Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Finding the Founder's Cross

Here we are at Day 3 of Blog Week, and this is a doozy.

This post has been in the works for several months and I'm excited to be able to share it with you. I also hope that all of you out there in DeMolayland can help me with this project. It's something I've become quite passionate about and I hope to be able to complete in the years to come (yes, I said years; it's that big of a project!)

Previously, on this very blog, we've talked about the Founder's Cross. For those that may not know what a Founder's Cross is, we'll take the description from the 9th Edition DeMolay Handbook for our starting point:

The Founder's Cross is the most prized and highest distinction that could possibly come to anyone connected with the DeMolay movement.

The award is not a Supreme Council honor but was a personal recognition by the late Dad Land of those whom he desired to honor for their personal, consistent and conspicuous loyalty and service to him in making the Order of DeMolay the greatest youth movement of its kind in the world.

The award was established in June, 1937, and only 135 were presented up to Dad Land's death on Nov. 8, 1959. The Founder's Cross is now officially retired.

It was with that tiny block of text and a failed eBay auction, that my journey began. Over the course of my years with PA DeMolay, I've worked to recover and locate a couple of Founder's Crosses (with little success, sadly.) Knowing of my passion for this subject, "Dad" Labagh swung by the DeMolay International Service and Leadership Center in Kansas City, MO, during his last visit. He went on a hunt for information relating to this honor. With the help of Dad Frank Nordstrom, Director of Education for DI, he located a file full of typewritten papers, detailing the known recipients of the Founder's Cross.

These documents contained more information than has ever been publicly available about the Founder's Cross and the men whom Dad Land chose to honor. I devoured this information and quickly began digitizing it, putting it into a spreadsheet so that I could get a better grasp on what I was working with. The first thing I immediately noticed was the number of awards - 137. As stated above, it was thought that Land gave out 135 during his life. However, we now know that the final tally was 137. This breakthrough would be the first of many.

After digitizing the data, I began researching every person listed. Some were easy to find, as they were very prominent citizens. Others, however, have remained highly elusive. Several names only contained initials and a last name, along with a city of residence, making tracking very difficult. I persisted, eventually researching every person on the list. Now, my attention turned towards verifying what I had found and locating as many of the jewels as possible, in an effort to prevent them from coming up on the auction block or being lost to history.

With my initial investigations complete, I wrote a letter to every Executive Officer from a Jurisdiction wherein a Founder's Cross was presented, asking them to help me reconcile the information and locate the jewels. Several responded, sometimes with corrections, sometimes with more information, and in a few cases, with the locations of the jewels.

Speaking of which, the jewels themselves have turned out to contain some interesting historical nuggets as well. While at DeMolay International, "Dad" Labagh discovered a Founder's Cross jewel in the file with the documents. It was supposed to have been presented to William B. Massey, of Missouri. Massey was an involved Scottish Rite Mason and served as the Sovereign Grand Inspector General for Missouri, which is probably how Land knew him so well. The interesting part, however, is that the jewel designated to go to Massey contains the 1949 DeMolay emblem (the one we use today.) All previously known versions of the jewels used the logo from the 1930's. This indicates to us that Land had at least two "strikings" of the jewels done, one prior to 1949, and one after.

With all of this research done, I'm now turning to you, the general DeMolay public, to help me with my research and hopefully locate more of these pieces of history. If you'd like to help, or if you'd like to view the data, you can click here to download a .pdf copy of my master spreadsheet.

If you can offer any more information, such as the location of a jewel, or biographical details of a recipient, please email me at Together, we can work to restore a piece of DeMolay's history for future generations.
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony


  1. I posted the newspaper article about the first Founders Crosses, and their recipients, here:

  2. Dad Seth,

    Dad Marcelo Brito ( has two in his possession and Dad Pat King another one!