French Lick, Indiana and the Knights of the Golden Circle


I suppose that this is a rather provocative title for PLN. French Lick and the secret society the Knights of the Golden Circle? Can there be a connection? Yes indeed. I did not realize this until late October of this year.

The first reference that I came across concerning the existence of the Knights of the Golden Circle was when I read G. Edward Griffins’ The Creature From Jekyll Island about eight years ago. It mentioned that John Wilkes Booth was a member, and that they might have been behind the assassination of Lincoln. (Note: The Creature From Jekyll Island is a 600 page book on money and the fraud of the Federal Reserve; it only mentions the Knights of the Golden Circle in passing).

Then came the front page article in the Springs Valley Herald last month concerning the loan of the Bowles pistols to the French Lick Museum…

The Knights of the Golden Circle was a paramilitary secret society founded in 1854 with the desire to create a “golden circle” incorporating parts of the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America as slave states. The KGC was founded in Louisville, Kentucky by George W.L. Bickley, a Hoosier then living in Cincinnati. It appears that there was a lower Midwest epicenter to this movement.

The KGC were organized into castles instead of lodges, as some fraternities do. The KGC was rumored to have been connected to Freemasonry.

On page 393 of The Creature From Jekyll Island, Griffin state the following concerning the KGC: “In 1863 the group was reorganized as the Order of American Knights and, again the following year, as the Order of the Sons of Liberty”.

Additionally, Griffin believes that the morphing KGC reemerged as the Ku Klux Klan after the end of the War for Southern Independence.

An October 8, 2014 online New York Times article titled A Union Awash in Conspiracies by Nicole Etcheson takes the opinion that the KGC and the Order of Sons of Liberty (OSL) were two groups, but interconnected. Etcheson stated that “The line between the two groups was hard to discern”. Etcheson also stated the following: “The Sons were strong in areas of the Midwest, such as Indiana and Illinois, which had been settled from the Upper South…”

Now it gets more interesting. Dr. William A. Bowles (1799-1873) was a physician, soldier, veteran of the Mexican-American War of the 1840s, cofounder of French Lick, Indiana, builder of the first mineral springs resort in the valley, and may have even been the one who coined the term “Pluto Water” for the local water previously promoted as a tonic. William A. Bowles also was the founder of the first KGC castle in Indiana and held the rank of Major General in the KGC!

During the War of Northern Aggression, Lincoln became a virtual dictator. Among other things, he closed down newspapers, imprisoned people in violation of the Bill of Rights, declared martial law, and employed military tribunals against civilians.

As the KGC was pro-South, believed to be involved in subversion, and allegedly paramilitary –several civilian members of the KGC were arrested and tried by military tribunal. These civilians illegally tried by a military court included William A. Bowles, Horace Heffren (the editor of the Salem Democrat), and a lawyer named Lambden P. Milligan. Heffren was set free, while Bowles and Milligan were sentenced to death.

After the war, there was a legal challenge to their convictions, alleging that it was illegal to try civilians in a military court while civilian courts were functioning (as they were in Indiana during the time of the men’s trial). The U.S. supreme Court rendered the legendary decision Ex Parte Milligan, which freed the men in question.

Ex Parte Milligan is a reaffirmation of the protections of the Bill of Rights, and is one of the precedents cited by modern liberty advocates against the excesses of America during the so-called War on Terror.

A descendant of William A. Bowles has recently loaned Bowles’s pistols to the French Lick Museum, which was the occasion of the Herald article that made me research this issue of PLN. His pistols appear to be a matched set of percussion, single shot, muzzleloading pistols – a type common among gentlemen of that day.

Bowles lived until 1873, and is buried in an unmarked grave at the Ames Chapel Methodist Church, on the highway between French Lick and Paoli.

The Knights of the Golden Circle, French Lick, and the right to trial by jury in a civilian court: who would have thought they were connected?


Note to the internet posting of this essay. I live in rural Orange County, Indiana. According to the 2010 federal census, we have a population of 19,840 people and only four incorporated towns. One of these towns is the French Lick mentioned in this article. (Orange County was 97% white in 2010).

Next, I have no idea whether or not there was a clear connection between the KGC and the Freemasons or Ku Klux Klan. G. Edward Griffin’s book that posits such is a John Birch Society type book, and as such mentions the CFR, Freemasons, and the Illuminati (whoever they might think that is) –basically everyone but that (((chosen tribe))) that for centuries has infiltrated and corrupted the banking, media, academia, and politics of every country that has let them in.

I wrote this essay as part of an email newsletter to some friends back in November 2015. I subsequently print published it as the 18th essay of my March 2016 book Putnam Liberty Notes. This is the first time it has been posted online. (Only 2 of the 24 essays contained in my book PLN have been posted online). If you enjoyed this essay, please check out the book that contains it on Amazon.

© Copyright 2015, 2016, and 2017 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.


Author: Joe Putnam

I am a Christian (Reformed/Sovereign Grace Baptist type), white American of Western European bloodline, advocate of an agrarian social order, Kinist, White Nationalist, admirer of America’s Founding Fathers and the Boys in Gray, homesteader, indie published author, and amateur historian. I have indie published several books, all of which are available from Amazon. I am a life long resident of rural Orange County, IN –in the part of the Upper South that many would term Greater Appalachia or the Dixie Frontier. In addition to my own blog, I am a contributor to the multi-author blog Identity Dixie. I am active in promotion of the Alt-South movement. In addition to my blog writings, I am currently gearing up for (at least) two more book projects –one theological and one historical. The theological one will cover the three interpretational views of Daniel’s 70th Week. I hope to have this book in print in late summer 2017. (Hint: I am, not a Dispensational Futurist). The historical book will be a biography of George Rogers Clark (1752-1818). Clark was a noted Virginia militia officer who’s campaigns, including his successful siege of Vincennes, basically took the Old Northwest from Britain during the American Revolution. Clark spent the rest of his life around the river that separates Clarksville, IN from Louisville, Kentucky. I hope to have my Clark bio in print in early 2018.

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