Evansville DeMolay

Evansville Indiana

History

What is DeMolay International?

DeMolay is an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives. Basing its approach on timeless principles and practical, hands-on experience, DeMolay opens doors for young men aged 12 to 21 by developing the civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills so vitally needed in society today. DeMolay combines this serious mission with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.
DeMolay alumni include Walt Disney, John Wayne, Walter Cronkite, football Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton, legendary Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, news anchor David Goodnow and many others. Each has spoken eloquently of the life-changing benefit gained from their involvement in DeMolay

History of the Organization | Nine Boys & A Man

It has been said that a day can be changed or a great moment launched by a single phone call.

Such a call came in January of 1919. As Frank answered the telephone he recognized the voice of Sam Freet, newly installed Senior Warden of Ivanhoe Lodge. "Frank, I have a favor to ask. One of our members, Elmer E. Lower, who had been initiated as a Fellow Craft, died a year ago. Could you find a part-time job for the oldest boy, Louis? He is one of the finest young men I have ever seen.

"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 an 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 of Christian Science 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."

It was not until the middle of February that the opportunity for such a meeting took place. "Louis," said Mr. Land, "who do you run around with?"

"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 Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 "Mr. Land, tell us something connected with Masonry. They must have great names and we are meeting here in one of their buildings."

Frank smiled, "This year I am serving as the head of one of the Masonic Groups. I am the Commander for the DeMolai Council of Kadosh. There are many names and stories directly connected with Masonry, but I think I should tell you about the last leader of the Knights Templar. His name was Jacques DeMolay or as they say in history books, James of Molay."

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 Mr. 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 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 Mr. 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 grew it did. DeMolay continued its growth initiating new member 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 Emblem | A Work of Art

DeMolay International sought to have a benefiting piece of art commissioned in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the founding of DeMolay. Such a piece was brought to reality in vibrant colors by renowned Midwest artist, Aaron Presler.

The piece was first unveiled at the 75th Anniversary Session the International Supreme Council of DeMolay, held in Kansas City, Missouri, in June 1994. It was met with a great deal of adoration for its great detail and fine work.

The original piece, now on permanent display at DeMolay International, was done in a variety of art mediums including colored pencil, charcoal, water color, and air brush. This unique piece depicts many subtleties involving the history of DeMolay and its founding by Dad Frank S. Land.

There are obvious items of remembrance in the portrait, including a likeness of Jacques DeMolay in Knightly Robes; a miniature portrait of Frank Marshall, author of the DeMolay rituals; a sketch of “Hi, Dad!”, a book referencing the history of DeMolay and biography of Dad Land; a sketch of the Chevalier medallion and cordon; a depiction of the Scottish Rite Temple where DeMolays first met; drawings of membership cards throughout the years; and a detail of the stained glass window depicting a young boy first kneeling at an altar and assuming his vows as a member of DeMolay.

The subtle images show Frank Land as a man devoted to his country, Masonry, and his love of art. The American Flag that blends into Dad Land’s suit coat illustrates his love of country. His love of Masonry is revealed by the Masonic emblems that can be found. Besides the prominent Square and Compass, one can locate Land’s Shrine lapel pin with five stars for his service as Imperial Potentate. Also, Dad Land is wearing his 33rd Degree Scottish Rite ring.

Perhaps the most subtle aspect of all can be picked up by DeMolay historians. The four DeMolay Emblems shown in the artwork each have a date above them. These dates show when the emblems were first created and when they were used by DeMolay as its official emblem. The date above the first emblem reads 1910. How could this be, when DeMolay wasn’t founded until 1919?

The answer can be found in Dad Land’s background. Dad Land loved art. In fact, he was a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute. Dad Land designed each of the official DeMolay emblems. 1910 is when Dad Land actually designed the first DeMolay emblem prior to even thinking about starting a club for boys. He did so as an art student. The incident is touched upon in the book “Hi, Dad” on pages 40 and 41.

“One evening, Frank arrived home in a state of eager excitement. He had just thought of a solution to a problem that had been in the back of his mind for a long time. His wife welcomed him at the door of their apartment to be surprised at his greeting of ‘Nell, where is the picture I painted a long time ago of a Heraldic Shield? You know, the one I drew in Art School …’

Nell thought for a while. ‘I believe I can find it, Frankie,’ she said, and after some delay, brought it into the living room. Frank looked at it from every angle, placed in on a chair to view if from a distance, and exclaimed, ‘it’s perfect. It is just what we need for our emblem … Look at it! There are even ten jewels surrounding the shield.’ He thought for a while. ‘It seems to me that the jewels should personify something and have greater meaning than just serving as ornaments.’

