Since the colonial days, when horses were the means of transportation, horse thieves naturally abounded.
To safeguard their most precious livestock, anti-horse theft companies sprang up all around the country.
In 1867, the Yardleyville Protective Company was created not only to combat theft of horses, but also to insure against any stolen small livestock.
The Yardleyville Protective Company, currently 150 members strong, will convene its annual general meeting on January 11th, 2020, for a sociable night out and shenanigans.
In accordance with historical practice, a gallows complete with a noose will be erected, “though there never was an actual hanging in Yardley,” according to Hank Crawford, president of the Company.
A villain (a.k.a. horse thief) will be mock-hung.
In these civilized times “it’s an honor,” he says, since “the villain is someone who is celebrated for his or her contribution to the community.”
The district judge will preside and two “detectives” will be assigned to search out the villain.
The annual Horse’s Ass Award is another highlight of the meeting.
By the way, “the Yardleyville Protective Company has female members, and half of the board is female, unlike all-male organizations in the area,” says Mr. Crawford.
Just as there have been female bank robbers, there were female horse thieves, including Belle Starr, the “Bandit Queen,” who was “the first female ever tried for a major crime by the infamous “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker…she stole a horse from a poor crippled boy, [eventually] spent five months in federal prison…then was shot and killed on her 43rd birthday with no suspects arrested.” [Bullets, Badges, and Bridles by John K. Burchill]
At the general meeting, minutes from 100 years ago will be read from the original ledger book “to keep the history alive,” and members will be given a handout of interesting facts from 1920, the dawn of the Roaring Twenties.
New members are voted in and those members who have passed away are recognized.
The Yardleyville Protective Company must sadly observe the recent passing of Patricia Miiller, president of the Company from 2002 to 2005 and its historian since 1970.
She was a member of the Lower Makefield Historical Association as well as the Consolidated Vigilant Society of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
All charitable funds of the Yardley Protective Company will be dedicated, in memory of Pat, to those organizations in which she was involved.
In the meantime, the Company is exploring future horse-related charities.
During the year, the Yardleyville Protective Company appears at such community events as Harvest Day, the Yardley Beerfest and the Christmas Parade, when they don their traditional black tophats to ride Sam Yardley’s grain truck and hand out candy to children along the parade route.
Mr. Crawford promises the 153rd annual meeting on January 11th will be a night to remember, complete with a 4:30 pre-meeting cocktail hour and the performance of Stephen Christopher, Hypnotist, during dinner at Michael’s Restaurant in Morrisville.
The cost is $47 (dues included for members) and $50 for guests.
All new members are welcome.
Please contact Mr. Crawford at 215-962-8557 to make your reservation by January 2nd.
PHOTO CAP: Standing from left, Ralph Nuzzolo, Hank Crawford, Bill Moculak, and Brad Varney; on truck from left, Susan Bissert, Wendy Varney, Laura E. Foulds, the late Pat Miiller, and Lori Rousseau.