The following blog post was written by Brother Blake Anderson, State Junior Deacon and PMC of Elizabethtown Chapter.
Frank Sherman Land was the Director of the Masonic Relief and Employment Bureau of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. He was very well known for his work in Freemasonry, even serving as Imperial Potentate of the Shrine in 1954-55. What was his view behind the Order of DeMolay?
Land was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and gained a reputation as the "Boy Preacher” at his Sunday school at Fountain Park Congregational Church Sunday School. He became a member of Ivanhoe Lodge #446 on June 29, 1912 in Kansas City. He was honored with the Knight Commander of the Court of Honor of the Scottish Rite and created a 33° in 1925. He received the first International Gold Service Medal of the General Grand Chapter of York Rite Masons in 1951 for work in Humanities. He received the Grand Cross of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite 33° in 1955. He was the president of the Kansas City School Board, a Director of the Columbia National Bank, and a trustee of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum at the time of his death.
It was the end of World War 2, when he came across a fatherless young man named Louis Gordon Lower. Soon after, Land suggested Lower to create a young men group, an organization to encourage and give direction to young men. Weeks later, the unofficial meeting of the Order of DeMolay took place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City. Lower would become the first DeMolay of Mother Chapter, located in Kansas City. The original members of DeMolay were 9 young men and Land. The organization started as a baseball team and eventually evolved into the community minded organization it is today. Land originally set a limit of membership for the Mother Chapter to a total of 75 young men. By the end 1920 there were over 300 DeMolay members.
How did DeMolay actually get it’s name? Soon after the organization took off, Land ordered the young men to create a name for the group. After going through books that Land had, they came across a heroic figure, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, known for his heroic fidelity to his brethren, Jacques DeMolay. He was born in Molay, 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.
Since its founding in 1919, DeMolay has grown to over 1,000 chapters worldwide and over 3 million members. Notable figures from sports, entertainment, politics, the news media and the military, including Walt Disney, President William Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Fran Tarkenton and astronaut Edgar Mitchell. joined DeMolay, making it one of the most well known organizations known around the world. Frank S. Land never imagined that DeMolay would spread as fast as it did. In March of 1922, DeMolay had been established in 39 of 48 states (at the time), as well as in the District of Columbia. As DeMolay grew, so did Dad Land's commitment, he became fully involved in his once little club which was sweeping across the nation by the thousands. Five years after DeMolay started, there were 1,171 active chapters with 114,798 members. Dad Land was committed to DeMolay until the end of his days. Dad Land called to his wife one night feeling nauseous after 3 months of sickness and on November 8, 1959 spoke his final words "It is the beginning. My work must go on; DeMolay must go on.”