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“God Help Me, I Told a Lie”: Kate Gilnagh

"God Help Me, I Told a Lie": Kate Gilnagh

A week before Kate Gilnagh stepped aboard the R.M.S. Titanic, a fortune teller had called at her family's home in County Longford, Ireland.

According to Kate's relatives, her father Hughie was turning the woman away when 17-year-old Kate stepped forward, insisting that she would like her fortune told for a sixpence.

The fortune teller reportedly took Kate's palm and told the girl: she would soon cross water, and although there would be danger, that Kate herself would not come to harm.

Kate Gilnagh boarded Titanic in Queenstown, Ireland, as a steerage passenger on April 11, 1912. She was emigrating to America to join her sister Mollie in Manhattan.

Kate took to cabin 161 on E-Deck.

And by lucky chance, she found herself bunking with three other girls all also from County Longford: they were two other Kates, and a Margaret.

Over the course of the voyage, Kate Gilnagh seems to have become acquainted with more male passengers who came from Longford--this was hardly surprising to anyone, according to reports, due to her memorable beauty.

Kate also is reported to have socialized with Eugene Daly, a 29-year-old piper who is rumored to have caught her eye while on deck.

On the night of the collision, Kate recalled to Walter Lord that there was a lively party happening in the communal portion of steerage. She even detailed that a rat had, at one point, scurried through the mess of dancers, inciting short-lived chaos.

Eventually, Kate and her three bunkmates had retired to their cabin when a man with whom they had become acquainted, rattled the door.

According to Walter Lord, this was none other than Eugene Daly.

Kate Gilnagh and her cabin-mates attempted to make their way to the upper decks. But they were stopped en route.

According to Kate, an unidentified crewman blocked the way of the group in an attempt to keep the steerage passengers in order. And when she herself tried to pass through an unknown barrier, said crewman halted her in her path.

It was then that she reported her friend Jim Farrell shouldered his way through the crowd with ferocity.

"At another barrier a seaman held back Kathy Gilnagh, Kate Mullins and Kate Murphy... Suddenly steerage passanger Jim Farrell, a strapping Irishman from the girls' home county, barged up. 'Great God, man!' he roared. 'Open the gate and let the girls through!' It was a superb demonstration of sheer voice power. To the girls' astonishment the sailor meekly complied."

Excerpt from "A Night to Remember," by Walter Lord, page 57.

With Jim's help--and Kate later referred to him in an interview as their "guardian angel"--the group ascended the decks.

But somewhere along the line, Kate Gilnagh is reported to have gotten spun around and had gotten lost from her friends. She told Walter Lord that she quite suddenly found herself alone on the portside Second-class promenade with no apparent means to reach the boat deck above.

The deck, Kate said, was eerily devoid of people, aside from one man leaning on the railing and staring grimly out toward the blackened sea. Seeing her plight, he offered for her to stand on his shoulders so she might reach and climb up onto the deck above them.

Kate accepted.

Just as she hauled herself onto the boat deck, a nearby lifeboat--often reported as Lifeboat 16--was starting its descent. Kate attempted to board, but she was blocked yet again by a crewman telling her the boat was at capacity.

"But I want to go with my sister!" she spontaneously cried out.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the sinking, Kate Gilnagh told the following to the New York Daily News.

"God help me, I told a lie... at first they didn't want to let anyone else into it because it was overcrowded. I said that I wanted to go with my sister. I had no sister aboard. They let me get in, but I had to stand because we were so crowded."

Citation courtesy of "The Irish Aboard Titanic" by Senan Molony, 2000.

Jim Farrell had also made it to that same lifeboat, but he did not leave the deck.

According to a contemporary report from the Irish Post, on May 25, 1912, the pair had one final, somber interaction.

"[Kate Gilnagh] further states that she was wearing a small shawl on her head which got blown off, when a person named Mr James Farrell on Clonee, gave her his cap.

As they were being lowered, he shouted: 'Good-bye for ever' and that was the last she saw of him."

Citation courtesy of "The Irish Aboard Titanic" by Senan Molony, 2000.

When Kate arrived in New York City, she was listed as a domestic servant, aged 17 years, and destined for a relative's house on East 55th Street.

Her sister Mollie was reportedly "inconsolably arranging a Requiem Mass" for her sister's repose, when Kate walked into the room.

Fifty years later, Kate retold the story to the New York Daily News.

"My relatives thought I was dead and when I got to my sister's house they were preparing for my funeral."

Citation courtesy of "The Irish Aboard Titanic" by Senan Molony, 2000.

Mollie and Kate immediately arranged to take a portrait together.

They did so to reassure their family back in Ireland that Kate had somehow, by the grace of heaven, survived the sinking of the Titanic.


Lord, Walter. "A Night to Remember." St. Martin's Griffin, 2005 edition.

Molony, Senan. "The Irish Aboard Titanic." Wolfhound Press, 2000.

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“I Wish the ‘Titanic’ Were Lying at the Bottom of the Ocean”: Edgardo Samuel Andrew

"I Wish the 'Titanic' Were Lying at the Bottom of the Ocean": Edgardo Samuel Andrew

Edgardo Samuel Andrew was newly 17 years old when he boarded Titanic in Southampton.

He did not want to go.

Edgardo Andrew grew up on a cattle ranch called El Durazno, in Argentina.

He was born to English-immigrant parents, named Samuel and Annie, in March 1895. Edgardo was the second-to-last of eight children, but his younger brother died in infancy, making Edgardo the de facto baby of the family.

Samuel Andrew died in 1906, leaving Edgardo's older brother as administrator to both the business and his family.

It was commonly accepted practice for expatriate families to export their children for their schooling back home. And the Andrew family did just that.

So in 1911, in keeping with the tradition dictated by his siblings before him, Edgardo set off for school in Bournemouth, England. He went at the behest of his elder brother, Silvano.

Silvano had himself attended school back in Britain, where he studied marine engineering and steam engines over the course of six or seven years.

Silvano then returned to Buenos Aires and joined the Argentinian Navy.

He was thereafter shipped off to United States: first to Quincy, Massachusetts, and then New Jersey.

While there, Silvano began courting an affluent widow named Harriet White Fisher, and he eventually quit the Navy to work as an executive for Harriet's prominent company, called "Fisher and Norris Anvil Works."

It was well into the spring of 1912 when Edgardo received a letter from Silvano: he and Harriet Fisher were engaged to be married. And soon.

The wedding was scheduled for April 27, 1912, in New York.

Silvano wanted Edgardo to attend--not just as a guest at the wedding, but also to enjoy the bounty of American life, and possibly even work alongside him at the Anvil Works.

Edgardo, of course, accepted the invitation and booked immediate passage to New York from Southampton.

On board the R.M.S. Oceanic.

Edgardo's ship was scheduled to depart from the Southampton docks on April 17th, 1912, only ten days before the wedding.

He had not considered the coal strike, which had only recently ended on April 6th and was still impacting sea travel. It left most vessels without fuel for their scheduled routes.

Including the Oceanic.

Edgardo's ship was berthed indefinitely, moored alongside smaller vessels like the S.S. New York. And most likely, it had had its limited coal supply pilfered by its parent, the White Star Line.

To supply the maiden voyage of Titanic.

Edgardo felt he had no choice: to make it in time for his brother's wedding, he would have to depart England sooner than scheduled.

And so, he transferred his ticket to Titanic, which was set to leave a week earlier, on April 10th. It would afford him more time; and really, it was his only option.

Edgardo was displeased with the adjustment for a particular reason.

He had recently received a letter from a dear friend--often presumed to be a romantic interest, or even fiancee--back home in Argentina: a girl named Josefina Cowan.

Josefina wrote to Edgardo that she would soon be taking passage to England, and that she dearly hoped to see him.

But with his alternate passage on Titanic already booked, Edgardo had to dash both her hopes and his. He responded on April 8th.

