I am a native of Northeastern Pennsylvania and grew up on the other side of the Muncy Creek, outside of the historical town of Muncy, PA. I started shooting black powder 40 years ago with my father. He inspired me, at age 12, to start making simple powder horns and doing scrimshaw while working alongside him at North East Trade Company (a muzzleloading and trapping supplies store). I continued to pursue my love of art until leaving PA to serve my country in the Army. Upon returning home, I found work as a correctional officer for the state of Pennsylvania. Thereafter, I moved from state to federal service, where I am still employed. In 1998, I met and eventually married the girl next door. We have been married for 15 years. We live on 11 acres with our daughter, in a historical house built in 1863. Our home is located outside a little village called Pennsdale.
In 2004, I began participating in French and Indian War re-enactments. This renewed my interest in making powder horns. While researching for information to constuct a horn in 2009, I stumbled across information for the “Honourable Company of Horners," a guild dedicated to the preservation and continuing craftsmanship of horn work. I joined the guild in 2011 and attended my first conference that same year, winning a ribbon for my efforts on my friend’s horn. Additionally, while working on that same horn, I found a great family of craftsman on “The Horner’s Bench.” This is a forum dedicated to sharing the craft of horn work and has been an invaluable resource in the advancement of my skills.
I have become completely consumed by this ancient craft. I spend countless hours doing research and tinkering away in my 1863 basement workshop. My work is both contemporary and historical. This includes; powder horns, spice boxes, wing-bone turkey calls and other fine accouterments from horn, bone, and wood. During my personal time, I enjoy hunting, fishing, and attending various 18th century events with my family and friends. I am currently a Master Horner in good standing with the Honourable Company of Horners.
When I make these items, I keep in mind they are more than just items of purpose. They will become heirlooms and more, outlasting us all. They will be a testament to the heart and soul of the maker and the craftsmen of old. Awards and events may come and go, but they will never match the warmth and satisfaction gained from the friends I have made through this craft and the Guild. Years from now, when I am gone and my ashes have returned to Mother Earth, it is my hope someone will pick up an item I have made, show it to their son, daughter, or friend, and say, "Hey that's a DeWald piece." It is the preservation of a dying art, kept alive through caring hands. What a great legacy that will be to leave behind for my daughter.
John L. DeWald Jr.