Georgia DeMolay History
The content on this page was compiled from information available in the Georgia DeMolay office and from input from knowledgeable individuals. If you have information that could add to the completeness and accuracy of this content, please contact us.
As we compile a thorough history of Georgia DeMolay, we will list interesting facts here as they are found and confirmed. A more refined and comprehensive history of Georgia DeMolay is being developed, but while that is being completed we hope you will find this section interesting.
Early Years - The First Chapters
Credit: Hugh S. D'Anna, Gordon B. Smith
The first DeMolay Chapter in Georgia, Atlanta Chapter, was instituted on February 25, 1922. Within the next three years, seven other DeMolay Chapters were instituted: (in order of institution) Columbus (August 26, 1922), Augusta (September 7, 1922), Cecil Cheves (November 4, 1922), Dalton (August 1923), Marietta (October 1923), N.H. Ballard in Brunswick (December 1923), and Habersham (August 1924). Then, on Monday, December 29, 1924, they held a two-day Conclave in Atlanta.
But, DeMolay was already in Georgia in 1922. Cecil Cheves Chapter received its Letters Temporary on August 11, 1921. However, Cecil Cheves Chapter was not Chartered until November 4, 1922. It is interesting to note that Cecil Cheves Chapter is still active today!
Between 1925 and 1930, nine more chapters would be forthcoming: (in order of institution) Keith in Newnan (May 18, 1925), Americus (August 25, 1925), Albany (August 27, 1925), Weir in Macon (October 30, 1928), Frank Hardeman in Athens (January 11, 1929), Harry Mitchell in Waycross (March 24, 1929), George Washington in Valdosta (February 22, 1929), Elbert in Elberton (June 28, 1929), and William T. Dakin in Savannah (July 10, 1929).
Early Years - The First Conclaves
Credit: Hugh S. D'Anna, Gordon B. Smith
Georgia DeMolay held its 1st Annual Conclave in Atlanta beginning Monday, December 29, 1924. The Conclave lasted two days. The assembly chose M.C. Williams of Augusta President of the State Organization. In addition, it chose Norman W. Beane of Atlanta; J.T. Holiday of Brunswick (N.H. Ballard); Robert Emmitt Ross of Savannah (Cecil Cheves); James Howard of Newnan; and H.V. Crawford of Cornelia (Habersham) as Vice Presidents. William McLean of Marietta recieved the position of Scribe and Haywood Frazier of Columbus recieved the position of Treasurer. Henry Lee Brown of Savannah, and a member of the advisory delegation, recieved the appointment of editor of the DeMolay page of the Masonic Messenger. The theme for study by the organization for the next twelve months became "Good Citizenship." The Conclave chose the following members for the state advisory committee: Henry Lee Brown of Savannah, Chairman; John G. Wilson of Augusta, First Vice-Chairman; Howard Geldert of Atlanta, Second Vice-Chairman; Walter S. Nathan of Brunswick (N.H. Ballard); W.P. Robinson of Columbus; L.B. Veeder of Baldwin; John D.F. Williamson of Marietta; W.L. Gilbert of Newnan; and John R. Davis of Savannah.
The 2nd Annual Conclave (1925) was held in Savannah and featured dinners and suppers by the Eastern Star Chapters. Members of Cecil Cheves Chapter and several Masonic families took the visiting boys into their homes. The first evening featured a banquet followed by a dance at the hall of the Savannah Volunteer Guards, located across the street from the Scottish Rite Temple. The Georgia Five provided the music. The Conclave elected the following officers for the ensuing year: J.T. Holiday of N.H. Ballard (Brunswick), President; J. Gordon Miller, Jr., Junior Councilor of Cecil Cheves Chapter (Savannah), First Vice President; Gordon Keith of Atlanta; Second Vice President, and the following other Vice Presidents: W.A. Henderson of Habersham (Cornelia); Thomas S. Robinson of Albany, L.H. Darden of Columbus; Pierce Hughes of Keith (Newnan); and William L. Black of Marietta. J.M. Bazemore of Augusta recieved the selection to serve as Secretary and Treasurer. Before the Conclave closed, it was decided to hold the third annual conclave in Augusta.
The 3rd Annual Conclave of Georgia DeMolay took place in Augusta from December 22-23, 1926. Roy E. Dickerson of Kansas City, representative of the Grand Council of the Order of DeMolay, and Howard Geldert of Atlanta, Deputy in Georgia for the Grand Council of the Order both attended the Assembly. The eleven chapters in Georgia all planned to attend. The Order of DeMolay presented Alfred T. Vick with a Representative DeMolay Badge, he being one of 80 in the United States to win this distinction. The Order granted this badge annually upon the submission of proof of a certain standard of religious, educational, and physical qualifications. Thomas C. Helmly and Professor John Wiegand accompanied the delegation from Cecil Cheves Chapter of Savannah in order to furnish the music for the Initiatory Degree, which Cecil Cheves exemplified for the Conclave. The Atlanta Chapter conferred the DeMolay Degree.
