Jacob Horner, Somerset County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

INTRODUCTION
There were two men named Jacob Horner in Quemahoning Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. One was already taxed in Quemahoning Township in 1797, and the other wasn't born until 1803. The younger individual is known as a Somerset County gunsmith from tax and census records, and surviving examples of his work.

THE OLDER JACOB HORNER
1790: The only individuals I could find named Jacob Horner in a transcript of the 1790 census of Pennsylvania were in Lowhill Township, Northampton County:

1797-1801: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" reports that the older Jacob Horner was identified as a single freeman in the 1797 Quemahoning Township tax roll, appears with property in the 1798 Quemahoning Township tax roll, and appears as a single freeman again in 1801.

1798: According to the November 1972 issue of the "Laurel Messenger" Jacob Horner and Susannah Fox were married on April 19, 1798. Here is more about the marriage from the August 1974 "Laurel Messenger", which indicates that Frederick Horner witnessed the wedding:

1842: The older Jacob Horner died July 28, 1842 and is buried in the Sandyvale Cemetery (40.31213425, -78.91411372) in Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. His wife Susannah is also buried there.

An unfortunate misquote: In the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania", James B. Whisker reports that this Jacob Horner was a gunsmith. The basis seems to be text that is reportedly quoted from page 463 of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties", but the text does not exist anywhere in the referenced book. According to Mr. Whisker, the 1884 book states, "Jacob Horner was a native of eastern Pennsylvania. He settled in Quemahoning Township, Somerset County in 1800. He married twice and lived to the age of 76. He was a carpenter, farmer and gunsmith." Mr. Whisker has done an amazing amount of work documenting gunsmiths, and he is entitled to make a mistake once in a while. Here is what page 463 of the book actually says about a different Horner (not Jacob):

THE YOUNGER JACOB HORNER
1803: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" states that Jacob Horner was Solomon Horner's son, and was born on November 4, 1803. Using the information inscribed on the younger Jacob Horner's tombstone and several online birth date calculators, I come up with a birth date of September 11, 1803. I guess I don't understand everything I think I know about such calculations, because when I do the calculation manually I come up with a birth date of December 10, 1803. Run your own calculations and see what birth date you come up with.

1810: In a transcript of the 1810 Quemahoning Township census, the Solomon Horner household has one male in the 45 and up age group, one female in the 26 to 45 age roup, one male and two females in the 10 to 16 age group, and 4 males and one female in the up to ten age group.

1825-1863: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts the gunsmith Jacob Horner in Quemahoning Township of Somerset County from 1825 to 1863, and indicates he was born in 1804. According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Jacob Horner is identified as a gunsmith in the 1832, 1837, 1849, an 1853 tax rolls of Quemahoning Township, and in the 1861 tax roll of Jenner Township. Here's what Vaughn E. Whisker wrote in an article titled "Co. Had 30 Gunmakers-Gunsmiths" in the November 1971 issue of the "Laurel Messenger":

1830: In a transcript of the 1830 federal census of Quemahoning Township, Jacob Horner's household has one male and one female in the 20 to 30 age group, and one male under five years old. That was the only Jacob Horner I could find in a transcript of the 1830 census of Somerset County.

Circa 1832-1835: Christine Finecy's online genealogy "Horner's of Somerset Co., PA" indicates that the Lewis H. Horner who married Anna Nancy Blough, died in 1897, and is buried in the Stoystown IOOF cemetery was a son of the Jacob G. Horner who died in 1877 and is buried in the Mount Tabor Cemetery. Christine Finecy gives the maiden name of Lewis's mother (Jacob's first wife) as Mary Christ. Based on his obituary, Lewis Horner was born circa 1832. Based on his tombstone, Lewis Horner was born circa 1835.

1840: In the 1840 federal census of Quemahoning Township, Jacob Horner's household has 1 male and 1 female in the 30 to 40 age group, 1 male in the 10 to 15 age group, 3 males in the 5 to 10 age group, and 2 females in the under five years age group. The listed occupation is manufacturing. One of the individuals is blind, and two people older than 20 are illiterate. This is the only Jacob Horner household I could find in a transcript of the 1840 census of Somerset County.

