Friday, August 1, 2014

KEEHN: Knights of the Golden Circle (2013)

Reviewed By: Frank J. Cirillo

 10/2/2013

Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War by David C. Keehn. Louisiana State University Press, 2013.Cloth, ISBN: 0807150047. $39.95.

Historians have long delved into the dynamics of the 1860-61 secession crisis, exploring how a fire-eating minority engineered the departure of eleven southern states from the Union. Robert Barnwell Rhett and William Lowndes Yancey have become household names in the history of disunion. To such familiar faces, David C. Keehn adds an often-overlooked group: the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC), a “militant oath-bound secret society dedicated to promoting [white] southern rights.”According to Keehn, the Knights, formed by businessman George Bickley in 1858, were a “powerful force” that became by 1860 the “strong arm of secession” across the South (2). Keehn thus situates the KGC at the center of the secession crisis.

While the KCG, as Keehn claims, became the leading edge of disunionism, the society originated in the expansionist sentiments that swept the slaveholding South in the 1850s. Alongside filibusters like John Quitman, Bickley worked to build a slaveholding empire in the “Golden Circle region” of Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean (2). The KGC merged with the expansionist Order of the Lone Star in 1858, and in 1859 the group planned an ultimately aborted invasion of Mexico in concert with Texas Senator Sam Houston. By 1860, however, the Knights had morphed from a centralized filibustering organization into a “loose coalition” of regional chapters aimed at fomenting secession (53). State regimental commanders, in concert with influential members like Ben McColloch and allies like Henry Wise and John Pettus, turned the KGC into the paramilitary spearhead of the secessionist movement. The group, Keehn claims, became the “secret inner core within the quasi-military organizations rising in the South” in 1860, such as the South Carolina Minute Men. Keehn asserts that the 8000 Texas Knights, employing strong-arming tactics, “rustled Texas out of the Union” in February 1861 (126). The KGC also extended its long conspiratorial tendrils into other plots. The group, alongside Wise and Pettus, developed a plan to seize federal forts across the South. The successful seizure of a number of forts during the secession winter was “likely related” to the Knights. McColloch, for example, organized KGC volunteers to seize the Alamo from the United States Army in February 1861. The same month, the KGC “orchestrated” the purported assassination attempt on President-elect Lincoln by the Baltimore hairdresser Cipriano Ferrandini (184). The vocal warnings of William Seward and other Republicans about a KGC conspiracy to destroy the Union were thus, according to Keehn, quite warranted.

Keehn concludes his narrative by extending the influence of the KGC into the Civil War. In the early months of the war, Knights like Virginius Groner became Confederate officers and tapped into KGC networks to recruit troops. The Knights thus played a “key early role in supporting the Confederate war effort” (141). While the group waned in influence as the war dragged on, Keehn casts its pall over one last significant event: John Wilkes Booth’s conspiracy against Lincoln. Booth, a registered Knight, tapped old organizational networks for aid in his initial kidnapping and later assassination plans. While Keehn does not go so far as to claim that the “KGC was involved in the assassination on an organizational basis,” he nonetheless suggests its influence on the events of April 1865 (184).

As fascinating as its narrative is, Keehn’s book contains a number of shortcomings. Keehn does not delve into the reception of the KGC in a diverse white South. As William Freehling has demonstrated, expansionism was largely a southwestern phenomenon opposed by slaveholders in South Carolina.  Did southeasterners disdain the KGC, then? How did the group’s jettisoning of expansionism in favor of secessionism in the late 1850s change its popularity across the South, given that many southwestern expansionists like Houston were Unionists and slaveholding South Carolinians were the most virulent disunionists? Keehn’s treatment of the South as monolithic prevents him from delving into the potentially rich nuances of the organization’s shifting influence in the region.

In addition, Keehn cannot prove that the KGC spearheaded the plots that rocked the Union in the 1850s and 1860s. Just because key figures like Booth were Knights does not mean that the organization itself was the source of such plans. The main proof that the KGC was the all-powerful organizer of vast conspiracies consists of Republican claims to that effect. As historians from David Potter to Elizabeth Varon have revealed, however, conspiracy fears in each section emerged in paranoia-filled atmospheres.  Just because northerners claimed that the KGC was a substantial threat did not make it one. Moreover, Republicans interested in riling up anti-southern sentiment may have latched onto the KGC because of its provocatively secret nature, rather than because of the group’s actual power. Keehn lacks proof that Republicans were not blowing the influence of the KGC out of proportion. Indeed, the author can only speculate about the origins of the federal fort seizure, Ferrandini, and Booth conspiracies in KGC machinations. Moreover, Keehn admits that only eleven of the 177 delegates at the Texas state secession convention were actual KGC members. Given his sources, Keehn ought to be content with illustrating the KGC as one organization among many in a broad secessionist movement, rather than forcing it into the role of theomnipotent puppeteer pulling the strings of disunion.

Despite its flaws, however, Keehn’s extensively researched book makes a strong contribution to the historiography of secession. No other scholar has offered as detailed and informative an account of the Knights as Keehn. The author persuasively demonstrates that the organization deserves more scholarly attention than has been afforded it—if not as the leader of secession than as an influential and illustrative organization within a diverse fire-eating mosaic too often reduced to figures like Rhett. Indeed, the evolution of the KGC from expansionism to secessionism is a fascinating one that underscores the significance of the escalating events of the late 1850s in pushing southerners toward drastic actions. Moreover, Keehn’s fluid prose makes the book an enjoyable read. Knights of the Golden Circle thus comes highly recommended for scholars and lay readers alike.

