Alice Thorn (de Ferussac)

Alice Adele Thorn was born in 25th February 1825 in New York. As one of the Thorn’s middle children, it would have been easy for her to have gone unnoticed amongst the larger than life stories of the other children. But Alice had operatic talent and ambitions. She married Bertrand-Amédée d’AUDEBARD de FÉRUSSAC (Baron de Férussac).

Alice was a fine singer, although did not ascend to the same heights as Dame Patti or the Barilis. Her portrait with Jane Mary (de Pierres) suggests that maybe they were close. I hope one day to read the letters in the Dublin Library archives from Alice to her daughter, which may give clues about the Thorn family relationships.

Alice’s husband, Baron Amédée d’Audebert de Férussac (July 9, 1817 – November 29, 1897 in Pleurs (Marne) was the son of the soldier and scientist André d’Audebard de Férussac. The wedding ceremony took place in the Sainte-Clotilde church as well as at the United States Embassy in Paris.

MARRIED At Paris, on Wednesday, the 27th August, at the Hotel of the American Embassy, by the Rev. Robert Lovett, the Count Amede D'Audebart De Fergusson, to Alice, fourth daughter of Col. Thorn, of New York.

They had four children: Alice, born August 5, 1846 in Albany and who married George Mansfield in Ireland, Amédée born in 1848, Louis (Lewis) in 1853, and Henrietta (1855-1919) who married Alberic Parent 111, in Paris on May 25, 1880.

Alice performed in a number of places, which I am still cataloguing. She remained classed as an amateur, and not all those experiences were positive.

Another performance was mentioned in The Diary of George Templeton Strong.

June 15. 1859. Dined with Ellie yesterday at Mrs. Georgey Peter’s and went with her and Dr. Carroll to the Academy of Music for I Puritani; prima donna, the very distinguished amateur, Mme. de Ferussac (Colonel Thorne’s daughter). We expected a crowd and a grand excitement, but on entering our box – very late – twenty minutes behind time, we found two-thirds of the front boxes empty, and the parquette sparsely sprinkled with people, rari nantes in gurgite vasto.

The Férussac couple had four children. The eldest, Bertrand Amédée, was born in Paris on July 9 1817, 26 rue Saint-Dominique. On the birth certificates of his children, it is stated that he is owner, without profession. It is stated on some documents that he is a count pontifical, but we have not been able to verify or elucidate this information. He married in Paris, the August 27, 1845, Alice Thorn, born February 25, 1825 in New York, famous opera singer in the time, who gave up her career for him and had four children, two sons and two daughters, the first two, Alice and Amédée, born in New York, the next two, Louis and Henriette, in Paris. After 1860, Count Bertrand Amédée settled with his mother in castle of Tears. He died on November 29, 1897, in Pleurs, where his memory is still perennial.

Later in life she appeared to leave from her husband and return to New York with her two younger children. Her death seems to have been quite tragic, but perhaps not unusual for the era.

“The recent death in New York city of the Countess Alice de Ferrussac, the fourth daughter of the late Col. Thorn, again brings to notice this once famous family, formerly noted in Paris for the princely fashion in which they lived. The deceased lady married her husband in Paris, and her beauty, as well as that of her sisters, was long talked of in fashionable Parisian circles.

One of the sisters married the Baron de Pierres and was one of the ladies of honor of the ex-Empress Eugenie, her portrait appearing in Winterhalter’s famous picture of the Court; another married the Count de Varaignes, but both are now dead. The diamond tiara of Mrs Thorn and her diamond necklace were of great value, enjoying a fame akin to that of Prince Esterhazy’s collection.

The Thorn mansion, on West Sixteenth street, now the property of the New York Hôpital, was the dwelling place of all the New York Thorns and their Paris connections, mid it is said that at one time there were forty-three members of the family gathered together at a domestic reunion.

The cause of her death was a most painful surgical operation. The doctor advised her not to undergo the opération, but she insisted upon its taking place. Shortly before her death she wrote out a list of friends whom she wished to act as pall-bearers. Her funeral took place from St. Ann’s Church yesterday, and her remains were interred in the Thorn vault at Greenwood. She was in the 49th year of ber age and leaves four children.”

After Alice’s death there were legal proceedings brought about by her family, when they found that her estate had been lost by the attorney, Walter Mead, who had been entrusted with executing her will. Here are two excerpts that explain the situation:

Walter Mead, a lawyer, more than 80 years of age, made a confession six weeks before his death on January 4 last, at his home . … He admitted he had lost the entire principle of a trust fund of $140,000 held by him for the four children of the late Countess Alice Thorn de Ferussac. The remarkable confession we read in … suit of Mr Alice Mansfeld of London, a daughter of the Countess, against Mead to obtain the accounting When Mead dled his widow …

Head Trustee of estate, Bulk or Principal, said to Have Vanished Years Ago. Action has been brought in the Supremo Court of New York County against Walter Mead, one of the best-known attorneys In this city, who Is in his seventy-eighth year, and who lives at 168 Hewes street, for an accounting in the estate of the late Countess Alice Thorn de Ferussac, which is said to have been in the neighborhood of $100,000, and of which he had been trustee for twenty-eight years.

The action Is brought by Mrs. Alice Mansfield of London, England, who with her three sisters were the beneficiaries of the estate held in trust. Since the death of the Countess on February 27. 1884, Mr. Mead has been paying the interest on the investments in monthly payments. These Investments were supposed to be fostly in bonds and mortgages. Last February the payments suddenly ceased, and Mrs. Mansfield claims she learned upon Inquiry that the bulk of the estate was lost many years ago. and that out of the remnants Mr. Mead has been paying the interest.

These had had last become exhausted, and there was nothing left of the estate. Mrs. Mansfield engaged as counsel Untermyer & Marshall of 37 Wall street. Manhattan. The complaint was served upon Frank X. McCainy. the attorney who is representing Mr. Mead, on Monday. Mr. McCaffry haid that they had been hindered in tho proceeding by the Illness of Mr. Mead. The latter is convalescing from a Bovere attack of ? Mr. McCaffry said today that the attending physician had forbidden anyone to see bis client and that on this account, although he had been retained a month ago, he had had but a few conferences with him, and that he had not learned any details of the case. He said that he had been informed that the bulk of the estate had been lost many years ago and that In a lire of more recent date the records had been destroyed. When asked why Mr. Mead had withheld the news of the loss of the estate from Mrs. Mansfield, Mr. McCaffry said he could not surmise. He declared, however, that he felt confident Mr. Mead could explain. He assumed no criminal aspect. Mr. Mead may validly explain handling of the estate. The money is gone we are anxlous to know where.

No money was ever retrieved from Alice’s estate, and she sadly died in the prime of her life.

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