The Civil War was devasting not only to the southern battleground states but in
all states. After the Civil War, Southwest Missouri was a devastated area
characterized by a failing economy, high taxes, lawlessness, disorder, and a
general breakdown of society, especially in the small towns and rural regions of
A man by the name of Nathanial Kinney moved to Taney County, Missouri in
1883. Kinney had fought in the war as a soldier for the north as a private in
General Grant's army.
After the war, Nathanial Kinney eluded to some that his rank in the war was
that of Captain. Nathanial was big in stature at 6'4, he was as solid as a rock.
Unlike most men during that period, Nathanial Kinney always carried two guns
and knew how to use them.
In 1877 , he moved to Topeka, a town undergoing tremendous economic and
population growth. While there, Nat worked as a teamster, boarded at a local
hotel, and became manager for a public hack service owned by Alfred H. Terry, a
U.S. Indian Commissioner and Indian Peace Commissioner, principal in railroad
construction to military posts, and negotiator in tribal consolidation and peace
Kinney was well remembered in Topeka for his brawling ruffian’s life. Yet, an
old Kansas militia mate recalled Kinney as a help to travelers at the Topeka train
depot, giving directions and aid. Nathanial Kinnet eventually met and married
the widow of a former Union Officer. Maggie was a major influence on
Nathaniel N. Kinney came to Taney County by way of Kansas, although the man
who would become the chieftain of the Bald Knobbers in Taney County had
lived an adventurous and well-travelled life by the time he brought his family
here in 1883. , Despite the heat of his leadership, his neighbors testified to his
pleasure in the quiet of family life, his pride in children, and his love of fine
horses. Soon after Kinney’s arrival in Taney County, he became politically active.
Kinney soon found conditions in Taney County to be one of lawlessness and
under renegade and bushwacker rule. Not a single suspect was convicted with
over 40 murders in the years after the war.
Nathanial Kinney and those that followed his leadership became a power of
over 1000 men to be reckoned with and their actions and deeds were know
across the United Stated and Europe. The Bald Knobbers became a force to be
recokned with in Taney County and all the way to the Statehouse in Jefferson
• Kinney owned 267 acres of fertel bottomland. He added several rooms to an
existing two room log cabin. He furnished it with red plush furniture and a
piano for Maggie. He farmed a large portion of the land and furnished it with
pure bred cattle, blooded horses, dogs sheeps, hogs and mules.
• Kinney always wore 2 guns. A short barell colt 45 in his waist band and a gun
he called long tom in a holster.
• Kinney remodled the nearby Oak Grove school house into a church where he preached and
taught the scriptures.
• Nathanial Kinney was the leader of the "Citizens League for Law And Order", known by the
locals as he "Bald Knobbers" because of the the open clearing on top of some of the mountains
(called bald knobs) where the group would hold secret meetings.
Kinney called together twelve of the county’s leaders who met in secret, forming a committee to
fight the lawlessness and elect officials who would enforce the law. The group became known as
the Bald Knobbers eventually gaining national attention. The Bald Knobbers continued to grow
and before long the group had between 500 and 1,000 members.
The nation’s newspapers published stories about the bloody war in Missouri and the Bald
Knobbers were described as the nation’s largest and fiercest vigilante movement
Our film tells the true story of events that took place in Taney and Christian County Missouri. It is
not just about the reign of terror of the era. It's about the people who lived, suffered, loved and
Our information is taken from many sources including decendents of the ones that were involved
in the conflicts and war waged under the banner of law and order.
"BALD KNOBBER" is dedicated to those that came before us that created the amazing history of
the Ozarks in Missouri.