In Memoriam: Captain Richard V.W. Thorne, Jr.

Recently, I came across an online item for sale. Here’s what it looks like:

The cover of the memorial book.

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:

The results of the search on Green-Wood's website.

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:

The dedication to Captain Richard V.W. Thorne, Jr.
Another page from the memorial tribute--a very nice example of William Peacon's calligraphy. That bottom line reads: *WILLIAM V. PEACON, PENMAN 415 FULTON ST. BKLYN**

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:

These men of the Brooklyn City Guard signed in tribute to their beloved captain.

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:

Here lies Captain Richard V.W. Thorne and his wife Cornelia. It should be noted that a letter from the recording secretary of the Brooklyn City Guard, Company G, dated December 9, 1890, pays tribute to her: "As the wife of our former Captain Mrs. Thorne took a deep interest in the welfare of this Company which even after his decease did not lessen."

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.

6 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Captain Richard V.W. Thorne, Jr.”

  1. A bio in the biographical dictionary, a tombstone, and now a memorial book. It’s great to have everything come together like this.

  2. Hi, I just noticed your blog and the item abut Richard Thorne. Noticing his initials, I mmediately thought him as Richard Van Wyck Thorne. The two families are interrelated here in Dutchess County. Richard Thorne was an ancestor of the Van Wycks of the Fishkill museum, Van Wyck Homestead. A son in the family was Richard Van Wyck whihc name has been carried down to today.

    Roy Jorgensen

  3. Thanks for the run down. Been researching thorn for years. have a set of engraved cased colts that were presented to him sometime after 1853. Have had difficulty finding the presenter


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