When a Brother passes away, his family often has no idea what the dozens of jewels, pins, certificates, aprons, swords, hats and other keepsakes found in a drawer, cigar box or attic trunk really meant to their departed relative, or to the fraternity as a whole. They frequently become nothing more than gimcrack to be unceremoniously sent to the trash, or put out on Ebay to generate a few dollars. In many cases, they are far more important to the departed Brother's lodge or appendant chapter than any monetary price they can fetch, in terms of keeping our heritage alive.
Most of us over 50 at some point have the uncomfortable "If something happens to me" discussion with a member of our family (or we should, anyway), and most Masons at least mention the desire to be buried with our white lambskin apron. Perhaps the simplest way to let our families know not to simply send our other treasured ephemera to the dump is to put a note in storage with our apron. There are lodges that have a tradition of passing along rings from departed brethren to new members or WMs, and PM jewels passed along to the next generation of lodge leaders are a far more meaningful connection to our history than just an aging photo on the wall of the dining room.
Brother Seth Anthony in Pennsylvania was presented with a frustrating situation a few days ago, and for anyone who feels a responsibility to preserve our Masonic heritage, it can be a heartbreaker.
From Who cares about history?
Yesterday I was presented with an item of immeasurable historical importance to Pennsylvania DeMolay. There, on my screen, was the DeMolay Founder's Cross, given to Paul Miller Moore by "Dad" Land himself!
For those who don't know, the Founder's Cross is the rarest DeMolay honor ever given. It was only given by "Dad" Land to persons he desired to honor "for their personal, consistent and conspicuous loyalty to him." The jewel was to be worn over the heart. This was not a Grand or Supreme Council honor-- it was a personal expression of "Dad" Land's heartfelt gratitude. Exactly 135 were given out in his lifetime between 1937 and 1959, and they are never to be issued again. We have never seen a published list of all 135 recipients, and an extensive search of the internet only yielded the names of only a few recipients; James A. Wieland of Pittsburgh, PA; Paul Miller More of Butler, PA; Roy "Friday" Fitzgerald of Kansas City, MO; and Gorman A. McBride, of Kansas City, MO, the First Master Councilor of the Mother Chapter and the only one of the nine original members to be so honored.
In this case, "Dad" Land gave the honor to "Dad" Paul Miller Moore, a Past Grand Commander of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania, and Most Eminent Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America. "Dad" Moore was VERY prominent Freemason in Pennsylvania and even has a Legion of Honor Preceptory named after him (which meets in Butler.) To see "Dad" Moore's Founder's Cross for sale on eBay made my heart sink.
Somehow this important piece of PA DeMolay history made its way into the hands of an antique dealer in Pittsburgh who sold the item off to the highest bidder. PA DeMolay placed a bid on the item, which was close, but, sadly, wasn't high enough to purchase it. Unfortunately we don't know who the winning bidder was. We can only hope that it's a member of the DeMolay family. However, it's also possible that the buyer wasn't part of the Masonic fraternity. Experience has taught us that when pieces of history, like this medal, fall into hands outside of the fraternity it is very unlikely that we will ever get them back.
AS AN APPEAL - if you are the buyer of the Paul Moore Founder's Cross, or you know who the purchaser is, we would greatly appreciate you contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. PA DeMolay is willing to negotiate a fair settlement for the acquisition of this unique medal and piece of PA DeMolay history, to be displayed for all Pennsylvania DeMolay members to see.