Frank J. Cirillo is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Virginia.

The Knights of the Golden Circle

The Knights of the Golden Circle or K.G.C. had its beginnings in the formation of Southern Rights Clubs in various southern cities in the mid-1830s. These clubs were inspired by the philosophies of John C. Calhoun (1782–1850). Calhoun had an illustrious political career serving as a congressman from his home state of South Carolina, a state legislator, vice president under the administrations of both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, and a U. S. senator. In addition to the Southern Rights Clubs, which advocated the re-establishment of the African slave-trade, some of the inspiration for the Knights may have come from a little-known secret organization called the Order of the Lone Star, founded in 1834, which helped orchestrate the successful Texas Revolution resulting in Texas independence from Mexico in 1836. Even before that, the K.G.C.'s roots went back to the Sons of Liberty of the American Revolutionary period.

The Knights of the Golden Circle was reorganized in Lexington, Kentucky, on July 4, 1854, by five men, whose names have been lost to history, when Virginia-born Gen. George W. L. Bickley (1819–1867) requested they come together. Strong evidence suggests that Albert Pike (1809–1891) was the genius behind the influence and power of the Masonic-influenced K.G.C., while Bickley was the organization's leading promoter and chief organizer for the K.G.C. lodges, what they called “Castles,” in several states. During his lifetime, Boston-born Pike was an author, educator, lawyer, Confederate brigadier general, newspaper editor, poet, and a Thirty-third Degree Mason. From its earliest roots in the Southern Rights Clubs in 1835, the Knights of the Golden Circle was to become the most powerful secret and subversive organization in the history of the United States with members in every state and territory before the end of the Civil War. The primary economic and political goal of this organization was to create a prosperous, slave-holding Southern Empire extending in the shape of a circle from their proposed capital at Havana, Cuba, through the southern states of the United States, Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. The plan also called for the acquisition of Mexico which was then to be divided into fifteen new slave-holding states which would shift the balance of power in Congress in favor of slavery. Facing the Gulf of Mexico, these new states would form a large crescent. The robust economy the KGC hoped to create would be fueled by cotton, sugar, tobacco, rice, coffee, indigo, and mining. These seven industries would employ slave labor.


In early 1860 newspapers across the country reported that the Knights of the Golden Circle were recruiting troops in numerous cities to send to Brownsville, Texas, for the planned invasion of Mexico. History is unclear about what went wrong with this invasion, but most historians agree that the well-laid plans never materialized and the invasion never happened. Some say that it failed because George Bickley was unable to provide adequate troops and supplies, but with a civil war looming on the horizon, the invasion’s failure may have been caused by the K.G.C. leaders believing they could not go to war on two fronts simultaneously. They called off their plans for Mexico and started preparing for war with the North.

When tensions between the North and South were at a breaking point and the Civil War had not yet begun, the Knights of the Golden Circle held their convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, from May 7–11, 1860. George W. L. Bickley, as president of the K.G.C., presided at this historic event. The records of this convention have survived until the present day and provide an excellent view of this order's divisions or degrees, goals, accomplishments, and size.

The K.G.C.'s first division was described as being "absolutely a Military Degree." The first division is further divided into two classes: the Foreign and Home Guards. The Foreign Guards class was the K.G.C.'s army and was composed of those who wanted "to participate in the wild, glorious and thrilling adventures of a campaign in Mexico." Those of the second class or Home Guards had two functions: to provide for the army's needs and "to defend us from misrepresentation during our absence."

The second division or class was also divided into two classes which were the Foreign and Home Corps. The Foreign Corps was to become the order's commercial agents, postmasters, physicians, ministers, and teachers and to perform the other occupations that were vital to the achievement of K.G.C. goals. The second class of this degree was the Home Corps. Their job was to advise and to forward money, arms, ammunition, and other necessary provisions needed by the organization and its army and to send recruits as rapidly as possible.

The two classes of the third division or degree were the Foreign and Home Councils. The third division is described in the convention's records as being "the political or governing division." The responsibilities of the Foreign Council were governmental, and it was divided into ten departments similar to those of the United States federal government.

One little-known historical fact that is presented in the records from the 1860 K.G.C. convention is that the Knights had their own well-organized army in 1860, before the Civil War had even begun, so they were prepared in the event of war with the North. In May of 1860 the Knights of the Golden Circle reported a total membership of 48,000 men from the North, who supported "the constitutional rights of the South," as well as men from the South, with an army of "less than 14,000 men" and new recruits joining at a rapid rate.

Shortly before the Civil War began, the state of Texas was the greatest source of this organization's strength. Texas was home for at least thirty-two K.G.C. castles in twenty-seven counties, including the towns of San Antonio, Marshall, Canton, and Castroville. Evidence suggests that San Antonio may have served as the organization’s national headquarters for a time.

The South began to secede from the Union in January 1861, and in February of that year, seven seceding states ratified the Confederate Constitution and named Jefferson Davis as provisional president. The Knights of the Golden Circle became the first and most powerful ally of the newly-created Confederate States of America.

Before the Civil War officially started on April 12, 1861, when shots were fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and before Texas had held its election on the secession referendum on February 23, 1861, Texas volunteer forces, which included 150 K.G.C. soldiers under the command of Col. Ben McCulloch, forced the surrender of the federal arsenal at San Antonio that was under the command of Bvt. Maj. Gen. David E. Twiggs on February 15, 1861. Knights of the Golden Circle who were involved in this mission included Capt. Trevanion Teel, Sgt. R. H. Williams, John Robert Baylor, and Sgt. Morgan Wolfe Merrick. Following this quick victory, volunteers who were mostly from K.G.C. companies, forced the surrender of all federal posts between San Antonio and El Paso.

