George Larkin Horner was born in 1909 in Calico Rock, Arkansas, the eldest George Lewis Vincent Horner and Ada Belle Carpenter's six children. In 1956, he moved from Cutbank, Montana to Alaska with a wife and four sons (John, Carl, Jim and Joe).
For much of his life he was a cook and baker. In 1940 he was chef in Kansas City, Mo., and went into the army in 1942. From Cook I and II he became mess sergeant in the Officers' Mess. He went on to live in Montana and Washington before moving to Alaska.
After one year in Alaska he moved to the Kenai Peninsula, homesteading at Mile 27 on the North Road.
George L. Horner
As told by Lance Ware:
I asked George one time, “Can you get behind the wheel of this car. I’ve got to pull it.” He replied, “No, I don’t drive.” So I asked him, “Why don’t you drive?” He said, “Well, my brother and I got together, made enough money, and bought a car. We were driving home; it was dark, and we hit a culvert, about axle-high. And when I woke up,” – in the picture you see this big scar on his forehead, and he said, “You see this scar? When I woke up, I had this big scar on my head, and my brother was laying there dead. My mother never forgave me. She forbade us to buy the car, and we countermanded her decision, and I’ve never driven again and I will not drive.”
One day I came by to see him and a woman was sitting there. He said, “This is my sis, Janet.” She hadn’t seen him since before WWII, and this was in the late 70’s. She said she had decided to look him up and find him, and, “Poof, here we are.” She said, “I’m going to find our other brother.” George said the last he had heard, his brother was in California. His brother Weldon was indeed living in Monterey, California; he died in 1990 and was survived by a daughter and two sons.
George Horner (left) with parents and siblings
I asked George one day, “What brought you to Alaska?” He said, “I was working as a cook, and my wife was working as a waitress. She was walking home from work, and someone stopped her and beat her up." Then they moved to Anchorage.
He had a home in Anchorage that he and his wife had bought and paid for; it was at 11th and I Streets in Anchorage. He couldn’t pay the property taxes on that house, so the city of Anchorage took it. He bought a trailer in Mountain View in a park there. In the meantime, his wife had left him. (As a side note, George was married about 8 times. I think he enjoyed getting married, but did not enjoy being married…) He lost his job, and had nowhere to go, so he signed up for unemployment and decided to prove up on the homestead.
Then he moved the trailer down from Anchorage to where the North Road ended, at Daniel’s Lake. When Daniels Lake froze up, they towed it across the lake. Mike Corder, a homesteader across the lake from George had a Willys Jeep pickup with the winch on the front. Mike first winched his Jeep pickup through the woods and managed to get turned around and then ran the winch line down to the trailer and pulled it up.
(Photos provided by Lance Ware)
Patent on George Horner's homestead. Today it is divided into four parcels.
Willys Jeep similar to Mike Corder's
George Horner with caribou meat at Don Johnson's bear camp
George didn’t drive, so Harry Riding, who was homesteading up Daniels lake, would give George a ride. One morning George looked out the window – this was late in the spring of 1960 – and he thought Harry wasn’t coming. The lake looked like it had melted too much to walk on. So George set out on foot and walked through the woods and snow around to the end of Daniels Lake and along the old road to Harry Riding's place. This would have been approximately a 2 ½ mile hike for a 51 year old man who was a heavy smoker and not very tall. George had almost reached Harry’s place when he saw Harry driving on the lake with his old Willys Jeep coming from the direction of George’s place. George had been afraid to walk on the lake but Harry had driven the Jeep on it.
George worked for Don Johnson’s lodge as a cook. He said he had finally figured out how to fix caribou meat: you dig a hole out behind the outhouse and bury it, because it was not fit to eat and there was no way to make it edible.
Another time Don Johnson hired him at a bear camp to cook. The clients wanted a dessert, so he found a #10 can of cherries. During the process of making the dessert, he would indulge himself with a few samples of the cherries. Upon finishing he realized he had eaten about ¼ of the can. The next morning as he was fixing breakfast, the cherries came back to haunt him, resulting in an emergency trip to the outhouse. The trail between the cook shack and the outhouse had been covered with pieces of plywood to cover the mud. In that trail was a 90 degree corner. Upon hitting that corner, the plywood failed it’s job and slid out from under him causing both the plywood and himself to slide through the mud. He didn’t make it to the outhouse….!!!!
George moved from his homestead to a lot with a trailer and lean-to on it which he purchased from Curly Wilson in the McGahan Subdivision. He told me he was getting too old to fight the snow in 1978. He was 69 years old by then and had retired.
Daniels Lake, where George Horner lived and the path he took through the woods to Wrighting’s.
George had a 270 Weatherby rifle which he killed a bear with. He later killed a bear with a .22 caliber rifle. One evening George heard something outside, so went out to look. In the dark, he thought he saw a bear climbing up a tree. So he got his gun and shot it. It was quit an electrifying situation. Not only did the bear not fall to the ground, now he didn’t have any lights on in the cabin. In the dark, he had mistaken the transformer for a bear!
He had a wood plank dory that I believe he purchased from Earl Daniels and put an 18HP Evinrude outboard on it.
In the photo below, George is sitting in his 12x16' cabin that I built for him in 1972. Above his head to the left was his homestead. Also you will notice that it shows the snow had been plowed on the lake. The trail/path started at Frank Bell’s homestead on Daniels Lake. Eadie had hired Wally VanSky to push the path with his CAT, across the lake to her cabin that Bill Bishop was building for her. It was of great benefit to all at the time. George got a job in the spring of 1960 and had a guy named Bill Bishop stay at his place until he returned. As I recall, Bill Bishop was from the Yukon River area. Bill saw a moose out behind George’s place so he wasted no time turning the moose into meals. Early August moose are fat and rather tasty … so I am told.
In 1966 George bought a 1966 Arctic Cat snow machine. He had it shipped down from Anchorage. He drove the snow machine from Kenai to his place on Daniels Lake. I was using his snow machine and it had a mechanical failure and caught fire. The lake it caught fire on is now called Burnt Lake.
George Horner lived in Nikiski until his death, April 11, 1985.
Wood plank dory owned by George Horner, Daniels Lake c1961
George Horner in his 12x16' cabin Lance built for him in 1972
1966 Arctic Cat snow machine similar to George Horner's
Eadie Henderson's cabin built for her by Bill Bishop 1960-61