Anti Horse Thief Association pinback button, Oklahoma Territory, 1894. Near mint condition with original paper label. The button pictures a man on horseback with an early broad flat brim cowboy hat. He is riding through a large upside down horseshoe. On back the paper label reads 'Made only by H.S. Stovall Newton Kansas, Price 10 Cents.'
The Anti Horse Thief Association was created by a Missouri man named David Mckee in 1854. The organization was founded to combat horse thievery in the west which was rampant. Horse thieves were so common, people were reluctant to tie their horses to hitching posts. This was especially true in Oklahoma Territory where criminals would commit crimes in bordering states and hide out in Oklahoma Territory. There was scant law enforcement presence within the territory and people had to be self-sufficient.
The first chapter of A.H.T.A. was formed in Oklahoma Territory on July 27, 1894. Members had to be eighteen years of age and enlist for four years. The annual dues in 1894 were 10 cents. In 1895 annual dues were raised to 20 cents. Members of A.H.T.A. were provided protection from thieves but had to help others in need. Posses were made up of A.H.T.A. members to capture criminals. This was not a vigilante organization because the goal was to bring criminals to justice through the legal system. According to the Oklahoma historic society, between 1899 and 1909 the Oklahoma A.H.T.A. recovered $83,000 in stolen livestock and captured 400 suspected thieves with 272 subsequent convictions. On average, a horse at this time cost $25 and A.H.T.A. would spend $50 -$100 recovering a horse. This price of horse recovery could not be shouldered by an individual alone.
This particular button can be dated to 1894 because the paper backing states the dues were 10 cents. Dues in 1895 were raised to 20 cents.
A.H.T.A. became a fraternal, social organization in later years named A.T.A. Their later logo is different from this early example. I do not like the term rare, but I could locate no comparable buttons. An interesting item from the wild west days of living in the Oklahoma Territory.
Marks: 'Made Only by H.S. Stovall, Newton Kansas, Price 10 cents'
Size: 0.75 inches or 7/8 inches
Condition: Excellent, near mint. Please see photos
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