Tuesday, September 6, 2016

1884: Horse Thieves

Today I am doing something a little different. I am going to feature articles from 1884 about the lynching of horse thieves. Our first article comes to us from the Sterling Standard (Sterling, Illinois) dated February 7, 1884): 

VIGILANTES  on the Upper Elkhorn river, in Nebraska, have been hanging some more horse-thieves. Kid Wade, the leader of the Nebraska outlaws and horse-thieves, is the latest victim. A recent dispatch from Sioux City, Iowa, reports:  "The vigilantes have headquarters at a place called 'The Pen' at the mouth of the Long Pine. They have arrested a large number of men in various parts of Northern Nebraska and taken them away to 'The Pen,' where they are tried and disposed of in some manner. The fate of those arrested is not definitely known, but they are never seen again. It is supposed they are shot, hanged or conducted out of the country. The terrible earnestness of the vigilantes and the mystery of their ways cause men to shudder when their doings are mentioned. It is positively known that they have lynched eleven men, and equally sure that others have met the same fate, but how many or by what means only the grim executioners can tell. Kid Wade was captured at Lemars about three weeks ago by two of these avengers, and he seemed to realize the fate that awaited him, but manifested no more concern than if going about ordinary business.

Alton Evening Telegraph (Alton, Illinois) dated February 28, 1884:

One of the wounded horse-thieves captured by a sheriff's posse in the Deadwood region, Dakota, has been taken from jail and lynched.

Not a horsethief, but poetic justice in a way found in the St. Tammany Farmer (Covington, Louisiana) dated June 14, 1884:

—Henry Richardson, leading member of the famous vigilance committee in Brown County, Idaho, which hanged fourteen horse-thieves in three months, has himself been lynched near his own home.—Denver Tribune.

The Record-Union (Sacramento, California) dated June 25, 1884:

Horse-Thieves Disposed of.

BISMARCK (Dakota), June 24th.—A horse-thief named Jacob O'Neil was caught and lynched in McLean county, forty-five miles north, Sunday morning. There is a report this evening that four more of the gang were pursued to Mouse river, where one was shot and three lynched.

San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) dated July 21, 1884:


Five Montana Horse Thieves Lynched by cowboys.

SALT LAKE, July 20—News comes from Judith City, northern Montana, that five horse thieves were captured and hanged in the vicinity of Rocky Point a few days ago. The hanging was done by a regularly organized gang of cowboys, who set out to round up the thieves that infect that section, and they are doing their work in good shape. They secured thirty-two stolen horses from the quintet of outlaws and then made short work of them, hanging the lot to the nearest tree.

In the region between the Lower Judith and Musselshell, within the last three weeks, thirteen horse thieves have been lynched and it is probable the end is not yet. The campaign was opened by the killing of two thieves on the Musselshell, followed by the dispatch of two half-breeds at Clagett. Then one was hanged on Armed creek and another near Ft. Maginnis. Two more were lynched at Lewiston on the Fourth, and the big haul at Rocky Point is the latest, making in all thirteen.

Memphis Daily Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee) dated July 30, 1884:


Hanging to trees in One Town in Montana.

HELENA, July 29.—Advices from Lewiston, Meagher county, say that seven horse-thieves are hanging to trees at Muscle Shell. Two men named Downe and Felix were recognized among the number. The thieves are all supposed to belong to Downe and Felix's band, who have had their headquarters in that neighborhood. Some twenty of Granville Stuart's cowboys are out after another band who have made for the Woody mountains. They go fully prepared for all emergencies, and if they overtake the horse-thieves there will be another hanging, as the settlers and stockmen are desperate over the loss of their horses. Over 100 horses have been recovered within the past week.

The Belvidere Standard (Belvidere, illinois) dated August 5, 1884:

OREGON "regulators" recently captured seventeen stock-thieves in the Willowa Valley having in their possession a large number of valuable horses. Two of the men were immediately lynched and the others were handed over to the authorities.

The Somerset Herald (Somerset,Pennsylvania) dated October 1, 1884:

Activity of Vigilantes.

VIRGINIA CITY, Montana, Sept. 25.—The  bodies of two horse thieves were discovered hanging from a tree on Poplar river yesterday. this makes thirty-seven thieves lynched by vigilantes this season.

The Argos Reflector (Argos, Indiana) dated November 6, 1884:

THREE horse-thieves were captured a few days ago by a posse of citizens near the town of Prinville, Eastern Oregon, and lynched. that whole section of country was overrun with Stock-thieves, and the settlers were resolved to drive the bands out.

Steuben Republican (Angola, Indiana) dated November 6, 1884:

Reports are that, some distance west of Georgetown, Colo., seventeen horse-thieves were captured and lynched by vigilantes the first of the week.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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