Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

In pioneer days almost every community had to deal with the problem of horse thievery. There were some who made a regular business of stealing horses, usually taking them to some other community for sale. the thieves would have hiding places along the way where they would keep the horses during the daylight hours. It is said that one such rendezvous was located in the tamarack swamp in what is now East Warsaw.

On a patch of high ground called Bogus island the horse thieves would supposedly hide away. Pioneer law enforcing officials were usually unable to cope with the problem.

About the only way to meet the situation was to form a private company of citizens, which in some cases took the law in their own hands.

In the 1840's and 1850's there seems to have been a gang of horse thieves who operated over a wide area in northern Indiana. The members of this gang seemed to permeate all classes of society. At that time Leesburg was an important trading center; in fact it was nicknamed "the hitching post."

Evidently the thieves were quite active there, because the Leesburg Horse Company was organized in the early 1850's with a two-fold purpose: first, for the returning of stolen horses to their rightful owners, and second for the detection of thieves.

No Punishment
A short time ago we ran across an interesting article in the June 2, 1881 issue of the Northern Indianian which told of the history of this company. It seems that whenever a member of the gang was arrested, he was almost invariably set free when brought to trial.

So extensively were the horse thieves organized that it was almost impossible to secure a jury that one or more of the gang was not in. This article brings out that the various horse companies did not have much success until about 1858 or 1859. At that time a number of people took the law in their hands and hung a horse thief in Noble county. This seemed to scare many of the men out of the gang, and it became easier to detect and convict the thieves from that time on.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Nov. 24, 1953