"You can't imagine how sorry I am leaving without seeing you, but I've got to go and there's no other way...

When I received your first letter telling me you were coming... I was so happy about the news I could not think of anything else, and I was making every program... but sadly my anticipated programs will not come true..."

In that same letter, Edgardo expressed his bitterness toward what he felt was the sole impediment between himself and Josey: the necessity of his travel on Titanic.

The plain irony would become his epitaph.

"You figure Josey I had to leave on the 17th this (month) aboard the "Oceanic", but due to the coal strike that steamer cannot depart, so I have to go one week earlier on board the 'Titanic'. It really seems unbelievable that I have to leave a few days before your arrival, but there's no help for it, I've got to go. You figure, Josey, I am boarding the greatest steamship in the world, but I don't really feel proud of it at all, right now I wish the 'Titanic' were lying at the bottom of the ocean."

And so, on April 10th, Edgardo rode the train to Southampton and embarked on Titanic. He held a Second-class ticket.

He was all alone.

His spirits seem to have lightened, however, once he had settled on board.

While Titanic steamed toward the port of Cherbourg that same afternoon, Edgardo popped into the barber shop and bought two postcards: one for his brother Wilfredo back home at El Durazno, and one for his friend in Italy.

Edgardo began the postcard to Wilfredo: "From this colossal ship I'm pleased to greet you."

On Titanic, Second-class passengers shared dining tables.

And so young Edgardo became friends with his table-mates. They were Jacob Milling, who was a railway machine inspector from Copenhagen, and Edwina Troutt, who was traveling to visit her sister.

Just like Edgardo, Edwina had likewise been inconvenienced by a transfer of passage from the lamed Oceanic.

Edgardo seemed to have spent a significant amount of time in the company of his new friends.

Edwina recalled that both Edgardo and Jacob wrote letters each morning. She also reported on conversations between them about how ardently Jacob missed his wife, and his excitement to send her a wireless message.

And according to Edwina, on the evening of April 14th, the trio was "in the Library talking over various things."

Edwina later wrote the following recollection about the actions of both Jacob Milling and Edgardo Andrew once Titanic struck the iceberg.

"I heard the ship make a stumbling noise, enough to wake me... [after the collision] I met only a few curious women & Mr Andrew. I tried to find out out what was the matter, & the officer told me, 'It's only an iceberg. ou must go back to your stateroom or you'll catch cold.'

...I saw them lower one lifeboat with no one in it & noticed the men were also uncovering another. I then realised something was the matter. I at once went to the state rooms of all my friends & told them to dress in case we were called up. Then I met Mr Milling & he said 'What is the trouble, Miss Trout? What does it all mean?' I said, 'A very sad parting for all of us. This ship is going to sink.' (Mr Andrew laughed at me & said impossible)

Mr Andrew & I then went looking for other friends & so many of them couldn't do anything for themselves so we helped them with their life preservers..."

In a spoken interview decades later, Edwina recalled that Edgardo had tried to convince her that the ship could not--and would not--go down.

Elsewhere, she reported that Edgardo even gave her his life vest.

Edgardo died in the sinking that night. His body, if ever recovered, went unidentified.

But in 2001, a leather suitcase was recovered from the shipwreck, about 800 feet off of the stern. The luggage was submitted for restoration.

It was Edgardo's.

Remarkably, once opened, it was found to still be neatly packed. The contents included his shoes, as well as a school notebook.

Therein, written in pencil, researchers found that he had taken up pages, just signing and re-signing his name.

Edgardo Samuel Andrew--only 17 years old and looking toward his future--seems to have been practicing his signature.


Behe, George. "On Board RMS Titanic: Memories of the Maiden Voyage." The History Press, 2012.

National Geographic, "Drain the Titanic." Documentary directed by Wayne Abbott. 2015.

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“Steadfast in Peril”: Titanic’s Post Office

"Steadfast in Peril": Titanic's Mail Room

Titanic’s “R.M.S.” designation meant “Royal Mail Steamer.”

The White Star Line, unremarkably, was under contract with the British government to efficiently and expediently transit mail.

And Titanic did in fact carry mail.

3,364 bags of it, to be precise. 

These thousands of sacks, containing multiple millions of pieces of mail, arrived on board at all three port destinations reached.

Most mail bags embarked at Southampton and Cherbourg, with 1,758 at the former port and 1,412 at the latter. A comparatively small amount of 194 followed at Queenstown, before Titanic turned toward the open sea.

Receiving and sorting this mail by journey’s end was the sole responsibility of only five mail clerks. 

Two of these men, James Williamson and John Richard Jago Smith, reported from the ranks of the Royal Mail.

Three American clerks—Oscar Woody, John March, and William Gwinn—joined them from their employ within the United States Postal Service.

Maritime postal clerks were esteemed, to say the least.

These men were elite, with most having been recruited from the Railway Mail Service and Foreign Mail Section after extended service. Such clerks have been noted to sort an average of 60,000 pieces of mail per day with minimal error.

And the five clerks on board Titanic were no exception to this rule of excellence.

Titanic’s postal quarters were split between two deck levels: the Post Office on G Deck, and the Sorting Mail Room on Orlop situated directly beneath it. They were located forward on the starboard side, within the fourth watertight compartment.

Titanic's mail facilities were by all accounts more polished--and far more generous--than any that the postal clerks had previously experienced. 

On most vessels, the mail sorting room was distant from the hold that stored the still-bagged mail, and it was typically constricted and dingy.

Titanic, on the other hand, provided such spacious accommodation. And it boasted an infinitely efficient design: the two rooms were “stacked” one over the other, with a wide companionway connecting them for easy access.

The expansive post office had racks and cubbies for envelopes. Additionally, there was a broad sorting table and even a latticework gate that allowed the clerks to separate registered mail from the rest.

The sleeping quarters originally assigned to Titanic's postal clerks were situated among steerage cabins.

The Postal Museum in London possesses letters from the ship’s inspection on April 9th, the day before her maiden voyage. Therein, the writer(s) take umbrage with conditions of the clerks’ accommodations among Third-Class passengers--and in derogatory terms.

"The [sleeping] Cabins are situated among a block of Third Class cabins, and it is stated the occupants of these latter, who are mostly low class Continentals, keep up noisy conversation sometimes throughout the silent hours and even indulge at times in singing and instrumental music…if their [id est, the mail clerks] work during the day is to be performed efficiently it is essential that they should enjoy a decent sleep at night."

Consequently, the mail clerks were swiftly given alternate, more peaceful accommodations.

They were also reassigned a private dining room on an upper deck--a saloon they shared with the two Marconi operators.

From the moment the Titanic set sail, the five postal clerks would have been at work sorting through the literal thousands of bags of mail in the hold: categorizing all parcels and post according to their intended destinations. 

Additionally, the First- and Second-Class Reading and Writing Rooms had postal boxes stationed outside their doors for passenger use.

The clerks, therefore, may have been alternately tasked with retrieving any such mail—and certainly worked to sort all of that, too.

The goal was to have all mail successfully dispatched at the so-called “quarantine station” in New York Bay, where all incoming ships had to tarry for health inspections.

Therefore, the mail would have disembarked even before the ship’s passengers.

At the time of the iceberg strike, the five men were in their private dining area celebrating the imminent birthday of American postal clerk Oscar Woody.

He would be turning 41 years old the next day, on April 15th.

Upon feeling the collision, the five mail clerks immediately made their way to the post office on G Deck.

Mail on board a ship was considered seriously precious cargo, and the clerks were duty- and honor-bound to safeguard it at all costs. 

And so the men set to bundling and transferring all the mail they could manage into sacks and closing them up for transport to the upper decks.

Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall was sent down to the mail room by Captain Smith.

At the American Senate Inquiry, Boxhall retold his story of meeting the postal clerks. 

