Apr 20

A Most Unfortunate Ending

Here’s an interesting series of articles I ran across… that might make a good story line for The Twilight Zone. The incident actually happened on July 20, 1866 which was a Friday… so it also qualifies as a Freaky Friday!!  [There are some inconsistencies, so the story may have been embellished some.  My comments are in brackets.]

Abram Fonda visits James Thorn (his co-editor) on his death bed to write his obituary for the paper. Fonda has a premonition that he will die before Thorn does. That night, Fonda falls out of a third-story window and dies the next morning, two hours before Thorn succumbs.

Deaths of Editors (New York Herald, 1866-07-22)
Troy, July 21, 1866 – Hon. James S. Thorn, Member of Assembly from this city in the last Legislature, died at two o’clock this morning, at the residence of his father, of consumption. Mr. Thorn was one of the associate editors of the Times of this city. [The Times article below says Thorn died at noon]
Troy, July 21, 1866 – Abram Fonda, associate editor of the Times of this city, fell from the third story of the Phoenix Hotel, at Lansingburg, yesterday morning, and died, at four o’clock this morning. [The Times article below says Fonda died at 9am]

A Singular Fact (New York Herald-Tribune, 1866-08-20)
A singular fact is mentioned in connection with the decease of the editors of The Troy Times. Mr. Fonda, expecting Mr. Thorn’s death of consumption had prepared a sketch of his life for publication, whenever it should occur, yet the former died two hours before the latter[Now here it says Fonda died two hours before Thorn]

Presentiment (New York Times, 1883-08-02)
In the year 1866, the late James S. Thorn who was the city editor of this paper, was lying on his death-bed slowly succumbing to the inroads of that fatal disease consumption. The intelligence was brought to the office that he could not possibly last more than a day or two longer. He was a man of such genial and loving qualities and had so tenderly entwined himself around the hearts of all his associates till no one could endure the thought of writing his obituary in advance of his death and yet it was quite important, if not imperative, that a proper memorial should be prepared, ready for insertion in the paper at a moments notice upon the receipt of the news of the death of our young associate.
One after another declined to write the obituary, until it was finally determined that Abram Fonda, an editorial writer on the paper should perform the melancholy task. Mr. Fonda accordingly began it, omitting the introduction and was engaged some time upon the work when the writer of this paragraph, who occupied a chair in front of Mr. Fonda’s table turned around and inquired how he was getting along. He responded that he was not progressing satisfactorily, that it was a harder task than he had anticipated and then went on with his work. Instantly as quick as thought could frame the expression there flashed through the brains of the writer these words, “Old fellow, you’ll die before Jimmie does!” [Not sure if he was recalling something Thorn said to him, or if this was a premonition]
And he did. That night after retiring Mr. Fonda arose for some purpose, went to an open window in his room, and fell headlong out of it to the sidewalk below. In the morning he was found laying upon the ground speechless and insensible. He died at nine o’clock in the forenoon of the day.  Mr. Thorn survived until nearly noon. The hand that writes this wrote the introduction and close of the obituary of Mr. Thorn that Mr Fonda began, and also wrote the last tribute to the memory of the latter. (from the Utica Observer, July 1881)


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