Joseph A. Keck's Journal & Letters

File K234, Historical Library, Des Moines, Ia.

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J. A. Keck "Sons of Liberty, v.s. Knights of the Golden Circle" Stockport (R. F.D. No. 1), Iowa During the civil war, the above parties were in existence in the North East portion of Van Buren County, of which the writer was conversant with and took a part with the first party named and will jot down, some of objects, and doings of the parties, at that time, The faithful of the Knights of the Golden Circle, so named, the faithful gathered in secret conclave, under cover of the night, to concoct schemes, in opposition to the Union, to Suppress the Rebellion , by giving aid and comfort to the rebellion, by discouraging enlistments, and encourage dessertion from the army, and in every way they could to hinder, the work of putting down the rebellion. Their work was done, chiefly, in Union and Harrisburg Townships, and one of their meeting places was the Day School house in Union Township. We could name a score, or more, of this band of Sympathisers, with the south, that opposed the draft for the suppression, of the Rebellion, Union Township, spescially Winchester, and in the vicinity East of it was the hot bed of the order and at this time, of writing, we Know of none remaining, they have all passed away that took an active part, some took their departure or the West to avoid the draft, which was threatened at one time, Of course there remains some of the discendants, and for their sakes, we withold the names of the parties that were concerned in these transactions, and only as a matter of history do we pen these lines, that future generations may know that we had Tories, during the Civil war here at home The other party that styled themselves the Sons of Liberty, also met in secret conclave, to checkmate the opposition, and met mostly in Harrisburg Township at private houses, to discuss plans to counteract, and defeat the plans of the other party by watching the suspected ones, and reporting at their meeting of the doings of the enemies of the Union, and to bring to Justice the guilty ones The sons, of liberty were instrumental of bringing to Justice, by having arrested one R. H. McDow a resident of Harrisburgh Township, of treasonable practices agaisnt the Government of the United States The trial was held in Bentonsport before the Judge Advocate John T(?) Stewart, and sent to Keokuk. Milatary prison, and to the best of my recollection was kept there, until the close of the war, there was a great interest manifested in the trial, as it was the first, and the last in the county, and it checked the sessionists(sic) in their work, As the Hon R. H. McDow was an influential man, in their party and at one time was a Representative of the Gen Assembly from Van Buren county about 1858 on the Democrat Ticket He felt the disgrace so Keenly that shortly after his release he sold out his possessions, and moved to California. The late J. D. Israel was one of the chief promoters, and Henry Keck was a second he were both near Nighbors of Mr McDow, and knew that he needed watching, Now in conclusion we would say that these societies were local and confined to a few townships, but they had their histiries, and we have written this to preserve the History as a part of the Civil war By J. A. Keck Stockport Iowa Jan 25 1909 Return to Top of Page
Transcribed by Rich & Nancy Lowe for the Van Buren County IAGenWeb Project - copyright 2007