Looking down into the open companion way that connected the post office where they stood to the mail hold directly below them, Boxhall stated he saw full-up mail bags floating by.

[Senator Fletcher] 3682. Did you do so?
- I was proceeding down, but I met the carpenter. 

3683. What did you say to him?
- I said, "The captain wants you to sound the ship." He said, "The ship is making water," and he went on the bridge to the captain, and I thought I would go down forward again and investigate; and then I met a mail clerk, a man named Smith, and he asked where the captain was. I said, "He is on the bridge." He said, "The mail hold is full" or "filling rapidly." I said, "Well, you go and report it to the captain and I will go down and see," and I proceeded right down into the mail room.

3684. What did you find there?
- I went down as far as the sorting room deck and found mail clerks down there working.

3685. Doing what?
- Taking letters out of the racks, they seemed to me to be doing.

3686. Taking letters out of the racks and putting them into pouches?
- I could not see what they were putting them in.

3687. You could not see what disposition they were making of them?
- I looked through an open door and saw these men working at the racks, and directly beneath me was the mail hold, and the water seemed to be then within 2 feet of the deck we were standing on.

3688. What did you do in that situation?
- (continuing): And bags of mail floating about. I went right on the bridge again and reported to the captain what I had seen.

In a contemporary report, Officer Boxhall reportedly recounted his time in the mail room with further detail.

According to Boxhall, the clerks continued their work even as the post office began to flood not five minutes later.

They began hauling the heavy sacks--at least 100 lbs each, one under each arm--moving waist-deep through the frigid seawater.

Over and over again.

"When he got down to E deck, where the mailroom was located, he says he found it awash. Gwinn was there in his nightclothes, having rushed down from his room two decks above. Three other clerks were also there and all were bundling registered mail in sacks. It is estimated that its value was $800,000.

Boxhall says that the four men loaded themselves with heavy sacks of mail and stumbled on decks. at that time the boats were being launched."

Eventually, the struggling mail clerks appealed to the stewards for aid, and bedroom steward Alfred Theissinger obliged.

Alfred later recalled the following.

"I urged them to leave their work. They shook their heads and continued at their work. It might have been an inrush of water later that cut off their escape, or it may have been the explosion. I saw them no more."

All in all, Titanic’s postal clerks salvaged approximately 200 bags of mail from the post office on G Deck—but in the end, none were saved.

Tragically, nor were they.

All five men—Woody, Smith, Williamson, March, and Gwinn—died that night.

Two of their bodies were retrieved from the sea by the MacKay-Bennett: John March, and Oscar Woody.

The United States Postmaster General stated the following in a recommendation to the Postal Committee of the House of Representatives.

"The bravery exhibited by these men," [Postmaster General] Hitchcock said, "in their efforts to safeguard under such trying conditions the valuable mail intrusted [sic] to them should be a source of pride to the entire Postal Service, and deserves some marked expression of appreciation from the Government."

In Britain, a memorial was dedicated in Southampton: it reads “Steadfast in Peril.”

In 1999, a documentary revealed that the mailroom was accessible via the front cargo hatch. 

Inside the post office on G Deck, the underwater robot--called Robin--found the mail sorting table, overturned and slowly rotting. Nearby, the latticework fence that segregated registered mail from the rest was open.

Then Robin descended further into the mail room on Orlop deck.

There, the submersible encountered canvas bags, grown over with sea life, and still full of mail.

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“I Think It Is True That They Can Smell Danger”: Titanic’s Rats

"I Think It Is True That They Can Smell Danger": Titanic's Rats

When Thomas Ranger, a fireman on Titanic, arrived in Washington DC for the American Senate Inquiry, he had experienced the luxury of hotel lodgings in Washington, D.C.

When Thomas arrived back home in Britain, however, and was asked to testify before the British Board of Trade, he slept multiple nights outside on the bank of the Thames.

Another bedless man amidst “benches and tramps," Thomas Ranger stated he “prefered to walk than sleep” at the Sailors' Home.

All because of vermin.

Ranger and other surviving crew, on standby to be called before the Board, had been advised to stay at the Sailors’ Home in London, which had offered wayward seafarers interim accommodations between voyages since the 1800s. 

In May of 1912, however, the rooms in the Sailors’ Home were overly full—to the point that makeshift quarters were put out in the yard.

Meanwhile, construction to the building was ongoing, with bricklayers. The Titanic survivors were assigned to the vicinity of the remodeling efforts.

And Thomas Ranger could not bear to sleep there because the construction had disturbed and displaced an unspecified quantity of rats.

It’s no revelation that rats are—and have been—everywhere.

Even on a grand, new liner’s maiden voyage.

Yes, Titanic indeed had a rat population.

Rats have congregated on ships for so long and with such regularity that they are believed to have spread worldwide alongside human, thanks to our human Age of Conquest when ships dominated the open seas.

It’s reasonable to hypothesize that rats would have boarded the Titanic much like they have any other vessel in history: by running up unguarded mooring lines, as stowaways within waiting cargo, and even by taking up residence within the walls during construction in the shipyard.

Interestingly, around the time of the British Inquiry into the Titanic disaster, a law had recently been enacted that mandated the use of rat-guards on mooring lines, upon penalty of a five-pound fine.

But rats are cleverer than that.

Oftentimes, rats were so plentiful aboard that firemen working the boilers had a particular method of killing shipboard rats on-sight: by scooping the offending rats up with their shovels and flinging them into the fiery maw of the furnace.

For this reason, many ships had at least one cat on board.

In the case of Titanic, this rumored mouser was named Jenny: a newly adopted stray about to birth a litter.

According to Violet Jessop, Jenny the Ship's Cat was tended to primarily by a scullion named Joseph 'Big Joe' Mulholland.

The Sunday Independent reported on Joe's own account on the anniversary of the sinking, in 1962.

"There was something about that ship I did not like and I was glad to lift my old bag and bid goodbye...

Big Joe is still fond of cats and perhaps he has a reason. He recalls that on his way down to the Titanic before she set sail from Belfast with bands playing and crowds cheering, he took pity on a stray cat which was about to have kittens. He brought the cat aboard and put her in a wooden box down in the stokehold.

At Southampton, when he was ruminating whether to take on the job of store-keeper on the trip or sign off, another seaman called him over and said: 'Look Big Joe. There's your cat taking its kittens down the gang-plank.'

Joe said, 'that settled it. I went and got my bag and that's the last I saw of the Titanic.'"

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic" by Senan Molony, 2000.

As the paper reported: "When his cat walked off, so did Joe."

And so Titanic's left on her maiden voyage mouser-less.

There is no official record of how many rats were on Titanic.

But eyewitness accounts attest to at least a half-dozen.

Fireman Jack Podesta gave an interview to the periodical ‘Southern Evening Echo’ in 1968, in which he reported having seen rats behaving oddly down in the boiler rooms on Saturday April 13th—the day before the iceberg strike.

"On this very morning, my chum and I had just gone across firing our boilers and we were standing against a watertight door—just talking—when all of a sudden, on looking through the forward end on [Titanic’s] starboard side, we saw about six or maybe seven rats running toward us. They passed by our feet; in fact, we both kicked out at them and they ran after somewhere. 

They must have come from the bow end, about where the crash came later. We did not take much notice at the time because we see rats on most ships, but I think it is true that they can smell danger."

But it wasn’t just crew that sighted rats on board.

There are fleeting mentions that children in third-class chased the occasional rat.

And third-class passenger Kathy Gilnagh also told Titanic historian Walter Lord that on the night of April 14th, she had seen a rat.

Shortly before collision, there was a large party in the common area of steerage.

And Kathy Gilnagh told Walter Lord that, at some point during the frivolity, a rat scurried across the room--presumably dashing across the makeshift dance floor. According to Kathy, the girls shrieked and may have even cried, but a few boys gave chase.

Kathy did not elaborate about whether those boys managed to catch that particular rat.

But the party reportedly continued on.

