The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967 Page: 544
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
historian, and doctor of eclectic medicine. During the period
1854-1861, he used the title "President and Commander-in-Chief
of the KGC American Legion," and in the code of the KGC he
was referred to as "56." Some believed that, among other things,
Bickley had been trained at West Point,2 which he entered
through the influence of Henry Clay of Kentucky, but records
at the institution disclose that no one by that name ever attended
the United States Military Academy.3
Didactic and verbose, Bickley had a penchant for clandestine
groups and a knack for drawing up grandiose plans on paper.
He readily concocted elaborate and detailed rules and regulations
for the KGC, with maxims for every conceivable behavior and
endeavor, much regalia and undercover protocol, and designs
for emblems and costumes-costumes for special occasions, for each
office or rank, and the three degrees, or divisions. Each degree had
'Southern Argus (Norfolk, Virginia), May 16, 186o. Equally conflicting are
statements concerning Bickley's birth date and name. Without a citation, Crenshaw
writes that Bickley was born in southwest Virginia in 1819. Crenshaw, "The
Knights of the Golden Circle: The Career of George Bickley," 24. Gloria Jahoda
cites the Nyberg Mss. (Papers in the possession of Mrs. A. A. Nyberg, Urbana,
Illinois) for the statement that Bickley was born on July 18, 1823. Jahoda, "The
Bickleys of Virginia," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, LXVI (October,
1958), 478. Southern Argus, May 16, 1860, lists the date of birth as July 18, 1820.
Writers are even uncertain about Bickley's Christian names. Crenshaw, again
without a citation, but in agreement with the Southern Argus, May 16, 1860, says
that "his full name was George William Lamb Bickley." Crenshaw, "The Knights
of the Golden Circle: The Career of George Bickley," 24n. Jahoda, fully aware
that Bickley's maternal grandfather was a Lamb, states that Bickley's three given
names were George Washington Lafayette. Jahoda, "The Bickley's of Virginia,"
478. Once again Jahoda uses the Nyberg Mss. as a source. A. A. Urban, who knew
Bickley well enough to receive from him the "K. G. C. Alphabet," indicated in a
signed statement in the Bickley Papers, referred to below, that his names were
George Washington Lamb. For other biographical data see Harvey W. Felter,
History of the Eclectic Medical Institute, 1845-1902 (Cincinnati, 1902), 110-113.
See also Bickley (George W. L.) Papers (Records of the War Department, Office
of the Judge Advocate General, Record Group 153, National Archives, Washington).
These papers, hereafter cited as Bickley Papers, were accumulated mainly during
the formative years of the KGC. They were removed from Bickley's possession at
the time of his arrest in 1863. To these have been added reports dealing with the
investigation and identification of Bickley by federal authorities. Both Fesler and
Crenshaw used the Bickley Papers. Bridges did not cite them. A microfilm copy
of the papers is in the Southwest Collection, Texas Technological College, Lubbock,
Texas, which has also obtained photocopies of a small collection of Bickley Papers
in the Nicolay and Hay Collections (Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield,
'Sidney Forman, archivist and historian for the Academy, to R. S. D., August
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967, periodical, 1967; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/m1/574/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.