Introduction: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker and Yantz indicates that an advertisement in the 1861 "Boyd's Pennsylvania State Directory" identifies Quemahoning Township, Somerset County resident John Horner as a gunsmith. They refer to this individual as John J. Horner. The Whisker's 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" refers to this individual as John Horner, Jr., and also indicates that he was in the 1861 edition of Boyd's Directory.
I consider the births of children to be significant events in the life of an individual. In the chronologies I have prepared for various gunsmiths, I have tried to include the children that family researchers have named. I have included very few children of John Horner in this chronology because I am not comfortable with the accuracy of genealogical research I have seen. In short, I encountered things that just didn't make sense to me. I consider the list of children provided in the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" to be the most reliable, and have included it farther below.
1782: The 1983 booklet indicates that this individual was born in 1804. Calculating from the information inscribed on his tombstone, I think John Horner was born on July 17, 1782.
1810: The only John Horner I could find in a transcript of the 1810 census of Somerset County was in Quemahoning Township and consisted of one male in the 26 to 44 age group, one female in the 16 to 26 age group, and one male and three females in the up to 10 age group.
1811: The 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "Jenner township was organized in 1811, and named for Dr. Jenner, the discoverer of vaccination." I have read that Jenner Township was formed from parts of the townships of Quemahoning and Conemaugh.
1813: According to the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" (see the excerpt included farther below) John Horner of Quemahoning Township had a son named John J. Horner who was born in Quemahoning Township in 1813.
In the 1820 federal census of Quemahoning Township, the household of a John Horner has one male and one female at least age 26 and under age 45, one male and three females at least age 10 and under age 16, and 2 males and three females under age 10. Two people in the household were engaged in agriculture.
1822: The 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states that John Horner had a sone named David (see excerpt farther below). A David Horner is buried at the small Horner Farm Cemetery in Quemahoning Township, where John Horner and his first wife are also buried. His tombstone is inscribed David Horner Died Nov. 1, 1849 Aged 26 Years 11 Mos & 9 days. Calculating from that information yields a birth date of November 23, 1822.
1825-1863: The 1983 booklet puts this individual at Jenners Crossroads in Quemahoning Township of Somerset County from 1825-1863. Jenner Crossroads is shown to be in Jenner Township on a map in the 1872 atlas of Pennsylvania, and is described in the Jenner Township portion of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania".
1830: In a transcript of the 1830 federal census of Quemahoning Township the John Harner household has 1 male and one female in the 40 to 50 age group, 1 male and one female in the 15 to 20 age group, 3 females in the 10 to 15 age group, 2 males in the 5 to 10 age group, and one male and two females under age 5, for a total of 12 individuals. This is the only John Horner I could find in the 1830 federal census of Somerset County.
1840: In a transcript the 1840 federal census of Quemahoning township, the John Horner household has one male and one female in the 50 to 60 age group, one male and one female in the 15 to 20 age group, and one female in the 10 to 15 age group. In the 1840 census of Somerset Township there was a John (of John) Horner household with one male and one female in the 20 to 30 age group. one male in the 15 to 20 age group, one female in the 5 to 10 age group, and two males in the up to five age group. There was also a John Horner household in the 1840 census of Shade Township with one male in the 20 to 30 age group and one female in the 15 to 20 age group.
1846: John Horner's first wife is buried in the tiny Horner Farm Cemetery (40.11623138, -79.00265816) in Quemahoning Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania (where John is also buried). Her tombstone states, "Memory of Catharine Consort of John Horner. Died Feb 5th 1846 Aged 61 Years 7 Mos & 19 days." In the inscription, only the "1" isn't perfectly legible. The maiden name of the first wife is said to be Kimmel. Based on the maiden name of his first wife, and the large family size reported in the 1830 census, the John Horner mentioned in the following extract from the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania" appears to be the gunsmith:
In the preceding extract, John J. Horner is described as having died at age 46. In my opinion, that John J. Horner is not the gunsmith who I believe died at age 79 in 1862 (see farther below). The John Horner who is mentioned in the above excerpt is also mentioned in the following excerpt from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania":
1850: In the 1850 federal census of Quemahoning Township, John Horner, Sr. is enumerated as a 66-year-old Pennsylvania-born farmer with property valued at $2,600.00. Living with him is his 62-year-old wife Catherine Horner and two Kimmel individuals. I found four other individuals named John Horner in the 1850 census of Somerset County, aged 4, 8, 32, and 40 years old. The 32-year-old individual was in Jenner Township and the 40-year-old individual was in Somerset Township. If the ages are recorded correctly, John was born circa 1784 and Catherine was born circa 1788.
1859: According to the excerpt from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" that is included above, John Horner's son John J. Horner died in 1859.
1860: There is only one John Horner household in the 1860 federal census of Quemahoning Township. John Horner is enumerated as a 77-year-old Pennsylvania-born farmer with a personal estate of $400.00. He is living with his 72-year-old wife Catherine. If the ages are recorded correctly, John was born circa 1783 and Catherine was born circa 1788.
1860: I wonder if the "J. Horners" residence on the following Quemahoning Township portion of the 1860 Walker map of Somerset County, Pennsylvania may be the residence of the John Horner who died in 1862 and is buried near the residence.
1861: The Whisker's 1983 booklet and the 2001 Whisker & Yantz book report that this John Horner was identified as a gunsmith in the 1861 edition of Boyd's Directory.
1862: Based on the age given in the 1860 census, that John Horner appears to be the individual who is buried in the tiny Horner Farm Cemetery (40.11623138, -79.00265816) in Quemahoning Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The tombstone inscription states, "John Horner, Sr. Died Mar. 8, 1862 Aged 79 Ys..." The rest of the inscription is now unclear. According to the W.P.A. cemetery survey the tombstone inscription indicates he died at the age of 79 years, 7 months, and 21 days, which puts his birth date in 1782.
1882: The Catherine who is said to be John Horner's second wife is buried in the Jennerstown Cemetery (40.15825775, -79.06427015) in Jennerstown, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Her tombstone states, "Catherine Horner, died Feb'y 23, 1882, aged 93 Y'rs 6 Mo's 15 D'ys". This age fits with the individual in the 1860 census. The maiden name of the second wife is said to be Good.
The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" mentions another John Horner who was said by Jack Horner Bell to be a gunsmith. This individual is believed to have been born around 1721, and came to live within the present bounds of Somerset County in the circa 1796 to 1800 timeframe as an old man. Since this individual came to the area so late in life and died in 1803, I elected not to include him in this website study because I don't know if he still worked as a gunsmith after he came to the area.
Several collector books have included another John Horner as a Somerset County, Pennsylvania gunsmith. That individual seems to have been in the portion of Somerset County that was taken to form Cambria County. Click here for more information.
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