Even during the collision with the iceberg.


Molony, Senan. "The Irish Aboard Titanic." Wolfhound Press, 2000.

Lord, Walter. "A Night to Remember."

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“Not Bad for A Shipwrecked Man”: Patrick O’Keefe

"Not Bad for a Shipwrecked Man": Patrick O'Keefe

Patrick O’Keefe had tried to sell his ticket for Titanic for £7.

Patrick had been awaiting the Titanic’s arrival in a hotel in Queenstown, Ireland. And he had dreamt the night before his departure that the ship would sink.

Patrick had moved to America two years earlier in 1910, when he was only 19 years old. Freshly settled in New York City and living with his cousin, he worked as a porter and general laborer.

Patrick's work strengthened him with regular heavy lifting. He also reportedly had a tradition of swimming in the River Suir each Christmas Day.

In 1912, at the age of 21, Patrick had returned to Ireland to visit with his family and meet his new stepmother. He had initially booked passage back to America on the SS Baltic. 

But Patrick’s brother, James, convinced him to stay over an extra week in Ireland so the entire family could be together for Easter on April 7th.

And so Patrick transferred his ticket to Titanic.

Having failed to find a taker for his doomed ticket, Patrick reluctantly embarked on the Titanic at Queenstown on April 11th.

He did so only because he feared derision.

He wrote to his father, “I thought if I went back to Waterford again the boys would be laughing at me.”

Patrick was crestfallen to leave Ireland behind again. He sent the following postcard to his father before boarding the Titanic.

"I feel it very hard to leave. I am down-hearted. Cheer up, I think I’ll be alright — Paddy."

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic," Senan Molony, 2000.

Patrick’s shipboard activities are not very detailed.

On the night of the sinking, he made his way up to the boat deck and presumably remained on board in the ship’s final moments before it broke.

Patrick reportedly cast himself overboard with two Englishmen, named Edward Dorkings and Victor Sunderland, both of whom were fellow steerage passengers. According to Victor’s own account, he jumped when he saw nearby stokers doing the same.

Patrick was adept at swimming and unphased by the frigid seawater, due to his customary Christmas swims. 

And so Patrick, along with Victor and Edward, swam toward the lifeboat Collapsible B, which had floated away from Titanic’s deck upside-down.

Again per Victor Sunderland’s account, the three grabbed hold of the collapsible as it floated past Titanic's forward funnel—which came crashing down only moments later.

Balancing on the sloped, slick back of Collapsible B, Patrick O’Keefe began hauling other survivors up onto the boat.

Perhaps this seemingly Herculean task was a bit easier for him than most, thanks to his strength from his work as a porter.

On May 16, 1912, the Cork Examiner reprinted the following report from a stateside periodical, about Patrick.

An act of heroism was performed by Mr Patrick O'Keefe who, plunging into the sea from the steerage deck, managed to capture a collapsible raft on which he first pulled an Englishman from Southampton then a Guernsey Islander, and after that with the assistance of those he had already rescued, some 20 other men

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic," Senan Molony, 2000.

Furthermore, Junior Marconi operator Harold Bride--who had himself survived the sinking on Collapsible B--testified in the American Inquiry about an unnamed passenger who was at the center of assistance efforts that night.

And there was a passenger; I could not see whether he was first, second, or third.

Senator SMITH.
What kind of a looking man?

I could not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Have you learned who it was?

No, sir; I heard him say at the time he was a passenger.

Senator SMITH.
Was it Colonel Gracie?

I could not say. He merely said he was a passenger.

Senator SMITH.
Where did he get on?

I could not say. I was the last man they invited on board.

Senator SMITH.
Were there others struggling to get on?

Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many?


And according to the Brooklyn Eagle, who interviewed Father Michael Kenny about his visit to Titanic survivors in hospital:

"O’Keefe’s success in rescuing lives after he assumed absolute command of the raft was one of the many providential avenues of escape provided for the steerage passengers of which I heard many recitals during my visit to St. Vincent’s."

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic," Senan Molony, 2000.

Patrick reportedly never spoke on the matter himself, and he was never summoned to testify at either the American or British inquiry.

He was noted by St. Vincent’s Hospital as having sustained heavy bruising, and eventually received a grant from the American Red Cross.

Back in Ireland, Patrick’s father was bereft and had scheduled Masses to pray for the repose for the soul of his lost son.

But then, he received a telegram from his boy.

"Dear Father,

I write you these few line to let you know I am safe and feeling fine. Do not worry for me, for I am all right and going to start work in the morning at twelve dollars a week (not bad for a shipwrecked man). Dear father, I am sure you felt downhearted when you heard the Titanic was lost. I dreamt myself she was going down before I left Queenstown… I lost everything I had on the Titanic but, thank God, my life was spared."

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic," Senan Molony, 2000.

Mr. O’Keefe immediately adjusted the aforementioned masses from bereavement to thanksgiving for his son’s miraculous survival.

Patrick went on to his new job, eventually working as a window dresser for an unidentified department store. Later on, he became a lift operator in a New York City office building.

Patrick O’Keefe declined to ever speak about the sinking of the Titanic.

But at the outbreak of the Great War in America, he traveled to Canada to enlist as a British subject--rather than be conscripted into the American forces and be forced to cross the Atlantic again.

So profound was his aversion to sea travel, in fact, that after 1912, Patrick never once stepped foot in Ireland again.

Patrick O'Keefe died from a heart attack in 1939. He was 49 years old.

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“My Friend Was a Gentleman Farmer”: William Crothers Dulles

"My Friend Was a Gentleman Farmer": William Crothers Dulles

William Crothers Dulles was a millionaire bachelor from Philadelphia.

Contemporary reporting indicates that he had a law degree, but if he did, he never seems to have practiced. To date, there is not even a record of a law degree being issued to him by his reported alma maters.

William was a member of an elite driving club in New York. He was also a dog fancier, having shown his Cavalier King Charles spaniels at shows throughout the Northeast.

But his life’s absolute passion was thoroughbred horses.

William was a horse breeder of some renown; his country home and farm in Goshen, New York, was called Tophill.

Tophill Farm was also where William also housed his extraordinary equine library and collection of equine art, which was rumored to be one of the most extensive in the world at the time.

This may very well have been true, given that William built a fortified bunker in which to store it all.

According to the New York Herald, “his library of sporting books was well known on both sides of the Atlantic. He had a vault of steel and concrete constructed for their safekeeping.”

And William alone kept the key to it.

William had been wintering in Europe alongside his mother Mary Dulles, since late January of 1912.

He was reported to have been inseparable with his mother following the loss of his father Andrew twelve years prior, always acting as his mother’s escort to Philadelphia events. Mary had been in Europe since December 1911, visiting with William’s younger sister Margaret and her husband Ettore.

In the spring of 1912, William had been dallying in Britain on the hunt for more rare equine tomes to add to his legendary library.

But then, for reasons unknown, Mrs. Dulles and her son parted ways in Paris so he might return home.

William Crothers Dulles boarded Titanic at 39 years old, at the port of Cherbourg, France.

As a First-Class passenger, he occupied cabin A-18. And he traveled alone, save for the company of his little dog, which--in keeping with the dog shows he participated in--is presumed to have been a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

There is hardly an account that provides any insight into William’s time spent on board.

But fellow First-Class passenger William Sloper attested to having made fast friends with Mr. Dulles, reporting briefly that they had shared a dining table with "a Mr. W.C. Dulles of Goshen, NY, and a Mr. Hoyt of New York City [who] were not saved."

"I remember I chummed around those first four days with a young, unmarried man about my age by the name of William Dulles who had been the steamer going over in the winter. My friend, Bill Dulles, was a gentleman farmer and trotting horse breeder from Goshen, New York. I saw him early on Sunday evening [April 14th] but I never saw him again. Later he was listed among the missing."

