Ohio Man’s Journey Finds Its End In Jamestown

In the summer of 2012, Dover, Ohio, residents Tom Patterson and Sally Mathias found the unmarked grave of world-renowned 19th century horse tamer and distinguished author, professor Dennis Magner in Jamestown.

Magner had immigrated to this country as a boy of 14 from Ireland, entirely on his own and quickly became well-known. Magner was the founder of the new system of the art of taming and educating horses. His style of training involved methods that were unknown at that time, and he would successfully tame and subdue the most dangerous, vicious, man-killing horses of his time.

One such horse was the famous Malone horse recognized at the time as the most exceptionally vicious, kicking and runaway horse ever known. This horse had been worked upon for years, without success, by many expert trainers. Magner, within 20 minutes not only made him as gentle as a lamb but then drove him, without reins while hitched to a wagon, up and down the street with no incident. Magner became an extremely successful and respected individual who devoted his life to the betterment of mankind. His life was extremely diversified and included numerous avenues and adventures. He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and would share all his knowledge in his books as well as the horse taming classes he taught in public while traveling from Maine to Michigan and as far south as Kentucky. So satisfactory and perfectly successful were his instructions to everyone who attended his classes that even officers of the U.S. Cavalry had invited him to instruct the regiments. It was also known that government offices would frequently close so state officials could attend his lectures.

Patterson, thirty-plus years ago, began studying Magner’s methods of training. Patterson, a behavior problem horse trainer himself at that time, found Magner’s methods to be effective and humane. Through his research of Magner he had developed a sincere respect and admiration for this man.

Magner, in one of his later writings, states one of his secrets to success was that “first, last and always, you should on no account be betrayed from absolute truthfulness, integrity, entire sobriety and simplicity of habits.” Magner was the type of man who in every way demanded of himself to be honest and respected.

Patterson, with a desire to pay his respect, began a search of Magner’s later life to try to find clues of where his final resting place could be. However, Magner being constantly on the move throughout his life made this search extremely difficult.

Several years ago, Mathias became interested in Magner as well and began assisting Patterson in tracking down this elusive man, and together they were finally able to trace him to the Jamestown area. Patterson and Mathias came to Jamestown last year with a mission to find his grave which was located, according to his death certificate, in the old Catholic Cemetery. After walking through both Old Catholic and Holy Cross cemeteries, searching stone by stone, they were still unsuccessful in finding any sort of grave marking for him. After additional documentation of his burial was uncovered at the Parish office’s attic, and determined to locate him, Patterson and Mathias were then able to precisely locate his unmarked grave by using the cemetery map along with some additional leg work.

The location was then verified by both the Holy Cross superintendent, Matthew Ribbing, who also maintains the Old Catholic cemetery, and Sam Genco, superintendent of Lake View Cemetery.

Since discovering that he was buried without any marking of his grave, both Patterson and Mathias were compelled to memorialize this man and contacted Jensen-Hagland to order a headstone for him. His favorite trick pony, Tommy, is included on his stone as well as what he became famous for: “The Founder of the new system of taming and educating horses.” Numerous contributions have been made, making this event a memorable one. Matthew Ribbing donated the stones foundation, Jensen-Hagland as well as Sam Genco also graciously donated in addition to donations from personal friends of the couple from Ohio. The Fenton Historical Society assisted by collecting the funds.

Monday, June 17, the head stone was erected on his grave, and a dedication service took place at his burial site within the Old-Catholic cemetery. A presentation about Magner was delivered by Patterson who, along with Mathias, had returned to the area from Ohio for the ceremony. Patterson presented to those in attendance numerous highlights of this historical figure’s life. Those in attendance were representatives of Holy Apostles Parish; Ribbing, the Rev. Dennis Mende and Rick Roll, historian for Holy Cross, Genco, and numerous researchers from Fenton Historical Society.

If anyone would like to know more, contact Patterson and Mathias at DMagnerinfo@aol.com. In addition, the couple has donated to Fenton Historical Society, some of his books as well as some copies of documents they obtained during their research for anyone that would like to read more about him.