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I have previously touted the research of David Keehn for his book on the Knights of the Golden Circle and Booth's possible link to this group. I had hoped that the book would be ready in time for the Surratt conference, but that is probably not going to happen.

David has a website up and running now, so please check out
I'm recommending Knights of the Golden Circle again for your reading pleasure. David is also making numerous speaking engagements around the country, so please check out for his schedule.
Laurie, looks like a good book. I'll put this one on my short list.

Author uncovers Lehigh Valley links to secret society Knights of the Golden Circle
Author uncovers local ties while researching book on Civil War secessionist group Knights of the Golden Circle
April 12, 2013|By Kathy Lauer-Williams, Of The Morning Call
A secret Civil War-era society whose members included Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth had ties to Lehigh County.

The secessionist group Knights of the Golden Circle had a chapter in western Lehigh County's Lynn Township as well as chapters in Berks County, Allentown author David Keehn discovered while researching a new book on the group.

He also discovered that members apparently harassed voters in Fogelsville.

In 1864 during the Civil War, the state was electing a new governor. Citizens going to vote at a polling place at the Fogelsville Hotel reportedly were met on the porch by a contingent of knights, who heckled pro-Union voters.

Keehn recently found what he is confident is the same stone home used as a chapter, or what the group called a "castle," in Lynn Township. A group of 80 knights met secretly at the home in 1864, he said. Union spies who infiltrated the group at one point planned to blow up the home in retaliation.

The Lehigh Valley stories get just a mention in Keehn's book, "Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War," (Louisiana State University Press, $39.95, 308 pages.) It's an authoritative study of a group that is the subject of many myths and legends.

"It's hard to believe the group had castles in Lehigh and Berks counties," says Joseph Garrera, executive director of the museum. "No one would ever think something as sinister as this would be connected to this area. It shows how local history connects to national history."

The original goal of the Knights of the Golden Circle was to overthrow Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean islands and annex them to the South, creating a huge "golden circle" of slave states. It had an armed militia that drilled regularly.

When the Civil War started in 1861, the group changed its focus to supporting Southern secession and Southern rights. Keehn says the group became "the strong arm of secession."

The group was influential during the Civil War, with many members becoming "major players," Keehn says.

"Whole castles enlisted in the Confederate army," Keehn says. "The Knights helped strengthen Confederate forces and helped push key states out of the Union."

In the North, the Knights made inroads, particularly among "Copperheads," Northern Democrats who opposed the war.

"The Pennsylvania German didn't favor slavery but they didn't want to be involved in a war," Keehn says. "When the army tried to draft them, 80 to 100 members met in a barn."

Keehn found that many myths about the group persist to this day. One of the most pervasive is that the Knights buried gold all over the South during the Civil War. That's part of the plot in the 2007 Disney movie "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets." Books and websites claim to hold the secret to the buried treasure. In all his research, Keehn found no evidence that there is any buried treasure.

George Bickley, who started the Knights, was a colorful character. He was a phrenologist — someone who determines a person's character by studying the shape of their skull — and "bluffed his way into medical college," Keehn says.

Keehn says he spent seven years "unraveling secrets." He scoured thousands of old newspapers and letters for clues about the group.

"It was a shadowy organization that has a place in history," he says. "Secret societies were popular at the time."

It was declared a traitorous organization during the war, so members destroyed many of the group's papers. The group also had a three-tiered hierarchy, with the lower tiers kept in the dark about details and leadership.

Because Booth and so many of the co-conspirators had ties to the Knights, Keehn says he believes the group did have a role in Lincoln's 1865 assassination.

Earlier, in 1861, the Knights also were behind an assassination attempt on Lincoln by a Sicilian barber named Cipriano Ferrandini. During his research, Keehn found Ferrandini's commission paper for the Knights. It was among papers at the Surratt Tavern, a tavern-now-turned museum at which Booth stopped after shooting Lincoln.

"That's the kind of historical discovery that is really exciting," he says.

Keehn, a lawyer for Air Products of Trexlertown for 30 years, credits his wife, Sally Keehn, with encouraging him to write a book. She has written five critically acclaimed young adult novels, and in 1982 David Keehn helped her write "Hexcursions," a travel guide.

"After that I always had a hankering to write a book myself," he says. "I was a history major in college and I like to investigate things."

Keehn first focused on Abraham Lincoln and started doing research in Kentucky, which was a key border state between the North and the South during the Civil War. One of the things he uncovered was the story of Bickley, who had started a secessionist group that at one point numbered 8,000 members in the state.
Here is an interesting Knights of the Golden Circle blog.
****I haven't read it yet, so I have no idea what's in it. ***

Thanks, Gene!
And I'm going home and hiding under the covers. I started perusing that link, and what name pops up but another Potter!!
That was my first reaction, too!
I contacted David Keehn to see if he was aware of that blog site. He is and finds it more of a myths and legends spot He was surprised that they mentioned his book. He also told me that he's finding out some more interesting details about Booth and Michael O'Laughlen's wartime activities.
Thanks Laurie and Gene!
Are we finally going to find out something about Michael O'Laughlen?!
the Neff - Guttridge Collection has this "fine" document telling all about Michael O'Laughlin. You may especially enjoy p12, on how Michael was able to get out of Dry Tortugas.
What a crock of hooey! Confused

Thanks for a good laugh, Gene!
(05-14-2013 09:21 AM)BettyO Wrote: [ -> ]What a crock of hooey! Confused

Not to these folks.

Also, a .pdf file here.
Thanks, Roger!

I guess some folk just love fairy tales.....even if all else points to something else!

I've noticed that most of the references to subjects are either from Shelton's Mask for Treason or Eisenschiml; even Van Dorn Stern's NOVEL, The Man who Killed John Wilkes Booth, The Day Lincoln was Shot which although good, is basically a well as other suspect "documents".....

These are sources which no legitimate historian or researcher in his right mind would use -
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