There's a happy child at home,
In my mem'ry I can see,
Standin' out upon the hill,
'Neath the shadow of the tree.
If I could see the ones I love,
It'd give my heart a thrill.
How I'd like to wander back
To that cabin on the hill.

O, I want to wander back
To the cabin on the hill,
In the shadow of the Ozarks,
I would like to linger still.
Just to be with those I love,
My heart would overfill,
O! I'm gonna wander back
To the cabin on the hill.
-- Folk Song, Author Unknown
The Ballad of the Bald Knobbers

Adieu to old Kirbyville, I can no longer stay, Hard times and Bald Knobbers has driven me away,
Hard times and Bald Knobbers has caused me for to roam, My name is Andrew Coggburn, near Kirbyville's my home.
My friends and relations, it's much against my will To leave my dear old mother and go from Kirbyville.
But for the sake of dear ones, who want me for to go, I'll arm myself with weapons and I'm off to Mexico.

Bald Knobbers are no gentlemen, they're nothing more than hogs, they tried to hunt me down & treat me like a dog.
They're nothing but big rascals, and their names I'll expose.They'll take all of your money and rob you of your clothes.
There's one big Bald Knobber who is a noted rogue. He stole from Joseph Bookout some sixteen head of hogs.
Walked boldly in the courthouse and swore they was his own. He stole them by the drove and horsed 'em over home.

There's another Bald Knobber who rides a pony blue. He robbed old Nell MacCully and Mister Thompson, too.
He took from them their money and from them rode away, And now the highway robbers is the big men of the day.
There's one big black rascal whose name I will expose. His name is Nat N. Kinney, and he wears his Federal clothes.
He tries to boss the people and make them do his will. There's some that does not fear him, but others mind him still.

To raise Bald Knobber excitement, I made a splended hand. I don't fear judge nor jury, I don't fear any man.
.If the Knobbers want to try me, they've nothing else to do. I'll take me my old Colt and I'll make an opening through.
These Knobbers run the country, but they can't keep it up. They'll stick their tail between their legs, like any other pup.
And there a day a-coming when they will hunt their dens, And if I'm not mistaken, there's some will find their ends.

I've tried to live in peace with all, Bald Knobbers they say no; and if you don't do what they say, you have to up and go.
My mother begs & pleads with me, she's fearful for my life; she wants me to depart from here & from Bald Knobber strife.
For each stripe that they gave me, I've sworn to get a man I'm spending all my time now in thinning down the klan.
And there's a day a-coming when they all will hunt their dens, and if I'm not mistaken, there's more will find their ends.

Song written by Anti-Bald Knobbers in the 1880's,
some say Andrew or Robert Coggburn composed it; Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey believed "Aunt Matt" Moore wrote it.
In winter, each stone, each stick,
each flower, each leaf
Speaks to me of the old time grief.
Yet when I walk this way in spring,
They laugh and I laugh,
they sing and I sing.
-- Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey
The Moonshiner in Action

Then the long and lanky chemist sought his lair within the mountains,
By the big spring in the hollow, where the weeds and brush grew thickly.
Built he there his moonshine factory, skilled and cunning did he build it,
That no eye could see the smoking, that no ear might hear the boiling,
That no snoot might scent the scorching.
Mixed he then his mash with caution.......purest corn and sparkling water.
Waited then for the fermenting, hoping, dreaming in the canyon.
Little did he mind the labor, son of toil and son of sorrow.
For he knew that this firewaater, clear as dew, and flowery scented,
Would bring him a shower of dollars----needed dollars this hard winter.
That men would rise up to call him blessed, bless him for his skilled labor,
Bless him for the pungent liquor,
That he made down in the hollow, in the frosty, rocky hollow.
-- Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey
A Cabin in the Ozarks

