Friday, November 8, 2013

1880s Autograph Album of Van Buren Thorne of Havelock, New Brunswick, Canada; Later a Physician at New York City & Medical & Science Reporter for New York Times

Autograph album that was presented to Van Buren Thorne on April 14, 1883 by his mother, Susannah Mehitable (Keith) Thorne.

The album is approximately 8" x 6" and contains the sentiments of over 20 relatives, friends and at least one teacher, Frank H. Hayes.
An alphabetical list of the signers appears at the end of this post.

From online research, hopefully correct: [corrections and additions welcome!]

Van Buren Thorne was born 26 May 1870 at Havelock, New Brunswick, the son of Dr. Bliss S. and Susannah Mehitable (Keith) Thorne, who were born at Havelock, New Brunswick, and New Canaan, New Brunswick, respectively.

Stella Thorne, his younger sister, signed a page at Sackville, New Brunswick, on September 5, 1894.  Either this Stella was a later child named Stella, or the online references that have Stella as being born and dying in 1879 are incorrect.

Van Buren Thorne's former teacher Frank H. Hayes and his wife Harriet A. (Davis) Hayes, signed facing pages on April 22, 1883.

Dr. Thorne graduated from University Medical College in New York in 1896 and was in practice for a time but gave up his practice for a career as a medical and science reporter, eventually for the New York Times. 

Interestingly, Dr. Van Buren Thorne's medical notes from 1894 were recently sold on eBay.  They amounted to more than 500 pages of his notes from lectures and clinicals and sketches of people, possibly of some of his professors, who included Thomson, Stimson, Woolsey, Bull, Loomis, LeFevre, Phelps, Fisher, Winters, Guyer, Barnes, Coaxley, Polk, Edgar, and Piffard.

Examples from the notes, with permission from the seller:

It appears that Van Buren Thorne married an Anna in the 1890s, but I have no information on her.  The 1900 Census of Woodhull, New York, lists Dr. V. B. Thorne, age about 31, and his wife Anna, age about 18, born about May 1882 in New York. Whether they had children or not, I don't know.  

The January 6, 1903 issue of the "Bulletin of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick", contains a reprint of an article originally written for the "New York Sun" by Van Buren Thorne about an encounter with a panther that he and his father had in the Canaan, New Brunswick woods.

The Drs. Thorne were mentioned in an article in a 1904 issue of the Bulletin of the Natural History of New Brunswick regarding a cave near Havelock, New Brunswick.

 It may be that in this same formation occurs the cave referred to in the following letter from Dr. B. S. Thorne to Prof. Ganong:
"About one and a half miles from Havelock Corner there is a stream which runs underground for about one mile, and forms 'ice caves.' My son, Dr. Van B. Thorne, a number of years ago, took a line and light and went in about 300 yards, and brought out a large lump of ice in July." He does not state the nature of the rock in which the excavation occurs.

On 15 November 1905 in New York, Van Buren Thorne married May Josephine Kirby, daughter of Dr. Joseph Bassett Kirby and Kate Josephine (Casey) Kirby.  She was born 22 June 1883 in New York City.  Below, an item about their marriage in the "New York Times":

NEW YORK TIMES: November 16th, 1905, Thorne-Kirby: Miss May Josephine Kirby, daughter of Dr. J. Bassett Kirby of 204 West 115th Street were married to Dr. Van Buren Thorne in the Church of the Paulists at Columbus Avenue and Fifty-ninth Street yesterday at noon in the presence of only a few relatives and friends. Dr. Thorne gave up his practice as a physician to enter newspaper work and is well known among newspaper workers.

Dr. Van Buren Thorne and wife May had, I think, five children.  

Dr. Thorne appears in a group photograph, shown below, of the "New York Times" staff in the in the November 4, 1922 issue "The Fourth Estate"

Searching variations of Dr. Van Buren Thorne's name, such as Van Buren Thorne, Van B. Thorne and V. B. Thorne, will bring about many examples of his original articles and reviews.  

Dr. Thorne died of a heart attack in 1935 at Long Island City, New York.

If you have corrections and/or additions to the information above, or information on any of the signers listed below, please leave a comment or contact me directly.  Thanks!

  • Jas, possibly short for James, signed at Havelock, New Brunswick, on July 10, 1884
  • Oscar, who may have been the Oscar Johnson who signed another page, as the handwriting and date format are very similar.  This page was signed at Ticonderoga, New York, in January 1884.  He wrote his message in Spanish.
  • S. C. Alward, signed at Butternut Ridge, New Brunswick, on January 31, 1885
  • Fred James Titus Boal, signed at Butternut Ridge, New Brunswick, on August 29, 1883
  • F. A. Corey
  • C. W. Corey, signed at Havelock, New Brunswick; I think it was this signer who signed the overleaf
  • S. H. Davis, signed at Havelock, New Brunswick, on April 22, 1883
  • A. Lizette Fowler of Elmwood, signed at Havelock, New Brunswick, on March 27, 1885
  • Frank H. Hayes, signed at Havelock, New Brunswick, on April 22, 1883. He was a New Brunswick educator, and his sentiment implies that he was Van Buren Thorne's teacher at one time.   His wife signed the facing page.
  • Mrs. Frank Hayes, signed at Havelock, New Brunswick, on April 22, 1883.  I believe she was Harriet A. (Davis) Hayes.
  • Fred Humphreys
  • Oscar Johnson, signed in January 1884
  • Duncan Johnson, signed at Petitcodiac, New Brunswick, on May 29, 1883
  • Ella Johnson, signed in January 1884
  • Susannah (Keith) Thorne presented the album to her son Van Buren Thorne on April 14, 1883
  • Mrs. Bruce Keith, signed on June 10, 1885; she used the name Rosa in her sentiment, so I believe she was Rosabell (Mitton) Keith, wife of Robert Bruce Keith; they were living in Havelock, New Brunswick during that era.
  • Bruce Keith; presumably Robert Bruce Keith, wife of signer Mrs. Bruce Keith, Rosabell (Mitton) Keith
  • Angeline M. Lounsbury, signed on November 15, 1884; perhaps Angeline Mae Lounsbury, born 1864 in Salsbury Parish, New Brunswick, daughter of James and Elizabeth Catherine (Geldart) Lounsbury
  • E. M. Mitton, signed January 31, 1885.  Could she be Evelyn May Mitton, born 1862?
  • ? Price, signed at Havelock, New Brunswick, on April 21, 1883.  Name might be H. T. Price
  • E. S. Taylor, signed at Havelock, New Brunswick, on April 27, 1883
  • Van Buren Thorne of New Brunswick, Canada; later of New York City; album owner
  • Susannah (Keith) Thorne presented the album to her son Van Buren Thorne on April 14, 1883
  • Stella Thorne, Van Buren Thorne's younger sister, signed at Sackville, New Brunswick, on September 5, 1894


  1. Hey pam more on this guy from down under

  2. Thanks, Nancy! What a neat job he had, right at the crossroads of medicine and science. And he wrote about the outdoors, too.