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David McKee

David McKee

David McKee 150 150 ctx

Major David McKee Collection, n.d.
1 oversize box
Location: 0705-0706
Accession #: RC2010.009; H.79.2


Major David McKee was the founder of the Anti-Horse Thief Association. A framed photograph on paper of Major McKee is available for viewing and study.


A brief biography of Major David McKee is included below.

Major David McKee
In 1854, Major David McKee founded the Anti-Horse Thief Association (AHTA). He was a farmer and stock raiser from Clark County, Missouri, who “envisioned an organization for the protection of property, especially horses, which was often stolen by thieves living in the border area between Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa, where he lived” (Keen).

When the Civil War began, McKee and several other AHTA members enlisted in the army. After being discharged from service in 1863 due to a disability, McKee began the AHTA again with fervor because of the increased horse theft that ran rampant during the Civil War. The organization grew across several states and was not only opposed to horse theft but any law violations. It reached a peak membership in 1916 with 50,000 members.

Daly, Judi. “The Anti-Horse Thief Association.” The Long Riders Guild Academic Foundation: The World’s First Global Hippological Study. (link)
Keen, Patrick. “Anti-Horse Thief Association.” Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. (link)
“Origin of the A.H.T.A.” Oklahoma Outlaws Lawmen History Association. (link)

Gresham, Hugh C. The Story of Major David McKee: Founder of the Anti-Horse Thief Association. Cheney, KS: Hugh C. Gresham, 1937. Dickinson Research Center: Location 0239, Box 1, Folder 14.

This collection consists of one large framed photograph on paper of Major David McKee stored in oversize storage shelving in its original wood frame with carved design. An unidentified book that also arrived with the collection is missing. Its title is not documented on the registrar condition sheet for object H.79.2.

Personal Names:
Anti-Horse Thief Association
McKee, Major David

Subject Headings:

The framed photograph on paper of Major David McKee arrived at the Museum on October 10, 1967, donated by E.S. Berg of Guthrie, Oklahoma. A condition sheet was written in 1998 by a Registrar assistant. The book has an unknown location as of 2010, but was assigned a Registrar accession number (H.79.2) in 1967. The framed photograph was given to the Center on March 30, 2010, and reassigned an RC accession number, described, and stored in oversize storage. The current finding aid was written and updated online by Archivist/Librarian Laura Anne Heller on March 31, 2010.

The collection is open for research. It is advisable for researchers to discuss their proposed research with staff prior to visiting the Center.

Major David McKee Collection, Box ##, Folder ##, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Series 1: Major David McKee Collection
Location # Accession # Folder Title/Description
0705-0706 RC2010.009 “Major McKee, Founder of A.H.T.A.” Photographer unknown (possibly E.S. Berg). Framed b&w photograph on paper; Carved design 2.75 inch wood frame. Total dimensions: 23.75 x 20.75 in. Writing in pencil on reverse side. [Previous Registrar Accession # H.79.1]
Unknown H.79.2 Unidentified book. Missing. [Registrar assigned accession number H.79.2 on or around October 10, 1967.]
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