William Dulles died in the sinking of the Titanic. There are no known reports of his last moments. 

The body of William Crothers Dulles was the 133rd corpse recovered by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett. It was noted as follows.

N0. 133. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 50.

CLOTHING - Green suit; grey sweater and overshoes.

EFFECTS - Gold watch and chain; gold plated knife and chain; gold tie clip; "W. C. D."; four memo books; gold stud; 11s. 6 1/2d.



A particular possession was notably absent from the listed effects: the single key to William’s bunker-full of celebrated equestrian treasures, which were still locked away at Tophill Farm.

The Chicago Evening Post reported on April 16th—the day after the sinking—of the pall cast over Paris.

And that reporting made specific mention of William’s inconsolable mother.

"The American colony in Paris was plunged into profound grief this morning by the definite news of the stupendous loss of life caused by the wreck of the Titanic. Hundreds of permanent residents and of the American tourists staying at the hotels had relatives on board. They had gone to sleep last night comforted with the assurances cabled here that all had been saved, and it was only when they received their newspapers this morning that they learned the terrible toll of fatalities…

The White Star office was besieged by weeping women, several of whom had sons on board. Among these was Mrs. William Dulles, who left the office in a state of collapse, supported by her friends."

The death of William Dulles was orbited by bizarre occurrences. 

On April 19th, the Evening Bulletin reported an interview with William’s cousin, Dr. Charles Dulles, who was crestfallen that his cousin had not survived the sinking.

Therein, the Bulletin also mentioned a mystery woman, leading to speculation that William Dulles was secretly engaged—a rumor vehemently denied by his acquaintances.

"A handsome woman, elegantly dressed, inquired at the White Star Line offices in New York last night for information regarding Mr. Dulles. When told there was no record of his rescue, she hurried to the Surveyor of the Port and got a pass to the pier for the Carpathia's arrival. She was then lost sight of. Dr. Dulles said to-day he had no knowledge of the woman's identity."

Furthermore, in the midst of the tragedy, the Newark Star reported on that same day that a strange and harrowing incident had occurred at Tophill Farm. 

An employee of William Dulles by the name of John Pippin had appeared on the property “wildly intoxicated… and violent.” He was subsequently kicked by one of the horses. 

Drunk and bleeding, he then wrested the keys from the property caretaker and made his way to the late William’s bed, where he passed out.

Police arrested John Pippin at midnight after breaking in the door, which he had barricaded with furniture and a bunk bed.

Pippin had also armed himself with an axe, although according to the report “he had no opportunity to use it.”

William Crothers Dulles was interred in a family mausoleum in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery on May 6, 1912.

His world-famous library was eventually auctioned off in December of 1912, but only after expert attempts to break the lock to the bunker that safeguarded it.

New York’s American Courier reported in January 1913 that “in order to open the vault, his executor found it necessary to employ an expert locksmith, who worked many hours before he succeeded in his task.”

Prior to sale, William's collection was noted by the New York Herald as “the largest and Choicest Collection ever offered for sale by auction in America or Europe.”

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“The Captain’s Tiger”: James Arthur Paintin

"The Captain's Tiger": James Arthur Paintin

James Arthur Paintin was a tiger.

That is, he was the sole steward to attend to no lesser man than Titanic's captain, E.J. Smith.

James went by his middle name of Arthur, and he was 29 years old in April of 1912.

He was also a newlywed, having married Alice Bunce only five months prior, in November of 1911. They had courted for approximately four years prior to their marriage.

According to the account of a family member, Arthur Paintin intended for the Titanic to be his final stint at sea, because Alice had become pregnant. The couple reportedly hoped to purchase a hotel.

Arthur boarded the RMS Titanic as a personal steward to the captain, and was therefore a member of the Victualing Crew. Old nautical terminology refers to Arthur’s particular role as “the Captain’s Tiger.”

The origin of this unofficial but quite compelling title seems to be something of a mystery.

Arthur had entered into employment with the White Star Line in 1907, and by 1912, he had already served as Captain Smith’s Tiger on both the Adriatic and Titanic’s elder sister Olympic.

It is unclear if Arthur had acted in the capacity of a steward for a significant amount of time prior to his time with Captain Smith, because while on board Titanic, he wrote that he had joined a “stewards club” the previous August. He did note that benefits did not begin in that club until the first anniversary of his membership.

So Arthur was thusly intrigued by the opportunity to join what was essentially a rotary club called the "Hearts of Oak". He expressed this interest to his father.

When Arthur signed onto Titanic in Southampton on April 4th, he had a cold, although it was just beginning to improve.

“My cold is still pretty bad,” he wrote in a letter to his parents while on board, “but nothing like it was last week.” 

And he wasn’t exactly inspired by his accommodations, but he endeavored to be positive in spite of it.

"Bai jove [sic] what a fine ship this is, much better than the Olympic as far as passengers are concerned, but my room is nothing near so nice, no daylight, electric light on all day, but I suppose it's no use grumbling."

Citation courtesy of "Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage," by Donald Hyslop, Alastair Forsyth, and Sheila Jemima. 1994.

As the Captain’s Tiger, Arthur was in essence a personal valet. And it would certainly seem that Captain Smith had a distinct appreciation for Arthur's excellent services, as Titanic's maiden voyage was at least their third voyage together.

Arthur would have been responsible for Captain Smith’s functional needs within his quarters, like his laundering and boots, and with bringing him necessities like messages and meals as needed.

It is possible that Arthur accompanied Captain Smith to public meals, in order to attend to his needs. But where and when the Tiger himself ate, is not known.

Stewardess Violet Jessop observed that, at least on Olympic, all manners of stewards ate hurriedly and without much respite, whenever their schedules would allow it.

 "[Stewards ate] standing in any available corner of a greasy pantry, amid steamy smells and nauseating, grease-strewn decks, eaten in the quickest possible time in order to get away."

Citation courtesy of "Titanic Survivor: The Newly Discovered Memoirs of Violet Jessop," edited by John Maxtone-Graham. 1997.

There was a lounge on board Titanic assigned exclusively for the use of personal maids and valets of passengers. But it it is unknown if this lounge likewise would have been available and appropriate for the Captain's Tiger.

To date, Arthur Paintin’s movements throughout Titanic's voyage are entirely unconfirmed. There appears to be no record.

Acting as the Captain’s Tiger was a role of some significance—which is why Arthur’s absence from eyewitness accounts is sometimes noted by Titanic enthusiasts as peculiar. But then again, it is not in the general purview of a personal steward to be noticeable.

Only Frederick Dent Ray, a surviving Saloon Steward, has thus far been noted as having witnessed James Arthur Paintin on board--specifically, in the final moments of the sinking.

Frederick testified as follows on the ninth day of the American Inquiry, stating that Arthur had last been seen alongside Captain Smith on Titanic's bridge.

Senator SMITH.
Did he [Captain E.J. Smith] have a personal waiter or steward of his own?

Mr. RAY.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Who was he?

Mr. RAY.
A man named Phainten [James Arthur Paintin], I think it was; I am almost sure.

Senator SMITH.
Did he survive?

Mr. RAY.
No, sir. He was last seen on the bridge, standing by the captain.

Just like E.J. Smith, the Captain's Tiger did not survive the sinking of the Titanic.

The body of James Arthur Paintin, if recovered, was never identified.

Back home, Alice Paintin was widowed after less than six months of marriage. And three months after Titanic foundered, she gave birth to her lost husband's son.

She named the baby James Arthur Paintin.


Hyslop, Donald, Alastair Forsyth, and Sheila Jemima. "Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage." Sutton Publishing Limited, 1997.

Jessop, Violet. "Titanic Survivor: The Newly Discovered Memoirs of Violet Jessop Who Survived Both the Titanic and Britannic Disasters." Annotated by John Maxtone-Graham. Sheridan House, Inc., 1997.