Perhaps the best documentation as to the power and influence of the Knights of the Golden Circle during the Civil War is The Private Journal and Diary of John H. Surratt, The Conspirator which was written by John Harrison Surratt and later edited by Dion Haco and published by Frederic A. Brady of New York in 1866. In this journal, Surratt goes into great detail when describing how he was introduced to the K.G.C. in the summer of 1860 by another Knight, John Wilkes Booth, and inducted into this mysterious organization on July 2, 1860, at a castle in Baltimore, Maryland. Surratt describes the elaborate and secret induction ceremony and its rituals and tells that cabinet members, congressmen, judges, actors, and other politicians were in attendance. Maybe the most significant revelation of Surratt's diary is that the Knights of the Golden Circle began plotting to kidnap Abraham Lincoln in 1860, before Lincoln was even inaugurated in 1861, and continued throughout the Civil War, resulting in President Lincoln's assassination by fellow Knight Booth on April 14, 1865.

After trying unsuccessfully to peacefully resolve the conflicts between North and South, the Knights of the Golden Circle threw its full support behind the newly-created Confederate States of America and added its trained military men to the Confederate States Army. Several Confederate military groups during the Civil War were composed either totally or in large part of members of the Knights of the Golden Circle. One notable example of K.G.C. military participation in the Civil War included the Confederate's Western Expansion Movement of 1861 and 1862 led by Lt. Col. John Robert Baylor and Gen. Henry Hopkins Sibley.

In 1861 Albert Pike travelled to Indian Territory and negotiated an alliance with Cherokee Chief Stand Watie. Prior to the beginning of hostilities, Pike helped Watie to become a Thirty-second Degree Scottish Rite Mason. Watie was also in the K.G.C., and he was later commissioned a colonel in command of the First Regiment of Cherokee Mounted Rifles. In May 1864 Chief Watie was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate States Army making him the only Native American of this rank in the Confederate Army. Watie's command was to serve under CSA officers Albert Pike, Benjamin McCulloch, Thomas Hindman, and Sterling Price. They fought in engagements in Indian Territory, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri.

One of the most feared organizations of all Confederates, whose members were in large part Knights of the Golden Circle, was what was called Quantrill's Guerrillas or Quantrill's Raiders. The Missouri-based band was formed in December 1861 by William Clark Quantrill and originally consisted of only ten men who were determined to right the wrongs done to Missourians by Union occupational soldiers. Their mortal enemies were the Kansas Jayhawkers and the Red Legs who were the plague of Missouri. As the war raged on in Missouri and neighboring states, Quantrill's band attracted hundreds more men into its ranks. Quantrill's Guerrillas became an official arm of the Confederate Army after May 1862, when the Confederate Congress approved the Partisan Ranger Act. Other leaders of Quantrill's Guerrillas included William C. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, David Pool, William Gregg, and George Todd. Some of the major engagements this deadly guerrilla force participated in included the Lawrence, Kansas, raid on August 21, 1863, the battle near Baxter Springs, Kansas, in October 1863, and two battles at and near Centralia in Missouri in September of 1864. The bulk of Quantrill's band wintered in Grayson County, Texas, from 1861 through 1864.

The K.G.C. played the major role in what is referred to as the Northwest Conspiracy. The Confederate plan was to use the great numbers of Knights in the Northern states to foster a revolution that would spread across Indiana, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and any other state in the North where it was feasible. The Baker-Turner Papers, part of the U.S. War Department’s conspiracy files, revealed much of the history of this widespread movement but were kept sealed for ninety years. James D. Horan, the first person ever allowed access to the U.S. War Department's Civil War conspiracy files and the Baker-Turner Papers in the early 1950s, published Confederate Agent: A Discovery in History in 1954, which details the Northwest Conspiracy. His work used these previously-sealed documents and information gathered by numerous investigators, including the private papers of Capt. Thomas H. Hines, C.S.A., of Kentucky, who was the mastermind behind the huge conspiracy.

Throughout the Civil War, one of the Knights of the Golden Circle's most important roles came in its infiltration of Union forces. Nowhere in the country was this influence more apparent than in the state of Missouri where K.G.C. members filled the ranks of the Enrolled Missouri Militia which was commonly known as the Paw Paw Militia. A newspaper article from the Daily Times of Leavenworth, Kansas, July 29, 1864, serves as a good example in their interview with a member of the Paw Paw named Andrew E. Smith. Smith said:

I am 22 years old and live in Platte county, about two miles west of Platte City I was a member of Captain Johnston's company of Pawpaw militia, under Major Clark, and served about six months.... I am a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle. I joined them at Platte City, and was sworn in by David Jenkins of that place. All of the Pawpaw militia, so far as I know, belong to them....

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. Most historians accept this date of surrender as the official end of the Civil War. The Knights of the Golden Circle as an organization, however, continued to work to achieve their goals, which included a prosperous South, for many decades after the Civil War. What had been a secret society adapted to changing conditions and, after the war, became even more secretive than ever before.

In October 1864 U. S. Judge Advocate Joseph Holt submitted a detailed warning to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton about the dangers posed by the Knights of the Golden Circle that was, by that time, operating under various aliases. This document is commonly called the Holt Report, but its real title is A Western Conspiracy in aid of the Southern Rebellion.

