Recently, I came across an online item for sale. Here’s what it looks like:
Not very impressive on the outside. But, on the inside . . .
It was described by the seller as follows:
An original and very ornate one of a kind MEMORIAL book prepared by the BROOKLYN CITY GUARD, an early Militia regiment, to honor the memory of a former officer R.V.W. THORNE, JR. who died April 5, 1875. The book had been hand printed by William Peacon [ “Penman” ] of Brooklyn in a form of calligraphy, and was obviously prepared for presentation to the Thorne family. Included is a testimonial to the Captain’s character and resolutions honoring his memory. Signed by officers and a number of members. Eight pages, prepared on thick card stock with tissue separating each page, gold edged and finely bound into a leather “Memorial” book, size 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ [glare on cover photo is from scanner]. The front cover is starting to separate but can easily be re-glued and light wear is obvious, otherwise very good condition and unique….CAPTAIN RICHARD THORNE [ 1822-1875 ] had attended West Point Military Academy but resigned in 1839 after accumulating many demerits. He then joined the Brooklyn City Guard, a New York militia regiment in 1844. He later commanded a company of the guard in the newly-designated 13th New York Regiment during the Civil War. In civilian life he was a well known Brooklyn businessman . . .
Well, I thought that was interesting. A Brooklyn guy! Perhaps, I thought, he might be resting at Green-Wood. I checked our online Burial Search for a man with first initial “R” and last name Thorne–and there he was:
As you can see, three men named Richard Thorne came up in the search. But there was only one with initials V.W.–and he was interred within weeks of the captain’s death–leading me to guess (correctly, as it turned out) that he had been interred within a few days of his death in another lot, then transferred into lot 21943 soon thereafter–explaining the gap of about one month between the death listed in the memorial book and the interment in that lot at Green-Wood.
So, the good news: I was able to buy this memorial book for The Green-Wood Historic Fund’s Collections. And it is very impressive on the inside:
And there was this page, with the signature of the men who had served in the Brooklyn City Guard under Captain Thorne, and wanted to join in this tribute to him:
I suspect some of these men may also be at Green-Wood–I just haven’t had a chance to check on that yet. That’s a project for another day . . .
I did do some further research on Thorne. It appears that his father was quite promient in Brooklyn: a founder of the Long Island Insurance Company and represented Brooklyn in the New York State Assembly during the 1830s.
And, then, after receiving the memorial tribute in the mail, I reread the seller’s description (printed above) and realized that, not only was Captain Thorne a member of Brooklyn’s City Guard during the 1870s, but he was also a Civil War veteran. So I checked our biographical dictionary of Civil War veterans and there was his biography:
THORNE, JR., RICHARD V. W. (1821-1875). Captain, 13th Regiment, New York State Militia, Company G. Enlisting as a captain on April 23, 1861, at Brooklyn, he was commissioned into Company D of the 13th New York State Militia on May 14, and mustered out on August 6 at Brooklyn. On May 28, 1862, he was again commissioned into the same regiment and company and mustered out after three months on September 12 at Brooklyn. Prior to the War, the men of this regiment awarded him with a Presentation Grade 1850 Foot Officer Sword and Scabbard. It bears the inscription, “Presented by the Brooklyn City Guard to Capt. R.V.W. Thorne, Jr., 1859.” His last residence was 24 South Portland Avenue in Brooklyn. Section 187, lot 21943.
Anybody out there have that sword?
Here is Captain Thorne’s final resting place:
So, there we are. Richard V. W. Thorne, Jr., served as a captain of Company G of the 13th Regiment during the Civil War. He then served as a captain of the Brooklyn City Guard. His men loved him; they joined in a tribute to him upon his death. And, upon his death, he was interred at Green-Wood Cemetery. Now, his memorial book joins him there.