Reverend Thomas Warner

You may have realised by now how much I love this kind of research. The interconnectdness of life and how it creates story – past and present! Yesterday, I had a lovely email from a researcher who is hoping to write a book about Susan and Anna Warner, her ancestors. These women were impoverished due to family circumstances and turnedd to writing novels. Susan (Elizabeth Weatherall) is credited with being the first bestselling novelist in America with her book The Wide Wide World while Anna is famous for her hymns. Their novels were Christian-based and explored themes of the individual in conflict with self.

Susan Warner (Elizabeth Weatherell)

Courtney contacted me because Susan and Anna’s uncle was the Reverend Thomas Warner who became Colonel Thorn’s chaplain in Paris, and therefore, the man who contirbuted to the evolution of the American Cathedral in Paris concept.

I’ve found a few little snippets about Warner and he sounds like quite a character. He was the chaplain at West Point Academy, but after a falling out with his superiors over not being notified about the death of a serviceman, he left and went to work for the Colonel. His described this way: “an intellectual face, was a good scholar, and a good talker.” Sadly, he died in poverty after the Thorn’s returned to New York.

I love the description “two such incongrous characters”; it speaks volumes about the men, the author, and the times.

Here are few bits that I have cut from Google books. But I am not able to access the entire page.

Baird supported the Reverend Thomas Warner’s unsuccessful attempt to establish The American Lyceum in Paris…

But then I found this from 1840:

General Cass seems to be constantly mentioned in tandem with Colonel Thorn. I might look into him a bit more.

In her biography of Susan, Anna records that her uncle was to be a tutor and personal chaplain in the household of Colonel Herman Thorn in Paris.

Anna Warner

And finally, a snippet from The Emerson Society Journal:

Mr. Warner, proposes to receive into his family at Paris, a limited number of young gentlemen, for the purpose of superintending their education and moral … The Emerson Society Journal no. 52. American Lyceum in Paris (Paris, 1840), pp. 20-21. Can’t get to the full text of this one.


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