In the twenty-first century, the word vigilante usually conjures up images of cinematic heroes like Batman, Zorro, the Lone Ranger, or Clint Eastwood in just about any film he’s ever been in. But in the nineteenth century, vigilantes roamed the country long before they ever made their way onto the silver screen. In Faces Like Devils, Matthew J. Hernando closely examines one of the most famous of these vigilante groups—the Bald Knobbers.
Hernando sifts through the folklore and myth surrounding the Bald Knobbers to produce an authentic history of the rise and fall of Missouri’s most famous vigilantes. He details the differences between the modernizing Bald Knobbers of Taney County and the anti-progressive Bald Knobbers of Christian County, while also stressing the importance of Civil War-era violence with respect to the foundation of these vigilante groups.
Despite being one of America’s largest and most famous vigilante groups during the nineteenth century, the Bald Knobbers have not previously been examined in depth. Hernando’s exhaustive research, which includes a plethora of state and federal court records, newspaper articles, and firsthand accounts, remedies that lack. This account of the Bald Knobbers is vital to anyone not wanting to miss out on a major part of Missouri’s history.