After the war's end, the K.G.C. went underground and used many aliases to hide their activities which included making preparations for a second civil war should that option be necessary. Some K.G.C. members accompanied Confederate Gen. Joseph O. Shelby to Mexico. Some soldiers returned to their homes, while others relocated to more remote frontier areas like West Texas where they could help build towns and cities that conformed to their ideals. Some Knights like Jesse Woodson James, older brother Frank James, and Cole Younger turned to robbing Northern-owned railroads, businesses, and banks after the Civil War.

The Knights of the Golden Circle, according to most authorities, ceased its operations in 1916 for two primary reasons. The United States had entered World War I, and by that time most of the old Knights of the Golden Circle had died.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: An Authentic Exposition of the “K.G.C.” “Knights of the Golden Circle,” or, A History of Secession from 1834 to 1861, by A Member of the Order (Indianapolis, Indiana: C. O. Perrine, Publisher, 1861). Donald S. Frazier, Blood & Treasure: Confederate Empire in the Southwest (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996). Warren Getler and Bob Brewer, Rebel Gold: One Man’s Quest to Crack the Code Behind the Secret Treasure of the Confederacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004). Dion Haco, ed., The Private Journal and Diary of John H. Surratt, The Conspirator (New York: Frederic A. Brady, Publisher, 1866). Joseph Holt, Report of the Judge Advocate General on “The Order of American Knights,” alias “The Sons of Liberty.” A Western Conspiracy in aid of the Southern Rebellion (Washington, D.C.: Union Congressional Committee, 1864). James D. Horan, Confederate Agent: A Discovery in History (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1954). Jesse Lee James, Jesse James and the Lost Cause (New York: Pageant Press, 1961). K.G.C., Records of the KGC Convention, 1860, Raleigh, N.C.

Jay Longley and Colin Eby
http://www.knights-of-the-golden-circle.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 13, 2014

General demands end to guerrilla hunter’s ‘villainous conduct’

By RUDI KELLER  June 8, 2014

EXCERPT: "ST. LOUIS — Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans again insisted that President Abraham Lincoln send a responsible agent to personally receive a report on the activities of secret societies dedicated to overthrowing the government.

The previous day, Lincoln had assured Rosecrans the report would be safe in the hands of an express courier.

“The nature of the information is too grave involving the interests of the country and the safety of individuals to admit of transacting the business through the express,” Rosecrans responded.

Provost Marshal General John Sanderson was working on a report detailing the activities of an organization known variously as the Knights of the Golden Circle or the Order of American Knights. Waves of arrests were already underway. Two suspects from Callaway County, Thomas Howard and his son, John Howard, both denied involvement when they were interrogated this day.

The older Howard, 67, said he kept to his business as a physician and did not engage in politics. “I have no knowledge of any lodge of the Knights of the Golden Circle in Fulton,” he said in his deposition. “I am not a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle. I belong to no secret political organizations.”

One agent, operating under the name William Taylor, reported from Renick that Maj. Reeves Leonard had arrested several members from that town and placed them on parole in Fayette."

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/civil_war/150_years/years-ago-general-demands-end-to-guerrilla-hunter-s-villainous/article_c3dd0628-eeb6-11e3-976c-001a4bcf6878.html

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Southern Secrets by Renee Benzaim

Annie's cousin lives in Mena, Arkansas and has come into possession of three journals written by one of his ancestors who was deeply involved with the Knights of the Golden Circle. The journals spell out explicitly the locations of some of the biggest caches of 'rebel gold' hidden by the KGC to fund a second Civil War.

Zachary Isom Avants is a history buff and professor at a local college who is aware that throughout Arkansas there exist the ruins of many abandoned cabins and homesteads left behind by his ancestors. He is also an avid genealogist. For years, he has been tracking down these abandoned homesteads, looking for artifacts and information on the lives of his long-dead relatives.

Deep in the Ouachita forests, he comes across a derelict shack that hasn't been touched for almost 100 years. It's covered with vines and falling down and he almost misses seeing it.

He sets up camp next to the shack and begins clearing away the vines. It's a small cabin, but he finds signs that it had been occupied by a couple and 2-3 kids. It's not the typical sentinel outpost shack of the Knights of the Golden Circle, which is probably why no one bothered with it.

When he can safely climb down into the basement, he finds an indentation in the far wall of the root cellar. He carefully digs and finds hidden inside a small opening a cast iron skillet with a lid that has been sealed with pitch.

Excited, he takes the skillet to his makeshift table outside and unseals the lid. Inside, wrapped in many layers of oil cloth, he finds three journals. One is a copy of a day book kept by someone high up in the KGC during the Civil War. The only signature is 'Avants'. The other two were penned by Zack's great grandfather, Orris Avants.

Unbeknownst to Zack, the leadership of the modern KGC is aware that these books still exist, but have never been able to find them. When he begins making discrete inquiries in town, the KGC suspects that he has found the long-lost journals. They are determined to recover them. Why? They don't know what caches the journals expose, and they don't want treasure seekers finding the hidden treasures.

Throughout the years, the American government has also been interested in the KGC and the millions of dollars they stole and hid. FBI Special Agent Jason Smith overhears someone talking about the journals and alerts his superiors. They, too, are determined to possess the journals and recover as much of the stolen loot as possible.

