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Ninety years ago on this date, the first North Dakota chapter of the DeMolay organization received its ‘Letters Temporary.” The Ivanhoe Chapter, located in Grand Forks, was officially chartered the following month. It was the fourteenth DeMolay chapter in the country.

Today, North Dakota has four DeMolay chapters, two in Bismarck, one in Fargo, and the original Ivanhoe Chapter in Grand Forks. The organization began in 1919 in Kansas City, when Frank Land, a senior member of the Freemasons, was approached to help a young boy named Louis Lower whose father had recently passed away. The deceased man had been a member of Land’s temple, and Land quickly offered Louis a part-time job. He soon realized that, although Louis was a natural leader, he lacked the guidance of a father figure. Land was also concerned with the growing number of fatherless boys in the country, due to the World War. In addition, he and Louis shared a commitment to civic duty. Land suggested that Louis start a club with friends that shared this interest, and offered the use of the Freemason Temple for their meetings.

The boys chose the last leader of the Knights Templar, Jacques DeMolay, as their namesake. Within a few years, chapters of the organization sprang up across the country. Today, the organization includes over a thousand chapters around the world. DeMolay works with young men age 12 to 21 to build leadership skills and civic awareness. Although it is separate from the Freemasons, it is closely aligned, and many Freemasons volunteer to mentor the younger DeMolay members. DeMolay alumni include Walt Disney, John Wayne, and Walter Cronkite.

Notable North Dakota DeMolay include Ed and Harold Schafer, both inductees of the DeMolay Hall of Fame. Harold Schafer later wrote that he “…joined DeMolay [fatherless] in 1929 at the suggestion of [his] Masonic employer. DeMolay taught [him] to accept [his] own and others’ strengths and weaknesses, achievements and failures, likenesses and differences, as [he] grew from a boy into manhood.” In 1995, his son, Ed Schafer, played host to the International DeMolay Congress in Bismarck. As Governor, he was very supportive of DeMolay, wearing his DeMolay jacket to his high school class reunion and speaking highly of the organization. Both father and son attained the rank of Senior DeMolays and Legions of Honor.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job