could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers


Today is:

of the
Anti-Horse Thief Society
Center Precinct, Buffalo County, Nebraska

(Found on Mona Houser’s GenWeb site for Buffalo County.  Parts of it are quoted here.)

This little booklet is just 6 inches by 7.5 inches, but holds a unique glimpse into the lives of some of the farmers of Buffalo County. Part of the Mardos Memorial Library, the hand-written journal contains the constitution and by-laws and the minutes of the meetings of an organization of neighbors committed to helping each other to prevent the loss of their horses and mules.


We, the undersigned, believing it to be our right and duty to protect our horses and mules from the ravages of thieves, and believing furthermore that we can much more effectually do so by assisting one another, do hereby agree to form ourselves into an association; and do hereby agree to abide by and support the following Constitution and By-laws.

Article 2nd. Officers

The officers of this society shall consist of a Captain, Lieutenant, Secretary, Treasurer and three Trustees, who shall be elected annually,…

Article 3rd. Duties of Officers.

Sec. 1st. - The Captain shall be the Presiding officer at each meeting of the society, appoint a suitable number of riders for pursuit, have supreme command of the same in preparing to pursue a thief, or in the pursuit of the same; appoint a leader for each squad of men sent out, and plan all arrangements for the speedy pursuit of the thief, as soon as possible after he has received notice that a horse or mule belonging to any member of this society has been stolen….

Article 4th. Riders

Sec. 1st. - Each rider shall, when commanded by the Captain, immediately appear, mounted on a horse or mule, at the place designated by the Captain (unless otherwise directed by the Captain) and there await orders.

Sec. 2nd. - Each rider, when on duty, shall implicitly obey the commands of the Captain….

Article 5th. Fees and Dues

Sec. 1st. The admittance fee for membership into this society shall be one dollar for each member which fee shall in all cases accompany the application and if the applicant is rejected the money shall be refunded.

Sec. 2nd. - Each member shall pay quarterly to the Secretary the sum of twenty five cents….

Article 6th. Assessments

Sec. 1st. - When a horse or mule is stolen from any member of this society in good standing and the riders fail to find the same, the Captain, when he is satisfied the animal cannot be found, shall report the same to the society and the Captain shall appoint three disinterested members of this society who were acquainted with the horse or mule who shall assess the animal at its actual cash value, as near as may be, and report same to the society, and the society shall require an order equal to the amount of the assessment to be drawn on the Treasurer in favor of him whose horse or mule was stolen, provided that not more than one hundred and fifty dollars shall ever be paid for one animal….

Sec. 3rd. - Should there not be sufficient funds in the treasury to pay the full value of the order the Treasurer shall notify the Secretary of the amount of the deficiency and the secretary shall proceed at once to levy an assessment equally upon each member to supply the deficiency….

Article 7th. Remuneration. Sec. 1st. - The Captain and riders shall each receive two dollars for each day's actual service of himself and horse, while in pursuit of a thief, or returning from pursuit and are under orders of the proper authority, said money to be paid from the treasury of this society; provided, however, that no compensation shall be allowed for the first day's service….

Article 8th. Duties of members

Sec. 1st. - When any member of this society ascertains that his horse or mule is stolen, he shall immediately notify the Captain of that fact, and the Captain shall forthwith make and execute such plans for pursuit as he may deem proper, provided the horse or mule when stolen is within twelve miles of the place of meeting of this society….

Sec. 3rd. - When a member has cause to believe his horse or mule is stolen, and it afterwards is ascertained that the animal had strayed and was not stolen, the owner of the animal shall pay one half the expense of the pursuit, the society shall pay the other half….

Sec. 4th. - After a member has received pay for his horse or mule, he shall have no further claim on the animal provided it should afterward be found but said animal shall belong to the society and the society may dispose of him or her as a majority of members present at any regular meeting of the society may direct; said animal, after it is found to be placed in charge of the Captain till the next regular meeting of the society provided that after the animal is found the former owner shall have the privilege of redeeming it by paying to the Treasurer of this society the amount of money he received for it and interest on the money while from the time he received it till paid back to the Treasurer the rate of interest shall be ten per cent per annum….



1st. - This society shall meet the first Friday in each monthly at the school-house in school district No. 28 promptly at 7:30 O'clock P.M. unless the time be changed at a previous regular meeting….

3rd. - Five members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business….

8th. - No persons, except members of this society shall be admitted to its meetings…..

10th. - All horses and mules belonging to members of this society shall be branded by a brand adopted by this society, and if sold to a party outside of this society, shall be counter-branded and no charge shall be made, or fee required, for branding or counter-branding….

12th. - The brand of this society shall be a semi-circle, the counter-brand, a circle.

13th. - Should a horse-, or mule-thief be captured, it shall be the duty of those who captured him to bring him to trial and justice as soon as the law will allow that the County may be put to the least possible expense….

Excerpts from Minutes

Oct 3rd 1879

On motion the secretary was instructed to levy an assessment of one dollar on each member of this society in order to replenish the treasury.

The following Resolution was offered by W.F. McClure, viz. Resolved that Art 5 Sec. 1 shall be altered to read as follows, The admittance fee for membership into this society shall be two dollars for each member, which Resolution according to our Constitution was laid over till our next meeting.


A Special meeting was called by the Captain Nov. 2nd 1882 and the following business was handled on the different claims against the Society incured in the pursuit of Horsethief were presented and allowed as follows: Captain William F. McClure, $3.75; F. Wilhelmy $3.00; E.H. Andrews $3.00; G.N. Smith $3.50; L.M. Brigham $3.14; L.D. Forehand $3.54. Total expenses $22.43. The Captain was then instructed to draw an order on the Treasurer for the several amounts and pay the several claims.
There being no further business the Society then adjourned.


 Kearney Hub

April 7, 1890 – Nebraska Notes

An anti-horse thief association has been organized at Litchfield.

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Our Cat Smoky looking for files.

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