A native of the Ozarks and a descendent of both Bald Knobbers and anti-Bald
Knobbers, Mr. Elmo Ingenthron began collecting manuscripts, newspaper clippings,
and transcribed interviews for his Bald Knobbers: Vigilantes on the Ozarks
Frontier more than thirty-five years before its publication in 1988. Mr.
Ingenthron felt “obligated to unravel the confusion that contributed to one of
America's bloodiest historical periods.”
Born in 1911, Mr. Ingenthron grew up hearing
stories about his brave and proud Bald Knobber grandfather. His interest in
pursuing the topic was sparked when he began teaching in rural schools in his
hometown; he observed that his Bald Knobber and anti-Bald Knobber students had
no animosity toward each other. Mr. Ingenthron was both perplexed and intrigued
by the “conspiracy of silence” happening around him.
Mr. Ingenthron used his position as the county
school superintendent to gain the confidence of Ozark natives, whom he later
convinced to share their stories. Ms. Mary Hartman and Mr. Ingenthron spent
several years writing Bald Knobbers, preserving the truth of such
a “frightful era.”
Bald Knobbers gives an action-packed
account of the notorious eight-year career of the Ozark vigilantes, also called
the Bald Knobbers. Mr. Ingenthron and Ms. Hartman trace the roots of the group
in the region's border struggles during the Civil War and examine the
organization of anti-Bald Knobbers that sprang up to oppose them. This true
story is complete with betrayals, violence, brutal murders, but most
importantly, it focuses on the zeitgeist of the Ozarks during the post-Civil War
time period: fear.
Mr. Ingenthron died in 1988.
Ms. Hartman is a freelance journalist who has
written several books.