DeMolay International History
Frank S. Land
Why The Name DeMolay
The namesake of the Order of DeMolay was born in Vitrey, Department of Haute Saone, France in the year 1244. At the age of 21, DeMolay joined the Order of Knights Templar.
The Knights Templar was an organization sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church in 1128 to guard the road between Jerusalem and Acre, an important port city on the Mediterranean Sea. The Order of Knights Templar participated in the Crusades and earned a name for valor and heroism.
With many nobles and princes sending their sons to join the Knights Templar, the Order also became very wealthy and popular throughout Europe.
In 1298, Jacques DeMolay was named Grand Master of the Knights Templar, a position of power and prestige. As Grand Master however, Jacques DeMolay was also in a difficult position. The Crusades were not achieving their goals. The non-Christian Saracens defeated the Crusaders in battle and captured many vital cities and posts. The Knights Templar and the Hospitalers (another Order of Knights) were the only groups remaining to confront the Saracens.
The Knights Templar decided to reorganize and regain their strength. They traveled to the island of Cyprus, waiting for the general public to rise up in support of another Crusade.
Instead of public support, however, the Knights attracted the attention of powerful lords, who were interested in obtaining their wealth and power. In 1305, Philip the Fair, King of France, set about to obtain control of the Knights Templars. They had been accountable only to the Church. To prevent a rise in the power of the Church, and to increase his own wealth, Philip set out to take over the Knights.
The year 1307 saw the beginning of the persecution of the Knights. Jacques DeMolay, along with hundreds of others, were seized and thrown into dungeons. For seven years, DeMolay and the Knights suffered torture and inhuman conditions. While the Knights did not end, Philip managed to force Pope Clement to condemn the Templars. Their wealth and property were confiscated and given to Philip’s supporters.
During years of torture, Jacques DeMolay continued to be loyal to his friends and Knights. He refused to disclose the location of the funds of the Order and he refused to betray his comrades. On March 18, 1314, DeMolay was tried by a special court. As evidence, the court depended on a forged confession, allegedly signed by DeMolay.
Jacques DeMolay disavowed the forged confession. Under the laws of the time, the disavowal of a confession was punishable by death. Another Knight, Geoffrey de Charney, likewise disavowed his confession and stood with Jacques DeMolay.
King Philip ordered them both to be burned at the stake that day, and thus the story of Jacques DeMolay became a testimonial to loyalty and friendship.
The Title Dad
The original members of DeMolay were reluctant to Frank Land "Frank" because of their age difference, and felt that "Mr. Land" was too formal. Louis Lower started calling him Dad and the others soon followed.
The boys and Dad Land agreed that Dad carried respect and confidence, and Frank Land was proud to be so designated.
With time, the title Mom was added to recognize female Advisors.
How We Started
"Sam, you called at just the right time. I would be glad to talk to this boy. Send Louis to me, say after school tomorrow if you can arrange it. I shall look forward to meeting him."
The next afternoon Louis arrived promptly for his interview. Shaking hands with this youth brought a response to Land that seemed to blend them into a common experience that would unite them for years to come. Louis radiated honesty of character, a natural aptitude for leadership, and the grace of movement of the athlete. Frank thought, "If I had a son, I would want him to be just like this lad."
They talked for a while about school. Louis told him of his aspirations for a place on the track team, of his position as a pitcher on a baseball team, and in response to a question said, "I am a fairly good student. Even with the hard time we are having, I want to finish high school and then help with the education of the others."
Frank responded, "It is a good goal. You will meet the challenge. Now, tell me about your father. I knew him but only from very casual meetings."
Louis hesitated as though reluctant to look into the past but finally said, "My father was the finest father a boy ever had."
That evening, as Nell Land cleared the dinner dishes she said, "Frankie, something happened today. You look like you have found a long lost friend."
"Not a lost friend, but a new young friend. This boy I talked to today is tremendous. One of the finest young men I have ever met. He is going to work with me in the office and I know I shall enjoy having him around. Perhaps we could take him to church with us Wednesday evening. The teachings would be good for him and you could meet Louis Lower."
"Yes, we should do just that," she said. "I suggest that you have him bring a few friends over to the apartment some evening. I would like to meet him."
The First Meeting
"I have some friends in my neighborhood," said Louis.
"How would you like to form a Club and meet here at the Temple?"
Louis thought the idea had possibilities and showed up the next week with eight other boys. That was February 19, 1919.
The boys came early that Wednesday evening and each in turn was introduced to Dad Land by Louis Lower with, "I want you to meet Ralph Sewell, Elmer Dorsey, Edmund Marshall, Jerome Jacobson, William Steinhilber, Ivan Bentley, Gorman McBride, and Clyde Stream. There are nine of us."
They were a group destined to form a great youth organization and each was to advance through his efforts and determination to prominence in his chosen field of work.
Dad Land acknowledged each introduction with a handshake and word of welcome. "Before we get down to business, let's make a tour of this building. I think you will find it just about right if we should decide to form a Club and use it as a meeting place."
It was a radiant group that gathered about the long table in one of the meeting rooms that night. There was no doubt that they should continue to meet as a Club. The only question was a name. One suggested they use Greek letters as the college fraternities did but this was instantly voted down as making them only a part of other organizations. The name must be distinctive and carry meaning. They turned to Land for suggestions. He pointed to a recent series of prints on the wall that showed the adventures of Sir Galahad and the Knights of the Round Table. There was a negative shaking of heads.