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“A Ship Full of Flowers”: Sensory Titanic

"A Ship Full of Flowers": Sensory Titanic

When passengers embarked on the RMS Titanic on April 10, 1912, in Southampton, they legitimately could smell the fresh paint.

And by many accounts, it was pretty awful.

Much like anywhere else—and despite the impressions of austerity invariably imparted by black-and-white photographs—Titanic was a world of scents. Some were pleasant, most were reportedly overpowering.

And all collaborated in a perfume at once chemical, decadent, and grim.

According to multiple firsthand accounts, Titanic reeked of fresh paint and varnish. 

The exterior was painted, of course, with the iconic red portion of the hull protected with a so-called anti-fouling medium made by Suter, Hartman & Rahtjens.

But the rooms and corridors, newly painted a pristine and untouched swan feather white, are what inspired passenger complaints.

Lillian Asplund, a steerage passenger who was six years old when she boarded Titanic, later recalled, "I remember not liking the smell of fresh paint."

Meanwhile, Second-class passenger Kate Buss wrote in a letter home, "The only thing I object to is new paint so far."

Third-class passenger Jane von Tongerloo was so displeased with the smell, recalled her daughter, that she left the cabin door ajar just to get a modicum of fresh air.

The combination of oil-based paint and linseed oil was a heady aroma under the best of circumstances, but could prove particularly difficult to overcome, when ventilation was primarily achieved via portholes. Opening these, of course, subjected the room to the fickle April chill.

The smell of paint even sickened some passengers, causing symptoms such as head pain.

The White Star Line reportedly made attempts to mask the chemical odors with an absolute excess of floral arrangements.

White Star flooded both suites and various public spaces with bouquets--to such a degree that one passenger later described Titanic as "a ship full of flowers."

The plentitude of flowers on board Titanic were all provided by a single nursery: F.G. Bealing & Son of Southampton.

The horticultural florist firm had begun supplying the White Star Line when the company arrived on the scene in Southampton in 1907. It was a connection achieved via Bealings's existing relationship with Oakley & Watling, White Star Line's exclusive fruit supplier.

In the evening hours of April 9th, Mr. Frank Bealing, his son, and his foreman Bill Geapin loaded all the flowers, palms, and potted plants into mule-drawn carts, and pulled up alongside the mammoth liner in its quay.

The men set down all the flowers on a tarp in one of Titanic's main foyers, and set to work distributing them about the ship.

Decorative plants were staged partly at the direction of White Star staff and partly per the Bealings's tastes, although they likely would have attempted to mimic the placements they'd done on Titanic' elder sister Olympic.

Fresh-cut flowers, meanehile, were stored in the Titanic's G-Deck storage room labeled "Passenger Fruits & Flowers."

It is also rumored that Bealing buttonhole carnations were handed out to the First-Class passengers on sailing day, and many likely found their ways down into the water below. A local boy who went to see Titanic off recalled that "all the people on deck were waving and throwing flowers down, and they were all going into the sea."

There are varying reports of the substance of floral bouquets upon First-Class dining tables for each meal.

Perhaps each table was alternately arranged with a unique bouquet, suggesting a theme; perhaps the variations in their retellings are simply mistakes of memory.

Lady Duff-Gordon wrote of her dinner table in the A La Carte restaurant on April 14th, "We had a big vase of beautiful daffodils on the table, which were fresh as though they had just been picked."

Meanwhile, Mahala Douglas recalled that while attending the dinner party for Captain Smith on the at very same evening that those tables were adorned with bouquets of pink roses and white daisies.

And Lily May Futrelle recalled with a flourish that her dinner table boasted a "great bunch" of American Beauty roses.

In addition to all the flowers already on board, a number of passengers received “Bon Voyage” flower baskets from acquaintances—among them, First-Class passenger Ida Straus.

"You cannot imagine how pleased I was to find your exquisite basket of flowers in our sitting room on the steamer. The roses and carnations are all so beautiful in color and so fresh as though they had just been cut."

Citation courtesy of "On Board RMS Titanic," by George Behe. 2012.

Lady Duff-Gordon also boarded with a basketful of flowers: lilies of the valley--her signature bloom--gifted to her on the train platform in Paris as she departed for the port of Cherbourg, by the salon girls in her employ.

Floral arrangements within First-Class suites and cabins reportedly consisted of carnations, and were changed daily.

This routine apparently included a rotation of flower vases in the bathrooms, as Lady Duff-Gordon recounted in her survivor account.

"Just then, a steward knocked. 'Sorry to alarm you, madame, but Captain's orders are that all passengers must put on lifebelts.'

Before we followed him out of the cabin, as I looked round it for the last time, a vase of flowers on the washstand slid off and fell with a crash to the floor."

It should be noted, however, that botanical fumes in First-Class cabins were not exclusively due to zealous floral placement.

They also emanated from bath products supplied by the White Star Line.

Titanic, much like any hotel, also provided complimentary toiletries to its guests.

In particular, White Star provided “Vinolia Otto Toilet Soap” exclusively to its esteemed First-Class clientele on all of its vessels.

The soap was produced by the Vinolia Company Limited, an English company that existed as early as 1894.

Vinolia Otto was advertised as the “standard of Toilet Luxury and comfort at sea… perfect for sensitive skins and delicate complexions… and for regular Toilet use there is no soap more delightful.”

Vinolia likewise claimed its product was “just the soap to counteract the effect of the salt sea upon the skin.”

It reportedly had strong scents of roses and lemon, leading to reasonable assumption that the soap was named after its source botanical component: rose oil, which is more elegantly referred to as “an attar of roses” or “Rose Otto”.

Speaking of roses: perfumes were of course in use in 1912, and likely would have also contributed to Titanic's olfactory atmosphere.

And although determining which branded perfumes may have been on board Titanic is speculative at best, enthusiasts have made some informed guesswork based upon the popularity of various perfumes in the spring of 1912.

Two such perfumes were by Jacques Guerlain: called Jicky, and L’Heure Bleu.

The former was made up of vanilla and lavender with a secondary citrus essence, while the latter left a powdery, dusky impression due to spicy aniseed and violet notes. A stroll across Titanic's decks may very well have been visited by one of these scents woven into the cool salt air.

It is likely that same walk down the promenade would also have been accompanied by the rich aroma of tobacco.

Cigarettes, cigars, and pipes were welcomed throughout the vessel, save for a few areas, such as the First-Class Dining Saloon during mealtimes and the corridors.

Smoking was likewise forbidden in the Palm Court on A Deck, a  point of contention that turned the room into a de facto playground on Titanic’s sister Olympic.

But smoking was otherwise permissible in most locations. It was so ubiquitous, in fact, that during a review of the Olympic, White Star chairman J. Bruce Ismay advocated for additional cigar-holders to be installed above the urinals in the men's lavatories.

Additionally, the Cafe Parisien on B Deck seemed particularly popular for fashionable young cigarette smokers on board the Titanic.

Crew members were only permitted to smoke while off-duty, although surely this rule was bent to break.

Stewardess Violet Jessop wrote in her memoir that she caught at least one steward defying the rule on the boat deck, in the middle of evacuations.

"A steward stood waiting with his back to the bulkhead, cigarette in mouth and hands in his pockets. It struck me forcibly as the first time I had ever seen a steward stand thus amid a group of distinguished guests."

Excerpt from "Titanic Survivor: The New Discovered Memoirs of Violet Jessop," written by Violet Jessop and edited by John Maxtone-Graham. 1997.

Officers were assigned their own Smoking Room, and it is reasonable to assume it was frequented.

Fifth Officer Harold Lowe was photographed with a pipe on multiple occasions throughout his career, as was Second Officer Charles Lightoller. First Officer William Murdoch was reportedly a smoker as well.

Cigars, meanwhile, were the proud enjoyment of many an elite gentleman on board, including Captain E.J. Smith. Smith's daughter once recounted that her father was so precious with his cigars that he would insist that other people in the room stay utterly still, so as not to disturb the blue-smoke haze.

