Open W-F, 12-4pm, Sat 10am-2pm | (860) 364-5688

Open W-F, 12-4pm, Sat 10am-2pm | (860) 364-5688

A Protective Association or Property Insurance?

By Cooper Sheldon  |  Spring/Summer 2023

As we explore the collections and archives, it is interesting to see what we find. Recently, a framed notice was uncovered reading “$100 Reward The Sharon Protective Association.” Asking around the museum, we realized that no one knew about this particular Sharon Association, therefore we obviously had to look into it and see what it was all about. Little information is available on the association and there are only a few mentions, four in fact, in local and regional newspapers on its inception. Formed in 1900 by W.W. Peck and 35 others, the “object of this association is to protect the property of its members from theft, arson, and other crimes, including malicious mischief; and when the property of a member is stolen or injured to take prompt and proper measures to secure the property if possible and apprehend the thief or criminal.” It seems that this Association was similar to insurance, but only to those who could afford a five dollar (now $180) entry fee and fifty-cents (now $18) annual fee.

Sharon Protective Association poster

A specific focus of the association was the theft of horses, which is odd expensive, making it understandable that a reward of one-hundred dollars (approx. $3,600 now) would be given as a reward for the capturing of a horse thief. Outside of giving the purpose for the association, the framed notice also gives us a list of its, then current, members, the constitution, by-laws, and officers and trustees. While we would
love to share with you the exciting details behind the constitution and by-laws, what is more important is the list of members, officers and trustees. Thirty-six members signed the petition to have the Association formally established with the state of Connecticut, whereas the notice in our collection has 68 names, including both male and female names. Some of the more well known last names include Hotchkiss, Bartram, Kirby, Peck,
Prindle, Sedgwick and Van Alstyne.

W.W. Peck was its founder and acted as its president until either he passed away or the Association was disbanded. Speaking about longevity, it is not known when the association disbanded, but it is no longer a prominent protective force in the community, with police and home security systems potentially seeing to its lack of prominence. More research is needed to identify who was active in the association, during what period of time it existed, where they met, if they solved any crimes, and who held a membership. This notice is an interesting piece of Sharon’s lesser known history, though it is but one in a collection of many, many objects and documents. Who knows what else we will uncover with time and patience.

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