The 5th Annual Conclave of Georgia DeMolay took place in Albany on August 23-24, 1928. Nearly 150 members of the Order attended the two day session. Howard Geldert of Atlanta, Deputy in Georgia for the Grand Council of the Order of DeMolay, and Judge Clayton Jones of the Atlanta City Court both addressed the Conclave on the final day of the Assembly. The Conclave elected the following officers for the ensuing year: Alvin Karsman of Cecil Cheves (Savannah), President; Carlos G. Silson of Atlanta, First Vice-President; Wyche Jones of N.H. Ballard (Brunswick), Second Vice-President; William Wallis of Americus, Third Vice-President; Jack Evans of Augusta, Fourth Vice-President; William Harris of Albany, Secretary and Treasurer. The Conclave chose Brunswick as the site for the 1929 Convention.
The 8th Annual Conclave of the Associated DeMolay Chapters of Georgia was held in Macon on June 22-23, 1931. The delegates elected William C. (Bill) Fox of Atlanta to be President for term 1931-1932. The assembly also chose Elberton to be the site for the 1932 Conclave.
The 11th Annual Conclave of the Associated DeMolay Chapters of Georgia was held at held at Fort Benning, Georgia. Dad Howard Geldert of Atlanta, active member in Georgia of the Grand Council announced that the age minimum to join the Order of DeMolay had been lowered from 16 years to 15 years of age, but the maximum age remained at 21 years of age. He also announced that the Grand Council had made changes in the proceedings for election of officers. Henceforth, members of the host Chapter would be elected as Master Councilor and State Secretary. So, starting at the 11th Georgia DeMolay Conclave, the State President was known as State Master Councilor.
At the 12th Annual Conclave of the Associated DeMolay Chapters of Georgia held at the Municipal Auditorium in Savannah on June 16-18, 1935. The delegates elected William Camp of Atlanta to be the State Master Councilor for the 1935-1936 Term. They also voted to hold the 1936 Conclave in Atlanta.
The 1967 Annual Conclave was held in Atlanta.
The 1968 Annual Conclave was held in Columbus.
The 1969 Annual Conclave was held in Savannah.
The 1970 Annual Conclave was hosted by East Atlanta Chapter. It was held in Atlanta.
The 1971 Annual Conclave was held in Chamblee on August 6-8, at the Executive Park Motor Hotel.
The 1972 Annual Conclave was held on Jekyll Island.
The 1973 Annual Conclave was held in Albany on August 3-5, at the Downtowner Motor Inn.
The 1974 Annual Conclave was held in Smyrna.
The 1975 Annual Conclave was held in Chamblee.
The 1976 Bicentennial Conclave was held in Savannah on August 6-8, at the DeSoto Hilton Hotel.
The 1977 Annual Conclave was held ....
The 1978 Annual Conclave was held on Jekyll Island on August 11-13.
The 1979 Annual Conclave was held in Macon.
The 1980 Annual Conclave was held in Augusta on August 1-3.
The 1981 Annual Conclave was held in Athens on July 24-26.
The 1982 Annual Conclave was held in Macon on July 23-25.
The 1983 Annual Conclave was held in Macon on July 22-24.
The 1984 Annual Conclave was held in Mount Berry on July 27-29, at Berry College.
The 1986 Annual Conclave was held in Mount Berry on July 25-27, at Berry College.
The 1987 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 24-26, at West Georgia College.
The 1988 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 22-24, at West Georgia College.
The 1989 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 21-23, at West Georgia College.
The 1990 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 20-22, at West Georgia College.
The 1991 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 19-21, at West Georgia College.
The 1992 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 17-19, at West Georgia College.
The 1993 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on July 23-25, at Middle Georgia College.
The 1994 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on July 21-24, at Middle Georgia College.
The 1995 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on July 20-23, at Middle Georgia College.
The 1996 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on June 28-30, at Middle Georgia College.
The 1997 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on July 18-20, at Middle Georgia College.
The 1998 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on July 17-19, at Middle Georgia College.
The 1999 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on July 22-25, at Middle Georgia College.
The 2000 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on July 14-16, at Middle Georgia College.
The 2001 Annual Conclave was held in Cochran on July 20-22, at Middle Georgia College.
The 2002 Annual Conclave was held in Oxford on July 26-28, at Oxford College of Emory University.
The 2003 Annual Conclave was held in Athens on July 17-20, at the University of Georgia.
The 2004 Annual Conclave was held in Statesboro on July 15-18, at Georgia Southern University.
