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
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
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
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
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.
7, 1890 – Nebraska Notes
anti-horse thief association has been organized at