Guide to the Papers of the Horne Family, c1870-1973 (bulk 1922-1973)

Digital Research Library, University Library System

Summary Information

Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Papers of the Horne Family
The Horne Family
Collection Number
Date [inclusive]
Date [inclusive]
.75 cubic feet (2 boxes)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
The Horne and Deemer Families primarily lived in Brookville (Jefferson County), Pennsylvania and included local businessmen, bankers, and manufacturers in their ranks. These papers include correspondence, tax forms, medical records, financial materials, newsclippings, and other sundry items.
Sponsor Note
This finding aid has been encoded as a part of the Historic Pittsburgh project a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Funding for this portion of the project has been donated by the Hillman Foundation.

Preferred Citation

Papers of the Horne Family, c1870-1973, MSS# 144, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

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Biographical Sketch of the Horne and Deemer Families

The Horne and Deemer Families primarily lived in Brookville (Jefferson County), Pennsylvania and included local businessmen, bankers and manufacturers in their ranks. The Deemer Family's patriarch was Alexander David Deemer (1848-1931), who worked his way up through the ranks of the National Bank of Brookville until he was elected president in 1927. Deemer also was involved with other industries, including drilling natural gas wells in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties as early as 1885 and opening the Brookville Furniture Store in 1901. Deemer was married and had at least four children: Nora, Amos M. (?-1953), Lawrence V. (?-1959), and Frank Clifton (1878-1959). All three sons followed partially in their father's footsteps. Amos M. Deemer was a furniture manufacturer, Lawrence V. Deemer became the head cashier and manager of the National Bank of Brookville and Frank C. Deemer became the largest independent supplier for the United Natural Gas Company, drilling over 850 gas wells in Jefferson, Clearfield, Indiana, and Clarion Counties (all without any form of written contract). Frank Deemer had two sons, Alexander Deemer II and Frank Clifton Deemer, Jr. (1912-1973). These brothers formed their own business, Deemer Brothers, devoted to the conservation of natural resources in the region. Alexander Deemer's daughter, Nora Deemer, married John W. White (c1872-?) and had at least four children, Louise, Martha, Deemer and Sarah (1895-1966). At some point after the birth of their last child, John and Nora divorced and John moved to California, maintaining a somewhat sporadic contact with his family through letters. The most common themes in his letters are requests for money, and criticisms of Nora's father, who apparently provided some incentive for the divorce. John White repeatedly wrote to his former wife claiming that he needed money for medical expenses, and that he was very ill. In 1920, Alexander Deemer had a former neighbor, J. C. Lawson, investigate John and his allegations of illness. When Lawson went to California and found John White well employed and in perfect health, John's pleas for money went unheeded.

Sarah White, John and Nora's youngest daughter, was born in Brookville and graduated from Brookville High School. She received a degree from Indiana State Teachers College in Indiana, Pennsylvania. In 1915, she began teaching, and in 1919, secured a position at the Brookville High School, where she remained for eight years. In 1926, Sarah married Herbert M. Horne (1893-1933), a graduate of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. During World War I, Herbert joined the United States Army, serving in B Company of the 320th infantry as well as with the utilities branch of the construction division. Herbert was discharged in 1919, with an excellent character rating, and returned to Pennsylvania to become a representative for the Atlantic Refining Company. He worked at the company until his death from heart disease in 1933. Two years later, Sarah Horne returned to teaching in the Brookville school system. In 1961, Sarah Horne entered Waveland Manor, a medical care facility in Chicago to receive care for her heart problems. In 1966, she died as a result of arteriosclerosis heart disease. Herbert and Sarah had one child, George Herbert Horne (1927-?).

George Herbert Horne was an engineer who suffered numerous medical problems throughout his life. Some of his childhood illnesses were attributed to blood sugar problems, causing him to be placed on a regulated diet, which eventually caused weight problems that plagued George for the rest of his life. After unsuccessfully trying to enter the selective service as physically unfit in 1945, George remained in school and graduated from Brookville High School the next year. During high school, George completed a scientific course of study and was on the honor role, despite earning grades comprised mostly of Bs and Cs. George attended Pennsylvania State University's DuBois campus for the next two years and then took a year off to work. In 1948, Herbert successfully registered for the draft, although he was never called up. Eventually, Herbert moved to Penn State's main campus where he graduated with a B. S. in Industrial Engineering in 1951. While at Penn State's main campus, he was elected the president of his dorm and during his senior year, received a scholarship from the American Foundryman's Association. After graduation, George accepted a job with the National Tube Company (Lorain, Ohio), a division of the United States Steel Corporation. He worked for National Tube until he entered Hamot Hospital (Erie, Pennsylvania) with a nervous breakdown in the autumn of 1954. He was admitted to the hospital, according to his medical records, because of nervous exhaustion, inability to relax, and an inability to adjust to normal circumstances. He remained at Hamot for two weeks and was then moved to Saint Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh. He stayed there for 47 days, where he underwent electroshock therapy and other treatments. On November 17, 1954, George was back in the hospital when he was admitted to Warren Hospital (Warren, Pennsylvania). After suffering a back injury during an electroshock treatment, George began insulin shock therapy, which appeared to be more successful. On March 6, 1955, George was finally released. George Horne traveled for a period after his release, including a journey to Chautauqua Lake in New York. Later that year, he moved to Chicago and worked for the Link-Belt Company. He enrolled in courses at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Little is known of George's life after the death of his mother in 1966 except that his visits to private psychologists appeared to have increased and he served as attorney-in-fact for his mother's estate. He lived at least until 1980 when he donated these papers to the Historical Society.

