Solon Rodney Towne [RG4311.AM]


RG4311.AM:  Solon Rodney Towne, 1846-1932

Papers: 1843-1957
Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska:  Physician, Ornithologist
Size: 2.5 cu.ft.; 5 boxes


The Towne family begins its ancestry in America with William Towne who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1635.  The subject’s mother, Salome E. Seabury, derived her name from John Seabury, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1639.  Her family can be traced on her mother’s side through John and Priscilla Alden of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Solon Rodney Towne was born at Stowe, Vermont, December 20, 1846, the son of Jesse and Salome (Seabury) Towne.  He entered Dartmouth in September 1868 and graduated from the Dartmouth Medical College in 1875.  A member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, he purchased a practice at Enfield, Massachusetts and remained for 12 years.  In 1888 he joined his brother-in-law, Andrew Bartholomew Somers, and moved to Omaha, Nebraska.  Solon became quite prominent in Omaha and Nebraska as a physician in hygiene and was ranked an expert on rabies.  He served as Omaha Commissioner of Health, 1892-1898; Professor of Hygiene and State Medicine at Creighton in 1894 and at the Omaha Medical College, 1900-1918.  Also, he was a physician at the Nebraska Institute for the Deaf, 1898-1902; State Medical Inspector, 1903-1904; Chairman of the Board, Nebraska Tuberculosis Association, 1907, and its president, 1910-1928.

Solon Towne was one of the leading ornithologists in the Middle West, having been interested in the study of birds since 1887.  He spoke in public schools on bird conservation and was president of the Nebraska Ornithologists Union, 1906-1907.  In 1917, he founded the Nebraska Audubon Society in which he served as president.  Towne was also a developer of the Fontenelle Forest Association in Omaha in 1912.  His observations and bird censuses were published in “Bird Lore,” 1909-1910, and in the Nebraska Bird Review, 1935.

Solon Towne was married at Jericho, Vermont, on July 23, 1873 to Harriet Christina Somers of Greensboro, Vermont.  They had four children:  Jessie M. who died in 1883; Robert Somers Towne who died in 1925; Mary Agnes; and Alice Christine DeWesse.  His wife died in Omaha on November 29, 1927.  Solon died January 27, 1932, at Omaha.

Solon’s daughter, Alice Christine (Towne) DeWeese, co-author and donor of this collection, was born at Enfield, Massachusetts, April 3, 1884.  She received a B.A. degree and physical education certificate in Nebraska, 1905.  She toured England in 190 and attended classes at the Royal Institute of Gymnastics at Stockholm.  She was appointed Professor and Director of the Women’s gymnasium, University of Nebraska, in 198, resigning in 1909 to marry Fred Milo DeWeese, a Lincoln attorney, on September 2nd.  She continued the work started by her father on the family genealogy, and wrote reminiscences of her father’s life and Omaha in the 1890’s.  These materials are included in the collection.  Alice died in Lincoln, November 1, 1974.


This collection relates to the life and interests of Solon R. Towne and to his family genealogy.  It contains notes and published genealogical material compiled by Dr. Towne and his daughter, Alice.  Included are notes on the Towne, Seabury, Somers, DeWeese, and related families, as well as references to the Lindsay, Galbraith, Trumball, and Capron surnames of the Somers family line, and the Seabury and Sprague branches of the Towne family.

The collection is arranged in five series.  Series 1 consists of genealogical material and research notes on the above families.  Series 2, Manuscripts and Notes, consists of two manuscripts and related research notes by Alice Towne DeWeese.  One work is the typewritten recollections of Omaha and the Somers and Towne families.  The other manuscript is entitled “Two Doctors Came to Omaha,” by Alice T. DeWeese and Alice Horsfall.  It relates to the Towne and Somers Families and the history of medicine at Dartmouth and Omaha, Nebraska.

Series 3, Omaha, Nebraska History, is a compilation of research notes and information on the early history of Omaha and Omaha medicine in the 1890’s.  Also included are field notes relating to a pollution inspection of Mud Creek, South Omaha done by S.R. Towne in 1903 while he as a State Inspector of Health.  Series 4 consists of clippings, notes and printed matter on the subjects of ornithology and nature.  Series 5, Miscellany, includes a folder relating to the history of the Nebraska Tuberculosis Association, of which Solon was a member, and an annual report of the association for 1958-1959.  There is also a scrapbook containing clippings, stories and poems, ca. 1890s.

Note:  See the photo collection RG3880.PH for related images.


Series 1 - Genealogy
Box 1

  1. Towne Family; including “The Descendants of Ephriam Towne and his Ancestral Line to 1635,” by Solon R. Towne, A.M.M.D.
  2. Towne, Jessie Margaret, 1874-1957
  3. Towne, Solon Rodney, 1846-1932
  4. Towne, Solon Rodney and Dartmouth Collect, Hanover, New Hampshire, including notes on history of Dartmouth
  5. Towne, Solon Rodney – Obituaries and memorials, 1932
  6. Seabury, John (Boston 1964) and descendants; including information on Judge Samuel Seabury, Counsel of Legislative Committee in the Tammany Hall Inquisition
  7. Seabury Letters, 1798-1806:  Copies of letters to John Seabury
  8. Sprague-Towne genealogy – Genealogy of Edward Sprague of England and descendants, 1740
  9. Somers Family, including Trumball, Lindsay, Galbraith, and Capron families
  10. Bates-Glazier Family
  11. Galbraith-Somers Family, 1738
  12. Lindsay-Galbraith-Somers; Descendants of Water de Lindsay of Scotland, 1116
  13. Trumball-Somers; Descendants of Bartholomew and Agnes (Trumball) Somers, 1779
  14. DeWeese family line (daughter of Solon)