A cabin in the Ozarks is the happiest place I know
When the frogs begin to sing and March winds start to blow.
When the dogwood trees are shining on the hills in robes of purest white,
Then my old reel gets to whining, for it's now the bluegills bite.
A cabin in the Ozarks in the summer's misty haze,
Is where I love to linger, dreaming through the quiet days.
This cabin in the Ozarks has a fireplace deep and wide;
A pot of stew on the hearth, and my old dog by my side.
I can see a big wild turkey in a white oak on the hill,
Where the frosty ridge is sparkling in the moonlight cold and still,
And I think I'll stop my wanderings for this spot that I have found
In the blue-hazed Ozark mountains is just right the whole year round
-- Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey
Taney County, Missouri, in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, was the home of two sets of my
2-g-grandparents, the Jacksons and the Matthews.  My g-grandfather, Samuel Jackson, was born there
and my g-grandmother, Susan Matthews, came with her family from Illinois when she was a child.  They
married in the town of Bradleyville, Taney County, Missouri,  and all of their children were born there.  
When my grandfather was 12, Samuel and Susan packed the family's belongings into a wagon and headed
west to the opening land of opportunity everyone was talking about, Texas.  My grandfather didn't forget
his childhood in Taney County or the tales his father told him.  For hours at a time, he would regale me with
stories of outlaws who roamed the Ozarks, the Bald Knobbers' vigilante justice, the moonshiners' hiding
places and the lawmen who tried to track them all down.  I never grew tired of hearing his tales.  And he
never grew tired of telling them.  Grandpa, this one's for you.   Nancy
Taney County courthouse, Forsyth
Built in 1890; photo above taken
about 1915;  below, 1940
Bradleyville, the Bill Smith Hotel, about 1905
Ferry on the White River
During the late 1800's, Uncle John Hilsebeck and his wife ran a
hotel in Forsyth.  Uncle John was quite a character and stories
about him abound.  He loved to fish, play poker and share a
drink with the guests.  He had a habit of beginning every
sentence with "I say, I say."  One hot summer day, Mrs.
Hilsebeck was toiling away in the kitchen, cooking for a hotel
full of guests.  She ran out of wood and yelled to Uncle John,
"Hilsebeck, get some wood!!  You aren't worth a nickel for
anything, never turn a hand around here."  Uncle John calmly
replied, as he trudged off to the woodyard, "I say, I say, Old
woman, if it warn't for me, what would you do for fish?"
  Along about 1890, the people of Forsyth decided to build a
church.  The sturdy stone church was built on the ferry road
between the courthouse and the river.  Some time after it was
completed, a townsman told Uncle John that lawyer Ford had
checked the law and found that the saloon, which had been
there for fifty years, was too close to the church.  Uncle John
chuckled and said, "Well, I say, I say, they're a'gonna have to
move the church."   
   From Hill and Holler Stories by Douglas Mahnkey
Branson after the fire
Twenty-one businesses were destroyed in 1912,
after a fire broke out in the hotel.
The first tomato canning factory in
Taney County, about 1900
Protem, 1903
They say Steve Bailey
Was not much good,
But he cleared all the brush
From the white oak wood.
He walled with stone
The dripping spring,
Where birds alight
To bathe and sing.
He planted grape vines
And a walnut tree,
Then he left this beauty
For you and me.
Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey
He was a high-hat, pompous and stately.
In anguish, I twisted my apron strings.
(Wealth and dignity are fearsome things.)
Wondering what I should try to say
To this potentate who had come my way,
Twisting and folding my apron strings.
(Wealth and dignity are fearsome things.)
Then he stooped to caress my flowering moss,
He smiled at my rose on its cedar cross,
And I dropped my twisted apron strings,
For roses and gardens are kindred things.
-- Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey
Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey was a wonderfully talented
poet from Taney County.  Her son, Douglas Mahnkey, has written a
treasure of a book about his Taney County memories, titled
Hill and
Holler Stories
, published in 1992, by Ozarks Mountaineer.
The Bald Knobbers handed out their own particular style of justice
from about 1884-1892, in an effort to stem the rising tide of
lawlessness in the isolated hills and hollows of Taney County.  By
placing "Bald Knobbers" in any search engine, you can find
information about this much-feared group of vigilantes and their
ultimate fate.  An excellent book on the subject is
Bald Knobbers,
Vigilantes on the Ozarks Frontier
by Mary Hartman
and Elmo Ingenthron, published in 1988, by the folks who own
my favorite place to shop for books,
Pelican Publishing Co., Gretna, LA.

"Old Matt's" Cabin of Shepherd of the Hills fame
Uncle John and his catch of the day