Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 12:2 (Spring 1992). Copyright © 1992 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Vigilante activity, in which a somewhat organized group takes the law into its own hands, has been extant in the United States since the 1700s and reached its zenith on the western frontier during the last half of the nineteenth century.1 Many a hapless horse thief, or careless cattle rustler, met his end in a hangman's noose, as those who had property sought to protect it from those who had none.