Jacques DeMolay, the namesake of our organization, was the last Grand Master of the historic Order of the Temple. These knights, also known as the Templars, served as protectors of pilgrims traveling to and from the Holy Lands. The Templars were both wealthy and influential, which drew the attention of Philip the Fourth, the King of France, who became envious. He drafted up charges of sacrilege, or heresy against the church, and ordered the arrest of all Templars in France.
Jacques DeMolay and several officers of the Order of the Temple were jailed and tortured for more than seven years. They repeatedly refused to turn over the Templars’ wealth or to reveal the names of their fellow knights who had managed to escape arrest. Despite several attempts to persuade DeMolay to betray his brothers, he stood true to his beliefs. Ultimately, this led to DeMolay sacrificing himself to save his comrades, as he and a companion who stood by his side were burned at the stake on March 18, 1314. This example of comradeship and fidelity are just two of the virtues the Order of DeMolay teaches.
Frank S. Land
In January of 1919, Frank S. Land, the future Founder of DeMolay, was introduced to a young man named Louis Lower. Louis’s father had passed away and he was in need of a job. Frank took him under his wing and hired Louis to work for him at the Scottish Rite Temple. In February, Frank had the inspiration to start a club for Louis and eight of his friends, which would meet at the Temple. These nine men are the original nine members of the Order of DeMolay.
When it came time to find a name for this club, Frank shared many stories with the young men of inspirational martyrs after whom they could name their group. The story that the young men enjoyed the most was the one of Jacques DeMolay; they recognized him for his heroism, loyalty, and courage. On March 24, 1919, the Order of DeMolay was officially found in Kansas City, Missouri. The history of DeMolay has continued for more than 100 years, now an international organization meeting in more than 25 countries.
100 Years of DeMolay
In 2019, DeMolay International has celebrated 100 years of leadership and service to young men across the world. In 2023, Pennsylvania DeMolay will celebrate our own centennial. The first induction ceremony took place in Pittsburgh on February 12, 1923. Just two days later, another group of young men joined the Order in Philadelphia. Since then, hundreds of Chapters and thousands of young men have been a part of Pennsylvania DeMolay’s history.
Ralph Minehart, known among his peers in DeMolay as Uncle Ralph, founded DeMolay in Pennsylvania after a few years of interest. The Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania helped launch DeMolay and served as an early supporter of Chapters throughout the Commonwealth. Minehart also served as the first Executive Officer for Pennsylvania DeMolay.