Series 2 - Manuscripts and notes
Box 2

  1. Recollection of Alice C. Towne; Chapters 1-10, 1888-1890
  2. Recollections - Chapters 11 thru December 1897
  3. Recollections - Chapter entitled “The River Road,” September 1897 (2 copies)
  4. Recollections - January 1898 thru Chapter 23; includes early Omaha history, Chapters 21 thru 23
  5. “Two Doctors Came to Omaha,” by Alice C. Towne and Alice Horsfall
  6. Research notes for “Two Doctors”
  7. Medicine - General to 1888 thru Enfield.  Research notes on the history of medicine

Series 3 - Omaha, Nebraska - History
Box 3

  1. “Report of the U.S. Forester Relative to Proposed Childs Point State Forest Preserve,” 1910
  2. “History of Fontenelle Forest,” by Mary A. Towne; including clippings and map
  3. Lotus Club - list of members, ca.1921
  4. Benevolent activities in Omaha, 1859-1919
  5. Notes and clippings on early history of Omaha, 1856-early 1900’s including lists and information on early homes and lawyers, music, art, Wiley Point, State Board of Health, etc.
  6. Research notes, calendars, etc. on history of Omaha in the 1890’s
  7. History of medicine in Omaha in 1890’s compiled for paper for Nebraska Medical Association, 1965 by Alice C. Towne DeWeese
  8. Field notebook entitled “Minutes of Medical Inspection done by S. R. Towne, M.D.” which contains notes on pollution inspection of Mud Creek, So. Omaha, in May 1903 (6 pp).  Remainder of volume is expense book for care of home entitled “Payments Toward Westview,” 1908-November 1954

Series 4 - Ornithology
Box 4

  1. News Clippings and notes on nature in general
  2. Correspondence and clippings regarding S.R. Towne’s interest in ornithology including:  Lists of his published works; check-lists of Nebraska Birds; Program – 66th Stated Meeting of the American Ornithologists Union, October 12-15, 1948; and “Our Bird Neighbors – 400 species in Nebraska,” by S.R. Towne, President, Nebraska Audubon Society, Reprint from Omaha World Herald, 1911
  3. “Notes on Dr. Solon R. Towne and Early Bird Study in Omaha and Nebraska,” by Alice T. DeWeese.
  4. Nebraska Ornithologists Union - Miscellaneous printed matter including:  Tribute to S.R. Towne by Col. T.W. McCullough, citizen of Omaha and associate editor of Omaha Bee at N.O.U.  27th Annual Meeting banquet, Hotel Castle, Omaha, May 14 & 15, 1926; Nebraska Bird Review, April 1935 containing a review of Nebraska ornithology with article by Jessie M. and Mary A. Towne, “The Songs of the Western Meadowlark,” about their Father; miscellaneous annual meeting programs, 1948-1953
  5. Nebraska Ornithologists Union - Publications:  “Proceedings of meetings, 1899-1915 (9 volumes); “Check-List of the Birds of Nebraska,” reprinted from the Nebraska Bird Review, Volume 13, May 1945 and revised November 1945

Series 5 - Miscellaneous

  1. Nebraska Tuberculosis Association History, 1907-1947 and Annual Report, 1968-1959
  2. Miscellaneous Printed Matter, including:
    "In Memoriam – Lawrence Bruner, 1937"
    "History of the Black Masque Society, UNL, 1905-1920" (2 copies)
    "In Memoriam – Mrs. Mary A. Fairfield," 1881
    "The Old Man – A Tribute," pen and ink sketches of old England by Harriet C. Towne
    The Religious and Literary Gem, Volume 11, #3, March 1843
    "Girls Basket Ball in the University of Nebraska, 1896-1906"
  3. Miscellaneous clippings and handwritten cookbook entitled "Grandmother Somers Receipts"
  4. "The Story of Omaha," by Byron Reed Co., Inc. on its Centennial, 1956; and "Glimpses of the World’s Fair," Chicago, 1893

Box 5 - Scrapbook - clippings, stories, poems, ca.1890


Subject headings:

American Ornithologists Union
Birds -- Nebraska
Black Masque Society (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Bruner, Lawrence, 1856-1937
Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire)
DeWeese family
DeWeese, Alice Christine (Towne), 1884-1974
Fairfield, Mary A. (Baldwin), 1837-1881
Fairs and expositions
Fontenelle Forest (Nebraska)
Medicine -- History
Nebraska Audubon Society -- History
Nebraska Ornithologists Union
Nebraska Tuberculosis Association -- History
Omaha (Nebraska) -- History
Seabury family
Seabury, Judge Samuel, 1874-1958
Somers family
Towne family
Towne, Solon Rodney, 1846-1932


DDS/cr                   03-19-1970
DDM/pmc              01-15-1985
Revised TMM        07-10-2019

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