John B. Horner was one of the first graduates of Philomath College. The building that was home to Philomath College from 1867 to 1929 now houses the Benton County Historical Society and Museum.  When Mr. Horner died in 1933 a letter was found in his typewriter. It was a proposal to Henry Ford, requesting $1,000,000 to create the finest museum on the Pacific Coast.


    The theodolite is a predecessor to today's transit instruments used for land surveying. It measures horizontal and vertical angles.

    August Oertlings company in Berlin made this theodolite for the survey of the Great Lakes in 1867.


    Native Oregonian A.C. Gilbert first conceived of the Erector Set in 1911. By 1935 he had sold 30 million sets!


    Drum Corps member James Plunkett arrived at Fort Hoskins about 1864 with the 4th California Infantry, a volunteer infantry regiment.

    Fort Hoskins was one of three forts built by the U.S. Army during the Civil War to monitor the Coastal Indian Reservation in Oregon.

John B. Horner, Corvallis, Oregon


Horner Museum History

Some of the significant early collections contributed to the Horner Museum were natural history, geological and archaeological specimens. John Horner and two of his friends from Albany, Oregon, Dr. J.L. Hill and Mr. J. G. Crawford, worked together to collect archaeological specimens as part of their natural history studies.

All three men were schooled in the late 19th century intellectual tradition of "total culture."  Hill was a physician as well as an amateur taxidermist. There is a photograph of Hill's taxidermy mounts on a parade float in Albany that was taken in 1911. Crawford was a photographer as well as an amateur archaeologist. And, Horner was a scholar as well as an educator and historian. Horner was an original member of the Oregon Geographic Names board in 1911.

Horner Homecoming

Spring 2008 marked the renaissance of the Oregon State University Horner Museum as the Horner collection moved from the dusty basement under Gill Coliseum to a brand new climate controlled facility just a few miles away in Philomath, Oregon. The Benton County Historical Society is providing a new home for 60,000 artifacts which have been steadily collected since Mr. Horner started the museum in 1925.

The artifacts are protected and preserved in the  Peter & Rosalie Johnson Collections Center, a state-of-the-art climate controlled facility in Philomath, Oregon.

Brief Timeline of the Horner Museum

1888 College Hall housed the College Museum or General Museum.
1902 Museum moved to Agricultural Hall fourth floor.
1913 Dean Bexell of the School of Commerce wanted a museum for the public as well as students and faculty. He arranged objects on the third floor of Agriculture Hall and named it the Commerce Museum. Horner came under Bexell's influence because the History Department was in the School of Commerce.
1923-24 Horner succeeds in getting large, private collections of anthropological, geological, zoological, and historical artifacts. He adds these collections to the remnants of the Commerce Museum and assembled a museum in the basement of the Library. The College Museum opened in 1925.
1933 Collection moves to the Women's Gymnasium, lower level.
1933 John D. Horner dies. A letter is found in his typewriter. It is a proposal to Henry Ford, requesting $1,000,000 to create the finest museum on the Pacific Coast.

Significant Collections

•   J.L. Hill collection of birds, mammals, Indian artifacts and pioneer artifacts numbered over 1,000 objects.

•   D.E. Boord's Great Lakes area collection of wildlife mounts.

•   Wm. Thos. Shaw's zoology collection: Shaw was a professor at Oregon Agricultural College and his taxidermy bird mounts won a gold medal at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon in 1905.

•   The Andrew Sherwood geology collection from Pennsylvania. This collection was amassed in the late 19th century. Sherwood traded Louis Agassiz at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology for some tiny fossils in hand-blown test tubes that are in the Horner collection. Sherwood was a contemporary of Agassiz and Asa Gray. This connection illustrates the academic connections that OAC had to other institutions. The Museum of Comparative Zoo may still have the transfer records.

Natural History Collections

•   J.L. Hill Collection

•   J. G. Crawford Collection

•   D.E. Boord Collection

•   Wm. Thos. Shaw Collection

•   Andrew Sherwood Collection

•   Julia Beard Shell Collection

•   J.C. Braly Collection

Artifact Collections

•   Harriett Moore Collection

•   Florence Kohlhagen McHenry Collection of textiles and costumes

•   Donnegan Wiggins Collection of arms

•   Annie Fortmiller Collection of dolls

•   Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Bailey Collection of dolls

•   Conrad Lindberg Collection

•   Kirby Austin Collection

•   Gladys R. Blood Collection of glassware

•   Louis C. Raymond Collection of international artifacts

•   Bing Francis Collection

•   Michael and Sonia Spiegel Collection of dolls

•   Mrs. R.E. Duniway Collection of dolls

•   Marie Ruston Collection of Chinese artifacts

•   Ira Gillet Collection of African artifacts

•   Mr. and Mrs. Mark Price Collection of ceramics

•   Bill Charnholm and Bert Platz Collections of toy trains


Oregon State University Horner Museum Collection 
sponsored and supported in part by the
Horner Museum Fund