Yesterday Beliefnet published a a commentary debunking the film National Treasure . The column reminded me that I wanted to investigate the Knights Templar because Herbert Seneca Ely (6/19/1880 – 3/19/1923) was a member. The plot line of the movie says that the Freemasons – descendents of the Templars brought spiritual artifacts, including genealogies of David and Jesus to a secret location. These documents influenced the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. The genealogies purportedly demonstrated that Templar families were descendents of Jesus Christ. While far from convinced, my interest was aroused. Here is what I found:
Here is a portrait of Herbert, Florence Grim, Hannah and Albert Ely (my father).
First, before anyone gets excited about being a descendent of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, I suggest reading Amy Welborn’s DeCoding Da Vinci .
Second, my grandfather’s obituary establishes his membership in the order.
Herbert S. Ely died of pneumonia at 6:15 o’clock this morning at his home 214 Lehigh street. He was 43 years, 6 months and 29 days of age.
Mr. Ely had been a partner for a number of years in the firm of Levenson Bros. & Ely, dry goods merchants, proprietors of the Mill End Store at 1033 Hamilton street. Prior to that time he had been proprietor of the Allen Laundry, teller in the Allentown trust Company and in his youth was employed by Hess brothers.
He was a native of Perkasie (PA), as Son of Amandus and Hannah (nee Gerhard) Ely. His parents survive, as do a son and daughter, Albert and Hannah, at home and his wife, Florence, nee Grim. Mr. Ely was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and was prominently connected with all the local Masonic circles, including Jordan Lodge, Allen council, Jordan Chapter, Allen Commandery, Knights Templar and Tall Cedars. He also belonged to the Constantine Lodge No. 1113, I.O.O.F.”
The family bible contains this bookmark from a Knights Templar conclave in 1885.
My father, Albert Grim Ely was not yet 11 when my grandfather died. The obituary and photos offer only a few clues as to what he was like. Please add comments below if you know anything about the Knights or Herbert Seneca.
While I feel no need to document my relationship with Jesus Christ, my Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates are better evidence than the claims that the film National Treasure can provide.