The greatest of wars had ended only a few months before and the adventures of knights of old seemed far away. Then names were mentioned from history and from the Bible. Stories such as Damon and Phythias, David and Jonathan and of Nathan Hale. Nothing seemed to click until one of the boys, Clyde Stream, said "Dad Land, tell us something connected with Masonry. They must have great names and we are meeting here in one of their buildings."
The story and the name caught the imagination of the boys. Here was heroism. Here was a great example of loyalty, of courage. Here was a theme from knighthood and chivalry, at its best, and the name of a martyr to fidelity and toleration. The boys were ready without further consideration to accept this name as the name of the group. But Land interrupted, "Now let's wait just a little bit and sleep over this. Let's not rush into it. Perhaps with a little more thought we can come up with a better name. One that might be more in keeping and more appropriate. It is growing late and you should all be going home. Come back next week and bring a few more of your friends. We will talk more together about it then. Good night and thanks for coming."
While the boys talked to Land about the Club when they came to the Temple, it was their long talks together at school and as they walked from school to home that heightened their interest and gave momentum to their organization. One afternoon after a chemistry class, Elmer Dorsey caught up with Louis Lower to ask, "Louis, I think this club idea is terrific. But what is it all about? What does Dad Land get out of it? Do they want us to become junior Masons?" "I don't have all the answers, Elmer, I only know that Frank Land is one of the greatest. His only motive is the one he tells us. He likes to be with young people and sincerely believes that if we do form such a group each of us will benefit from it. How he ever talked the older boys into letting us use their temple is beyond me. They must be interested in us as Land is, because he has told me that we are not to be a junior Masonic group. He told me these men are concerned about only one thing and that is that we should grow into decent men who will be respected in the community."
March 24, 1919 was the day in history that launched the Order of DeMolay. During the next few years, however, the date of March 18, the date in the past that had witnessed the death of Jacques DeMolay, came to be more frequently used.
Thirty-one boys, all from the same high school, came to the Scottish Rite Temple that night. Frank Land made each boy welcome and then explained briefly his ideas of a Club. Land said, "This is your meeting. I will serve as an Advisor but it is your meeting. Why not proceed with an organization and elect a few officers. I will take charge until you have completed your election."
During the next few months the group grew in numbers, in activities and interest. Then a fear came to some of them that they were growing into too large a Club.
Someone suggested that a committee talk with Dad Land and endeavor to convince him that membership should be limited to 75. Land neither criticized or admonished the committee at the time. In fact, they didn't know whether he agreed or disagreed to their suggestion.
Later when the meeting was called to order, the chairman reported and moved that the membership of DeMolay be limited to 75. The motion quickly received a second and was unanimously adopted. It was then that Dad Land rose from the back of the room where he had been more or less out of sight for he wasn't the type to take the spotlight, or the forefront in their meetings. He wanted them to conduct their own meetings.
As he came to the front of the room that night, he proceeded to tell them—and in no uncertain terms—how selfish and how inconsiderate they were. He told them that they were operating and thinking absolutely contrary to every idea that he had in mind for this organization. He reminded them that there were three other high schools in Kansas City which had young men who were just as capable, just as qualified, and just as upstanding as they were. In fact, he indicated he thought they were probably much, much better than what they thought they were. He said that if it was good for one boy, it must be good for all eligible boys. He reminded them that 'to become big, they must be big.' The motion to limit membership to 75 was rescinded. It was then that DeMolay was permitted to grow and develop.
And grow it did. DeMolay continued its growth, initiating new members and instituting new chapters in all states of the continental USA. DeMolay then crossed the oceans and the organization was developed in many foreign countries. Thousands upon thousands of young men have had their life enriched by the rescinding of the motion to limit the Order of DeMolay to just 75 members.
History of the DeMolay Emblem
Ten Red Rubies
The TEN RED RUBIES honor our Founder and the original nine members of DeMolay. In the beginning, the emblem had ten pearls, but as each founding member passed away, they were replaced with rubies.
The HELMET is emblematic of chivalry, and inspires members to display a high quality of character.
The five-armed WHITE CROSS symbolizes the purity of our intentions, and encourages us to always remember the motto of the organization, “No DeMolay shall fail as a citizen, as a leader, or as a man.”
The CROSSED SWORDS denote justice, fortitude, and mercy. They symbolize the unceasing battle of DeMolay against arrogance, despotism, and ignorance.
The STARS surrounding the crescent are symbolic of hope, and should always remind us of those obligations and duties which one member of the organization owes to another.
1949 - Present
Legacy of the Nine and Dad Land
To learn more about the legacy of the founding members of DeMolay, click on the rubies in the emblem below. A short description will appear below the emblem.
A Brotherhood Without Borders
Exponential Growth: Frank Land never imagined that DeMolay would spread as fast as it did. In March of 1922, DeMolay had been established in 39 of what were then the 48 United States, as well as in the District of Columbia. It was then that Dad Land had the thought to spread DeMolay to other countries. He was a strong believer that DeMolay should not be limited to just the United States, and thus he set out to make that a reality. Today, we are lucky to be an international organization sharing DeMolay on 5 continents, and in more than 25 countries worldwide. Take a look below at where DeMolay has spread since its humble start in Kansas City, MO