A Little Bit of Local History: Poposia’s Child

By Jean Mathisen Haugen, Lander historian

Mother’s Day is once again being celebrated and a lady still known to many as “Grandma Mary” is still remembered fondly for the strong love she always had for her family.

Mary Jeanette Doane was born on May 1, 1901, at the Kimple-Schneider stone house about a mile west of Milford. Her parents, Frank and Anna Avery Doane had come west from Pennsylvania in 1888 and settled at Milford. Mary was a pretty dark haired baby with blue eyes and already had a house full of brothers and sisters–Luella (Van Patten), Gib, Lida Pearl, Gene, George and Frank. She really never got to know her sister Lida Pearl, who died in April 1902 at the age of 11. The death affected the family so much, they pulled up stakes and moved back to Pennsylvania for three years. While there, another son, Maurice, was born in 1903. In 1905 they came back. In 1909 they settled on the former John Bey ranch just over Lander Hill.

When Mary was 12 years old, she spotted a handsome young fellow, John Hornecker, at a dance. She made up her mind someday she would marry him. John went on with the National Guard in 1916 and posted on the Mexican border, then went to France when World War I began. Somewhere along the way, Mary and John wrote letters back and forth, addressing each other  as “Friend John” and Friend Mary.” When he arrived back home they were married June 8, 1919. Frank Doane started to complain about John being 11 years older than Mary but she reminded him that he was 11 years older than his wife, Anna.

The new family moved to the Hornecker Ranch on Squaw Creek and in March 1920 their eldest daughter, Edna Jean (Irvine) was born. John took up a homestead in 1934 in Rock Quarry Gulch (now the Hancock Hills Estates) and the family lived in a two story cabin that had Model T windows. They became the parents of eight children–Jean, Albert, Jack, Kenneth, Ralph, Betty (Mathisen), Donald and Marietta (Twitchell). John’s father lived with them and sometimes it was pretty cozy in the old log house the family was living in.

In 1951 they moved into a new house with lots of room.” John passed away of lung cancer in 1965. He was a fellow who loved to fish and hunt and if Mary wanted to argue, he would put on his hat, grab his fishing pole and head for the creek.

Mary became a great-great grandmother at age 79–she dearly loved to have her family come and get together for her birthday and at Christmas. She knew no strangers–when she went to the grocery store or anywhere else it was an event, because she knew nearly everyone. She loved history and was a charter member of the Wyoming State Historical Society, an early member of the Pioneer Association (her parents helped build the original log museum), got her 50 year pin for being in homemaker clubs and was a member of the War Mothers, since her two sons, Jack and Kenneth, both served in World War II.

Mary Jeanette Doane Hornecker passed away on December 13, 1983–over 30 years ago, but her many descendants, including great-great-great grandchildren have heard of or well remember Grandma Mary and numerous nieces and nephew recall Aunt Mary fondly. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and grandmothers–and to Grandma Mary–who was also my grandmother.


Mary Hornecker in April 1945 at the ranch. (From the collection of Jean. Mathisen Haugen)

Mary Hornecker in April 1945 at the ranch. (From the collection of Jean. Mathisen Haugen)

The Hornecker cabin. (from the collection of Jean Mathisen Haugen)

The Hornecker cabin. (from the collection of Jean Mathisen Haugen)

Mary Doane Hornecker 1920 (from the collection of Jean Mathisen Haugen)

Mary Doane Hornecker 1920 (from the collection of Jean Mathisen Haugen)


  1. Ginger Bennett

    I love these articles! Thanks so much!

  2. Kilynn Irvine

    I love my family history thank you Jeanie for another amazing story of our family and history of the lander area!

  3. Denny Prothero

    Keep bringing the local history. I never get tired of reading them. :D

  4. Bill Washburn

    Jeanie my name is Billy or (Bill) Washburn my family has quite the history in wyoming! Especially yellowstone. Some information can be found on the Web ( the discovery of yellowstone park journal of the Washburn expedition to the yellowstone and fire hole rivers in the year 1870) this is only one source but there are many others that tell about the expedition in great detail! I am one of only 2 Washburn families still in lander Riverton area but these are very exciting and full of info about yellowstone and it's discovery, including Mount Washburn, and numerous other sites given the Washburn name such as springs and mud pots! If you would please do an article about the Washburn expeditions into yellowstone it would be greatly appreciated and also full of a lot of info about yellowstone that most people don't know. THANK YOU

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