|A Day in Indiana History - September|
The newly formed counties of northern Indiana became a hotbed for criminals. The lack of law enforcement encouraged the formation of criminal gangs that engaged in various illegal activities. Stealing horses, counterfeiting, gambling, robbery, arson and murder were common crimes. The Indiana General Assembly passed an act in 1852 that allowed local citizens to form companies to find arrest and deal with these criminals. This began the so-called Regulator movement in northern Indiana that saw the formation of several of these groups. The first to form was the LaGrange County Rangers, for the “detection and apprehension of horse thieves and other nefarious operators.” Other groups soon followed with names like the Noble County Invincibles, Angola Regulators, Jackson Prairie Horsethief Detecting Society and Self Protectors of Springfield. Thirty-six companies would form in northern Indiana. The law required each of these companies to form a constitution and bylaws. They also elected officers. The act authorized these companies to detect and arrest criminals. It did not allow them to try them or pass sentence on them.