1845: Jacob Horner's first wife Mary is is buried in the Horner-Mount Tabor Church Cemetery (40.12064826, -79.00371498), which is about three miles west-northwest from Stoystown, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She died on November 27, 1845 at the age of 35 years, 6 months, and 10 days.

1846: The September 15, 1846 issue of the "Somerset Herald" newspaper lists various marriages performed by Henry Landis, Esquire, including this one: "On the 29th August, by the same, Mr. Jacob Horner of Quemahoning township, to Miss Rebecca Miller, of Somerset tp." This is interesting for several reasons. First, the only individual named Jacob Horner in the 1840 and 1850 censuses of Quemahoning township was the gunsmith, so it appears that this is a marriage record for him. Second, Jacob Horner does not appear to have a wife in the 1850 census, but he does have children in his household who were born after his first wife died. Third, the person who seems to be Jacob's wife in the 1860 and 1870 censuses is named Margaret, not Rebecca. This suggests that Rebecca is Jacob Horner's second wife and the mother of at least two of his children, and may have died after giving birth to Nathan Horner.

1850: In the 1850 federal census of Quemahoning Township, Jacob Horner is enumerated as a 46-year-old gunsmith with property valued at $300.00. Living with him in his household are Margaret Horner age 34, Ann M. Horner age 15, Lewis Horner age 14, Abraham Horner age 11, Edmund Horner age 2, Nathan Horner age 1, and Catharine Miller age 8. All of the individuals were born in Pennsylvania. This was the only Jacob Horner household in Quemahoning Township. There were three individuals named Jacob Horner in the 1850 census of Jenner Township, aged 13, 24, and 39 years old. The wife of the 24-year-old individual was named Lena, and the wife of the 39-year-old individual was named Elizabeth.

1860: In the a transcript of the 1860 federal census of Quemahoning Township, Jacob Horner is enumerated as a 54-year-old Master Gun Smith with real estate valued at $400.00 and personal property valued at $240.00. Living with him in his household are Margaret age 44, Edward age 12, Noah age 10, Clarissa age 8, Jacob age 6, Margaret M. age 4, Nancy age 2, and Catharine Miller an 18-year-old Servant. I can't find a candidate residence for Jacob Horner on the Quemahoning Township portion of 1860 Walker map of Somerset County.

1860: Here is a "J. Horners" residence on the Jenners Township portion of the 1860 Walker map of Somerset County. Since Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle" puts the Jacob Horner on the 1861 tax roll of Jenner Township, this may represent the gunsmith's residence, but more research is needed.

1861: Sellers' 2008 book "American Gunsmiths" puts Jacob Horner at Jenner's Cross Road in 1861, and indicates the basis is an 1861 directory.

1870: In the 1870 federal census of Somerset Township, Jacob Horner is enumerated as a 66-year-old Farmer with real estate valued at $3,000.00 and personal property valued at $250.00. Living with him in his household are 56-year-old Margaret Horner (keeping house), 22-year-old Edmond Horner (Laborer), 20-year-old Noah Horner (Laborer), 13-year-old Jacob Horner, and 13-year-old Margaret Horner.

1876: A "J. Horner" residence is identified near Samuels Church and the residence of the gunsmith Daniel Adams on the following excerpt from the Somerset Township portion of the 1876 Somerset County atlas. More research is needed to determine if this is the residence of the gunsmith Jacob Horner.

1877: Jacob Horner is buried in the Horner-Mount Tabor Church Cemetery (40.12064826, -79.00371498),where his first wife Mary is buried. His tombstone states: "Jacob G. Horner died Oct. 2 1877. Aged 73 yrs 10 mo & 23 ds."

1882: An administrator's notice regarding the estate of Jacob Horner of Somerset Township appeared in the May 3, 1882 issue of the "Somerset Herald" newspaper.

1899: The individual who I suspect is Jacob Horner's final wife, Margaret Horner, died on September 21, 1899 and is buried at the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church Cemetery (40.08058559, -79.08577640) in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Her badly eroded tombstone may indicate she was the wife of Jacob Horner.

Here is an article from the August 1979 "Laurel Messenger" that mentions Jacob Horner:

Work product:

  • HORNER, Jacob, percussion rifle

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