Out west, tradition held that stealing a man’s horse was the most despicable and life threatening action imaginable. A horse thief was usually hanged without the benefit of a jury trial.
I recently came across the following article in the Sauk Rapids Frontierman on 7 June 1855:
The meanest and most contemptible action we know of, is for a white man to steal a canoe. It is a common occurrence, for some people who are going to the Falls or
, and who are either too stingy or mean to pay for a passage down by land or purchase a canoe, to steal the first one they chance to see. The people residing upon the river have lost a large number during the past two years, and we have lately been made a victim by one of this class of detestable beings—canoe stealers. It may seem cunning, and be a cheap way to go down stream, but if we ever find out the thief, he will learn to his satisfaction that “ St. Paul am a hard road to travel.” Jordan
I wonder if the editor considered hanging too good for any of these canoe thieves: