Dr. James Brainerd Horner is of Scotch-Irish parentage, and is a native of Wisconsin. He was born July 18, 1849,
near the well known summer resort, Lake Geneva. The beautiful park now known as Kay's Park, just across the lake
from the Young Men's Christian Association Conference Park is a part of the homestead that his father, Samuel Horner,
received from the United States government. While yet an infant, James B. Horner removed with his parents to Marshall
county, Illinois, and thence in 1855 to Appanoose county, Iowa, to the farm near Moravia, where his boyhood days
were spent. Though but a child of five at the time of the removal to Iowa, the doctor retains a vivid recollection
of many of the incidents of the long journey across the Illinois and Iowa prairies in the old time covered wagon.
Dr. Horner's early education was received in the district school. At the age of eighteen he commenced teaching
thereby earning the money to cover the expense of a two years college course in the Wesleyan University at Mount
Pleasant, Iowa. After leaving college he continued teaching and reading medicine with the late Dr. E. M. Reynolds
of Centerville, until 1871 when he entered Bennett Medical College, Chicago. He was graduated from that institution
with the degree of M. D. on the 29th of March, 1882, having interspersed his medical course with eleven years of
successful practice. He has never ceased to be a student in his attitude toward his profession. He has given especial
attention to the study of diseases of the eye and ear, and has been signally successful in his treatment of such
diseases. In 1896 he took a post graduate course in New York city. He has been a member of the Decatur County Medical
Association for thirty years, serving the association many times in the capacity of president. He has also been
honored three times with the presidency of the Iowa State Ecletic Medical Society. He is a member of the National
Eclectic Medical Society, and attended the annual session of that organization, at San Francisco in 1915.
In the same year that he began the study of medicine he was united in marriage to Margaret Lorena Arnold, the youngest
child of Lewis and Margaret Arnold, pioneer settlers of Monroe county, Iowa. When he entered Bennett Medical College
he was the father of two children His family had increased to five when he received his degree in 1882. The fact
that he was able wholly through his own efforts, to give himself his literary and, later, his medical education,
while caring for his family bespeaks the energy and resolute determination that have contributed largely to his
success and achievement. He began the practice of medicine at Moravia, but, through association with his brother
in law S. W. Hurst and Samuel Bowman he removed to Decatur county in 1875, locating at Davis City. His name is
intimately associated with the early history of the incorporated town. The writer thinks he may have been the first
mayor of the town, if not, he was among the first to serve in that capacity. Those were the days that tried men's
souls, in the little border town. The southern part of the county, especially along the banks of Grand river, was
infested by a band of outlaws and rowdies, who strove to make a rendezvous of Davis City. The conflict between
law and order was a sharp one, and one that entailed much personal danger on the officials who stood for a clean
town. The stories and tales which the Doctor recounts of those early days, would fill a volume with material of
greater interest to the average reader than anything found in the pages of this biography.
For twenty five years Dr. Horner resided in Davis City, practicing medicine and in every possible way serving the
community as an enterprising citizen should. In 1900 he purchased the practice and residence of Dr. John Hansen,
of Lamoni, and moved with his family to that place, where he still resides with his youngest daughter. The death
of his wife occurred September 9, 1911.
As a man and physician Dr. Horner enjoys the confidence and esteem of all who know him well. His skill as a trustworthy
physician is recognized throughout Decatur county and other parts of southern Iowa and throughout northern Missouri.
He has gained material prosperity, but he values yet more highly the standing which he has attained in his profession,
the personal esteem in which he is held by his fellow practitioners and the wide opportunity his profession brings
him for service to humanity.
In politics, Dr. Horner has always been stanch in his support of the principles of democracy. Although he has taken
an active part in the affairs of the democratic party, he is a patriot, not a partisan. He served eight years upon
the pension board, during both the Cleveland administrations, and was appointed again to the same position at the
beginning of Wilson's administration.
Dr. Horner has always been an interested student of the Bible. He is broad in his religious views, although he
has never severed his connection with the Presbyterian church, with which he united in early manhood, and which
he has always supported as he has had opportunity.
Very soon after Dr. Horner took up his residence at Davis City, he became a member of the Masonic blue lodge, and
was instrumental in the organization of the blue lodge at Lamoni soon after his removal to that town. He has served
as worshipful master for a score of years or more, during which time he has perhaps conferred more degrees and
buried more Masons than any man in the county. He is also a member of the chapter and the eommandery at Leon. His
eldest son was a member of the blue lodge, and two daughters are members of the Order of the Eastern Star, with
which order his wife was also identified.
To Dr. and Mrs Horner were born seven children: Florence Mabel, superintendent of schools of Decatur county; Ernest
Eugene, who died February 22, 1907; Maggie Lillian, who died at the age of five months; Lewis Hurst, who married
Coral Smith, of Lamoni, and who resides near Davis City; Grace Gertrude, now Mrs. D. J. Walker, of Lamoni; Georgia
Arnold, now Mrs. A. H. Smith, of Lamoni; and Helen Mildred, who keeps the home for her father. Dr. Horner is justly
proud of the "third generation" with whom he is a great favorite. They are Dean Eugene and Margaret Ernestine,
children of the deceased son, Ernest E. Horner; Lewis Brainerd, Elizabeth Grace and James Brandon Horner; Raymond
Horner Smith; and Lowell Jerome Walker
History of Decatur County, Iowa
And its People
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Decatur County, IA
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