« July 2022 | Main

August 2022

New to the Collection: DeMolay Patrol and Band Photos

2021_016DS1

DeMolay Patrol Group, 1920-1931. Museum Purchase, 2021.016.

Here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library we recently acquired several black and white photographs dating to the 1920s of Order of DeMolay patrol and band members. The order, a young men’s organization, was founded in 1919 by Frank S. Land (and is known today as DeMolay International). These images came into the collection with very little identifying information. They are intriguing not only because they depict DeMolay members from the some of the earliest years of the organization’s history, but also because they show a style of regalia that stands out in the context of the rest of our DeMolay-related collections. We set out to try to learn more about them.

A bit of initial detective work with our trusty magnifying glass helped us situate these images in place and time. In both images, the DeMolay emblem on the uniforms the members wear can be seen under magnification to be the one that the group’s founder, “Dad” Land, designed in 1920 and which the order used for the next 11 years. Beyond this, with the word “Oakland” emblazoned on the collar of the patrol members’ shirts (image at top), and “Hollywood” on the fez of the trumpet player (image below), it seems likely that these were members of California DeMolay’s Oakland and Hollywood Chapters.

As for the style of the costumes in these pictures, we have a number of helpful clues regarding their history. Land served for a time as Imperial Potentate of the Shrine, a group whose regalia and symbols were inspired by Middle Eastern designs; these uniforms likely reflect his involvement with this group, and the group's support of DeMolay. Further, a 1920s catalog from The C. E. Ward Co., a regalia maker in Ohio that was among a handful of manufacturers licensed to sell DeMolay supplies, shows a DeMolay fez for sale with the note that it was intended “for Patrols and Bands.”

2022_007_2DS1DeMolay Club Band Member, 1920-1931. Museum Purchase, 2022.007.2.

The phase of DeMolays in Middle Eastern-style garb appears to have been short-lived, however. In the Nebraska DeMolay 75th Anniversary booklet, a 1931 photo of the Lincoln Chapter’s marching band, some 40-odd members strong, shows members by and large in military-inspired clothing. The caption below it states, “Note the three members wearing Fezzes… that was yesterday.”

Regardless of the style of dress they wore, DeMolay bands and patrol groups remained popular within the organization for decades, providing entertainment at gatherings of all kinds and helping members build skills. These striking photos make for valuable additions to our collection of DeMolay objects documenting the group’s history.

If you have any objects or information that shed light on the regalia of DeMolay’s bands and patrol groups, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch in the comments section below!

 

Sources:

Land, Frank S. DeMolay Handbook. U.S.A.: The International Supreme Council Order of DeMolay, 1959.

Nebraska DeMolay Diamond Jubilee 1920-1995: A boy is the only thing God can use to make a man. Nebraska Masonic Youth Foundation, 1995.

“Where DeMolays Bought Jewelry and Regalia,” DeMolay International website, accessed Aug. 9, 2022. https://demolay.org/where-demolays-bought-jewelry-and-regalia/

“The Death of Frank S. Land,” DeMolay International website, accessed Aug. 15, 2022.  https://demolay.org/the-death-of-frank-s-land/

Special thanks to Christian Moore at DeMolay International for his research assistance on this post.


Recent Acquisition: Hill Family Masonic Collection, 1817-2019

Donations to the collection, along with museum purchases, have made the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library one of the premier institutions in the world for the study of American Freemasonry and fraternalism. The staff are always grateful for the museum’s generous supporters and donors who have helped to build its world-class collection over the course of its nearly fifty year history. Today, we're highlighting the contributions of Jon Gregory Adams Hill, 33°, who has donated numerous artifacts to the museum’s collection (see a selection here), and who has recently donated the Hill Family Masonic Collection, 1817-2019, to the museum’s archives.

2022_232_019DS1Royal Arch certificate issued to Stephen Baker, 1817 May 23.
2022_232_016DS1
Handwritten petition of John B. Hill to Liberty Lodge, 1848 November 6.
2022_232_017DS1
Letter from John E. Giddings and H. L. Foster, 1858 April 9.
 