Zack finally realizes the significance of his find and mails the journals to his cousin, Annie, in California. He knows he is being followed and that he, and his family, are in danger.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/southern-secrets-renee-benzaim/1118893023?ean=2940045746878&utm_content=buffer8975a&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

SECRET SOCIETY HIDDEN TREASURE REBEL GOLD MURDER

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jesse James Was One of His Names Posted by: Philip K. Kromer


The following information is from a book which is out-of-print and has become very difficult to obtain. Whether or not the information presented below is true, I will leave to the reader to decide. However, if it is true, the information is so important that it needs to be available to researchers. Because of the extreme rarity of the information, I feel I am justified in posting it here for the benefit of those who otherwise would not be able to access it except with great difficulty. I have left quite a bit of the account out, but the really important parts have all been included. If you need the complete account, you will have to obtain the book somehow. There are a few copies of the book available in public libraries, scattered across the U. S. Also, the Library of Congress owns a copy.

The following is information quoted directly from the book titled "Jesse James Was One of His Names" ( Arcadia, CA: Santa Anita Press, 1975 ), by Del Schrader ( with Jesse James III ). Chapter 8 - The Odyssey of John Wilkes Booth ( pages 133 - 142 ):

( page 134 ): 

"The Knights of the Golden Circle, the top Confederate underground organization headed by another 'dead man,' Col. Jesse Woodson James, had another version.
Prior to the Civil War, J. Wilkes Booth ... had attended a military school, but had been bounced because he was too impetuous. When the war broke, Booth volunteered for the Confederate Army, but an officer was impressed with his intelligence and ability to interchangeably 'talk like a Yankee and a Southerner.' It was decided Booth could do more than shoot a gun.
After a short training course, Booth was soon moving back and forth through Union and Confederate lines with valuable military information for the South. At times, he used the name John Botha, the last name of a Russian-Jewish ancestor who settled in England. Posing as a drummer ( salesman ), he sold materiel of war to both sides.
While he was a competent enough spy, Booth had some traits which bothered his superiors. He asked too many questions about Confederate plans, and he enjoyed gathering gossip about Rebel generals. At times, the Confederates had Booth under surveillance, believing he could be a double agent. Despite their suspicions, Booth continued to deliver damaging information on Union moves, and he did it in record time."

( pages 134 - 135 ):

"In spite of his service, Booth was never able to advance above The Knights of the White Camellias, the third-ranked Confederate secret organization. He brought ill-conceived schemes to kill President Lincoln, Gen. U. S. Grant and other high-ranking Union officers, to his superiors. Put down as a 'loner,' Booth boasted of personal friends who would help him commit the acts. Confederates doubted his leadership, and some of his friends were checked out and denied membership in any of the Southern secret organizations....
The final year of the Civil War when things were going badly for the South, Booth did less spying and more plotting on his own. He reported to his Confederate superiors, 'A representative of the European Rothschilds called on President Lincoln and offered him money at 27 1/2 per cent interest, but was thrown out of his office.'
A few years later, while gathered in the Confederate Underground Capital in Nashville, Tenn., The Knights of the Golden Circle heard a report from one of Booth's superiors in which he alleged the Rothschilds incident might have been the turning point in the spy's frustration. 'Gentlemen,' he said, 'I personally think that John Wilkes Booth went to work for the Rothschilds and assassinated Mr. Lincoln in their behalf.'
Most Southerners were shocked by the senseless assassination of President Lincoln. The war was over for all practical purposes, and their cause was lost. The Knights of the Golden Circle moved quickly to get Wilkes Booth to safety - he knew too much. Near a village in Maryland, the haggard assassin, his leg broken, was hidden in a wagon-load of chicken coops, the first leg of his journey to the Free State of Van Zandt, Texas."

( pages 135 - 136 ):

"William S. ( Wild Bill ) Lincoln, a distant cousin of the President, reported in a sworn statement: 'Our branch of the Lincoln family was never satisfied with what really happened to Booth, and I spent fourteen years of my life runnung down the true story. Strangely enough, I learned it from Jesse W. James, head of the Confederate underground. I was present at Booth's real death.'
'... Colonel James ... told me ... that the Confederate underground had no love for Booth - he had shot the President after it was too late. However, the organization protected him and put the lazy bastard on a $3,600 a year pension as long as he behaved himself and caused them no trouble; but Booth couldn't stand fetters.' Because of strict Confederate underground surveillance, Booth pulled up stakes and moved to Glen Rose, Texas, where he operated a distillery. He managed to get into difficulty with Federal authorities over a special U. S. permit and tax and sent his lawyer to the Federal District Court in Paris, Texas. Deserting his distillery, Booth moved to Granbury, Hood County, Texas, where he built the city's first stone business building at the southwest corner of Courthouse Square, now used as a restaurant.
He also returned to the stage, a direct violation of his agreement with the underground. Texas Rangers and lawmen, mostly former Confederate soldiers, filed reports with The Knights of the Golden Circle telling about the strange behavior of John Wilkes Booth, alias James St. George. The actor-assassin was drinking heavily, bragging about being the man who shot Lincoln, and boasting about his knowledge of Confederate underground secrets."

( pages 136 - 137 ):

"The Golden Circle held a meeting and sentiment was strong for executing Booth, but Jesse W. James, who by this time was building an empire in the West, suggested, 'I kind of agree with you about shutting his big mouth for good, but let's let him make a tour of theaters in the West. We'll send along two agents to ride herd on him.'
Meanwhile, ... Booth had hired a lawyer to write a book about his secret life and how and why he shot President Lincoln.... Then one night in 1902 or early 1903, Wild Bill was sitting in Colonel Jim McDaniels' ( Jesse James ) hotel room in Guthrie, Oklahoma, when a book was tossed his way. McDaniels ... said, 'Believe it or not, Wild Bill, that book was written by one of your men in the White Camellias, old John Wilkes Booth, alias Edwin Booth, alias James St. George ... The Knights of the Golden Circle bought up most of his press run, but there's a lot of dynamite in the book. We're still preparing for the Second Civil War and Booth is busy revealing a lot of our secrets. He knows more than any of us ever thought.'"

