OUR HISTORY

Jacques DeMolay

Jacques DeMolay, the namesake of our organization, was the last Grand Master of the historic Order of the Temple. These knights were known as the Templars, and served as protectors of pilgrims traveling to and from the Holy Lands. The Templars were both wealthy and influential. The French King, Philip the Fourth, was envious of the Templars and wanted their wealth. He drafted up charges of sacrilege, or heresy against the church, and ordered the arrest of all Templars in France.

 

Jacques DeMolay and a few of the  officers were jailed and tortured for more than seven years. They repeatedly refused to turn over the Templars’ wealth or to reveal the names of Templars who had managed to escape arrest. After several attempts to persuade DeMolay to give up the names of other Templars, he stood true to his beliefs and refused to give up his comrades. Ultimately, this led to DeMolay sacrificing himself, 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 the basis of the DeMolay program.

OUR NAMESAKE

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 some of his friends, held at the Temple. Louis had 8 friends that he played baseball with, and brought in to form the club. These nine men are the original nine members of the Order of DeMolay.

 

It came time to find a name for this club. Frank shared many stories with the young men of inspirational martyrs that the club could be named after. The story that the young men enjoyed the most was the one of Jacques DeMolay, which they noted as heroic, loyal, and courageous. On March 24, 1919, DeMolay was officially found in Kansas City, Missouri. The history of DeMolay continues for more than 100 years, and exists internationally in more than 25 countries worldwide.

100 Years of DeMolay

DeMolay International has already celebrated 100 years of leadership and service to young men across the world. In 2023, Pennsylvania DeMolay will be celebrating our own centennial. The first induction ceremony took place in Pittsburgh on February 12, 1923, and another class took place just two days later in Philadelphia. Since then, hundreds of Chapters have existed throughout Pennsylvania, with 18 currently active Chapters.

 

Ralph Minehart, known amongst his peers in DeMolay as Uncle Ralph, founded DeMolay in Pennsylvania after a few years of interest. The Grand Commandery helped launch DeMolay and served as an early support for Chapters throughout the Commonwealth. Minehart also served as the first Executive Officer for Pennsylvania DeMolay.