by Midnight Freemason Contributor
by Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR
|Frank S. Land|
In 1919, 28-year old Frank Land ran the Scottish Rite Masons Relief Committee in Kansas City. As the successful program grew, Land hired 17-year old Louis Lower to help with its increasing workload. Louis had just lost his father. Land understood how much Louis missed his father due to his separation from his own Dad as a youth. He was so impressed with young Louis that in February 1919, he suggested forming a club at the Scottish Rite temple in Kansas City for Louis and some of his friends. Over the course of the next week, Louis rounded up eight friends to become members. Those nine boys and Frank Land met for the first time on February 19, 1919, having no clue that their little "club" would eventually become a worldwide organization known as DeMolay International.
Land named the order after Jaques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar who was martyred under the reign of France's Phillip the Fair. When DeMolay refused to admit to the charges Phillip and a corrupt Pope had manufactured against him, he was burned at the stake on March 18, 1314.
Much is known of Frank Land, who in his day became world famous as the founder of DeMolay. Less is known, however, of the original nine boys even though their memory is revered within the order. Today they are all gone.
Originally ten pearls surrounded the crest on the DeMolay pin. Frank decreed that as he and each of the nine Brothers passed away, the Brother's pearl would be replaced with a ruby.
With a bit about each of the original DeMolays, the rubies appeared in this order:
Ivan Bently (March 18, 1903 – July 11, 1933): Little is known of Bentley. Until recently even his date of death was in dispute. Early DeMolay records show he died in 1921. In fact, he was killed in an accident in 1933, when he became the first ruby on the crest. His only known accomplishment - he was one of the first DeMolays to earn the Chevalier honor. Bentley is buried in Kansas City's Forest Hill cemetery with his parents.
Louis Lower (February 2, 1902 – July 18, 1943): The first DeMolay was born and lived his entire life in Kansas City. Having received the Chevalier honor, Lower was the first member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. He was an up-and-coming civic leader who had a significant role in cleaning up the corrupt Kansas City political machine. After accomplishing this, the mayor of KC appointed Lower as manager of the Municipal Auditorium. On his way home from a long day of work in the early July morning hours, a drunken security guard attempting to direct traffic confronted Lower for driving in the area. Fully within his rights, Lower challenged the guard for directing traffic while under the influence. The guard responded by pulling out his revolver and shooting Lower in the chest at point-blank range. The guard was convicted of murder, but served only three years of a fifteen-year sentence. Eight hundred people attended Lower's funeral, with a shocked and saddened Frank Land delivering the eulogy. Lower is buried in Mount Washington cemetery, Independence, Missouri.
Frank Land (June 21, 1890 – November 8, 1959): DeMolay's founder became the third ruby on the crest when he died unexpectedly of scleroderma, a buildup of collagen in skin and organs. In addition to his role with DeMolay, Land was Imperial Potentate of the Shrine. He held the thirty-third degree in the Scottish Rite and was awarded its highest honor, the Grand Cross. He was a great friend of Harry Truman and President Calvin Coolidge appointed him to promote his national youth program. Land is buried in Kansas City's Mount Moriah cemetery.
Edmund Marshall (September 29, 1902 – November 7, 1966): Awarded the Chevalier honor in 1920, Marshall graduated from the University of Missouri. He was the president of the Kansas City Board of Trade, an American commodity futures and options exchange. Marshall is buried in Mount Hope cemetery, Webb City, Missouri.
Clyde Stream (June 15, 1902 – May 13, 1971): Born in Warrensburg, Mississippi, Stream lived briefly in the Kansas City area, then moved to Springfield, Illinois where he worked for the Sangamo Electric Company until his retirement in 1967. A recipient of the DeMolay Legion of Honor, he was an active member of Springfield Lodge and other Masonic Bodies. He died in Bradenton, Florida and is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois.
Gorman McBride (March 14, 1902 - November 10, 1973): He was the second obligated DeMolay and the first Master Councilor of the Mother Chapter. He received the Chevalier honor in 1920 and was a member of the International Supreme Council. McBride was the only one of the original nine to receive the Founder's Cross from Frank Land. He became a Kansas City area attorney. He is buried in Kansas City's Mount Moriah cemetery.
Ralph Sewell (February 27, 1901 - July 1976): Sewell was born and lived his entire life in the Kansas City area. He became the credit manager for the H. D. Lee Mercantile Company, makers of Lee jeans. He was a skilled pianist and organist. He is buried in Mount Moriah cemetery, Kansas City.
Elmer Dorsey (July 20, 1903- November 17, 1979): Dorsey was a successful businessman who moved to Dallas, Texas and became an Advisor to Richardson DeMolay Chapter. He died in November 1979.
William Steinhilber (October 7, 1903 - October 28, 1992): He was the first captain of a DeMolay baseball team. Born in Arkansas, Steinhilber lived in Kansas City prior to moving to San Diego California, where he became a Stock and Bond broker.
Jerome Jacobson (October 05, 1904 - May 10, 2002): Jacobson graduated from the University of Kansas and was a successful attorney in Missouri. The last survivor of the original nine DeMolay boys, he is the only member of that group to be inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame. A lifetime resident of Kansas City, he is buried in its Mount Moriah cemetery.
Some may not even realize that ten rubies now adorn the DeMolay Crest and every member's DeMolay pin. They are small and many may not even notice them, yet they represent a legacy of accomplishments and the bond of brotherhood of nine young men and their leader.
Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.
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