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Topeka Historical Society meeting to focus on local regulators in the 1850s

 

The Topeka Area Historical Society’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, will focus on the Clearspring-Eden police detectives of the late 1850s. A PowerPoint presentation will highlight several members of these local regulators. The meeting will be held in the Topeka Branch Library beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“The Hawpatch was a wild, lawless place in the mid-1850s until Dr. Abner Lewis, Hawley Peck, and others took the law into their own hands,” observed Topeka Historical Society President Harold Gingerich. “In some respects, these regulators were little more than legalized vigilantes.”

Organized horse thieves, counterfeiters, and other criminal types operated at such a level in Northern Indiana that the State of Indiana authorized the formation of local groups of regulators in 1852. The most famous horse thief to be caught and hung in the area was Gregory McDougle.  The names of several prominent Topeka residents have recently been found among the signers of McDougle’s death sentence. According to Gingerich, one Topeka church still has a stained glass window bearing the name one of the signers.

The meeting is open to the public. Refreshments will be served following the meeting. For more information, call (260) 499-0126.

The Topeka Area Historical Society holds bi-monthly public meetings and publishes a quarterly newsletter. Newsletters are available online at www.topeka historicalsociety.com.