Stevens Institute of Technology was incorporated in 1870, and on the third Wednesday of September, 1871, the school was opened for students. The student body that year consisted of 21 students. Five semesters later, the Gamma Chapter of Theta Xi was founded. Gamma Chapter was granted its charter at the 10th Annual National Convention on February 20, 1874 to:
- Γ1 – Edgar Allen Friedman, 1877
- Γ2 – Eugene Lawrence Vail, 1876
- Γ3 – John Henry Watson, 1877
- Γ4 – Joseph Kingsland, 1876
- Γ5 – John Oscar Buerck, Jr., 1876
While Edgar Allen Friedman was a founding father of Gamma Chapter of Theta Xi, very little is known of his life. He was a graduate student while at Stevens and obtained his Masters Degree in 1876.
Eugene Lawrence Vail was born in Saint Servan, France, on September 29, 1856. He graduated Stevens Institute with a baccalaureate degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1876. However, after working as a meteorologist for a year, he determined that he was meant to be a painter. He finally received recognition by winning an honorable mention, then a gold medal, and later, at the Universal Exposition, a first-class medal in the American section. He married Gertrude Mauran on January 14, 1890, and they had two children, Eugene Lawrence and Mary Gertrude Clotilde Vail. Eugene Lawrence Vail died on Christmas, December 25, 1934.
John Henry Watson received his degree from Stevens in 1877. Very little is known of his life before or after his collegiate career.
Joseph Kingsland graduated with the class of 1876 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduation, he was employed by the Yantacaw Ice Co. and the Kingland Paper Mills. He was a mining engineer for a company at Batapolis, Mexico and was with the Kingland Paper Co. as well. He became President of that company in 1893. Although in poor health throughout most of his life, he overcame such obstacles by avoiding active business duties and spending several years in California. He died in 1925.
John Oscar Buerck graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering with the class of 1876. He worked for three years at a lighthouse in New London, Connecticut, as well as with the Scientific Publishing Company in New York. However, there are no records of Buerck once he left the publishing company until his death in 1895.
And so it was that these five men founded the third chapter of Theta Xi. The chapter first met on March 5, 1874, where Brother Friedman, Gamma 1, read excerpts from the letters that he had received from Alpha Chapter leading up to the granting of the charter. An especially interesting quote from one of these letters is:
“I suppose you have heard that we have only two chapters and in regard to obtaining a third – in all probability the last – as you can judge, we should be somewhat cautious as to where it should be placed. ”
Ironically, since then, Theta Xi Fraternity has initiated more than 60,000 members and has chartered over 100 other chapters nationwide.