Amongst the nearly 400 documents found in this collection is this 1817 Royal Arch certificate issued by Concord Chapter, No. 1, of Wilmington, North Carolina, to Stephen Baker; this 1848 petition of John Beckford Hill, great grandfather of Jon Gregory Adams Hill, to Liberty Lodge of Beverly, Massachusetts; and this 1858 letter from John E. Gidding and H. L. Foster to Liberty Lodge in which they pledge to “abstain from the use of spirituous and intoxicating liquors” for a period of five years on penalty of a $100 fine.

These items, which will be added to the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives’ digital collections website in the upcoming months, represent only a small fraction of the many items added to the museum’s collection, built in part by the generosity of our supporters. The museum staff is extremely grateful for the continued support of our donors in helping us ito preserve and provide access to the history of American Freemasonry and fraternalism for future generations.

Would you like to donate an item to the Museum and Library’s collection? Please click on this link for more information.

 


Captions

Royal Arch certificate issued to Stephen Baker, 1817 May 23. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 006.

Handwritten petition of John B. Hill to Liberty Lodge, 1848 November 6. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 300.043

Letter from John E. Giddings and H. L. Foster, 1858 April 9. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 300.043

 

 

 

 



An 1805 Membership Certificate for the New York Mason Society

Masonic Society Certificate 1805
New York Mason Society Certificate Issued to Ezekiel Thorp, 1805. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, A2019/010/001.

In 1805 the New York Mason Society issued a certificate to Ezekiel Thorp proving his membership in the organization. This document, signed by the group’s secretary and president, is an engraving executed by artist Archibald Robertson (1765-1835) and engraver William Rollinson (1762-1842). The images on the certificate help tell the story of the Society's purpose and work.

Divided into three vignettes, each scene on this certificate speaks to one of the group’s activities. On the far right, glimpsed behind a drape, the artist created a scene of men constructing a building. On the ground, climbing a ladder, and on scaffolding, the figures are engaged in preparing and carrying mortar and laying bricks. On the left-hand side, a man in a top hat brings items to a group of three people, a man, woman, and child—the man is in bed, his weeping family members are next to him. With an open stance, the man in the hat gestures toward the group, appearing to offer them the coins in his right hand and the sack in his left. At the center of the image, columns and an arch define the space that contains the text, red wax seal, and officers' signatures. Below the text, two men shake hands. Above them is a selection of mason’s tools: a hammer, two kinds of trowels, and a mallet on either side of a large level. Though some of the tools depicted in the center panel are used as symbols in Freemasonry, the New York Mason Society was not a group for Freemasons. In spite of having the word "Mason" in its name and featuring tools on its certificate, the New York Mason Society was an organization for men who earned their livings in specific building trades.

As yet, nothing is known of the owner of the certificate, New York Mason Society member Ezekiel Thorp. The president of the group who signed Thorp's certificate, Michael Norris, was a mason listed in several New York City directories in the early 1800s. He died in 1818 at age 45. Also listed in New York City directories as a mason, is Samuel Ludlum, who signed  as secretary of the organization. In addition to working as a mason, Ludlum advertised as the co-owner of a plaster-of-Paris factory in 1811. He, like Norris, died at a young age—just 34 years—of consumption, in 1813.

In commissioning a certificate for members, the New York Mason Society worked with an artist Archibald Robertson, and engraver, William Rollinson. The pair worked on other projects together, most notably an engraved portrait of Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757-1804), published soon after Hamilton died suddenly from wounds sustained in a duel. Rollinson, an active Freemason, also engraved certificates for several Masonic lodges and the Grand Lodge of New York (you can see examples of some of this work in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library here).

Two years after Ezekiel Thorp received this certificate, the New York state legislature passed an act incorporating the New-York Masons’ Society. This act outlined that this group, drawing members from masons, bricklayers, and plasterers, sought to promote sociability among members, to offer charity to members  “in distress,” and to encourage members to become “more perfect in their respective callings.” These goals and activities are reflected in the images that Robertson and Rollison created for this certificate. The act also noted that the organization’s first president was Samuel Ludlum, one of the men who signed this document over two hundred years ago.

References

Laws of the State of New York, Vol. 5, (Albany, New York: Websters and Skinner), 1809, 8-10.

"For Sale," Public Advertiser (New York, NY), June 14, 1811, 1.

"Died," Mercantile Advertiser (New York, NY), March 3, 1818