I was born and raised in rural Orange County, Indiana. Well, I was born in the Paoli Hospital, but my parents took me home to our house in the country. I have never lived outside of Orange County.
Orange County is a county in the southern third of Indiana. I am about an hour south of Bloomington, and an hour north of Clarksville, Indiana –which looks across the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky.
According to the 2010 census, Orange County had a population of 19,840 people. The county was 97% white. Orange County only has four incorporated towns: Paoli, French Lick, West Baden Springs, and Orleans. Paoli is the county seat.
French Lick and West Baden are adjacent, and the only way one knows that they have left one town and entered the other is a sign. I am not sure why they maintain separate legal status. All four towns have their own police force, but French Lick and West Baden have consolidated schools.
I have lived my entire life in rural Orange County, a few miles outside of West Baden. Much of my mother’s family have been in southern Indiana for at least 150 years, mainly in Orange, Washington, and Lawrence counties.
Religiously, Orange County has many churches. While there are two Roman Catholic churches, most of the churches are one of the many flavors of Protestant or Evangelical. John Wesley has more adherents in Orange County than John Calvin. There are also some Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a few Mormons.
Gun ownership is common here, as is deer hunting. Many people carry handguns, and you will sometimes see someone walking around the Paoli WalMart or a restaurant open carrying.
There used to be a lot of wood factories in this area, but many have downsized or closed. The main source of employment in my neck of the woods seems to be the French Lick Resort Casino complex, which owns two historic hotels, a casino, and three golf courses.
I suppose that we are a basically white, rural community on the fringes of the “Bible belt”. Enter Matt Heimbach. Recently, on October 26, PBS put out an eight and a half minute video segment on its website entitled Why white nationalists hear a political ally in Donald Trump. www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white-nationalists-find-ally-donald-trump/ Apparently, nationally known white advocate Matt Heimbach has moved to Paoli, when not on the road for his organization –The Traditional Workers Party. Much of the video was shot here in Orange County, and I recognized many of the buildings show in it –and have been in some of them. It appears that Heimbach has a close friend, Matt Parrott, who has lived most of his life in the Paoli area and is trying to start a white nationalist community here. Parrott talked about the economic decline here, which I have witnessed firsthand. Despite living in a small county, I have never met Parrott, though it is probable that we have walked through the only WalMart in the county simultaneously.
While I had heard of Heimbach, after this video I checked him out online, reading several articles about him, and a hit piece against him by the virulently anti-American Southern Poverty Law Center. It appears Heimbach spent much of his life in Maryland, graduated from Towson University, was raised Roman Catholic but is now Eastern Orthodox, is affiliated with the League of the South, and has been interviewed by David Duke. Heimbach is openly pro-secession. I have never met Heimbach or Matt Parrott.
I also went to his website and read the Trad Worker party platform. I liked parts of it, and disagreed with others. I wish them well in their attempt to wake up Americans to white identity, but I do not agree with them enough to join their Traditional Worker Party.
I guess that Orange County just got a little whiter.
Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.