Were the Bald Knobbers Law-and-Order Folk Heroes or Murderous Thugs?
In the Lawless Post-Civil War Ozarks, the Vigilante Bald Knobbers Took Government's Place
When I was seven years old, in 1983, my family took a road trip from Stillwater, Oklahoma, to Branson, Missouri, a family-oriented resort town deep in the Ozark Mountains. Our destination was Silver Dollar City, a Christian-owned theme park that is like Disneyland reimagined as a 19th century mining village, all built around a cave that was a bat guano mine in the 1880s. There, I went on a frightening dark ride called Fire in the Hole.
In the waiting area, …