: The stone monument and signage captured in this image highlight one of Ohio’s more colorful law-enforcement organizations, the Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society. The monument consists of a stone base and shaft with a peaked top. The sign’s text reads: “1853 – 1961 / Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society of Adams County.” (It also includes a list of officers and trustees.) Above the sign is a bracketed on the top by the profile image of a horse and on the bottom by a single horseshoe.
During the nineteenth century, Ohioans relied on horses and mules for transportation and for farming. The theft of these valuable animals, a serious offense, was relatively common. To help protect their animals and prosecute thieves, residents of Bentonville, Ohio, formed the Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society, a vigilante group, in March 1853. Initially a designated group of members would ride in pursuit of suspected horse thieves and the stolen animals. If captured, the offenders were hung without a trial. The Society provided the captors with a ten-dollar reward, which they split among themselves. The Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society is the oldest continuously operating group dedicated to preventing the stealing of horses
As horses lost their former importance in society in the early 1900s, the organization evolved into a social club. Its annual banquet, held each April, celebrates the continuity of this Adams County tradition. Thousands of people belong to the group, including people from across the U.S. Membership is open to everyone, and people can become a lifetime member of the Society by simply paying a one-time fee of a dollar.
View on Ohio Memory.
: AL06962 Subjects
: Adams County (Ohio); Horses; Societies and clubs; Vigilantes; Crime; Law enforcement Places
: Bentonville (Ohio); Adams County (Ohio)