The Old Turbot Horse Protective Society

15-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, February 21, 1911: The same old routine, I hope it will soon be broken. I was busily making errands today, they didn’t concern me so very much. I got a ride home from school with Oakes, and it was a little bit windy. The wind blew my cap off of my head, and I had to get out, and go back after it. Too bad, wasn’t it?

 Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later: 

Ah, the ennui of  the dog days of winter. I know the feeling—the holidays were long past and an almost forgotten memory, the cold seemed like it would never end,  and spring seemed impossibly far away  (though the wind suggests there is a bit of a spring feel and that blustery March was on the horizon).  And, probably NOTHING was happening in McEwensville. A few years before Grandma’s time, McEwensville was a wild and crazy place. . .

The large white building has had many names over the years. In the era of the Horse Protective Society it was called the Washington Tavern.

The Old Turbot Horse Protective Society was the center of the social scene in McEwensville in the late 1800s–though it probably no longer existed in 1911 when Grandma began her diary. The farmers near McEwensville had had a lot of problems with horse thieves, and organized the society to recover the horses.

Each year at an annual meeting thirty men were selected to be part of the posse for the following year. According to  C.V. Clark in an address to the Northumberland County Historical Society, “The yearly meetings were held on the last Saturday of the year and this was a gala day in McEwensville. With a membership which at one time numbered 290, the town was filled.”  

The annual meetings of the Horse Protective Society were held at the Washington Tavern, but according to Clark the society’s by-laws indicated that “members should not introduce or bring any spirituous liquors of any kind into the room where the yearly meeting was being held, nor smoke tobacco while on business. Members misbehaving at the yearly meeting were to pay a fine ‘not exceeding ten cents.’ ”

Hmm–the meetings were held at a tavern, it was a gala event on the last Saturday of the year–yet no alcohol was allowed. I wonder what percentage of the members were fined in a typical year? . . . I guess the town has become more sedate over the years.

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