DeMolay is an appendant organization of Freemasonry that is open to young men from the ages of 12-21. Every chapter of DeMolay is sponsored by a local Masonic Lodge, and it is part of the Masonic family of youth groups that includes Job’s Daughters and Rainbow for Girls.
DeMolay was named after Jacques DeMolay who was a knight and crusader in the late 13th century and was the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. When the Knights were being persecuted by the King of France, Jacques was held and tortured for over seven years, but he would not betray his comrades. The founders of the organization chose him as the namesake for DeMolay for his bravery and his example of loyalty and fidelity.
The organization of DeMolay was started in 1919 in Kansas City, Missouri by Frank S. Land. During World War I, many boys had lost their fathers and Frank was concerned about these boys learning life skills. He was introduced to a boy named Louis Lower by a Masonic brother initially with a view to finding him a part-time job. Louis’ father was a Mason who had recently died, and Frank soon realized the need for an organization to provide mentorship for boys like Louis. The first chapter of DeMolay was started with Louis and eight of his friends who met in the local Lodge. By 1921, the Masons were interested in DeMolay and official recognition of this as an appendant organization began.
The structure of DeMolay is one of mentoring by Senior DeMolays to active DeMolays to develop civic awareness, leadership skills, and personal responsibility. Although each chapter is sponsored by a Lodge, each boy does not have to have an individual Masonic sponsor to join. Like the Freemasons, DeMolay candidates are initiated through ritual and allegorical programs.
Through the years, DeMolay has grown to include chapters worldwide. Although only 1 out of 1,000 young men in the United States join DeMolay, a large number of the nation’s leaders have been members. Some famous DeMolay members include Walt Disney, Walter Cronkite, football great Fran Tarkenton, as well as countless politicians.
What began with nine boys and one man with a vision has grown to encompass over 1,000 chapters all over the world. Through their mentorship programs and lessons in civic responsibility, DeMolay chapters have touched the lives of countless boys and helped them grow into productive young men.