On to a less pleasant smell than all the others: the iceberg that sank Titanic. Multiple survivors attested to the rank odor of nearby icebergs on the night of April 14th.

Crewmember Frank Winnold Prentice stated, "You could smell ice; I knew it, because you can smell it… keenness, a keenness in the air. There’s something about ice you can smell," in a filmed interview in 1983.

In his testimony before the British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry, lookout George Symons also recalled that he could smell ice in the vicinity.

Had you noticed anything to lead you to think you might meet icebergs before you got that message?
- Yes; just a small conversation, I think, about 9 o'clock. My mate turned round from time to time and said, "It is very cold here." I said, "Yes; by the smell of it there is ice about." He asked me why, and I said, "As a Rule you can smell the ice before you get to it."

Perhaps the recollection of Elizabeth Weed Shutes, however, is the most evocative of all.

Elizabeth was restless on the night of April 14th, irked and unnerved by the foul scent pervading her cabin.

"Such a biting cold air poured into my stateroom that I could not sleep, and the air had so strange an odor, as if it came from a clammy cave. I had noticed that same odor in the ice cave on the Eiger glacier."

Citation Courtesy of "On Board RMS Titanic," by George Behe. 2012.

The crash came moments thereafter.


Hyslop, Donald, Alastair Forsyth, and Sheila Jemima. "Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage." Sutton Publishing Limited, 1997.

Behe, George. "On Board RMS Titanic: Memories of the Maiden Voyage." The History Press, 2012.

Jessop, Violet. "Titanic Survivor: The Newly Discovered Memoirs of Violet Jessop Who Survived Both the Titanic and Britannic Disasters." Annotated by John Maxtone-Graham. Sheridan House, Inc., 1997.

"Titanic: A Question of Murder," 1983. Youtube URL:

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“Truth Touched by Emotion”: The Carpathia’s Arrival in New York City

"Truth Touched by Emotion": The Carpathia's Arrival in New York City

The news of the Titanic disaster had reached shore and spread even while its lifeboats were still being rescued by the Carpathia.

All thanks to the wireless telegraph.

Guglielmo Marconi's wireless "telegraphy" technology was truly a wonder of the modern age.

But beyond its dazzle, it functioned as an entirely public line of communication between operators--and anyone else who might care to know.

And so, as Titanic sank, its urgent, unbroken distress calls had been dispersed in real-time. Until around 2:00 a.m., when Titanic's voice quite suddenly went silent, and was not heard again.

At the New York Times office, editor Carr Van Anda was incredulous at first. "It can’t be true," he reportedly said. "The Titanic’s equipped with extra safety compartments."

But in the end, Van Anda was the sole editor to deduce the substance of Titanic's abrupt radio silence: she must have gone down.

The news sent New York City into havoc.

Some of the most prominent, celebrated, and famous New Yorkers, such as Colonel John Jacob Astor and Isidor Straus, had been on board Titanic. People swarmed the offices of the White Star Line in Manhattan, demanding the unknown fates of their family members and friends. Contradictory headlines mounted as they were barked from street corners and pinned to walls. Even still at sea, the rescue ship Carpathia was besieged by journalistic intrusion as it sailed toward the city with Titanic’s survivors.

It was plainly impossible to exist in New York City without knowing of the Titanic disaster.

Details, however, were sparse and often hypothetical.

The White Star Line, unsurprisingly, promoted only the most optimistic of reports: that everyone had been saved, and that Titanic was being towed into port.

The rescue ship Carpathia, still at sea with Titanic's 700-plus survivors, was on a mandatory media blackout. All wireless transmissions were restricted to personal messages, and conducted solely for passengers on board. The volume was so overwhelming that Titanic's junior operator Harold Bride, wheelchair-bound from frostbite to his feet, sat in to assist the Carpathia's operator in sending them all. Solicitations from journalists were ignored.

Carpathia was due to arrive in New York City on the evening of April 18th, shortly after 9:00 p.m. It had been three days since the disaster.

That night, people amassed by the dozens of thousands in a chilly, driving rain.

Anxious family and desperate press awaited the arrival of the passengers on board the rescue vessel. Two hundred police officers, some on horseback, surveilled the crowd. Medical staff were on standby, with stretchers waiting to be brought aboard. Traffic mounted; automobiles hydroplaned into curbs as they neared the pier.

The forty thousand people in the throng waited at the Cunard Line's usual docking spot: Pier 54.

Captain Arthur Rostron and the crew of the Carpathia had braced for the mania ahead. And so, the first stop on that rainy evening was to the White Star Line's Pier 59, where they quietly and diligently unloaded the Titanic's thirteen recovered lifeboats. The crew of the Carpathia had been unable to fit any more than that on board, and so seven of Titanic's lifeboats still floated on the open sea.

Then, Carpathia moved a few blocks onward, to Pier 54.

The media had made no effort to restrain itself, despite edicts from the mayor.

The New York Times had rented an entire floor in the Strand Hotel, which was located about a block from the pier. The Times had orchestrated the installation of telephone lines, so journalists at the scene could run to the Strand and dictate their stories to the newsroom in Times Square. They wanted to interview as many survivors as possible, and they had only three hours--until 12:30 a.m.--to do so.

Additionally, over 50 tugboats clotted up the harbor; they hounded the rescue ship as soon as it was in sight. Journalists on the tugboats' decks hollered into megaphones and over one another, offering the passengers above them cash for eyewitness accounts. Cameras popped in rapid sequence, their clouds of magnesium powder wilting in the rain. Each flashing bulb illuminated the Carpathia's weary passengers, standing dazed against the railings in the dark.

And on board the rescue ship, a journalist named Carlos Hurd anxiously waited for his chance.

He worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and had been on holiday on the Carpathia. And he had spent the past three days of the voyage transcribing a clandestine witness account against Captain Rostron's orders.

When the correct tug steamed up alongside Carpathia, Hurd appeared over the railing of an upper deck and dropped a manuscript wrapped up in canvas overboard. Afraid it would fall in the water and sink, he had created a makeshift flotation device for the dictionary-sized bundle, using a cigar box and champagne corks he had acquired from the ship's bar.

The manuscript was rushed to shore and printed for a next-day 'Extra" feature.

The headline read, "Titanic Boilers Blew Up, Breaking Her In Two After Striking Berg."

The ship finally docked at Pier 54, moving slowly due to the darkness and rainfall. Under Captain Rostron's orders, the Carpathia's passengers were the first to disembark, as he was concerned that madness would follow if the Titanic survivors were to precede them.

When the survivors began to appear, the scene fell still.

As the survivors came into the street dead silence fell over the crowd that was assembled, and even the flashlight batteries of the Press photographers ceased for the moment their bombardment.

When an unnamed female passenger stumbled off the gangway and fell weeping into the arms of a police officer, the spell was broken.

Journalist competition for one particular interview eclipsed all others that night: everyone wanted Harold Bride. They were to "get the Titanic wireless man’s story, if he’s alive,” the city editor of the New York Times demanded. And they wanted the Carpathia's wireless man, Harold Cottam, second-most.

The New York Times succeeded in scooping Bride and Cottam both, when their reporter Isaac Russell, accompanied by Guglielmo Marconi himself, was permitted on board Carpathia.

Bride was paid $1,000 for his interview, a fact to which he testified at the American Senate Inquiry to follow. He was later hauled off Carpathia, unable to walk due to the injuries he sustained on Collapsible B. Harold Cottam received $750 for his own interview.

Isaac Russell rushed back to the Times office to complete his exclusive story. He said he wept as he wrote.

“I turned back to my typewriter. They say literature is truth touched by emotion. I have written steadily for 20 years or more. If ever I wrote literature, that was the night.”

The Carpathia was set to depart at 4:00 p.m. the following day, an effort by the Cunard Line to remove the vessel from the debacle.

