Newtown Historic Association collection on Newtown Reliance Company and other horse protection companies
Held at: Newtown Historic Association [Contact Us]Centre Avenue and Court Street, Newtown, Pennsylvania
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Newtown Historic Association. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
"The Newtown Reliance Company for the Detecting and Apprehending of Horse Thieves and Other Villains, founded in 1819, at the Bird-in-Hand, is the third oldest 'Horse Company' in Bucks County [Pennsylvania]. The minutes for the first eighty years of the Company's affairs were destroyed in a fire at the turn of the [20th] century. From newspapers and other sources, it becomes clear that important service to the community was the Company's most persistent activity.
"The Newtown Reliance Company was instrumental in the apprehension of the first prisoner to be confined in the new Council Chambers and lock-up, which was built in 1854 on State Street in Newtown. The prisoner was none other than the German mason who actually put the stones of the new prison in place. He was found guilty of stealing the freshly slaughtered hogs from the Wynkoop premises and was tracked across fields by grease left on the tops of fence posts. The Doylestown Democrat, in reporting the crime said that the whole crowd of Reliance Company members were at the scene the morning afterwards and 'were after the pork like a pack of grizzly bears. If the thief can escape "Newtown Reliance" he must not sleep much on the way, for they are an energetic association and have a faculty of chasing up a rascal with as much success as a hawk does a sparrow.'
"Throughout the 19th century, the 'Horse Company' continued to thrive. By 1937, the membership of the Association had dwindled to eighteen members and the treasury was near depletion. A membership drive in that year placed forty-six new names on the membership roster, and one of Newtown's oldest organizations was revitalized. As late as 1940, the Newtown Reliance Company advertised in the Newtown Enterprise for the recovery of the eight month old bull stolen from J. Hibbs Buckman. In 1944, it was advertised in the Advance of Bucks County that a horse belonging to Charles Goodnoe of Newtown was frightened by a stranger and broke away from the hitching post on their property and travelled all across the area and up and down the Delaware being pursued by the Company, where she was finally found by the New Hersey State Police near the Pennington circle. The last detective chase took place in the early 1950s, where members of the Reliance Company banded together against an early morning arsonist who had burned quite a few local barns in a matter of weeks. The members patrolled the roads during the night to serve as a deterrent, and the arsonist was captured in Richboro by State Police officers.
"The Newtown reliance Company for the Detecting and Apprehending of Horse Thieves and Other Villains no longer actively pursues local villains, but they do contribute to the community, particularly in support of law enforcement and fire prevention.
"[As of 2009] the Company is limited to approximately 250 members, 10 of whom are Detectives and another 12 who serve as Directors. Each year at the annual meeting, the Company inducts new members and rewards persons who may have apprehended horse thieves."
Quoted text from: Newtown Reliance Company. "History." 2009. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://newtownreliance.org/history.htm.
This collection contains records of the Newtown Reliance Company; research, publications, and ephemera on Newtown Reliance Company and other horse protection societies (mostly compiled by historian Edward R. Barnsley); and a small amount of original records of other horse protection societies.
The records of the Newtown Reliance Company include: minute books, 1899-1992 (early minutes appear to be copies); membership rolls, 1941-1996 (incomplete); stubs of membership dues receipts, 1944; and a scrapbook, 1989-1994.
The collection also includes a large amount of research by Edward Barnsley and others on the history of Newtown Reliance Company and other local horse companies. There are articles about various horse companies as well as publications and ephemera by the organizations, including an extensive sampling of printed by-laws. Aside from the Newtown Reliance Company, one of the most prominently represented organizations is the Grand Consolidated Vigilant Society of New Jersey and Pennsylvania for the Recovery of Stolen Property and the Detection of Thieves (founded 1891).
Minute books from the Newtown Independent Horse Company, 1867-1937, and from the Grand Consolidated Vigilant Society of New Jersey and Pennsylvania for the Recovery of Stolen Property and the Detection of Thieves, 1891-1941, also form part of this collection.
An item-level inventory for this collection is available in a database on-site.
The bulk of these materials were donated by Edward Barnsley.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
Detailed, computerized inventories of all of the items in this collection are available on site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Newtown Historic Association directly for more information.
- Barnsley, Edward R. (Edward Roberts), 1906-1989
- Grand Consolidated Vigilant Society of New Jersey and Pennsylvania
- Newtown Independent Horse Company (Newtown, Pa.)
- Newtown Reliance Company (Newtown, Pa.)
- Newtown Historic Association
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact Newtown Historic Association for information about accessing this collection.