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Scope and Content Notes

The Horne Family Papers include correspondence, tax forms, medical records, financial materials, newsclippings, and other sundry items. The bulk of these papers document the lives of Herbert and Sarah Horne and their son, George Horne, providing insight into twentieth century family life in Brookville (Jefferson County), Pittsburgh, and the region. Biographical materials primarily document George Horne and include school records from high school and college, a baby book recording his first few years of life and other sundry items. Also included are newsclippings and obituaries for other members of the Horne and Deemer families. The correspondence includes letters primarily written to Sarah Horne by her father, John White, her husband, Herbert Horne and her child, George Horne. John White's letters were written after he divorced Sarah's mother and while he was in Pittsburgh or California.

White's letters provide periodic news of his life in California and detailed accounts of his financial troubles with pleas for assistance. Related to John White are letters between Sarah's father, Alexander Deemer, and J. C. Lawson concerning Lawson's investigation into White's supposed poverty in California. Letters from Herbert Horne include those written to Sarah from the road during sales trips for Atlantic Refining Company and while she was in the hospital after George's birth. Letters from George primarily were written after his nervous breakdown in the 1950s.

Financial materials primarily document the estate of Sarah Horne and other family members as well as general family finances. There are also frequent references to pension plans, insurance policies, and stocks that the family held. Bank related materials primarily include bank books for George, Herbert and Sarah Horne for banks in Brookville and Vandergrift (Westmoreland County), Pennsylvania. The tax returns are sporadic and are from all three members of the Horne family. Medical materials document the physical and emotional care that George Horne received during his life. Included among these records are his stays in psychiatric hospitals in the 1950s. The medical records combine with the correspondence to create a fairly detailed portrait of his psychological treatment including numerous references to electroshock and insulin shock therapy. Miscellaneous materials include a pamphlet from Chautauqua, New York (c1950), ink blotters advertising Atlantic gasoline, various material on general life in Brookville including a business directory (c1950) and newsclippings.

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The Horne Family Papers are housed in two archival boxes and are arranged alphabetically by folder title with miscellaneous materials arranged to the rear.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Digital Research Library, University Library System  Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Summer 2000

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or publish, please contact the curator of the Archives.

Acquisition Information

These items were received in one accession on August 27, 1980.

Acc# 1980.179 Gift of George Horne, (Papers).

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed by Historical Society Staff in 1980.

This collection was rearranged with an inventory rewritten by Fiona Seels on October 13, 1994.

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Anna Maria Mihalega in May 22, 2000.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Atlantic Richfield Co.
  • Pennsylvania State University.
  • United States Steel Corporation. -- National Tube Works.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Brookville (Pa.) -- Commerce.
  • Brookville (Pa.) -- Social life and customs.
  • California -- Social life and customs
  • Jefferson County (Pa.) -- Commerce.
  • Jefferson County (Pa.) -- Social life and customs.

Personal Name(s)

  • Deemer, Alexander D., -- 1848-1931.
  • Horne, George H., -- 1927-
  • Horne, Herbert M., -- 1893-1933.
  • Horne, Sarah., -- 1895-1966.
  • White, John W., -- 1872-
  • Deemer Family.


  • Children -- Pennsylvania -- Brookville.
  • Engineers -- Pennsylvania.
  • Infants -- Pennsylvania -- Brookville.
  • Medicine -- Pennsylvania -- Brookville.
  • Mental illness -- Pennsylvania.
  • Neurasthenia -- Pennsylvania.
  • Petroleum industry and trade -- Pennsylvania.
  • Private investigators -- Pennsylvania.
  • Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- University Park.

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Collection Inventory

Biographical Materials  
 1919-1973 11
Horne, George Herbert 
 1927-1959 2
Baby Book  1927-1935 3

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Correspondence  c. 1920-1964 4

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General Papers  1897-1971 5
Bank Books  
Horne, George  1928-1950 6
Horne, Herbert  1924-1933 7
Horne, Sarah  1928-1955 8
Checks  1916-1965 9
Horne, George - Wages  1944-1954 21
Taxes  1924-1969 2

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Medical Materials  1933-1968 3

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Miscellaneous Materials  1925-1970 4

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