( pages 137 - 138 ):

"In a sworn statement at Zephyrhills, Florida, on October 1, 1950, William S. ( Wild Bill ) Lincoln said, 'While trying for years on my own to run down the John Wilkes Booth mystery, I landed right in the middle of the Jesse Woodson James mystery without half trying.'

In the spring of 1903 ... McDaniel said ... 'The end is coming for that scoundrel, John Wilkes Booth.... I've spared that rascal's life many times. The Golden Circle just had a meeting down in Texas, and we voted to execute Booth.... We know he's registered at the Grand Avenue Hotel in Enid [ Oklahoma ] tonight under the name of James St. George.'"

( page 139 ):

"A half block from the Grand Avenue Hotel that night a young Indian boy was selling lemons from a small basket.The Colonel stopped and said to Wild Bill, 'Have this kid make you about a quart of lemonade, pronto, while I duck into this drug store.'
Four Golden Circle agents sat in the lobby while the other three joined the two agents already surrounding the hotel - just in case Booth made a run for it. 'Mr. St. George expects us,' the Colonel told the desk clerk and he started up the steps, followed closely by Wild Bill with a jar of lemon juice. The door was unlocked and the two men could see the shape of a man lying on the bed."

( page 140 ):

"'... Being a hot night, Mr. Booth, we brought you something cool to drink. Now, Wild Bill, you talk to Mr. Booth while I fix up his drink.' Jesse went over to the wash stand with the jar of lemonade. Hastily, he pulled two bottles from his pocket and poured pure arsenic into the jar. Then he stirred the mixture with a table fork. He poured the loaded lemonade into a glass. Approaching the bed, Jesse said, 'Now, Mr. Booth, I think you've had enough alcohol for tonight. This lemonade will really fix you up. I personally guarantee it.' ... Booth gasped, went into almost a stage fall, but hit the floor with a thud. Jesse James bent over and felt his heart. 'Deader than a mackerel,' he said. 'Wild Bill, stay here. I'm sending up the four agents in the lobby to go through Booth's luggage. I'll be back in a few minutes.'

( page 141 ):

" ... The six men were amazed at the records Booth had kept through the years. After they had finished sorting it, Jesse said, 'You know, men, I'm just glad Booth didn't put all this in that crazy book his lawyer wrote - he could have put a noose around all of our necks!'
Colonel James then directed his men to plant just enough evidence around the room so that the U. S. Marshals could identify the dead man as John Wilkes Booth. Then they took the trunk and departed.... Late that afternoon from Guthrie, Jesse had an agent send a telegram to the U. S. Marshal's office telling them John Wilkes Booth was dead and where his body could be found."

( pages 141 - 142 ):

" ... Three days later, Jesse, accompanied by Wild Bill and two agents, went back to Enid.... The clerk said, 'Whole bunch of lawmen were here yesterday morning up there in Mr. St. George's room, but his body is still there in the bed. It's starting to turn black-like and is tough as leather.' 'Don't worry, son,' Jesse said, 'we're relatives and we've come to claim his body.'
... Carting the body of Booth back to Guthrie, Jesse looked up a doctor friend and asked him for a diagnosis.'It would appear that this man swallowed so much poison, probably arsenic, that he is permanently preserved. He's like a damn Egyptian mummy!'
Through a friendly town marshal, Jesse learned that the federal men had checked out John Wilkes Booth's body and papers in Enid and reported some transient posing as Booth had committed suicide. The report listed the dead man's name as James St. George.
Wild Bill wrote years later, 'Was the Booth case still too hot to touch in 1903? I'm sure Dr. Samuel Mudd along with others would have been vindicated, and it would have exposed the earler ill-conceived, hysterical investigation, but the U. S. Marshals just turned their backs on the case. Maybe the U. S. government by 1903 had uncovered the real facts in the Booth case and was too ashamed to admit the big blunders made by the government in 1865.'
Under Jesse James' direction, the leathery, mummified body of John Wilkes Booth was put in a special coffin and several of his men took it on an exhibition tour all over the United States. Jesse James III reports the Booth body was owned by a Glencoe, Minnesota, jeweler named Jay Gould, a relative of the financier, who had it stored. 'This was in 1955 and I believe Gould has passed away. What happened to the body? Who knows? Perhaps John Wilkes Booth, hated by both the North and the South, is destined to lie forever unburied and unwanted.'"


