The White River Valley Historical Society recently received a large collection of documents and articles related to one of Taney County’s unique historical events for its research library. The Morrow Collection includes correspondence, newspaper articles, and local, state, and federal executive and judicial records pertaining to the history and writing about vigilante episodes in the upper White River Valley region, commonly termed the Bald Knobbers. Included in the collection which was assembled over more than three decades are ten Hollinger boxes with folders and large format copies of tax assessments and agricultural census data.
The origin of the Morrow Collection began in 1980 when Kristen Kalen began teaching social studies at Forsyth High School. She and then-Superintendent Maynard Wallace were both interested in offering a semester class in Ozarks history for secondary students. Ms. Kalen’s class became so popular that art student Tony Dunn painted a county history mural on the back wall of Kristen’s classroom, with the oversight and approval of the superintendent. Kristen married Lynn Morrow during her second year of teaching.
The Morrows became involved with Taney County and Ozarks history to a considerable extent, publishing several articles in the 1990s. The couple published “A Bald Knobber Sues Springfield!” in the spring 1993 White River Valley Historical Quarterly and in the Springfield Magazine in September 1995; “Nat Kinney’s Sunday School Crowd,” in the fall 1993 White River Valley Historical Quarterly; and Lynn authored “Where Did All the Money Go? War and Economics of Vigilantism in Southern Missouri,” in the fall 1994 White River Valley Historical Quarterly. Lynn served as editor of the Quarterly, 1988–2000, and held Society terms as vice-president, president, and is a life member.
More recently, Lynn made the collection available to Matthew Hernando, who was a Supreme Court fellow, at the Missouri State Archives, while working on his dissertation at Louisiana State University. Dr. Hernando recently authored the first academic narrative on the vigilante movements, Faces Like Devils: The Bald Knobber Vigilantes in the Ozarks published by the University of Missouri Press, 2015. Dr. Hernando currently teaches at Ozark’s Technical College.
The Morrows now live in Jefferson City. Kristen, who left teaching to become an attorney, works for the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education. Lynn, now retired, directed the Local Records Preservation Program at the Missouri State Archives.
The collection is available for researcher’s use at the WRVHS. Call 417-546-1830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.