In that single day of rest, the ship became a tourist attraction, overrun with New Yorkers eager to gawk at the wireless shack that had, only days prior, heard the dots and dashes of Titanic's last words.

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“Lighted and Beautiful in the Night”: Engelhart Cornelius Ostby

"Lighted and Beautiful in the Night": Engelhart Cornelius Ostby

Engelhart Cornelius Ostby was born around Christmastime in 1847 in the city that became Oslo, Norway. He studied to become a jeweler at the Royal School of Art.

In 1869, Engelhart followed the trail of his parents and his younger brother, who had emigrated to the United States three years prior. After arriving in New York, he reunited with his family and settled in Providence, Rhode Island,

He first took a job with the jewelry firm of Hunt & Owen, but shortly thereafter moved on to Arnold & Webster, where he acted as the Director of Design and Engraving for almost a decade.

Jewelry-making in Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1915. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Engelhart married a girl named Lizzie Webster in 1876. The couple would go on to have five children: four sons and a daughter.

In 1879, Engelhart entered into business with a gentleman named Nathan Barton. With about three thousand dollars in capital, the men established Ostby & Barton. The company would gain renown for its beautiful designs of gemstone, signet, emblem, and even baby rings, alongside other pieces of adornment such as brooches, cuff links, and pendants.

Engelhart's firm quickly became a top-tier producer of gold rings. It outgrew its initial business space quickly, and was moved to a factory building. Booming business soon demanded yet another relocation to the old Ladd Watch Case Company on the corner of Richmond and Clifford Streets in Providence. Then the space of this premises had to be doubled.

Engelhart did not limit his world to jewelry-making. He also became a director of both the High Street Bank and the Industrial Trust Company, and was a trustee of the Citizens Savings Bank. Because of these positions, Engelhart rose to prominence in Providence, for both his business acumen and his ongoing charity.

Sadly, Engelhart became a widower in 1899 when Lizzie died at the age of 45. He raised their five children with the assistance of his mother Josephine, until she died three years later, in 1902.

Engelhart Ostby took regular business trips to the European capitals, in order to survey the popular and upcoming jewelry trends for his "kingdom of rings" back home.

Unsurprisingly, he spent much of this time in Paris.

Parisian shopfront on rue Maitre Albert, 1912, by Eugene Atget. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


And in 1906, he began taking his seventeen-year-old daughter, Helen, on these business trips. In 1907, after much anticipation, Engelhart finally took his only daughter to see his homeland of Norway.

In 1912, Engelhart and Helen were on another such international tour. And while they were in Egypt, they had befriended an American couple, Frank and Anna Warren of Oregon.

The road to the Pyramids at Giza, Cairo, Egypt, 1870. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Later on, they encountered the Warrens in Pari; the couple expressed that they looked forward to their upcoming travel on Titanic. Presumably, this is how Engelhart and Helen learned that they could still book passage on Titanic's maiden voyage.

And so, they did.

Father and daughter boarded Titanic as First-Class passengers on the evening of April 10th at Cherbourg. As per usual, Engelhart carried with him his black leather Gladstone bag, which contained gemstones and precious valuables that he had acquired during the trip.

On the 10th of April we took the boat train to Cherbourg. The Titanic remained out in the harbour, lighted and beautiful in the night. We boarded her from a tender.

As cited in © "On Board RMS Titanic: Memories of the Maiden Voyage" by George Behe. The History Press, 2012.

Helen was fairly vague in her recollections of their time spent on board. "Mostly," she wrote, "we just wandered around between meals, enjoying the luxury and newness of it all."

She went on to note that she and her father always traveled with the White Star Line, so they enjoyed comparing notes of Titanic versus the other vessels under its flag.

Sunday, April 14th, was leisurely. Helen wrote that she and Engelhart mused on the grand welcome Titanic was sure to receive when arriving in New York City. Helen also overheard Captain Smith receiving an ice warning while he spoke to passengers nearby.

After enjoying "the usual Sunday evening concert" by Titanic's musicians, Helen retired to her cabin.

I had just dropped off to sleep when I was awakened by a jar that felt about as it would if you were in a car that scraped the side of a tree... It seemed completely silent for a minute or two. The engines were cut off. The corridors were quiet until one began to hear doors open and voices speaking. The first voice I heard was a woman asking the steward what had happened. He replied calmly, 'Everything will be alright.'

Passengers began to gather in the corridor one by one, trying to get some information. My father came out of his stateroom across the corridor. It was very quiet, as when a train stops in a station and you can hear everyone's voice. You could see anxious looking faces, people with outlandish clothes and women in curlers. People had thrown on anything just to cover themselves.

As cited in © "On Board RMS Titanic: Memories of the Maiden Voyage" by George Behe. The History Press, 2012.

Eventually, the stewards instructed the passengers to don their lifebelts. It was a troublesome endeavor, according to Helen, because there had been no emergency drill to practice getting them on, but the stewards were very helpful.

Helen dressed warmly, although she claimed she was struck quite abrupt by the instinct not to put on too many clothes, lest they weigh down her ability to swim.

Engelhart and his daughter met up with the Warrens once again, and migrated up to the boat deck via the Grand Staircase. Helen wrote that Captain Smith swept by them, followed by two ship officers who would not engage with--or even look at--inquiring passengers.

On deck, the group could hardly hear a thing, because the steam from the funnels was deafening. The sequence of events in Helen's multiple accounts become contradictory by this point, but it is evident that, at some point, Engelhart parted from his daughter, as Mrs. Warren also testified that "a young woman by the name of Miss Ostby, who had become separated from her father... was with us."

Helen said that Engelhart either remained in--or alternatively, returned to--his cabin to dress more appropriately for the cold, assuring her that he would not be long.

A heartbreaking comedy of errors ensued.

I wondered what kept father below however, and after about ten minutes I went down to try to find him. I guess my father must have come upon deck some other way for I could not find him in the stateroom. Thinking he had gone up and joined the Warrens, I too went back but he had not been around there. I was waiting for him all the time when the crew came around and told us to get into one of the boats. We all hung back awhile, I wanted father to come with us but the men insisted that we hurry up so we got in... 

It was a very unpleasant feeling stepping into that boat because although it was level with the boat deck, it was swung out over the water so that there was a little gap between it and the side of the ship...  The stars were out but it was pitch dark...

Helen Otsby and Anna Warren were rescued in Lifeboat 5, which was presided over by Third Officer Herbert Pitman. Also in Lifeboat 5 were Helen Newsom and Karl Behr, as well as Dr. and Mrs. Frauenthal. Dr. Frauenthal and his brother had, in fact, jumped down into the lifeboat from the boat deck, and had broken another passenger's ribs in the process.

As the boat descended toward the ocean, concerns had been expressed that the craft might "turn turtle."

Up until that time, things had gone on very calmly. But at the end we could see and hear people on board were realizing there was no place to go. As the ship began to stand on end we heard a big rumbling, rattling noise as if everything was being torn from their moorings inside the ship. She stood quietly on her end for a minute, then went down like an arrow... Of course some complained of losing jewelry and clothing -and some the cold. One woman was seasick. When somebody happened to mention jewelry left behind, I remembered for the first time that I had lost a diamond bar pin which was given me by my father which was still pinned to my nightgown aboard ship. I hadn't given it a though, and when I was reminded, it didn't matter.

Helen never saw her beloved father again.

Engelhart's corpse was the 234th recovered by the Mackay-Bennett, and noted as follows.


EFFECTS - Gold filled teeth; gold watch and chain; knife: glasses; diary; two pocket books and papers.


Once transported back to Halifax, the body was identified by an Ostby & Barton employee named David Sutherland. Engelhart Ostby was interred in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 11, 1912.

A contemporary newspaper reported, "The flower tribute was enormous, even when a note had been circulated not to send any flowers."

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