Horse Thieves Collection

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Horse Thieves Collection

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The Town of Red Hook has been home to two societies organized to apprehend horse thieves. The oldest, The Upper Red Hook Society for the Apprehension and Detention of Horse Thieves, was founded in 1796, to protect what was then the most valuable critical possession of the farmer – the horse. Sixty-three local farmers formed the society at the Upper Red Hook Inn of Stephen Holmes on October 10, 1796. Riders were appointed to be on call to pursue any thief that stole a member’s horse and the roster changed every year at the annual meeting, set for the second Tuesday in October, when dues were paid. The Society was a ‘male only’ organization until 1956. Annual meetings are held to this day, featuring a dinner, reports on any stolen horses, and horse-related talk by a guest speaker.

Scope of Collection

This collection contains three minute books. One from the Independent Society for the Detection of Horse Thieves in the Lower Village of Red Hook and two from the Upper Red Hook Society for the Detection and Apprehension of Horse Thieves. The ledgers include minutes from annual meetings, bylaws, finances, memberships and appointment of officers.