The Newtown Reliance
Company
for the Detecting
and Apprehending
of Horse Thieves
and
Other Villains

Founded 1819

Newtown, PA
Founded 1684

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Click here to read an excerpt from Joseph Barnsley's book in pdf form.


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 Pennsylvania. The minutes for the first eighty years of the Company's affairs were destroyed in a fire at the turn of the 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.

Today, 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.

(c) Copyright Newtown Reliance Company 2009