Notes to the above by Philip K. Kromer:

For a very detailed account of the Abraham Lincoln-Rothschild-Booth connection, read the book titled "Lincoln Money Martyred," by R. E. Search. Another book along these lines is titled "Rothschild Money Trust," by George Armstrong ( = Andrew Fabius ). Booth hired a lawyer to help him write his life's story. The name of the lawyer is Finis Langdon Bates, and the title of the book he wrote is "Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth." To the best of my knowledge, this book was first published in 1907. Actually, it was published in 1907 by 3 or 4 different publishers, under slightly different titles. Del Schrader's account has Jesse James referring to the book as though it had already been published by 1902-1903. Whether or not this book had actually been published prior to the well-known and authenticated editions of 1907, I so far have not been able to determine.
As to the Knights of the Golden Circle, here is more information from Del Schrader's book, but I will not be giving the page numbers, and the information will not be in any particular order: "The Knights of the Golden Circle, perhaps smarting from backing a loser in Mexico, closed down and sealed the records in 1916. But The Organization run by Jesse James still flourished in 1923 and in fact in years later....Old Jesse did a tremendous amount of meddling in international affairs and perhaps God alone knows the amount of mischief caused by the outlaw and the Golden Circle underground.... One of the deadliest, wealthiest, most secretive and efficient spy and underground organizations in the history of the world was The Knights of the Golden Circle, which operated over the globe for sixty-five years ( 1851 - 1916 ). Ranking below the Golden Circle in this order were The Knights of the Golden Stirrup, The Knights of the White Camellias, The Knights of the Inner Circle, The Knights of the Outer Circle, and The International Anti-Horse Thief Association ( TEXYS ). The original Ku Klux Klan was the military arm of The Knights of the Golden Circle. There were several dozen "front" organizations, but only a few received any publicity. Some of the craftiest, finest brains in the South directed activities of The Knights of the Golden Circle. The group was heavy on ritual, which was borrowed from the Masonic Lodge and later The Knights of Pythias. A couple were members of the Rosicrucians. The 13-man Inner Sanctum which ran the Golden Circle in the years immediately following the Civil War elected Colonel Elbert DeWitt Travis, alias William Clarke Quantrill and Charley Hart, as its chief. He served until his death in the middle 1890s. Secretary of the Inner Sanctum was "Uncle George" Payne, while Jesse James was elected treasurer and comptroller in 1867 when former Emperor Maximilian donated $12.5 million to the group. The other ten members were General Nathan B. Forrest, John Patterson ( Jefferson Davis ), Bud Dalton, Professor B. E. Bedeczek, Lewis Dalton, George Baxter, Captain John James, Coleman Younger, General J. O. Shelby, and Jack ( Brac ) Miller. As members of the Inner Sanctum died or became too old to serve, they were replaced up to 1916.... Old Jesse James was the head of the Golden Circle when its executive body decided there wasn't going to be a Second Civil War and sealed the records in 1916.... Old Colonel James admitted in 1949, "Well, the Copperheads, Sons of Liberty and Order of American Knights were all tied in with The Knights of the Golden Circle and they rendered a certain help to the Confederate cause. Trouble is, there weren't enough of them. And a lot of them were just misguided, negative nuts who would have rebelled against the Confederacy and aided the North if they had been living in the South. I never figured this type of person too reliable and I sure as hell wouldn't have wanted to have ridden into battle with any of 'em." ... With Lee's surrender, The Knights of the Golden Circle membership increased rapidly, along with the subordinate organizations. The Golden Circle moved into an old building on Fatherland in Nashville. The old building stood where "The Grand Ole Opry" got its start.... Before the call came from Quantrill to report to Oak Grove, Louisiana, to map the rescue of Shelby's men, Quantrill had sworn him [ Jesse W. James ] into The Knights of the Golden Circle, saying, "The day will come, Jesse, when you'll head the Golden Circle. The South shall rise again, and you will lead the way!" ... Concerning the KKK, Jesse admitted, "It was the secret military police of the Old South, but the Golden Circle really rode herd on their activities. We began folding up the KKK a few years after the Golden Circle sealed its records for fifty years in 1916. We oldtimers had absolutely nothing to do with the modern KKK, which is a different breed of cat. Not many people in either the North or South knew that right after the end of the Civil War we recruited twenty-thousand Negro KKK members. They were the most intelligent and reliable blacks we could find. Our theory was that Negroes would take orders easier from other Negroes. They weren't burning crosses or flogging, they were giving counsel and even financial help to the freed, but bewildered slaves. They kept busy knocking stupid ideas out of Negro heads put there by unscrupulous Carpetbaggers." ... Only a handful of Golden Circle records remain today. In the first place, not much was written down. It was committed to memory. Jesse James III, who was raised at his grandfather's [ Jesse W. James ] knee from the age of 10, probably is the greatest living authority on the Golden Circle and he is close-mouthed. "Many secrets, which I learned from Grandpa, will die with me. Why muddy waters? Many fine Southern families today have ancestors who did violent and expedient things while serving the Golden Circle. I'll let sleeping dogs lie. ... At today's prices, the buried Confederate treasure would probably be worth at least $100 billion dollars. ... In later years, the Golden Circle was run by thirteen of the best and wealthiest men in the South. The Master sat on the Throne of the East and gave out his wisdom and directions to twelve so-called Disciples, who in turn each had twelve disciples. The only way one could get into the Inner Sanctum or Inner Circle was when one of the Master's Twelve died off or retired. There's a lot more involved in the Golden Circle, but that's all I'll reveal. As far as I'm concerned, the rest belongs to the ages!"

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Knights_of_the_Golden_Circle
http://knights-of-the-golden-circle.blogspot.com
http://knightsofthegoldencircle.webs.com

Friday, April 18, 2014

THE SECRET LIFE OF JESSE JAMES


THE SECRET LIFE OF JESSE JAMES
                  
   
Jesse James in life.Jesse James in myth.Jesse James in death--
or is it Charlie Bigelow?
History tells us that Jesse James died in 1882, shot by a former friend, Bob Ford.  Yet many believe that James faked his death, and lived for years under the name J. Frank Dalton.

Here his story--a true story of the Weird West . . .

