The Horners were one of the first families to summer in Macatawa. Beginning in the 1880s, John Wilkinson Horner, originally from Yorkshire, England, and his family would take the train from Grand Rapids to Macatawa. Keep in mind this is well before cars, when trains and wagons were the only way to travel. This made the summer trip to Macatawa a bit more arduous than it is today, when most of us drive, fly, or helicopter!
Horner was a teacher and part time Methodist minister. From 1890 to 1924, he and his family owned what is today 2446 Bluebell Court. Check out the picture of the Horner cottage, on the exact same site as the cottage today.
William Chapman Horner, his brother, was an artist with a keen interest in photography, even visiting Paris to study the burgeoning work of the Impressionists at the end of the 19th century. Artistic expression was a part of the Horner family as Joseph Horner Sr. is responsible for a treasure trove of early Macatawa pictures.
Below is a picture of the glass camera used to take the pictures. Prior to the onset of glass negatives a box camera would have to be sent directly to Eastman-Kodak in Rochester, NY. The camera and glass negatives were found in an attic box by Joe Horner IV descendants a couple of years back, and resurrected by sisters Laura Kayacan and Niki Kaftan and many ultimately donated to the Grand Rapids Historical Society.
Laura and Niki were kind to allow us to post them on the Macatawa Historical Society (MHS) website for us to share and enjoy. In speaking with the MHS recently, Niki said, "Genealogy is a mystery where you are put the pieces together. After awhile you start to see a picture." We are grateful to her and Laura for sharing a part of their family history with us at MHS. Truly, the history of Macatawa would be incomplete without the Horner Photographs.