‘What do you suggest?’

Land seemed lost in his world of dream and finally answered, ‘I believe they should signify the first of our boys, Louie Lower and the other eight who came with him on that first night that now seems so long ago.’

‘But that is only nine,’ questioned Nell. ‘How about the tenth jewel?’

Slowly Frank turned to her, took her hand in his, and with deep emotion replied, ‘the tenth jewel will stand for me as the Founder of the group. I will always be proud of becoming in this way a part of the symbolic organization of DeMolay.’ Slowly he continued, ‘In the years to come, each of us will enter into the adventure beyond this life. Then the color of each jewel, in turn, can change from white to red. Years from now, there will be ten rubies to give testimonial that in the beginning there were ten who shared a dream together.’”

Today, there are no remaining pearls. All ten pearls have now changed to rubies at the request and wishes of Dad Land. Another interesting fact about the first DeMolay emblem is that it was only used for about eight or nine months in 1919 because the boys had problems figuring out what the round object on top
of the shield was. In response, Land turned the helmet sideways and added the second sword. Below are the emblems and dates they were used.


Our Namesake | Jacques 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, Guy of Auvergne, 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.


Our Founder | Frank Sherman Land

The Order of DeMolay was founded in 1919, in Kansas City, Missouri, by a young man named Frank S. Land. Land was a community leader who, at the age of 28, already had a successful business career as a restaurateur behind him.

The main event that lead to the founding of the DeMolay movement was World War I. This was a time when the nation was caught up with a passion and desire to bring democracy to the world. When the United States joined in the fight against German power, every resource of men and materials was poured into the war effort. America suffered not only the loss of its men who had fallen in battle, but on the homefront as well. A positive response to this critical situation came about with the development of many charitable organizations. Frank S. Land was selected to act as the director of the Masonic Relief and Employment Bureau of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. This charity would come to help hundreds and hundreds of families.

Near the end of the war, Land became concerned with the problems of boys who had lost their fathers. He thought "how lonely it must be for a boy not to have a man to talk with, or a man to provide some type of inspiration and direction." Frank decided there was a need for an organization where boys would have the opportunity to associate with other boys, a place they could share common interests, learn responsibility and other skills that would benefit them throughout their lives. His ideal model for this organization included having business or professional men, Masons, taking interest in the young people, being a friend to them, advising them, and perhaps even providing them with employment opportunities.

In March, 1919, Land met with young Louis Lower. Louis' father had died, leaving the young man without a father figure in his life. Land took the time to listen to Louis, learn about his dreams, and to help him. He learned that others, like Louis, sought companionship, leadership, inspiration and competition. He asked Louis to invite some friends to a meeting, the original group of nine DeMolays: Louis G. Lower, Ivan M. Bentley, Edmund Marshall, Gorman A. McBride, Jerome Jacobson, William W. Steinhilber, Elmer Dorsey, Clyde C. Stream, and Ralph Sewell. At the second meeting, there was a total of 31 young men present. They were excited about their new club!

The group needed its own identity and its own name. After Dad Land related the story of Jacques DeMolay, the group decided to name itself for this historical figure connected with Masonry.

Dad Land, as he came to be called, provided the philosophy and principles to be embodied. As interest in DeMolay spread, Land answered many requests for information and authority to start chapters. Initiations and ceremonies took place in all locations. By the fall of 1920, Mother Chapter had developed activities for its members as well. These included an outstanding baseball team, a DeMolay marching unit, and even a 100-piece band!

By the end of 1921, Dad Land realized he had to devote full time to this new organization and become a full time DeMolay employee. As DeMolay chapters grew in numbers and strength, the organization as a whole grew in prestige. With this greater prestige, interest developed in the Masonic fraternity. Official recognition and approval by Masonic groups began giving their seal of approval to foster DeMolay in their states. Many distinguished organizations endorsed DeMolay including the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Grand Lodges, Knights Templar, etc.

A devoted champion of Freemasonry and of its teachings, Land would become a figure of international prominence within Masonry, eventually becoming Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America. He counted among his friends U.S. Congressmen, state governors, movie and radio stars, military leaders, leaders of industry, Presidents of the U.S. and a veritable legion of young men in their teens.

Dad Land worked tirelessly for the Order of DeMolay until his death on November 8, 1959. Hundreds of other devoted workers aided in the creation and extension of the Order of DeMolay, but looked to one man for guidance. Frank S. Land was the charismatic leader of the Order. Frank S. Land was truly a great man, a proud American, and a person who came to be known by millions, simply as "Dad". Frank Land's life touched, and continues to impact generation after generation of young people, young men looking to better themselves by emulating the lessons and examples by which he himself lived.

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