Jesse James reportedly belonged to a secret society, The Knights of the Golden Circle.  Other members included Jefferson Davis, Bedford Forrest, and William Quantrill (leader of the Confederate guerilla outfit Quantrill's Raiders, with whom James rode).  Some believe the society was created by the notorious Albert Pike, the subject of many a Masonic conspiracy theory.

According to the book Jesse James Was One of His Names (written by Del Schrader, with Jesse James III), the American Civil War did not really end in 1865, but continued to be fought "underground" for 19 more years.  Its highly sophisticated spy network, operated by the Knights of the Golden Circle, continued for even longer and was involved in many subversive activities.  One of these was train robbery, a specialty of the James Gang, the purpose being to enrich the coffers of the Confederate underground.  As a Confederate agent, James was also involved in smuggling guns and ammunition to the Plains Indians, as well as providing training in guerilla tactics, for use against their common enemy, General George Armstrong Custer and the Union Army.

After General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomatox, a force of 2,000 Missouri cavalry and a full regiment of Confederate-led Red Bone Indians from East Texas, led by General J. O. Shelby journeyed to Mexico to join their ally, the Emperor Maximilian.  When they were later threatened by Mexican patriots under the leadership of Benito Juarez, an elite force led by William Quantrill and Jesse James was sent to rescue them.

While in Mexico, James was enlisted in an operation to smuggle Maximilian's treasure out of Mexico.  On their way north, the James force learned that Maximilian had "apparently" been executed by the Mexican patriots.  He and several others had been shot by firing squad, then loaded into carts and carried away for burial.  But the gravesite ceremony was infiltrated by Red Bone Indians, who noticed signs of life in Maximilian.  The Indians talked the Mexicans into allowing them to give him a separate burial.  Later he was nursed back to health and transported to East Texas.

According to Schrader, Maximilian changed his name to John Maxi and began living undercover in North America.  Jesse James traveled to Europe, found a double of Maximilian's wife, Charlotta, then smuggled the real Charlotta back to America, where she was reunited with her husband.  The man buried in Maximilian's grave in Vienna is a German seaman who died in a gunfight in Vera Cruz, Mexico.  "Switching bodies is a subterfuge as old as mankind," writes Schrader, "and the Golden Circle certainly had no monopoly on this practice."

For their assistance, Maximilian rewarded the Knights of the Golden Circle $12.5 million in gold, and Jesse James $5 million.

Jesse James was now a wealthy man, with enough power and influence to fake his own death--and, with the law hot on his trail, this was undoubtedly a wise move.

According to Bud Hardcastle (a Jesse James historian), the man who was killed and identified as James was Charlie Bigelow.   "Bigelow was robbing things and using Jesse's name, and that's one of the reasons they probably identified him as Jesse . . . and Bigelow was buried as Jesse James."

Supposedly, Mrs. Jesse James was in reality Mrs. Bigelow--a prostitute who had been bribed to identify the corpse as that of James.

Hardcastle states that others who identified the dead body in 1882 had ulterior motives as relatives or members of Quantrill's Raiders.  These men had all ridden with Jesse and taken an oath to protect each other. By identifying the body as Jesse James, they were setting Jesse free.

However, one member of the James gang, an illiterate black man by the name of John Trammell, left a coded message revealing the hoax.

Acording to Schrader, Trammell scratched some messages into some wet bricks.  One brick "contained an image of a Spanish dagger, the numerals 777, KGC [Knights of the Golden Circle] and JJ [Jesse James]. . . ."  The bricks, which were buried in St. Joseph Missouri, were discovered in 1966.

Jesse James began living under the name J. Frank Dalton.  (The name "Dalton" was his mother's maiden name.  The initial "J" stood for "Jesse," and "Frank" was his brother's name.)  As Chief of the Inner Sanctum of the Knights of the Golden Circle, James was one of the most powerful men in America.  Schrader writes, "The Knights had industrial as well as military spies on both sides of the Atlantic."

Among the activities of James/Dalton was the murder of John Wilkes Booth, another Confederate spy who did not die when history says he did.

After assassinating President Abraham Lincoln, Booth was smuggled by the Confederate underground to Texas, where he began living under the name John St. Helen.  In the 1870s he worked as a bartender in a saloon in Granbury, Texas, and began telling people about his past.  When the Knights of the Golden Circle found out, the decision was made to silence him.   Booth fled Granbury.

Jesse James, along with William "Wild Bill" Lincoln (a distant cousin of President Lincoln), tracked Booth to Enid, Oklahoma, where he had assumed the name David George.

In a sworn statement, "Wild Bill" Lincoln wrote:  "Our branch of the Lincoln family was never satisfied with what really happened to Booth, and I spent fourteen years of my life running down the true story.  Strangely enough, I learned it from Jesse W. james, head of the Confederate underground.  I was present at Booth's real death."

According to Lincoln, he and James crept into Booth's room and tricked him into drinking a glass of arsenic-laced lemonade.  The massive amount of arsenic consumed by Booth caused his body to mummify.  James arranged for the body to be exhibited on a national carnival tour.  The mummy's present whereabouts are unknown.

As "J. Frank Dalton," Jesse James turned his $5 million reward from Maximilian into an even greater fortune.  He invested in the Texas oil boom, and was also a backer of the Hughes Tool Company (founded by Howard Hughes' father).  He was also one of Henry Ford's early investors.

James/Dalton died at the age of 103 in Granbury, Texas.  Many people who had known the outlaw in life swore that Dalton was the real Jesse James.