The 2005 Annual Conclave was held on Jekyll Island on July 14-17, at the Holiday Inn.
The 2006 Annual Conclave was held in Oxford on July 20-23, at Oxford College of Emory University.
The 2007 Annual Conclave was held in Marietta on July 26-29, at Southern Polytechnic Institute and State University.
The 2008 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 24-27, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2009 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 23-26, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2010 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 22-25, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2011 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 21-24, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2012 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 26-29, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2013 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 25-28, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2014 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 17-20, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2015 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 23-26, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2016 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 21-24, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2017 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 20-23, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2018 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 19-22, at the University of West Georgia.
The 2019 Annual Conclave was held in Carrollton on July 19-22, at the University of West Georgia.
Biographies of Chapter Namesakes and Prominent Figures
The Brunswick Chapter adopted the name of N.H. Ballard Chapter in 1923 in honor of Past Grand Master Nathaniel Harrison Ballard, then the State School Superintendent. Ballard died February 9, 1936 in Jacksonville FL. Ballard was a member of Delta Tau Delta social fraternity at the University of Georgia. Considered "one of the greatest Masonic students of his time," he was an honorary member of Landrum Lodge, No. 48 in Savannah. He was past commander of the K.T. Commandery at Brunswick, a 33 I.G. Honorary in the Scottish Rite, and was an extensive author of Masonic Works. His articles "Genesis and Genius of Freemasonry" and "Visitation and Relief" were published in Leaves From Georgia Masonry in 1946. Ballard was Grand Master of Georgia 1915-1916; Grand Illustrious Master of the Grand Council of Georgia, R & SM in 1928; and Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Georgia, R.A.M. In addition, he was a member of the Knights of Pythias, International Order of Odd Fellows, Improved Order of Redmen, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Woodmen of the World. Ballard was also interested in Military affairs, being commissioned in 1901 as Captain of Company E, 3rd Regiment Georgia Volunteers. (credit: Hugh S. D'Anna, Gordon B. Smith)
Weir Chapter in Macon (instituted October 28, 1928): Marshall A. Weir Lodge, No. 448 acted as its sponsoring Body. It was named in honor of Marshall A. Weir (d. 1918), Superintendent of School Buildings in Bibb County. He also served as Secretary of Mabel Lodge No. 255 and was a member of the Scottish Rite. Weir had the reputaion as the "most prominent member of the (Masonic) Order in Middle Georgia" at his death. His funeral was a Scottish Rite Kadosh Ceremony held at midnight, said to have been the first of its kind in the history of Macon Masonry, and the first in the State since that of Jack Wilson of Atlanta. (credit: Hugh S. D'Anna, Gordon B. Smith)
Howard Geldert (1886-1936), the first Executive Officer of Georgia DeMolay (then called "Deputy in Georgia for the Grand Council of the Order of DeMolay) was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada, on December 9, 1886. He became an fire and casualty insurance agent in East Lake/Kirkwood, DeKalb County, Georgia, where he resided with his mother and sister. He died in Fulton County on December 28, 1936. He never married. A "quiet-spoken man," Geldert became known for his work in Scouting and with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Atlanta. In June of 1913, Geldert, Ivan Allen, Henry Grady, and Evelyn Harris (son of the creator of "Uncle Remus") organized the first Rotary Club of Atlanta. The Rotary Club memorialized him during its annual services in 1937. In June of 1930 The Georgia Association of Insurance Agents elected Geldert its President for the ensuing year, and he served as President of the Young Agents Committee, 1930-1931. He was raised as a Master Mason in Gate City Lodge No. 2 in Atlanta in 1917, and in 1923, succeeded Bill Hartsfield as secretary of the Lodge. He joined Yaarab Shrine on December 17, 1919. In 1926, Geldert had the distinct privilege of formally addressing the Grand Lodge of Georgia although he was neither a Master or Past Master of a Georgia Lodge. He brought the Order of DeMolay to the State of Georgia, founding the Atlanta Chapter in 1922 under the sponsorship of Hermes Lodge of Perfection, A.A.S.R. Of the ten men who served on the original Advisory Council of Atlanta Chapter, six were members of Gate City Lodge: Howard Geldert, Hugh N. Fuller, Arthur J. Sitt, Morris M. Ewing, John Westmoreland, and Perry Blackshear. Becoming known to the DeMolay as "Skipper" Geldert, he played the central role in organizing additional Chapters in Columbus, Newnan, Marietta, Cornelia, and Gainesville. Geldert served as Deputy in Georgia for the Grand Council of the Order of DeMolay for several years. At the 1934 Georgia DeMolay Conclave, two years prior to his death in 1936, Geldert was identified as a Active Member of the Grand Council of the Order of DeMolay. There was also a DeMolay Chapter located in Atlanta by the name of Howard Geldert Chapter that was instituted November 29, 1941, but forfeited its Charter March 8, 1971. (credit: Hugh S. D'Anna, Gordon B. Smith, William R. Carver Jr.)
