Ralph Van Horne was born in 1891, grew up in Illinois and graduated from high school in Roswell, New Mexico. He traveled back to Peoria, Illinois to attend Bradley University Watch and Jewelry School. He also served as a medic in the National Guard during World War I and was gassed by the enemy causing crippling later in life.
After the war, Mr. Van Horne came to South Bend to work for Krause Jewelers. Time passed and in 1926, he and Lucy Flagel decided to start their own store. The Great Depression was tough on the newly founded Van Horne Jewelers, but it continued and was able to prosper. Mr. Van Horne had only one son, Jim Van Horne, who decided against pursuing a career in retail jewelry. Instead, he became a professor in Economics at Stanford University and has earned both a Masters and a PhD in Economics.
Van Horne Jeweler’s second owner, Madison C. Knight, was born in 1922 in Royalton, IL. Mr. Knight joined the Navy in 1939 and fought numerous battles aboard various ships in the Pacific theatre. He had a knack for fixing sailor’s watches while aboard these ships and after World War II also attended Bradley University Watch and Jewelry School. After working at Hay Jewelers in Coshocton, OH as manager, Mr. Knight came to Van Horne Jewelers in the late 1950’s. Here he became manager with the intent to buy Van Horne Jewelers and did so by 1964. Madison (Matt) was very active in the YMCA, began semi-retirement in the 1980’s and now resides in Litchfield, AZ. Madison Knight Sr. maintains his status as a certified gemologist from the American Gem Society by taking yearly exams and actively pursues his interest in colored stones by attending the world’s largest gem show in Tucson, AZ.
Van Horne Jewelers current owner, Madison Knight Jr. started working as a teenager in 1970s and always aspired to join the family business. After graduating in 1984, with a degree in business from Grace College, he began to manage Van Horne Jewelers. He also became a graduate gemologist through the Gemological Institute of America.
Madison has many passions including hiking, working out, hunting, snow skiing, wood working, white water canoeing, reading, mountain biking and spending time with his 4 children and 1 grandchild. One of his long time goals has been to be the finest independent jewelry store in Michiana. His oldest son, Madison III, lives in Pekin IL with his wife Rachel and runs Guild Jeweler POS system which was developed by Madison Jr., Madison III, and Brett Bavar. His second son Ben, Ben’s wife Maria, and grandson live in Indianapolis. Ben works with large construction projects and his wife Maria is an accountant. Emily is married and resides in the Nappanee area with her husband Christian. Nathanael is a student at IUPUI and is majoring in computer engineering. Nathanael has already purchased his first house before turning 21.