Jubilee,” September 4, 1920, p. 1
- Mario Cipriani, Oral Interview, July 21, 2011, Follansbee.
- “Story of the S.M.S. Garibaldi Lodge,” (On-Line) http://garibaldilodge.org/