has been said that a day can be changed or a
great moment launched by a single phone
call. Such a call came in January of 1919.
As Frank answered the telephone he
recognized the voice of Sam Freet, newly
installed Senior Warden of Ivanhoe Lodge.
"Frank, I have a favor to ask. One of our
members, Elmer E. Lower, who had been
initiated as a Fellow Craft, died a year
ago. Could you find a part-time job for the
oldest boy, Louis? He is one of the finest
young men I have ever seen.
"Sam, you called at just the right time. I
would be glad to talk to this boy. Send
Louis to me, say after school tomorrow if
you can arrange it. I shall look forward to
The next afternoon Louis arrived promptly
for his interview. Shaking hands with this
youth brought a response to Land that seemed
to blend them into a common experience that
would unite them for years to come. Louis
radiated an honesty of character, a natural
aptitude for leadership, and the grace of
movement of the athlete. Frank thought, "If
I had a son, I would want him to be just
like this lad."
They talked for a while about school. Louis
told him of his aspirations for a place on
the track team, of his position as a pitcher
on a baseball team, and in response to a
question said, "I am a fairly good student.
Even with the hard time we are having, I
want to finish high school and then help
with the education of the others."
Frank responded, "It is a good goal. You
will meet the challenge. Now, tell me about
your father. I knew him but only from very
Louis hesitated as though reluctant to look
into the past but finally said, "My father
was the finest father a boy ever had."
That evening, as Nell Land cleared the
dinner dishes, she said, "Frankie, something
happened today. You look like you have found
a long, lost friend."
"Not a lost friend but a new young friend.
This boy I talked to today is tremendous.
One of the finest young men I have ever met.
He is going to work with me in the office
and I know I shall enjoy having him around.
Perhaps we could take him to church with us
Wednesday evening. The teachings of
Christian Science would be good for him and
you could meet Louis Lower."
"Yes, we should do just that," she said. "I
suggest that you have him bring a few
friends over to the apartment some evening.
I would like to meet him."
It was not until the middle of February that
the opportunity for such a meeting took
place. "Louis," said Mr. Land, "who do you
run around with?"
"I have some friends in my neighborhood,"
"How would you like to form a Club and meet
here at the Temple?"
Louis thought the idea had possibilities and
showed up the next week with eight other
boys. That was February 19, 1919.
The boys came early that Wednesday evening
and each in turn was introduced to Mr. Land
by Louis Lower with, "I want you to meet
Ralph Sewell, Elmer Dorsey, Edmund Marshall,
Jerome Jacobson, William Steinhilber, Ivan
Bentley, Gorman McBride, and Clyde Stream.
There are nine of us."
They were a group destined to form a great
youth organization and each was to advance
through his efforts and determination to
prominence in his chosen field of work.
Mr. Land acknowledged each introduction with
a handshake and word of welcome. "Before we
get down to business, let's make a tour of
this building. I think you will find it just
about right if we should decide to form a
Club and use it as a meeting place."
It was a radiant group that gathered about
the long table in one of the meeting rooms
that night. There was no doubt that they
should continue to meet as a Club. The only
question was a name. One suggested they use
Greek letters as the college fraternities
did but this was instantly voted down as
making them only a part of other
organizations. The name must be distinctive
and carry meaning. They turned to Land for
suggestions. He pointed to a recent series
of prints on the wall that showed the
adventures of Sir Galahad and the Knights of
the Round Table. There was a negative
shaking of heads.
The greatest of wars had ended only a few
months before and the adventures of knights
of old seemed far away. Then names were
mentioned from history and from the Bible.
Stories such as Damon and Phythias, David
and Jonathan and of Nathan Hale. Nothing
seemed to click until one of the boys, Clyde
Stream, said "Mr. Land, tell us something
connected with Masonry. They must have great
names and we are meeting here in one of
Frank smiled, "This year I am serving as the
head of one of the Masonic Groups. I am the
Commander for the DeMolai Council of Kadosh.
There are many names and stories directly
connected with Masonry, but I think I should
tell you about the last leader of the
Knights Templar. His name was Jacques
DeMolay or as they say in history books,
James of Molay."
The story and the name caught the
imagination of the boys. Here was heroism.
Here was a great example of loyalty, of
courage. Here was a theme from knighthood
and chivalry, at its best, and the name of a
martyr to fidelity and toleration. The boys
were ready without further consideration to
accept this name as the name of the group.
But Land interrupted, "Now let's wait just a
little bit and sleep over this. Let's not
rush into it. Perhaps with a little more
thought we can come up with a better name.
One that might be more in keeping and more
appropriate. It is growing late and you
should all be going home. Come back next
week and bring a few more of your friends.
We will talk more together about it then.
Good night and thanks for coming."
While the boys talked to Land about the Club
when they came to the Temple, it was their
long talks together at school and as they
walked from school to home that heightened
their interest and gave momentum to their
organization. One afternoon after a
chemistry class, Elmer Dorsey caught up with
Louis Lower to ask, "Louis, I think this
club idea is terrific. But what is it all
about? What does Mr. Land get out of it? Do
they want us to become junior Masons?" "I
don't have all the answers, Elmer, I only
know that Frank Land is one of the greatest.
His only motive is the one he tells us. He
likes to be with young people and sincerely
believes that if we do form such a group
each of us will benefit from it. How he ever
talked the older boys into letting us use
their temple is beyond me. They must be
interested in us as Land is, because he has
told me that we are not to be a junior
Masonic group. He told me these men are
concerned about only one thing and that is
that we should grow into decent men who will
be respected in the community."
March 24, 1919 was the day in history that
launched the Order of DeMolay. During the
next few years, however, the date of March
18, the date in the past that had witnessed
the death of Jacques DeMolay, came to be
more frequently used.
Thirty-one boys, all from the same high
school, came to the Scottish Rite Temple
that night. Frank Land made each boy welcome
and then explained briefly his ideas of a
Club. Land said, "This is your meeting. I
will serve as Advisor but it is your
meeting. Why not proceed with an
organization and elect a few officers. I
will take charge until you have completed
During the next few months the group grew in
numbers, in activities and interest. Then a
fear came to some of them that they were
growing into too large a Club.
Someone suggested that a committee talk with
Mr. Land and endeavor to convince him that
membership should be limited to 75. Land
neither criticized or admonished the
committee at the time. In fact they didn't
know whether he agreed or disagreed to their
Later when the meeting was called to order,
the chairman reported and moved that the
membership of DeMolay be limited to 75. The
motion quickly received a second and was
unanimously adopted. It was then that Dad
Land rose from the back of the room where he
had been more or less out of sight for he
wasn't the type to take the spotlight, or
the forefront in their meetings. He wanted
them to conduct their own meetings.
As he came to the front of the room that
night, he proceeded to tell them—and in no
uncertain terms—how selfish and how
inconsiderate they were. He told them that
they were operating and thinking absolutely
contrary to every idea that he had in mind
for this organization. He reminded them that
there were three other high schools in
Kansas City which had young men who were
just as capable, just as qualified, and just
as upstanding as they were. In fact, he
indicated he thought they were probably
much, much better than what they thought
they were. He said that if it was good for
one boy, it must be good for all eligible
boys. He reminded them that 'to become big,
they must be big.' The motion to limit
membership to 75 was rescinded. It was then
that DeMolay was permitted to grow and
And grew it did. DeMolay continued its
growth initiating new member and instituting
new chapters in all states of the
continental USA. DeMolay then crossed the
oceans and the organization was developed in
many foreign countries. Thousands upon
thousands of young men have had their life
enriched by the rescinding of the motion to
limit the Order of DeMolay to just 75