Forress Baldwin Fisher (1877-1953) served as the State Director of DeMolay during the early years of Georgia DeMolay. He was born on July 12, 1877, in Montague, Michigan. He was a member of Palestine Lodge #486 in Atlanta. He was a sales Manager for the M.Schulz Company located at 1530 Candler Building, Atlanta.He joined the Yaarab Shrine on November 19, 1913. He was married to Clara Knowles. He died in 1958 in Fulton County. (credit: William R. Carver Jr.)
Thomas G. Bankston, namesake of a chapter in Americus instituted July 12, 1967: Dad Bankston served in the US Air Corp during WW2 and was a tail-gunner on a B-17 bomber. He completed 56 missions and returned stateside. He was known for one peculiar trait of dress... no matter what time of the year he always wore short sleeve white dress shirts. His wife intially refused the request of the lodge to name the Chapter in his honor. It took a persuasive visit from Dad Womack to change her mind. (credit: John Kelly)
Samuel S. Lawrence, namesake of a chapter in Marietta: Samuel S. Lawrence was a member of Kennesaw Lodge #33. He was a very prominent Judge in the Marietta area in the mid 1800's; he served multiple terms as the Master of Kennesaw #33 and was the Grand Master of Masons in Georgia from 1869-1873. (credit: Jim Bard)
Forrest Adair (3/26/1864-4/27/1936) - 3/18/1891: Initiated into Yaarab Temple, Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Atlanta, GA; 4/19/1893: Elected Chief Rabban, Yaarab Temple; 4/1900: Elected second Potentate of Yaarab Temple. Served as Potentate longer than any other Noble in the history of the Temple. He was elected Potentate in December 1900 and served until December, 1911, then re-elected to serve for the years 1913, 1914 (a year in which the Imperial Council of the Shrine held its annual meeting in Atlanta) and 1915. During his tenure as Potentate, he presided over the establishment of the Brass Band unit of the Temple.; 1901: Elected to Shrine Imperial Council --The first life member of the Imperial Council from Yaarab Temple. Played a part in the formation of the Scottish Rite Hospital.; 6/1920: Imperial Shrine Session, Portland, OR. - After an initial defeat of the proposal, his brilliant oratory and personal persuasion was instrumental in the reconsideration and ultimately the passage of the measure that laid the groundwork for what has become the healthcare system known as the Shriners Hospitals for Children.; 1/1927: Presented Yaarab Temple Merit Award #14. (credit: William Carver)
Norman William Pettys - 1/20/1960: Elected Potentate of Yaarab Temple.; Presided over several "firsts" for Yaarab Temple: Instituted: mass installation of all of the Yaarab Unit presiding officers and officers of the various Clubs, the Yaarab Temple "Crown of Honor" Award, a uniform Constitution and By-Laws for all units and clubs of the Temple.; Presided over the re-establishment of the Yaarab Mounted Patrol unit and the establishment of the Provost Guard as a full unit.; Elected first president of the Georgia Shrine Association.; 1/1962: Presented Yaarab Merit Award #109 (credit: William Carver)
In 1958, during the term of Potentate William M. Rapp, Yaarab Temple assumed sponsorship of the Howard Geldert Chapter, Order of DeMolay, in Atlanta. By doing so, the Temple became only the fifth Shrine Temple to sponsor a DeMolay Chapter, and the only Temple, at the time, in the Southeast to do so. (Credit: William Carver)
In 1965, the Cecil Cheves Chapter was the S.E. Division winner of the International DeMolay Bowling Tournament with a total score of 2517. (credit: William Carver)
At the 1965 Conclave of the Associated DeMolay Chapters of Georgia, the Chamblee Chapter received the membership award from the I.S.C. for achieving 1,091.6% of its membership quota for the year. (In those days EVERY chapter had an annual membership target of at least 25 new members per year -- which, for the Chamblee Chapter, translated into 273 members during that one year.) (credit: William R. Carver Jr.)
At the 1966 Session of the International Supreme Council, 3 of the 5 Medals of Valor awarded for that year went to members of the Cecil Cheves Chapter in Savannah. Those members being recognized were John Roach Roberts (19); Wilson James Squire, III (19); and Roy Edward McCabe, Jr. The three were recognized for coming to the aid of a store owner who was being robbed and beaten in his business. (credit: William R. Carver Jr.)
Senior DeMolay and NFL Hall of Fame Member Fran Tarkenton is a Senior Member of Frank Hardeman Chapter in Athens, GA.