Arthur L. Thorne saved Martha, Alma H., and Theresa Wedman from drowning, Port Gibson, New York, July 9, 1936. While wading in an indentation of the Erie Barge Canal, Martha, 12, Alma, 18, and Theresa, 24, got into water beyond their depth at a point 75 feet from the bank. Theresa, who became confused, swam 25 feet and slowly drifted farther from the bank, where the water was 14 feet deep. Martha and Alma, neither of whom could swim, drifted to deep water and were at times submerged. Thorne, 26, farmhand, removed his shoes and from the bank waded and then swam 20 feet to Martha. Taking hold of her, he swam 30 feet to wadable water. Another man aided her to the bank. Hindered in breathing by a tight belt, Thorne then swam 40 feet toward Alma, who had sunk, and lowered himself under the surface. Alma briefly took hold of his trousers. Thorne took hold of Alma, rose, and swam 60 feet to wadable water. She waded to the bank. Swimming 70 feet toward Theresa, who then was submerged, Thorne with difficulty lowered himself to the bottom, took hold of her, swam to the surface, and towed her toward wadable water. Thorne was unable to keep Theresa’s head above water, and she became unconscious. After swimming 50 feet, Thorne and Theresa were submerged in wadable water, and two other men then aided them to the bank. Theresa was revived.
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Arthur L. Thorne, recipient of the Carnegie Medal for a 1936 heroic act, died in his Palmyra, N.Y., home on Aug. 18, 1969, at the age of 59.
Thorne was presented the medal and a $1,000 bond by the Hero Fund for saving three sisters from drowning in the Erie Barge Canal on July 9, 1936.
Thorne, a native of Marion, N.Y., was living in Sodus, N.Y., at the time. For several years, he and his wife operated Thorne’s Dairy in Palmyra. Thorne was an exempt fireman with the Palmyra Fire Department, and, for five years in the late 1940s, worked as a part-time police officer in Palmyra. He was employed with Palmyra Lumber at the time of his death.
(Edited from an obituary provided by a family member, newspaper unknown.