Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society

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Bentonville Anti-horse Thief Society Marker.jpg
Bentonville Anti-horse Thief Society Marker

During the nineteenth century, Ohioans relied on horses for transportation and for farming. Horse thieves were relatively common. To help protect their animals, in March 1853, residents of Bentonville, Ohio formed the Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society.

The Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society is the oldest, continuing operating group dedicated to preventing the stealing of horses. Initially, its members would ride after suspected horse thieves. The group, if they captured the thieves, would hang the criminals without a trial. The Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society provided the men who caught the thieves a ten-dollar reward, which they split among themselves.

By the late nineteenth century, especially with the advent of automobiles, horse thieving declined. Members of the Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society continued their organization, but now it served as a social club. The Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society continues to exist at this writing. On the last Saturday of April, the organization holds its annual banquet. Thousands of people belong to the group, including people from across the United States of America. Membership is open to everyone, and people can become a lifetime member of the Bentonville Anti-Horse Thief Society by simply paying a one-time fee of one dollar.